13 Finger-licking Tahini Substitutes!
Mmm, mmm! Tahini is that delicious ingredient that transforms your chickpea paste into hummus. Adding a complex flavor to many dips, sauces, even desserts, tahini is a must-have in any foodie’s refrigerator. However, sometimes you’re out. And when you are, there are plenty of tahini substitutes to try.
Your brownie batter calls for a splash of tahini. Your hummus is not the same without a couple of teaspoons of tahini. Your dips require that extra richness of tahini. But you’re out of it. Do you forget about your planned recipes and go for another menu? Or is it possible to make do with other ingredients in your pantry?
Good news: you can still add that nutty richness to your dish with our tahini alternatives. But first…
What is tahini?
Tahini, aka sesame paste, is a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s made from toasted sesame seeds that are ground into a rich, flavorful, unctuous paste. Yum!
My mouth is watering as I type this and I’m thinking about raiding the fridge for a quick spoonful. Thankfully, it’s there. But what would I have done if it weren’t? If you’re wondering too, here’s how to substitute tahini!
Replicate tahini’s flavor profile
What to use instead of tahini? Fear not! We have many options. But before that, it’s important to focus on the flavor we’re replicating. Sesame paste is quite complex. It has a palate-pleasing mixture of aromas and a creamy, rich, silky-smooth, unctuous texture. It has a subtle sweetness and it boasts of nuttiness. With a hint of bitterness towards the end and a tanginess that puckers the mouth a little, tahini is a decadent ingredient in many recipes.
Salad dressings get a distinct flavor with sesame paste. Sauces, marinades, and dips get that earthy richness from tahini. Ice creams, smoothies, and shakes become better with tahini. It’s a great addition to cakes, cookies, brownies, and other baked goods or desserts. There’d be no hummus or baba ganoush without it. And no halva either! Tahini is all that! So you may be wondering how can it be replaced. Let’s get to it!
Try these tahini substitutes!
What can you replace tahini with when the recipe calls for it? Some alternatives can save the day. While tahini plays a vital part in enhancing the dish, flavor, and texture, you can replace it. We did the work to find some delicious alternatives.
Some of them are suitable if you have a sesame allergy. Some are ideal to replicate the flavor, while others should be your go-to options if you’re trying to mimic the texture. Some of them are quite rare in a non-foodie kitchen while others are simply there in your fridge. Grab a spoon!
1. Sunflower Seed Butter
Sunflower seed butter is one of the best tahini substitutes. It’s even more convincing if you’ve got some sesame oil to add to it.
2. Cashew Butter
Cashew butter can be on the expensive side, but its mild flavor and richness are worth it. In terms of texture, it can successfully replace tahini. When it comes to flavor, cashew butter is sweeter, while tahini is bitter. But it can work.
3. Almond Butter
You can use this in both sweet and savory recipes. Almond butter is creamy, rich, and sweet with a mild bitterness and a consistency resembling sesame paste. If you have almond butter, you can use it to replicate tahini’s taste and aroma.
Extra tip: if you mix cashew and almond butter you get the perfect substitution for tahini.
4. Sesame Oil
If you don’t like the texture of tahini but want to keep the flavor, this is your best choice. It’s ideal in just about everything that mentions tahini. Make sure to adjust the amount because the oil can be greasier and runnier. Other than that, spot on!
5. Peanut Butter
If you run out of tahini or it’s not available where you live, we’re pretty sure you have this ingredient at hand. Peanut butter can be found in any American kitchen and, thankfully, it can replace sesame paste. If you’re not allergic, it’s the most practical choice from our list.
It has the same silky smooth texture (provided you choose the smooth rather than crunchy). And it has a strong, intense, sweet, and mildly bitter flavor. Both peanut butter and tahini have that earthy, nutty feel. Adjust the quantity used since peanut butter can be stronger in flavor and could overpower your dish.
6. Sesame Seeds
What’s a good sesame paste replacement? Well, sesame seeds, of course. Instead of drizzling tahini, you can sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and ta-da! The same taste. You’ll notice a crunch and you won’t get the silky texture but other than that, perfecto!
FYI, if you’ve got sesame seeds around you can make your tahini in a splash. We have the recipe below! Scroll away, my foodie-friend!
7. Macadamia Nut Butter
To be fair, any nut butter would do. But Macadamia is possibly the best alternative for tahini due to its rich and velvety texture and its rather mild taste.
8. Hempseed Butter
Any seed butter would do. Sunflower, pumpkin, and poppy seeds can all replace tahini. They may have different colors and a change in flavors, but they are sufficiently similar. Another great news: hempseeds rarely cause allergies.
9. Black Sesame Paste
a great substitute for sesame paste is black sesame paste, if for some reason you have it around. Kuro Neri Goma is a Japanese condiment. It has a richer flavor than tahini. But it works! One important note: it will change the color of dips and pastes. So if you’re making hummus or baba ganoush, be prepared!
10. Greek Yogurt
If you are allergic to sesame seeds and nuts or you find tahini too pricey, Greek yogurt is a good choice. If you’re allergic to dairy as well, keep reading as there’s an option for you too.
Returning to Greek yogurt, it can make a good tahini replacement. You’ll miss out on some of the nutty, bittersweet aromas of tahini, but you’ll get the rich, creamy texture, that’s for sure. Greek yogurt has a similar consistency to tahini and will give your recipes a dash of tanginess.
11. Kerisik (Toasted Coconut Paste)
This Southeast Asian condiment made from grated coconut can replace tahini. If you have it around, swap them in your recipes. It has a similar texture and consistency. In terms of flavor, it has that nutty aroma. It brings a caramelized, coconutty taste as well.
12. Soy Butter
Soy butter is made from soy milk and some fats or oils. It’s a good alternative for tahini if you can’t eat nuts or dairy. It will give a similar texture and a good enough aroma.
13. Chickpea Flour
If you don’t like tahini’s taste, or you can’t eat nuts, seeds, gluten, and dairy, this is your go-to option. Roast it a little to get that earthy, bitter flavor, and it can make a good substitute.
How to make your sesame paste
Probably one of the best substitutes for tahini is the homemade version of this paste. If you have the ingredients lying around, give it a go! You’ll enjoy it even more. For DIY tahini, you need sesame seeds and a neutral oil: Canola works just fine. And if you’ve got it, sesame oil is even better.
Toast the sesame seeds until they are golden and release their fragrance. Be careful since they can burn quite fast and become bitter. Put the seeds in a food processor and drizzle some of the oil in too. Blend until you form a smooth, delicate paste. Keep adding oil until you get a thin paste. It has to be thin enough to pour. Let it chill and start dipping. It’s even better than any store-bought tahini you can find out there!
Any of the tahini substitutes will do. Most of them are equally versatile and can replace sesame paste in any recipe. From snacks to dips, from sauces to marinades, from desserts to beverages, you can get that tahini vibe with most of the ingredients above.