Today we're chatting all things tahini: how to make creamy, delicious tahini from scratch, troubleshooting tips and two recipes for plain and chocolate tahini!
What is tahini?
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds, common in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It's naturally vegan, gluten free and just a few simple ingredients.
Tahini is also tree nut free, so it can be a great nut butter substitute for those with nut allergies.
Ways to use tahini
- In a dip, like this Homemade Hummus 4 Ways and this Eggplant Carrot Tahini Dip.
- Use in a salad dressing. I LOVE it in this Kale Tahini Caesar Salad and this Miso Tahini Dressing.
- As a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables or a topping for these Lentil-stuffed Eggplant Boats. This yogurt tahini sauce is another favorite!
- Use in dessert recipes for a rich, nutty flavor. Try our favorite Tahini Hazelnut Brownies or these Tahini Thumbprint Cookies! I also love the look of this Tahini Hot Fudge Sauce from Bojon Gourmet.
- On toast, topped with avocado!
For perfectly creamy plain tahini, you only need a few ingredients:
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Olive oil (or another neutral oil)
Hulled or unhulled sesame seeds for tahini?
Hulled sesame seeds have their bitter outer covering removed during manufacturing. They are quite a bit lighter in color than unhulled sesame seeds, and they are the most common option that you'll find in stores (see below).
Unhulled sesame seeds still contain that outer coating, which not only makes tahini bitter, but also makes it harder to get a smooth paste. We don't suggest using unhulled sesame seeds for this recipe.
You can either use plain hulled sesame seeds, or you can quickly toast them before blending for a more flavorful tahini.
How to toast sesame seeds
You can either toast your sesame seeds in a skillet on the stovetop or in the oven. I prefer the stovetop method; it's much faster!
To do so, preheat a skillet over medium heat and add sesame seeds in an even layer. Toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a bowl so they don't continue cooking.
If you'd prefer to use the oven, preheat to 350˚F. Arrange the sesame seeds in an even layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool.
Blender or food processor?
Once your sesame seeds are perfectly toasted, it's time to blend!
We always use a food processor to make tahini. We've found that it's much easier to control and we're better able to scrape down the sides for even blending.
If you choose to use a blender, be sure it is a high power blender (like a Vitamix), preferably with a tamper so you can keep the mixture moving.
Blend until smooth
Start by adding the sesame seeds to the food processor and pulsing about 20 times until they form a coarse, crumbly mixture.
Next, blend continuously for 4-5 minutes, until it turns into a thick paste. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the food processor every minute or so.
Next, add your salt and start blending. Slowly stream in the olive oil while it's blending. Continue blending for 4-5 minutes, until the tahini is smooth, creamy and pale. Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides several times during this process.
Voilà! Perfectly creamy tahini.
Now that we've got plain tahini covered, let's chat chocolate tahini!
It's nutty, sweet, chocolate-y and perfect for spreading on toast, adding to oatmeal, topping ice cream, or eating straight from the jar.
To make chocolate tahini, first make basic tahini by following the instructions from above. Then, add in cocoa powder, room temperature maple syrup, a little more oil, vanilla extract, more salt, room temperature water and cooled, melted dark chocolate.
Water seems counterintuitive, but it helps loosen up the tahini, which thickens up when you add in chocolate.
It may start to separate when you first add the water in. We suggest slowly streaming in the water while it's blending until it forms a smooth paste.
Slowly stream in the cooled, melted chocolate as well. It's important that the chocolate is cooled; hot melted chocolate may cause the mixture to seize up.
Troubleshooting & FAQ
My tahini isn't getting creamy. What do I do?
If you've followed the instructions and your tahini still isn't getting creamy after 10-15 minutes of processing, you may have to add more oil. Add in 1 tbsp increments until you reach the desired consistency.
If it's still not getting creamy, it may be an issue with your food processor. I tried this recipe using an older, less powerful food processor and I had a hard time. Try transferring it to a blender or just continue blending for up to 25 minutes.
How long can I store homemade tahini? Is it shelf-stable?
Store your homemade tahini in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months.
We don't suggest storing at room temperature for more than a week or two as homemade tahini doesn't contain any preservatives and will eventually spoil.
If you make this homemade tahini, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
Plain tahini is easy to make and only requires a few simple ingredients. Once you've mastered homemade tahini, try this chocolate version, too!
- 2 cups hulled, toasted sesame seeds
- 1/4-1/3 cup light olive oil or another neutral oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Chocolate tahini: same as above, plus:
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp maple syrup (brought to room temperature)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- up to 1/2 cup room temperature water
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled
- To toast your sesame seeds, preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add sesame seeds in an even layer and toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Transfer cooled sesame seeds to a food processor and pulse 20-25 times until they form a crumbly mixture. Blend continuously until a thick paste starts to form; about 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides a few times during this process.
- Add in salt and continue blending. Slowly stream in olive oil while blending. Continue blending until the tahini is smooth, creamy and light in color (about 5 minutes).
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months.
- Follow instructions above for plain tahini.
- Then, add cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla, olive oil and salt to the food processor and continue blending. Slowly stream in water until it forms a smooth paste.
- Slowly stream in cooled, melted chocolate until smooth and creamy.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a few months.
See blog post for troubleshooting and FAQs!
- Category: Spreads
- Method: Blend
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: homemade tahini