We were busy being lazy over the Christmas holidays when we saw this article put out by the Today show listing the hottest foods for 2019. Tahini was one of them. Wait! What? I didn’t realize that it was becoming “a thing” like kale did years ago! It took a little bit to find it at the grocery store – and it wasn’t cheap. Stick around and I will show you how to make tahini from scratch. It is one of the easiest recipes out there!
How to Make Homemade Tahini
Tahini is so easy to make that you’ll want to make a couple batches. It is so versatile! We used in overnight oats, hummus, oatmeal cups, oatmeal bars and even created a lemon tahini sauce and drizzled it on sheet pat cauliflower. Ok, we went a little crazy and look forward to sharing our favorites with you in the next couple weeks.
The grocery store did not stock a large bag of sesame seeds, and the small jars they did have cost an arm and a leg! Fortunately, Amazon had it! Isn’t it amazing how much money you save shopping online? Scary!
The first step is to roast two cups of sesame seeds on a roasting pan. Don’t add oil or anything. You are just trying to get a nice roasted flavoring to the seeds. Roast for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Allow the seeds to cool. During the roasting process, the seeds will get toasty which will make the flavors richer. Don’t skip this step.
After the seeds have cooled, pour them in a food processor or a high speed blender and add oil. Mix until well blended. Add additional oil if you want the tahini to be a little thinner and creamier. Keep it thicker like this recipe for a tahini paste.
Pour the finished product into a jar and cover. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months with no problem. Just make sure the seal of the jar stays on tight.
Is Tahini Vegan?
Several people have asked me if tahini is vegan and it is! It is made of seeds so it is chock full of nutrients including protein and the good fats. In fact, it has higher levels of calcium and fiber than peanut butter. It is a very tasty and healthy addition to the vegan or vegetarian diet.
Tahini Hulled or Unhulled
There is a difference between the hulled and the unhulled versions of sesame seeds. The hulled version has the outer hull of the seed removed and is a lighter color typically found at the local grocery stores. The unhulled version will still have the darker outer shell. Either version will work for homemade tahini, but the unhulled version will be a bit more bitter.
What does Tahini Taste Like
Don’t expect tahini to have a sweet taste like nut butters. It is a bit bitter. I didn’t really like it when I took a raw spoonful for the first taste. It was very flavorful, but it wasn’t a taste that I immediately enjoyed. That said, it is extremely delicious when mixed with other ingredients in recipes. The earthy flavor complements flavors like lemon, garlic and peppers. It also adds a soothing well-grounded taste to overnight oats.
I am extremely glad I did not make a snap judgment on tahini after my first bite. I now keep a jar of my homemade variety in the fridge and use it often.
Tahini has the same texture as peanut butter. You control the texture by adding or reducing the amount of oil added to the high speed blender. Smoother, creamier tahini is made by adding a bit more oil. I recommend making the tahini with a bit less oil as it is always easier to add more later. Also, most of my recipes use tahini as just one ingredient and it is easier to adjust the texture during preparations.
What is a Good Tahini Substitute
If you haven’t had the chance to make tahini at home yet, but you want to make a recipe that calls for it, you can use a substitute.
- Sunflower seeds. Grind your own sunflower seeds into a paste to use as a substitute. These are easier to find in the store than an economical bag of sesame seeds.
- Nut Butters. The paste-like consistency of butters made from cashews, almonds or even brazil nuts will replace tahini. Expect that these will be sweeter than the tahini, but will work in a pinch. We wrote a post on how to make almond butter at home.
- Organic Peanut Butter. You probably already have a jar of this at home. Like the other nut butters, it will be sweeter than tahini, but will work.
- Plain Sesame Seeds. Sprinkling on sesame seeds instead of using the tahini paste will provide a hint of the distinctive flavor. It definitely will not be as strong as the tahini.
What can I make with Tahini?
Ok, so hopefully, you are sold and are comfortable with how to make tahini. Are you scratching your head with which recipes to use it in? As I mentioned above, we will be posting about the Roasted Red Pepper Cauliflower, Overnight Oats, Oat Bars, Smoothies, and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus in the upcoming weeks but to keep you going here are a couple more ideas:
- Roasted vegetables with tahini sauce. This is a great time to make the tahini a bit thinner by adding a tad more olive oil. Combine it with lemon juice and freshly minced garlic for a fantastic sauce!
- Salad Vinaigrette. Create a vinaigrette base by combining tahini with a more olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar. This adds a lot of flavor to a salad.
- Sandwich Spread. Combine the tahini with avocados and olive oil to make a spread for pitas. Add chicken and greens and you’ve created a hearty, healthy lunch or easy dinner!
- Tahini Yogurt. Combine tahini and greek yogurt to make a tahini yogurt sauce. Toss together greens, sliced red peppers, cucumbers, grape tomatoes together in a pita and use drizzle the tahini yogurt on top. Add some spices, lemon juice and a garlic clove and you’re at the next level of deliciousness for your pita!
How to Make Tahini
- 2 cups sesame seeds hulled
- 2 tbs olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place 2 cups baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
- Allow roasted sesame seeds to cool. They should be a little toasty to bring out a richer flavor.
- Pour cooled sesame seeds along with 2 tbs of olive oil in a blender and blend until smooth. You can add more olive oil if you would like it a smoother consistency.
- Store in a jar in the refrigerator.