15 Creamy Vegan Tahini Dressing Recipes

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by Sil Pancho

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06.25.2024


These fifteen vegan tahini dressing recipes will add color, creaminess, and seasoning to anything and everything! I’m crazy about tahini dressing, and this is a collection of my favorites, with plenty of flavor profiles to choose from. Use these dressings for salad, bowls, grains, or vegetables, or as creative upgrades to mayo or sour cream. Tahini dressings are endlessly versatile, not to mention nutritious.

Five glass mason jars rest on a white surface. Each is filled with a different color of creamy tahini dressing.

Every person has their go-to condiment. It could be ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, or sriracha. Some folks might favor chili crisp, everything bagel seasoning, or a simple drizzle of olive oil or vinegar.

My condiment of choice is homemade tahini dressing.

Since the very first time I whisked a batch of tahini dressing together, I’ve loved this creamy mixture.

While I often do use tahini dressing as a salad dressing, it wears so many other hats in my kitchen.

Tahini dressing can also be a sauce, a dip, a replacement for mayo or crème fraîche, or a finishing touch.

Most longtime readers know that there is no shortage of tahini recipes on this site. I figured it would be worthwhile to compile my favorites into a single post.

Along the way, I’ll share more about why I’ve come to love tahini dressings as much as I do.

What is tahini dressing?

Before I share anything else, I should of course say what tahini dressing is.

Essentially, it’s a dressing made with tahini, or ground sesame paste, and other ingredients.

I know that “other ingredients” sounds vague, but we’re dealing with an especially flexible template here.

For example, those ingredients usually involve a liquid component of some kind, in order to thin the rich, thick sesame paste into something pourable. The liquid in question could be oil, vinegar, citrus, water, or a combination of a few of those.

When it comes to flavor, tahini dressing might incorporate a huge variety of herbs, spices, or types of acid.

Tahini dressing recipes can be thick or thin, light or rich, simple or complex. The only non-negotiable is the presence of tahini; otherwise, there are no rules!

A little about tahini

Before I say more about the process of making this type of dressing, I should share a bit about its central ingredient: tahini.

Tahini is sometimes labeled as tahina. Both words originate with the Arabic word tehana, which means “grind” or “pulverize.” Tahini results when sesame seeds are ground so finely that they turn into a paste, or a seed butter.

This might call to mind the image of something thick and spreadable, like almond or peanut butter.

In actuality, most store-bought tahini is actually quite loose in texture. Naturally occurring oils that result from grinding the sesame seeds result in this pourable consistency.

Tahini can be made with sesame seeds that are either roasted or raw. Raw tahini is considerably harder to find. It’s a safe assumption that if a jar of tahini isn’t specifically labeled as raw, then it has been made with the roasted seeds.

Personally, I prefer tahini made with roasted seeds. The nutty, toasted flavor is subtle, but it’s enough to meaningfully counterbalance tahini’s natural, slight bitterness.

Tahini is in a glass mason jar, along with a small, metal whisk. The jar rests on a white surface.Tahini is in a glass mason jar, along with a small, metal whisk. The jar rests on a white surface.

With more than fifteen tahini dressing recipes on regular rotation in my home, I do a fair bit of tahini shopping!

The main thing I’ve learned is that most tahini that you’ll find in the US, where I live and write, is fine for making tahini dressing.

I’ve purchased tahini at Middle Eastern grocers and mainstream grocery chains alike. I’ve tried the private label brands associated with quite a few major grocer stores, such Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, and Giant.

The Joyva, Krinos, and Roland brands of tahini are all routinely easy for me to find. I’ve used each of them in my recipes.

I’ve had perfectly good dressing results with all of these various tahini brands. Truthfully, there is a difference between tahini that tastes fine versus tahini that tastes really special. But even pretty average-tasting tahini can be turned into a good dressing.

With all that said, I do have a few favorite tahini brands, and it’s worth sharing which ones I think fall into the “really special” category.

The first is Seed + Mill. This female-founded company has a storefront here in NYC. The brand makes wonderful halvah, as well as tahini.

While Seed + Mill tahini is a little more expensive in comparison to other brands, I think it’s silky consistency and buttery, perfectly balanced flavor (not too bitter, not too roasty) is special.

One of the annoying things about working with tahini often is the mess that comes with trying to pour it out of a bottle or jar. Lately, brands have created squeeze bottle tahini options to help reduce mess.

Seed + Mill has one of these, and so does another brand that I like, called Mighty Sesame.

I’m a big fan of another female-founded brand, Soom tahini. Soom tahini can be found via Amazon or in a lot of natural grocery stores.

I like the classic Soom tahini, but I’m genuinely nuts about the brand’s dark chocolate tahini with sea salt. I love it on toast or drizzled over banana soft serve.

Tahini nutrition

As with most seeds and seed-based foods, tahini is rich in healthful, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Tahini offers dietary fiber (about 3g per two tablespoons), along with a modest amount of plant protein (6 grams).

Tahini is a good source of selenium, a mineral with antioxidant function, which is also important for longterm thyroid health. It supplies a small amount of zinc, which is essential for immune health, and phosphorus, which supports our bones.

The nutritional properties of tahini that I appreciate most are its stores of iron and calcium.

That same two-tablespoon serving of tahini offers 40-50 milligrams of calcium. This isn’t a huge amount; it’s about 4-5% of the recommended RDA of 1000mg daily for adults.

Nevertheless, when it comes to calcium intake, every little additive bit counts. If you eat a lot of tahini, which I do, it makes a small, yet meaningful contribution.

Tahini stacks up even more impressively when it comes to iron. Two tablespoons supplies about 1.8mg, which is 10% of the RDA for women ages 19-50 (18mg/day).

Longterm nutrition studies consistently associate nut and seed consumption with improved cardiac health outcomes. This, along with the nutrients offered by sesame seeds and other seeds, is a compelling reason to include them in their diet regularly.

Personally, I’m not much of a nut or seed eater/snacker—I much prefer things that have been made with these nutritious foods to the whole form.

As a result, I choose to get most of my nuts and seeds in the form of energy bites, overnight oats, nut and seed butters, and nut and seed-based dressings.

Especially and most importantly, tahini dressing!

How to make tahini dressing

Tahini dressing can be very simple to make, but there are a few pro tips worth keeping in mind.

Pro tip 1: Add (cold) liquid slowly

The essential process of making a tahini dressing recipe is to add liquid, be it lemon juice, water, or vinegar, to a tahini base.

Don’t be alarmed when and if your tahini seems to seize up and turn into a thick, stodgy paste as you add a liquid.

The seizing up is a normal part of how the seed paste works.

The best way to minimize this effect is to add liquid to tahini very gradually, whisking gently as you go. When I whisk tahini dressing by hand, I often start with just a few tablespoons of liquid, create a thick, yet creamy foundation, then proceed to add the remaining liquid slowly.

Mike Solomanov uses a tahini sauce as the basis for his famous hummus. In Zahav, he recommends adding ice water to the sauce for loosening if it has seized up.

From him, I’ve learned that cold liquids create less seizing up than warm liquids do. This is a little counterintuitive, since many other slurries are made with warm liquid, but tahini dressing plays by its own rules.

It’s also worth saying that tahini dressing recipes can be made in a blender, rather than whisked by hand.

An image of a creamy dressing in the container of a small, personal blender.An image of a creamy dressing in the container of a small, personal blender.

This of course requires use of an appliance, which means that you have to clean said appliance. But it creates a creamy, smooth dressing effortlessly.

Pro tip 2: Tahini dressing will thicken as you store it

Most tahini dressings can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for about four or five days.

An overhead image of a creamy balsamic Dijon tahini dressing.An overhead image of a creamy balsamic Dijon tahini dressing.

If you retrieve a jar of dressing after a couple days of storage to find that it’s much thicker than you remember, know that this is normal! Tahini dressing thickens up quite a bit after initial blending or mixing.

When this happens, I add an extra couple tablespoons of cold water to a stored jar, seal it, then give it a good shake to loosen it up.

The reassuring thing here is that you shouldn’t worry if a batch of tahini dressing is slightly looser than you want it to be right after the initial whisking or blending.

If so, there’s a good chance that it will have thickened up to a consistency that you like within a day or so.

Pro tip 3: Think about flavor balance

Tahini’s natural flavor profile is a little bitter. I like to balance this by adding a hint of something sweet to most of my tahini dressings (which I also do with most of my vinaigrette recipes, too; sweetness tempers acid!).

For example, I add maple syrup to my miso sesame dressing and a pitted date to my balsamic Dijon tahini dressing.

The goal isn’t to create a dressing that’s treacly, but simply to bring acid (from vinegar or lemon) and bitterness (from the roasted seeds) into harmony.

The wide—and colorful!—world of tahini dressing recipes

The first tahini dressing recipe that I started to make regularly was the lemon tahini dressing that I’m spotlighting in this roundup.

That dressing is so much of a go-to that I dubbed it my “everyday lemon tahini dressing” in my cookbook, Power Plates.

In that book, as well as in my everyday life, the dressing ends up on bowls and salads, yes.

But drizzles of it are also finishing touches for savory oatmeal, caulflower steaks, lentil stuffed sweet potatoes, and collard leaf wraps, to name only some dishes.

That’s the thing about tahini dressing: it is so endlessly versatile.

Not only does it have many potential uses, ranging from the simple (say, a dip for carrots or other crudités) to the unusual (a topping for savory oatmeal), but tahini dressing can also be seasoned in countless ways.

One of my favorite things about pulling this roundup together was to see how many colors of tahini dressing I make regularly.

Five glass mason jars rest on a white surface. Each is filled with a different color of creamy tahini dressing.Five glass mason jars rest on a white surface. Each is filled with a different color of creamy tahini dressing.
Pictured from above, moving clockwise, are tahini beet dressing, everyday lemon tahini dressing, delightfully green tahini dressing, turmeric tahini dressing, and sun-dried tomato tahini dressing.

The color will all depend on your creative mix-ins and seasonings. Blending simple, oven roasted beets into a batch of tahini dressing creates the most beautiful pink shade.

Meanwhile, baby spinach and herbs are to thank for the vibrant, fun color of my delightfully green tahini dressing.

Turmeric gives a brilliant, bright gold hue to both my beloved yum sauce and my turmeric tahini dressing.

Is there anything that you can’t, or shouldn’t add to a tahini dressing recipe?

Honestly, I don’t think so! Or rather, if you’d add it to any other creamy dressing, then I think it’s worth trying it with tahini dressing. Herbs, spices, flavored vinegars or oils, and even some vegetables are all fair game.

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

Can I freeze tahini dressing?

One of the things that I learned as I was writing The Vegan Week is that so many foods—including foods that many of us don’t think to freeze—can be frozen as part of a vegan meal prep routine.

This goes for creamy dressings, too. And it’s certainly true for tahini dressing recipes, which can be frozen for up to eight weeks.

I freeze my dressings in mason jars, leaving about an inch (2.5cm) of headspace. This prevents glass breakage as the liquid expands in the freezer.

Once you’re ready to defrost your dressing, you can do so overnight in the fridge. Give your jar a nice shake once its fully defrosted, and get drizzling.

Five glass mason jars rest on a white surface. Each is filled with a different color of creamy tahini dressing.Five glass mason jars rest on a white surface. Each is filled with a different color of creamy tahini dressing.

15 Vegan Tahini Dressing Recipes

Now that I’ve shared plenty about why I love this type of dressing so much, it’s time to showcase some of my go-to options.

Here’s a collection of my favorite tahini dressing recipes from over a decade of whisking, blending, drizzling, and dipping.

Some of the dressings com from standalone posts, while others are part of a larger recipe. In the latter case, the dressing is clearly demarcated in the recipe card.

There are many flavor profiles and uses on display here. I’m hoping you’ll find at least one option that you love.

If you need a starting point, I’m sharing the everyday lemon tahini dressing that I never get sick of after the roundup!

Sweet & Tangy Orange Tahini Dressing

This orange tahini dressing is equal parts tangy and sweet! It adds wonderful brightness to salads, bowls, slaws, and roasted vegetables.

An orange tahini dressing is in a glass, weck mason jar. It rests on a white surface with a tiled backdrop.An orange tahini dressing is in a glass, weck mason jar. It rests on a white surface with a tiled backdrop.

Get the recipe

Garlic Tahini Smashed White Bean Salad

If you like chickpea “tuna,” then you need to try smashed white bean salad! It’s a flavorful, protein-packed spread for toast, sandwiches, wraps, or dipping. This version is made with an creamy roasted garlic tahini sauce, which is irresistable in its own right!

An overhead image of a piece of toast with white bean salad and microgreens. It sits on a white, rimmed plate upon a white surface.An overhead image of a piece of toast with white bean salad and microgreens. It sits on a white, rimmed plate upon a white surface.

Get the recipe

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tahini Dressing

This vegan turmeric tahini dressing is the perfect way to incorporate turmeric into your diet regularly. Versatile and easy to make! #vegan

An angled photograph of a small, round ceramic bowl, which contains a golden colored sauce and a small serving spoon.An angled photograph of a small, round ceramic bowl, which contains a golden colored sauce and a small serving spoon.

Get the recipe

Dijon Lemon Tahini Dressing

This lemon Dijon tahini dressing is so simple to make! It requires only five ingredients (plus water), and you don’t need a blender to mix it. Keep it in your fridge for salads, bowls, drizzling onto grains and roasted vegetables, and much more!

A jar of lemon tahini dressing and a small whisk are resting on a white surface.A jar of lemon tahini dressing and a small whisk are resting on a white surface.

Get the recipe

Tahini Mint Kale Salad

This tahini mint kale salad features a bright, creamy, colorful dressing that’s made with a tahini and fresh mint base. It’s sweet, savory, tangy, and herbaceous—plus, it’s so simple to make!

A white, rimmed salad plate has been piled with kale, chickpeas, raisins, and a creamy, tahini-based dressing.A white, rimmed salad plate has been piled with kale, chickpeas, raisins, and a creamy, tahini-based dressing.

Get the recipe

10-Minute Curried Chickpea Tahini Salad

This curried chickpea tahini salad is perfect for stuffing into pita pockets or lettuce wraps or for serving with crackers. It’s a tangy, sweet, savory mixture of chickpeas, raisins, and grated carrots, all dressed in a creamy curried tahini sauce. The salad takes only ten minutes to prepare and is a great, protein-rich option for weekly meal prep!

An overhead image of a creamy mixture of chickpeas, raisins, parsley, and grated carrots.An overhead image of a creamy mixture of chickpeas, raisins, parsley, and grated carrots.

Get the recipe

Outstanding Miso Sesame Dressing

This miso sesame dressing is sweet, salty, and nothing short of outstanding! It’s easy to make and can be used as either a dressing or a sauce.

An image of a Weck mason jar, resting on a white surface, filled with a creamy miso sesame dressing.An image of a Weck mason jar, resting on a white surface, filled with a creamy miso sesame dressing.

Get the recipe

5-Minute Tangy Yum Sauce

This 5-minute, creamy and tangy yum sauce will add bright gold color and zing to the simplest of meals, be they bowls, grain and bean skillets, or even pasta salad. It’s one of my all-time favorite sauces, easy to make and a fan favorite among readers!

A sideways image of a mason jar, which has been filled with an electric gold, creamy sauce.A sideways image of a mason jar, which has been filled with an electric gold, creamy sauce.

Get the recipe

Vegan Kale & Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Maple Mustard Dressing

This vegan kale and quinoa salad is brimming with texture, color, and nutrient-dense plant foods. It also features an irresistable maple mustard dressing that can be made with tahini or olive oil. The salad is hearty enough to serve as a main dish, and it’s an especially fun salad to make and share on holidays.

An overhead image of a white bowl, which is filled with a vibrantly-colored kale, golden beet, green bean, and quinoa salad. There are brown pieces of toasted pecan throughout.An overhead image of a white bowl, which is filled with a vibrantly-colored kale, golden beet, green bean, and quinoa salad. There are brown pieces of toasted pecan throughout.

Get the recipe

Delightfully Green Tahini Dressing

This green tahini dressing is a creamy, lemony tahini dressing that’s been blended with fresh herbs, along with spinach for beautiful color and a little nutritional boost. It’s bright, flavorful, and incredibly versatile!

An image of a glass mason jar with a flip top lid, which holds a brighly colored green tahini dressing.An image of a glass mason jar with a flip top lid, which holds a brighly colored green tahini dressing.

Get the recipe

Sun-Dried Tomato Tahini Dressing

This sun-dried tomato tahini dressing is creamy, tangy, and has deeply savory notes. It will add complexity and umami to salads and grain bowls, and it’s also great for dipping raw vegetables.

Get the recipe

Miso Tahini Vegetable Sandwich

This vegan miso tahini vegetable sandwich is so hearty, healthy, and satisfying! It features a base layer of deeply savory, sweet, creamy miso tahini spread. Then, the sandwich gets packed with crispy veggies that lend plenty of crunch and texture to each bite.

A sandwich has been assembled with layers of carrot, sprouts, and cucumber slices. It's resting on a white surface against a white brick backdrop.A sandwich has been assembled with layers of carrot, sprouts, and cucumber slices. It's resting on a white surface against a white brick backdrop.

Get the recipe

Balsamic Dijon Tahini Dressing

This balsamic Dijon tahini dressing is equal parts sweet and tangy—in a wonderful way! It’s a versatile dressing that can be used in place of a traditional balsamic vinaigrette, with the added bonus of nutrient density from sesame seeds.

An overhead image of a creamy balsamic Dijon tahini dressing.An overhead image of a creamy balsamic Dijon tahini dressing.

Get the recipe

Tahini Beet Dressing

This creamy vegan tahini beet dressing has the most beautiful, vibrant pink color! Sweet and tangy, it’s the perfect accompaniment to your plant-based salads and bowls.

A glass jar holds a bright pink tahini beet dressing and a mixing spoon.A glass jar holds a bright pink tahini beet dressing and a mixing spoon.

Get the recipe

Moroccan-Inspired Lentils and Sweet Potatoes

These Moroccan-inspired lentils and sweet potatoes are hearty, layered with nutrient-dense ingredients, and full of flavor! The potatoes are dressed with a cooling, creamy lemon tahini dressing. This is a crowd-pleasing plant-based entrée that you can rely on for dinner parties and entertaining.

Two halves of sweet potatoes are topped with spiced lentils and a creamy tahini dressing. The potatoes rest on a round white plate.Two halves of sweet potatoes are topped with spiced lentils and a creamy tahini dressing. The potatoes rest on a round white plate.

Get the recipe

Everyday Lemon Tahini Dressing

Before I wrap up, I want to circle back to the lemon tahini dressing that I mentioned earlier.

Of all the many tahini dressings that I make, why is this one the “everyday” option?

A few reasons. First, there’s a simple ingredient list. The dressing requires only four ingredients—minus water, salt, and pepper—which I nearly always have at home.

If I need to whisk together a creamy, nutrient-dense, dressing at a moment’s notice, this is my best bet.

The dressing’s main flavor notes are lemon and garlic. It’s one of the few dressings that I can pair with pretty much anything, including dishes that are themselves boldly seasoned.

In other words, when any salad, grain dish, skillet meal, or simple vegetable side dish needs a boost of healthful fat, acid, and salt—those three very important pillars of flavorful, balanced cooking—I can rely on a jar of this dressing.

Here’s how to whisk it together at a moment’s notice.

An overhead image of a small pinch bowl, which holds lemon tahini dressing.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yields: 6 servings

  • 1/4 cup tahini (60g)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated (adjust the number based on how garlicky you like your dressings to be)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple or agave syrup (optional; helps with overall flavor balance in the dressing)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons water, divided (60ml; more as needed for thinning the dressing)
  • Combine the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, syrup, if using, salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of the water together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Whisk until you have a thick, creamy base.

  • Add the remaining water, one tablespoon at a time, whisking as you go. The lemon tahini dressing should be thick but pourable. If it’s too thick for your liking, you can additional water until it reaches a desired consistency. The dressing will continue to thicken as it is stored.

  • Store the dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for up to eight weeks.

I hope that this post has given you a window into the wide, wonderful world of nutritious sauces and dressings made with sesame seeds.

Five glass mason jars rest on a white surface. Each is filled with a different color of creamy tahini dressing.Five glass mason jars rest on a white surface. Each is filled with a different color of creamy tahini dressing.

Let me know which is your favorite!

xo



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