This 10-minute tahini paste only has three ingredients: raw sesame seeds, oil, and salt. Tahini is super simple to make at home because it's literally just toasting the sesame seeds and then blending them.
What is Tahini Sesame Paste?
Tahini sauce sesame paste is a very common ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, and sometimes it's hard to find.
If you have Amazon delivery in your area, you can order this tahini sauce online. If you have no access to tahini sesame paste at the grocery store or online, then you can easily make it at home.
I'm trying to think of how to describe tahini sauce for those unfamiliar with it. The consistency of tahini sesame paste reminds me of homemade nut butter.
- Sesame seeds: You have 2 options here: raw or toasted. If you get raw sesame seeds, then you will need to toast them yourself which is very easy to do. If you find toasted sesame seeds, then you can bypass the toasting step and just stick them directly in the food processor. Make sure your sesame seeds are not expired or rancid.
- Oil: You can use a neutral flavor oil or olive oil. I prefer to use olive oil because I like the taste of olive oil.
- Salt: I add a little bit of salt to my tahini to balance it out.
How to Make Tahini
Tahini is made in two steps: toasting the raw sesame seeds and blending the sesame seeds with some oil. If using already toasted sesame seeds, skip the first step and continue to the blending step.
Toast the Sesame Seeds
The key to toasting sesame seeds is low and slow. It's very easy to burn the seeds and not realize it.
There are a few key steps to toasting the seeds:
- Don't overfill your nonstick frying pan. Toast the seeds in a few batches if needed. This ensures that the seeds are evenly toasted.
- Keep the pan on medium-low heat while continuously stirring.
- You will notice a very slight color change when the sesame seeds are toasting. I keep some raw sesame seeds next to me to compare the color. Once you notice the slight color change, it's time to remove the seeds from the pan. See the image below for the slight coloration change. Once you notice the seeds are slightly darker, it's time to take these sesame seeds off the stovetop!
Blend the Sesame Seeds
Use a food processor to blend the toasted sesame seeds. It takes a little bit of time for the sesame seeds to start to break down and form a paste.
About halfway through blending the sesame seeds, add the oil slowly until you reach your desired consistency. I prefer a thicker paste closer to peanut butter, so I do not add much oil.
Optional Blender Step
Most people stop there when creating tahini sauce, but I will share a trick I've discovered that makes this sauce even better.
Once the desired consistency is reached in the food processor, transfer it to the Vitamix blender. Blend the tahini sesame paste on high for about 30 seconds. The tahini paste will be extra smooth and creamy.
If you don't have a blender, you can stop at the food processor step. If you have a blender, I highly recommend following through with the last step of making the tahini extra creamy. You can even tell in the photo below how much smoother the sauce is!
If your recipe calls for tahini and you need a substitute ingredient, you can generally substitute peanut butter or almond butter, however, it entirely depends on how the tahini is being used.
For Middle Eastern cooking, if I don't have tahini then I just leave it out altogether. Or, if it's a blended recipe like this hummus recipe without tahini, I use sesame seeds in lieu of tahini paste.
Store the tahini sauce in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 6 months. I do not recommend freezing tahini.
- Food processor
- Wide nonstick frying pan
- Airtight storage container
- Vitamix blender (optional)