One of my vices is eating tahini on a spoon. I love it. It’s nutty and creamy yet has a slight bitterness which makes it more interesting. However, when I run out, there are plenty of good tahini substitutes.
No need to stress!
What is Tahini?
Tahini is a paste or spread made from grinding sesame seeds. It’s like a sesame version of peanut butter.
It’s use extensively in Middle Eastern cooking. Most famously as the nutty ingredient in hummus and babaganoush.
The Best Tahini Substitutes
1. Nut Butters
Cashew, almond, brazil nut or any combination of the above. All add the creamy richness that you get from tahini. The flavour profiles of these nut butters are slightly different but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The only downside is nut butters tend to be much more expensive than their sesame seed based cousin.
2. Sun Butter
Sunflower seed butter also works really well as a tahini substitute. If you want a closer match with more sesame flavour, add a teaspoon of roasted sesame oil.
3. Smooth Peanut Butter
I’ve made hummus with peanut butter and while it tasted completely different to regular hummus, it was still super delicious! Peanut butter has a much stronger flavour than tahini so it will dominate. Which may or may not be a good thing depending on how much you love peanut butter.
4. Sesame Seeds
If your recipe calls for a drizzle of tahini, often a sprinkle of sesame seeds will give the same nutty flavour highlight. Just the texture will be different.
If you have a high powered blender, you can grind your own sesame seeds to make super fresh tahini. However I find it slightly gritty which I’m not a fan of.
5. Sesame Oil
A good substitute if you just want a little sesame flavour. Much stronger than tahini so use sparingly.
Won’t work if you’re using tahini as a sauce or in large quantities like in hummus.
6. Greek Yoghurt
This will take your dish in a completely different direction. And won’t work in all cases.
However a nice tangy yoghurt can work to add creaminess to sauces or hummus. Just remember it’s much more watery than tahini so will make for a runnier end product.
Unhulled vs Hulled Tahini
It’s a bit like brown vs white rice. Unhulled tahini is browner in colour and has a more bitter flavour because the hull or bran are included.
I prefer hulled (white) tahini because the flavour is much cleaner and nuttier.
Favourite Tahini Recipes
+ Simple Hummus
+ Tahini Miso Turmeric Sauce
+ Lime & Tahini Kale Salad
+ Stuffed Sweet Potato with Tahini Sauce
+ Warm Salad of Roast Pumpkin (Squash) & Chickpeas
+ Avo on Toast with Smashed Olives & Tahini
+ Broccoli Hummus with Spicy Sausage
+ The Tahini Archives
Delicious Tahini Flavour Pairings
+ Tahini & Lemon
+ Tahini & Lime
+ Tahini & Garlic
+ Tahini & Greek Yoghurt
+ Tahini & Chickpeas
+ Tahini & Miso Paste
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!
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