Tarator Sauce


Ikonact/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0


  • Total: 5 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 to 2 cups (6 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
278 Calories
21g Fat
19g Carbs
8g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 to 2 cups (6 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 278
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 50mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 8g
Calcium 217mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you read the name of this recipe quickly you may think it is for tartar sauce, but look closely. Tarator sauce is a bit different; it is a Middle Eastern sauce that is perfect for meats, vegetables, and seafood, and even better on pita sandwiches like shawarma. A simple combination of tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic, and parsley, this mixture adds a nutty, fresh tang to almost any dish.


  • 1 cup tahini (store bought or homemade)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. In a food processor, combine tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and salt together. Process, adding the water as you are combining the ingredients. Mix until it forms a smooth sauce.

  2. Remove from processor and scoop into a small bowl. Stir in parsley.

  3. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week in an airtight container.


Tahini is readily available at the supermarket, most often in the Middle Eastern or natural foods sections of the store, but it is also very simple to make. You just toast sesame seeds in the oven until fragrant and then process with olive oil until a pourable paste forms. If you are purchasing tahini, make sure it is made with 100 percent sesame seeds and that the container doesn't seem like it has been sitting on the shelf for a very long time. If you can, check to see that the tahini isn't completely separated (liquid on the top, paste on the bottom); there should be some emulsification present.

Tahini is the base for many Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus and baba ghanoush, but can also be turned into several delicious sauces; it is not only the main ingredient in tarator sauce but also can be used in various recipes, from smoothies to salad dressings to desserts.

Tarator sauce (also referred to simply as tahini sauce) can be served with a wide array of dishes, from steamed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and artichokes to Middle Eastern specialties like falafel and kofta. Tarator is also the perfect dipping sauce for Turkish fried mussels and Turkish fried "cigarette" pastries and is an ideal accompaniment for spiced fried fish, pita sandwiches, and a meze platter.

Recipe Variations

Tarator sauce is one of those recipes you can easily alter to your liking. If you prefer more garlic, increase the quantity to 3 cloves. Like a lot of lemon? Add 1 cup of juice instead of 3/4. And you can spice it up a bit with the addition of cayenne, cumin, chili powder, or sumac.

In Turkey, tarator sauce actually refers to a mixture including walnuts instead of sesame seeds. The recipe calls for bread that has been soaked in water and can feature other nuts, such as pine nuts; garlic and lemon juice are still important ingredients. Some Turkish recipes include tahini as well.