Garlic Tahini Sauce

Head on close up photo of a jar of tahini lemon sauce with a spoon in it and extra sauce dripping down the side. There is a plate of pita triangles in the background and lemon wedges slightly in front of the jar.

Make this easy creamy tahini sauce in your food processor with tahini paste, fresh lemon juice, garlic cloves, agave, and a few spices to round it all out. Tahini dipping sauce is the perfect salad dressing, veggie dip, bowl or falafel sauce. Just 5 minutes and 7 ingredients + a little water.


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A basic tahini sauce is a staple in any plant-based diet. This is the flavorful sauce that I started making in 2015 and it’s become one of my favorite recipes. It’s a simple recipe, but it’s so good – a perfect sauce with a great balance of that umami tahini, zesty lemon, and sweet agave.

It was a major victory to learn how to make a creamy tahini dressing when I first went vegan because it’s an easy way to make a creamy sauce or dressing without using dairy or even a high-powered blender, which I didn’t have at the time. Hope it does the same for you!

Keep this great sauce recipe in your back pocket. (But don’t keep the sauce in your pocket, that’s just messy.)

Pin this recipe for later.

Why You’ll Love This Tahini Salad Dressing Recipe

  • Quick and easy. The whole thing comes together in just minutes!
  • Adds a major flavor upgrade to any dish it touches!
  • It’s so versatile. Whether on a falafel bowl, as a salad dressing, or as a dip, this recipe is sure to make you flip!  
Overhead shot of all the ingredients you need to make a basic creamy tahini sauce: tahini, lemon juice, spices, agave, water

Ingredients in Tahini Dip (Vegan)

To make vegan tahini sauce, you only need 7 ingredients plus a little cold water to thin it out.

You’ll need:

  • Tahini – Use a good quality tahini because that’s key to overall flavor. Our favorite is Soom tahini which is a women-owned brand located right here in Philadelphia! Fun fact: “Soom” is a riff of “soomsoom” which is Hebrew for “sesame”.
  • Lemon juice – Fresh or bottled, either works!
  • Garlic cloves – More or less depending on how much you like garlic. (We REALLY like garlic!)
  • SPICES: sea salt, ground cumin, ground black pepper
  • Agave nectar – This adds a touch of sweet to balance out the bitterness and acidity in the most delightful way!

Tahini Sauce Origin

We can trace the origin of tahini (which means “to grind”) as a sesame paste recipe ingredient to Arabic texts from the 13th century. However, sesame seeds and sesame paste have origins in recipes and medicinal uses as far back as the 5th century BC Greece and even earlier!

How to Store Tahini After Opening

This topic is widely debated. But truthfully, the option is yours. Store tahini in a cool, dark spot like the pantry. You can store it in the refrigerator, but that will cause the sesame paste to be thicker, which is a deal-breaker for those who prefer a thinner tahini for mixing in dressings and the like. 

A jar of tahini should last up to a year after being opened, whether in the pantry or the fridge, as long as it doesn’t come into contact with a contaminant like moisture or bacteria.

How to tell if tahini has gone bad: If your tahini has indeed gone bad, it will have a noticeably sharp and unpleasant rancid odor. The pleasant “slightly bitter” smell associated with tahini will no longer be pleasant or slight.

Overhead shot of a spoon digging into an open jar of tahini garlic sauce. There's a plate of pita chips to one side and a plate of lemon wedges to the other.

Substitution Options for Tahini Dressing (Vegan)

If you don’t have or can’t tolerate one of the above ingredients, here are our best substitution tips. Remember: substituting any of the ingredients may lead to a difference in the final product that is not always a positive one. Let us know in the comments if you try any subs and how they work out for you! 

Tahini substitute: You could maybe make this with sunflower butter. You could also use the recipe as a framework for a similar sauce with almond butter or other nut or seed butters, but it would taste very very different. And I definitely would not use peanut butter. LOL! We have not yet tried these substitution options.

For the lemon juice: Lime juice would be a nice sub, but the overall taste would be slightly different. To get a similar effect, you could also use rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.

For the fresh garlic: To sub for minced garlic from a jar, I find 1 scant tablespoon to be about equivalent to one large minced clove of fresh. If you want to replace it with garlic powder, we recommend about 1/4 teaspoon per clove of fresh garlic. 

For the spices: Feel free to shake up the spices. Coriander or garam masala would be nice, cayenne or red pepper flakes for some heat. Maybe dried dill or even mint for something a little different.

For the agave: Maple syrup, light brown sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, date syrup, etc are all options that would work in this recipe.

Two side by side photos of a small food processor before and after blending vegan tahini sauce

How to Make Vegan Tahini Sauce

This vegan tahini sauce recipe could not be easier to make! After gathering your ingredients, just add all of them to a small blender or food processor

That’s the best part about this creamy vegan sauce recipe – you don’t need a fancy blender! We just used our small Ninja food processor and it worked just fine. 

Then, all you have to do is blend until the sauce is completely smooth. That’s it!

Tahini Sauce Uses

Serve this vegan tahini sauce cold and straight out of the food processor. Or see below for storage ideas!

  • Tahini sauce for falafel – served as a bowl, wrap, burger, or pita
  • The best vegan tahini dressing for dairy-free salads
  • As a simple sauce for any kind of bowl: buddha bowls, falafel bowls, grain bowls with Greek tofu.
  • As a tahini vegetable dip for your favorite veggies and pita bread or pita chips
  • Drizzle it on everything – sandwiches, flatbreads, tofu scramble
Overhead shot of an overflowing glass jar filled with tahini sauce. There's a plate of pita chips and lemons in the background.

How to Store Leftover Tahini Dipping Sauce

How long does tahini sauce last in the fridge? Homemade tahini sauce lasts 5-7 days stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.

Can you freeze tahini sauce? You can freeze tahini sauce for up to three months. Some separation may occur when defrosted. We love to use our Souper Cubes for perfectly portioned sizes and so we don’t have to defrost a large amount when we only need a little.

Vegan Tahini Sauce FAQ

What is tahini?

Tahini is a very popular sauce made from simple ingredients like toasted and ground sesame seeds and olive oil made into a sesame seed paste. It has a lovely nutty flavor and is a main ingredient in a lot of middle eastern cuisine. Including baba ghanoush and creamy hummus, to name but two. It’s also highly beloved on its own as a delicious sauce or dip with some fresh parsley or other fresh herbs.

Is tahini vegan?

Tahini by itself is vegan, but some tahini-based sauces on the market at the grocery store have dairy added to them. Always check the ingredients.

Do you refrigerate tahini after opening?

This is a widely debated topic. Tahini can be stored in a cool, dark spot like the pantry. It can also be stored in the refrigerator, but that will cause the sesame paste to be thicker, which is a deal-breaker for those who prefer a thinner tahini for mixing in dressings and the like.

Is tahini gluten free?

Yes, tahini is a delicious and versatile gluten free food.

Is tahini keto?

Tahini is great for those following a keto diet because it is high in fat and low in carbohydrates.

How long does tahini last in the fridge?

Tahini should last up to a year after being opened, whether in the pantry or the fridge, as long as it doesn’t come into contact with a contaminant like moisture or bacteria.

What does tahini sauce taste like?

Tahini has a wonderfully nutty, sesame flavor with just the slightest bitterness to it. 

What is tahini sauce used for?

This list is so long I could potentially write an entire other post just on that one question. Tahini is used as an ingredient in SO many cultures. From savory to sweet, tahini can be used on its own or play a smaller role in a recipe. It’s an integral part of any hummus or halva recipe. It’s great as a yogurt substitute for things like tzatziki sauce or other dressings. 

Is tahini the same as mayonnaise?

Tahini (sesame seeds and oil) is not the same as mayonnaise (egg whites and oil), but it can be used as an alternative in many recipes that call for mayonnaise.

Close up overhead shot of vegan tahini sauce overflowing in a glass jar with a spoon in it.

Vegan Recipes with Tahini

I hope you find this tahini sauce recipe as delightful and deliciously useful as we have! When you try it, I’d love to hear what you thought and how you used it. 

Leave a star rating and review on the recipe below. It helps more people find our recipes, and we love cheering you on in your kitchen wins!

Yield: About 1.5 cups tahini sauce

Tahini Lemon Sauce

Head on close up photo of a jar of tahini lemon sauce with a spoon in it and extra sauce dripping down the side. There is a plate of pita triangles in the background and lemon wedges slightly in front of the jar.

Make this easy creamy tahini sauce in your food processor with tahini paste, fresh lemon juice, garlic cloves, agave, and a few spices to round it all out. Tahini dipping sauce is the perfect salad dressing, veggie dip, healthy grain bowl or falafel sauce. It takes just 5 minutes and 7 ingredients + a little water.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings as you see fit. Also check the texture. If you’d like it thinner, add another Tbsp or 2 of water, blend, and check the texture again before adding more.
  3. Serve this tahini sauce as a salad dressing, drizzled on roasted vegetables, baked potatoes, as a veggie dip or falafel sauce. Enjoy!
  4. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for up to 3 months. We love to freeze in 1/2-cup Souper Cubes, so we can just grab a couple portions at a time. Defrost in the fridge and give it a good stir before using!

Notes

  • If you'd like a thinner tahini sauce, simply blend in 1 Tbsp cold water at a time until your desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as you see fit from there.
  • We love to serve this sauce recipe drizzled over a vegan Greek tofu bowl!
  • Fresh garlic sub: To sub minced garlic (from a jar) for the fresh garlic, I find 1 scant Tbsp to be about equivalent to one large minced clove of fresh garlic. If you want to replace the fresh garlic with garlic powder, it’s recommended to use about 1/4 tsp per clove of fresh garlic.
  • Spice Options: Feel free to shake up the spices in this tahini sauce recipe. Ground coriander or garam masala would be a nice addition. I'd add cayenne or red pepper flakes if you like spicy sauces. Maybe dried dill or even mint for a slightly different twist.
  • Lemon Juice sub: Lime juice would be a nice sub, but the overall taste would be slightly different. To get a similar effect, you could also use rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

2 Tbsp

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 94Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 140mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and may not always be accurate.

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