This simple tahini dressing is ready in just a few minutes, packed with flavor, and can be used as delicious dressing, dip, or sauce for tons of meals! All you need is just 5 base ingredients and several seasonings for this dairy-free, gluten-free lemon tahini sauce recipe!
Simple, Flavor-packed, Dairy-free Tahini Dressing
When it comes to dips, sauces, and dressings, I love to have a few in my recipe arsenal that I can call upon no matter when needed. Along with Yum Yum sauce and keto BBQ sauce is this simple tahini dressing! Whether you want a sauce, dressing, or dip for falafel, salads, this recipe is super versatile and can be served as all three!
I originally posted this garlic tahini sauce recipe on my chickpea tacos recipe way back when in 2017, but I’ve since realized it deserved its own post as it’s one of my favorite go-to’s. Making creamy hummus definitely isn’t the only thing tahini excels at!
What is Tahini dressing?
I suppose it’s easiest first to answer; what is tahini? Tahini is a paste made from hulled, ground sesame seeds (white or black – though regular tahini is white). It’s highly nutritious and contains many vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorus, manganese, vitamin B1, and vitamin B6. It’s also rich in anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats.
This vegan dressing combines the creamy, rich flavor of tahini with several other ingredients, including maple syrup, lemon juice, and toasted sesame oil.
- Tahini: Make sure to use smooth tahini (which is creamy and pourable).
- Lemon Juice: Please use fresh lemon juice, not bottled. This will add a bright, refreshing flavor to the tahini sauce.
- Maple Syrup: Perfectly balances the sharp flavors from the garlic and lemon and the bitterness that tahini can have.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: This enhances the nutty flavor of the tahini and adds a silky mouthfeel.
- Garlic: Feel free to adjust the amount used based on personal taste. The garlic flavor will mellow over time as it sits in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can allow the garlic to sit in the lemon juice for 20-30 minutes before preparing the tahini sauce.
- Dijon Mustard: (optional), to provide extra ‘tang’ and great when serving as a tahini ‘vinaigrette.’
- Seasonings: I use a combination of onion powder, cumin (optional), salt, and pepper.
- Garnish: Finely chopped parsley or chives make for a wonderful, optional, garnish.
- Water: Will be used for thinning the tahini dip into a sauce/dressing consistency.
For the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information, read the recipe card below.
How to Make Tahini Sauce
There are just a few simple steps to this tahini sauce recipe, including:
- In a medium bowl, combine the tahini, lemon, maple, sesame oil, Dijon mustard (if using), and salt. Whisk to combine.
The tahini may thicken up/clump when it’s combined with lemon juice or the first bit of water. Don’t worry, this is normal and will be fixed with more water.
- Gradually add the water, continuing to whisk until the dressing is smooth and creamy.
If you’d like it to be a little thinner, then add a little extra water.
- Taste the tahini dressing and adjust any of the elements to your taste, salt, lemon, maple, etc. Then, it’s ready to use!
How to Use?
This recipe will work served as a dip, salad dressing, or sauce – based on the ratio of water you use. You can then use it for all kinds of recipes and dishes, including:
- Use as a tahini salad dressing over all kinds of salads and buddha bowls, like this chickpea buddha bowl.
- Drizzle over grains and grain bowls, like this brown rice salad bowl and quinoa pilaf with vegetables.
- Serve this lemon tahini dressing with falafels and in falafel wraps.
- Use as a tahini dip with appetizers and sides like onion rings, veggie fritters, red lentil patties, etc.
- Pair with roasted vegetables. I particularly love the flavor of the tahini sauce over sweeter veg like sweet potato or carrot (like these carrot fries). However, it will also work with these cauliflower steaks.
- Use as a spread over sandwiches and wraps – perhaps using these spinach tortillas, keto tortillas, or gluten-free tortillas.
- Add a little of the vegan tahini dressing into hummus for extra depth of flavor.
- Use drizzled over tacos, like these chickpea tacos or taco cups.
How to Store?
Once prepared, this tahini dressing will store in the refrigerator, covered for 1 week. If you have fresh herbs in the sauce, it’s best to use it within 2-3 days.
Also, it may thicken slightly while refrigerated, so add a bit of additional water before using, if needed.
What does this dressing taste like?
Tahini is a super-creamy, nutty, slightly bitter flavor. When combined into this tahini sauce, it’s creamy, tangy, slightly sweet, and savory – which is why it’s excellent as a salad dressing and instant flavor provider.
What else can I add to the tahini sauce?
Since this tahini sauce recipe is so simple, there are potentially 1001 ways to adapt and build on it. Here are just a few ways I regularly adjust the recipe.
- Along with the onion powder and cumin, I love to add a pinch of smoked paprika (especially when I’m serving them with these Portobello steaks).
- For spice, feel free to add cayenne pepper, another chili powder, or hot sauce. You could also add a little curry powder or garam masala.
- In terms of herbs, feel free to experiment. Along with parsley and chives, this tahini sauce would also pair well with rosemary, dill, etc.
Can I make my own tahini?
Yes- as long as you have access to sesame seeds and a high-speed blender.
- First, toast the seeds in a large skillet for a few minutes until they are fragrant and slightly browned.
- Then add them to your blender and blend into a smooth, creamy tahini spread.
This can take quite some time, so give your machine breaks, and use a little sesame oil or neutral oil to help it along, if needed.
Recipe Notes & Variations
- Tahini can be bitter: If you don’t use a lot of tahini, it may take some experimenting to find the perfect brand for you. However, if yours is a little bitter, you can also balance the bitterness with a bit of extra maple and salt.
- Make it herby: Feel free to add the herbs (finely chopped) into the tahini dressing rather than just as a garnish.
- For an oil-free tahini sauce recipe: You can omit the sesame oil if preferred. It won’t be quite as silky or have quite as much flavor but is still delicious. You might need additional water to thin it to the correct consistency.
Other Vegan Sauce Recipes
- Homemade Hoisin Sauce
- Chinese Garlic Sauce
- Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce
- Vegan Mayo Recipe
- Vegan Sour Cream
- Vegan Condensed Milk
If you try this easy maple tahini dressing recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan – I love seeing them.
- 1/4 cup (60 g) smooth tahini
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard optional
- 2 small cloves of garlic finely minced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt more to taste
- 40 ml water to thin
- Onion powder, black pepper, cumin to taste (optional)
- Fresh chopped parsley or chives to garnish
- Watch the video in the post for visual instructions.Add the tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, toasted sesame oil, Dijon mustard (if using), minced garlic, and sea salt to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.The tahini may thicken up/clump when it's combined with lemon juice or the first bit of water. Don't worry, this is normal and will be fixed with more water.
- Gradually add 40 ml of water and continue to whisk until the dressing is smooth and creamy. Add a little more water for a thinner dressing.
- Taste it and add more salt, lemon juice, or maple syrup if preferred. This dressing is perfect for falafel, salads, tacos, and finger food like onion rings.
- Make sure to use smooth tahini (which is pourable).
- I also love adding a pinch of smoked paprika, onion powder, and sometimes even a pinch of cumin. Feel free to also add a little black pepper and/or cayenne pepper, or hot sauce for some heat!
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
This is delicious! Instead of the maple syrup I used about a teaspoon of a good mission fig balsamic vinegar. This sauce is going to be a regular at my table.
Sounds amazing, Ann! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I would love to know your favorite brand of tahini. The ones I have bought are so thick and hard to stir. Looking for a creamy better tasting brand. thanks!
Hi Susan, this is the brand I am using. It’s runny, creamy, and has a great taste. 🙂
Especially since its only 1 tsp might you use olive oil instead of sesame? thank you
Yes, that’s fine. 🙂