Tahini, the famous sesame seed paste, has a unique flavor profile and a range of uses in cooking. While you can make tahini yourself or purchase it from any nearby supermarket, there may be cases when you don’t have tahini at hand and the recipe needs it to be complete.

What are the best substitutes for tahini? From the ones closest to tahini in terms of flavor to substitutes that resemble the texture of the paste, we have picked seven of the best options you can go for. The best substitutes for tahini are sunflower seed butter, almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, sesame oil, Greek yogurt, and macadamia nut butter.

Read on to learn how these substitutes are used to replace tahini and if there are other options that can work as well. You will also learn how to make tahini at home if your store-bought jar of the sesame seed paste is empty and you need true tahini to use in a recipe.

What Is Tahini and How It’s Used

Tahini, a savory condiment made from sesame seeds, is a popular ingredient used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines.

The slightly bitter and nutty flavor of tahini adds so much to the dishes. Here are the popular uses of tahini.

Tahini is used as a salad dressing. All you need to do is to dilute it with oil and vinegar, and some lemon juice and the creamiest salad dressing is ready. Maple syrup, honey, and mustard are also popular when it comes to tahini salad dressing recipes.
Tahini is a key ingredient in hummus. The tangy flavor of the sesame seed paste completes the taste of the traditional chickpea paste.
Tahini makes delicious marinades. The tanginess of the sesame seeds doesn’t overpower the meat but gives it a unique depth of flavor. Paired with plain Greek yogurt, it will also tenderize the protein.
Tahini is a popular spread for sandwiches and wraps. Whether it’s Greek-style gyro or a sandwich of your own creation, adding a small amount of tahini will certainly complement both the meat and the veggies.

These are only a few of the ways you can use tahini. Once you get used to the tanginess of this paste and how to get the most of it, you can try using tahini paste in more extreme ways. Despite its tanginess and the bitterness that comes from sesame seeds, tahini paste is also used in baking and in the making of various desserts.

7 Best Substitutes for Tahini

While tahini has a unique flavor that is hard to confuse with anything else, there are multiple other ingredients that can substitute it if needed.

If you have run out of tahini paste, here is what you can substitute it with.

1.   Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter is a great substitute for tahini. And the good thing is, it is very easy to make if you don’t have store-bought sunflower seed butter at home. Simply blend the sunflower seeds with a neutral-flavored oil and use the butter instead of tahini.

The texture of sunflower seed butter is very similar to that of tahini. If you want the taste to resemble tahini paste too, add some sesame oil to it.

Sunflower seed butter is a good source of vitamin E. The latter is a powerful antioxidant and only 2 tablespoons of sunflower seed butter will provide you with almost half of the needed amount of vitamin E on a daily basis.

2.   Almond Butter

Nut butters are good alternatives to tahini due to their creaminess and nutty flavor. While they do lack the tanginess of the sesame seed paste, nut butters can be used instead of tahini for a range of cooking tasks, including in the making of sauces and marinades.

The flavor of almond butter is very subdued. It is mild, sweet, and of course, nutty. Plain almond butter without any flavorings will work well in a range of recipes instead of tahini.

You can easily make almond butter yourself. Simple blend the pre-soaked almonds until you reach a smooth consistency resembling that of the tahini paste.

3.   Peanut Butter

Almond butter is very similar to peanut butter in terms of flavor. The former, however, may be milder than peanut butter. Thus, there is no reason why you can’t use peanut butter as a tahini substitute.

You can blend a small amount of sesame oil with peanut butter to better mimic the flavor and feel of tahini.

The good thing about peanut butter is that you can find it in almost every kitchen. If you have time, you can even make it yourself.

4.   Cashew Butter

Cashew butter certainly lacks the bitterness of tahini paste. It can, however, create the same mouthfeel as tahini paste. Plus, cashew butter also has nutty undertones which bring it closer to the sesame seed paste.

You can make sauces and salad dressings with cashew butter as well as use it in baking.

5.   Sesame Oil

Sesame oil comes from sesame seeds. Having the same origin as tahini, it is more than obvious that this oil is one of the best substitutes for the flavorful paste.

The texture of sesame oil is certainly different from tahini. However, the very similar flavor profile can make you overlook the texture differences.

You can use sesame oil for salad dressings and marinades. It is also a good choice for frying and roasting. Toasted sesame seed oil is a good finishing oil. Drizzle it on noodles, fried rice, and even ice cream.

When using sesame seed oil as a substitute for tahini, keep in mind that its flavor is more intense. Thus, you need to start with a smaller amount of this oil than the recipe calls for tahini paste.

If you need to create a paste similar to that of tahini, mix a small amount of sesame oil with any nut butter you have at hand for the most on-point substitute for tahini.

6.   Greek Yogurt

As surprising as it may be, Greek yogurt can work as a substitute for tahini in certain recipes. Here is how it works. Greek yogurt, with its clean and refreshing flavor, is often used to balance out the sweetness in certain dishes. And so is tahini.

So, whenever tahini is used in a dressing or dip as an ingredient that offsets sweetness with its tangy flavor, you can go ahead and use plain Greek yogurt instead. It will work just as well, especially taking into account the similar textures of these two ingredients.

7.   Macadamia Nut Butter

Macadamia nut butter is not as popular as other nut butters, such as peanut butter and almond butter. However, if you happen to have it at home and you are missing the sesame seed paste, try using this exotic nut butter instead.

Other Options

The abovementioned ingredients are some of the best and most popular substitutes for tahini. If you search your kitchen well, you are likely to find at least one of them.

But there are a few other options too. Soy butter, for example, can work well as a tahini substitute for people who want to avoid nuts and dairy.

Chickpea flour, also known as besan, is another substitute for tahini. This ingredient can be found in the kitchens of people who often cook Asian or Middle Eastern dishes as these are the ones that often call for chickpea flour.

Hempseed butter can also replace tahini in certain recipes.

Make Tahini Yourself

If store-bought tahini is all you use and you have run out of it, try making tahini yourself.

Homemade tahini is easier than you think and it tastes just as good as the commercially manufactured sesame seed paste. Due to the lack of preservatives, it obviously won’t last as long. But the good thing is you can make as much tahini as you need at the moment.

To make tahini at home you need two ingredients – sesame seeds and oil with a neutral flavor. Canola oil, for example, would be a great pick.

Toast the sesame seeds very lightly to enhance their nutty flavor and to give the seeds a beautiful golden brown color.

Then, blend the toasted sesame seeds with oil using a food processor. Add the oil gradually until you reach the desired creamy and smooth consistency.

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