If you’re out of tahini and don’t have time to make it yourself, this guide shows you the best substitute for tahini that you’ll love adding to meals.
Tahini is a common condiment in the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North Africa.
It’s made from toasted sesame seeds ground into a butter-like paste and used in recipes like dips, sauces, marinades, desserts, and dressings.
What You Need to Know about Tahini
Tahini is sometimes also made from untoasted sesame seeds. It has a perfectly creamy texture and a robust nutty, earthy, and slightly bitter-sweet flavor.
But what happens when you’re out of tahini or your guests are allergic to this ingredient? Lucky for you, there are many nut and non-nut alternatives. Here are the best ones.
Unhulled vs. Hulled Tahini
There are two types of tahini – hulled and unhulled, which you can distinguish by color.
Unhulled tahini is browner and bitter-tasting because it’s made with whole sesame seeds without removing the outer shell.
On the other hand, hulled tahini is made without the sesame seeds’ outer shell. So it has a lighter, almost white color with a cleaner and creamier flavor.
The Best Substitute for Tahini with Nuts
If you don’t have enough tahini left for your recipes, the best alternative is to use a nut substitute. Here are our favorite choices:
1. Peanut Butter
Peanut is a classic in sandwiches, toast, bread, and crackers and a key ingredient in certain breakfast dishes and desserts.
It’s made from roasted and grounded peanuts, having a robust nutty flavor and texture.
Peanut butter is one of the best tahini alternatives. It’s also great for keto diets. Although you won’t get the same sesame seed taste, the texture is similar.
However, you can enhance its flavor by adding sesame oil to savory recipes and sauces.
To substitute tahini with peanut butter, use the 1:1 ratio.
2. Cashew Butter
Cashew butter is another excellent alternative for tahini. Made from roasted or raw cashews, it has a creamy texture and a slightly sweet and mild nutty flavor.
This ingredient does well in desserts, smoothies, baked goods, soups, dips, sauces, and salad dressings. For instance, we love baking a carrot cake with cashew cream cheese frosting.
Like peanut butter, you can spread it on crackers, bread, muffins, and even fresh fruits.
To achieve the same nutty flavor and creamy texture of tahini, use cashew butter in a 1:1 ratio.
3. Almond Butter
Almonds come with significant health benefits since they are rich in nutrients like healthy fats, protein, fiber, and vitamin E.
It’s also a versatile ingredient since you can make almond butter by roasting and grinding almonds into a creamy paste. For example, you can make protein bars with coconut oil and almond butter.
The butter has a sweet, nutty flavor and the same creamy texture as tahini, cashew, and peanut butter.
You can use it to replace tahini in desserts, sauces, baked goods, breakfast recipes, soups, dips, and dressings.
Use almond butter in the 1:1 ratio to replace tahini. But, note that the flavor will be very different.
4. Macadamia Nut Butter
Macadamia nut butter is obtained from toasting and grinding macadamia nuts, which results in a creamy paste with a rich and sweet buttery flavor.
You can use this ingredient in marinades, curries, smoothies, stir-fries, and dips. It also works as a spread on fresh fruits and toast.
To substitute tahini and macadamia nut butter, use in the 1:1 ratio in both sweet and savory dishes.
The Best Substitute for Tahini without Nuts
If you don’t have any nut butter in your pantry, these non-nut tahini alternatives will do.
1. Black Sesame Seed Paste
Compared to tahini, black sesame seed paste has a more robust nutty and earthy flavor. It’s common in a wide range of Japanese cuisines, baked goods, rice cakes, smoothies, and pastries.
To sweeten the paste, add sugar or honey and use it in a 1:1 ratio.
Since black sesame seed paste changes the color of dishes, it’s better to use it as a substitute for tahini in dark-colored recipes like cookies, chocolate cakes, and brownies.
Kerisik is simply coconut butter made from toasting and grinding coconuts. The creamy texture and nutty flavor make it an excellent substitute for tahini in various dishes.
Kerisik will give your dish a coconut flavor, however. If you don’t mind the taste, use the 1.1 ratio to replace tahini.
3. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has many health benefits and a thick texture and a tangy flavor different from tahini.
Despite this, you can still use Greek yogurt in place of tahini in sauces, marinades, dips, and dressings to balance the sweetness and add a little thickness. While the texture will be like tahini’s, the taste will be slightly different.
If Greek yogurt is all you have, don’t let that stop you from finishing your recipe. Use Greek yogurt to replace tahini in the 1:1 ratio.
4. Sesame Oil
Although it has a different texture, you can use sesame oil as a substitute for tahini for the sesame flavor alone.
Sesame oil comes in two varieties: light and toasted. The toasted kind has a rich nutty flavor and works well for marinade, sauces, dressings, and soups. On the other hand, light sesame oil is best for cooking and baked goods.
An excellent recipe is the sesame chia crusted tuna poke.
Use a ratio of ¾ tbsp. of tahini to 1 tbsp. of sesame oil.
5. Sunflower Seed Butter
To make sunflower seed butter at home, toast sunflower seeds and mix in a few drops of sesame oil to get tahini’s same creamy texture and sesame flavor.
It’s also possible to buy the butter from the grocery store. But ensure it doesn’t have any added sugar or salt.
To substitute tahini with sunflower seed butter, use the 1:1 ratio for sweet and savory dishes like baked goods, sauces, dips, and salad dressings.
6. Pumpkin Seed Butter
Pumpkin seed butter is an excellent tahini alternative because it has the same slightly bitter flavor.
When using it as a substitute for tahini in dips, sauces, salad dressings, and soups, opt for the 1:1 ratio.
7. Pecan Butter
Thanks to its nutty, almost seedy flavor and thick texture, pecan butter works well as a tahini substitute.
Because of this thickness, pecan butter is slightly pricier than tahini. To use it as a substitute, add a little water to thin it out and go for the 1:1 ratio.
8. Homemade Tahini
You can still save the day by making homemade tahini when you don’t have store-bought tahini to complete your recipe or any nuts and non-nut alternatives listed above.
All you need are sesame seeds and any neutral flavor oil like sunflower or canola oil.
How to make tahini at home:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Spread the sesame seeds on a baking sheet.
- Bake them for 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted (golden color).
- Cool the seeds lightly.
- Place them in a blender or food processor and create a paste.
- Add a few drops of oil and process the mixture into a thick and creamy paste.
- Store the tahini in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Discover more helpful information about tahini and its alternatives.
Is tahini gluten-free?
Sesame seeds are usually gluten-free, so most tahini brands are labeled gluten-free.
How do I use tahini?
It’s best to use tahini in sweet and savory recipes, such as hummus and halva. However, you can use it in various recipes like salad dressings, dips, sauces, marinades, baked goods, and desserts.
What can you use as a tahini alternative in hummus?
The most common use of tahini is in hummus. However, if you don’t have tahini, you can use any nut and non-nut varieties discussed above.
Which is the best tahini alternative?
Tahini usually has a classic savory and nutty flavor with bitter notes. It’s also creamy and has a fair share of oiliness. The closest thing to it is pumpkin seed butter or peanut butter.
Can you freeze tahini?
Yes, it’s possible to freeze tahini.
Regardless of how good you are in the kitchen, sometimes you’ll run low on a critical ingredient.
Tahini is an excellent ingredient to have on hand since it works well in recipes like salad dressings, soups, sauces, marinades, and even baked goods.
But if it’s missing from your pantry, you can always resort to alternatives to give your dish the same flavor or texture, and even change the meal’s color in some cases.
What’s your favorite substitute for tahini? Let us know in the comments below.