Creamy, nutty, and bright, this easy tahini sauce will become a staple in your kitchen. Drizzle it over falafel, grain bowls, salads, and more!
If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that I love tahini. In the past, I’ve posted tahini cookies, salad dressings, oatmeal, and even ice cream, but today, I’m finally sharing my favorite 5-ingredient lemon tahini sauce recipe.
This tahini sauce is incredibly versatile, as it shines on salads, sandwiches, falafel, bowls, and more! My basic version is similar to what you’d find at any Middle Eastern falafel or shawarma restaurant, but I’m also including three delicious variations here. Honestly, I can’t choose a favorite. They all pack a punch of vivid color and bold flavor, and making them couldn’t be simpler. They keep for up to a week in the fridge, so prep one (or more) to jazz up your meals all week long!
If you’re not familiar with tahini, it’s a creamy, nutty paste made from ground sesame seeds. Popular throughout the Middle East, it’s a key ingredient in spreads like hummus and baba ganoush. These days, you can find it in most well-stocked grocery stores. I use tahini in lots of ways in my kitchen, but most often, I add it to this easy, versatile lemon tahini sauce.
Basic Tahini Sauce Recipe Ingredients
You only need 5 basic ingredients to make this easy recipe:
- Tahini – This recipe is all about the tahini, so choose a good quality one that isn’t too stiff or bitter. My favorite brands are Cedar’s, Soom, and Seed + Mill, all of which have a nice runny texture and nutty taste.
- Lemon juice – Squeeze it yourself for the best bright flavor!
- Garlic – Instead of using minced garlic, I finely grate it so that it fully incorporates into the sauce, adding a kick of garlic flavor.
- Water – Add water, as needed, to thin your sauce until it has a smooth, creamy texture.
- Sea salt – Stir it in to sharpen the sauce’s nutty, lemony taste.
How to Make Tahini Sauce
To make this recipe, simply whisk the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water together in a bowl until they create a luscious, smooth sauce.
When you first add the water and lemon juice to the tahini, it will firm up and look something like this:
That’s totally normal! Continue whisking for a minute or so, and the ingredients will combine to form a smooth, creamy sauce. If your tahini is dry, or if you prefer a thinner sauce, add more water, as needed, to reach your desired consistency.
Then, taste and adjust your seasonings. If you prefer a brighter sauce, add more lemon. If it is too bitter, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey. And if the flavor is too sharp, mellow it with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon olive oil. Enjoy!
Tahini Sauce Recipe Variations
Like my cilantro lime dressing, I like to make this dressing in more ways than one. The traditional version is delicious, but these colorful, flavorful variations are fun ways to change it up:
- Turmeric Tahini – Stir 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and 1 teaspoon maple syrup into the base recipe to make this vibrant, sunny sauce.
- Beet Tahini – Beets + tahini are a match made in heaven! Make the entire recipe in the food processor, blending a peeled and roasted beet, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander with the base ingredients to give the sauce a sweet, spiced flavor. Add water as necessary to thin.
- Green Goddess Tahini – Like the beet variation, this super-green sauce comes together in the food processor. I pulse a heaping 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, a heaping 3/4 cup fresh parsley, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon olive oil into the base recipe ingredients.
Let me know what variations you try!
Tahini Sauce Serving Suggestions
Tahini sauce is super versatile, and I use it in all sorts of ways in my kitchen. Most simply, I enjoy it as a dip with fresh veggies or pita bread, or I drizzle it over my morning avocado toast. Here are a few more of my favorite ways to use it:
- As a salad dressing. I love it on green salads, roasted vegetable salads, pasta salads, grain salads, and more.
- On grilled or roasted veggies. I especially like it with roasted cauliflower, squash, or Brussels sprouts!
- On sandwiches or wraps, like falafel wraps or chickpea shawarma wraps.
- On a grain bowl. I especially love the turmeric tahini dressing in this buddha bowl!
How do you like to use tahini sauce? Let me know in the comments!
If you love this tahini sauce recipe…
Try any of these flavorful sauces or dressings next:
- Tahini Dressing
- Green Goddess Dressing
- Tzatziki Sauce
- Carrot Ginger Dressing
- Sesame Ginger Dressing
- Easy Peanut Sauce
- Romesco Sauce
- Or any of these 15 Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes!
Basic Tahini Sauce
- ½ cup tahini*
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
- 1 small garlic clove, grated or pressed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- In a small bowl, stir together the tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic, and sea salt. Season to taste. If you find the tahini sauce too bitter, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon maple syrup or honey to balance the flavor. If it’s too sharp, add ½ to 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil to mellow the flavor. If it's too thick, add water, as needed, to reach your desired consistency.See the blog post about for the turmeric, beet, and green tahini sauce variations.