This tangy tahini sauce is full of flavor and is so easy to make. This rich and creamy sauce recipe is made by combining tahini paste with lemon juice, garlic, and a bit of water to make it smooth. Of course, some fresh parsley adds a bit of color and flavor, too.
I love serving this tangy sauce with my Air Fryer Falafel. It makes a perfect snack or meal!
I traveled to Greece once, and that trip included an excursion to Turkey. It was a trip of a lifetime. I was in my early 20s at the time and had a severely limited palette so I can’t say I enjoyed the food as much as I should have. I didn’t like many things back then, but thankfully tastebuds are malleable and they change over time. Today, I love all the things!
I’m sure that means a return trip to the Mediterranean is warranted. 🙂
Did you know it’s easy to make tahini sauce vegan? In fact, this creamy sauce is naturally dairy-free. Let’s talk about the ingredients and how to make it!
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- Using sautéed garlic adds a more mellow garlic flavor without the bite that fresh garlic adds
- Adding lemon juice brightens the flavors of this sauce, giving it a unique zing
- Water is added to achieve a smooth consistency, making this an undeniably delightful tahini cream sauce
What You Need
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.
- Lemon — We’ll use both the zest and the juice of the lemon.
- Oats — I used rolled oats for this recipe, but you can substitute instant oats.
- Chia — We’ll add some ground chia seeds to create a thicker texture. You can use whole chia seeds; I just prefer ground because it creates a smoother finished texture.
- Syrup — I used maple syrup, but you can substitute agave nectar.
- Milk — We’ll use almond milk for the best overnight oats! Substitute your favorite plant-based milk.
- Yogurt — I love adding some plant-based yogurt (plain, unsweetened) for an even more tangy flavor.
- Protein Powder — I add some vanilla protein powder for increased flavor and nutrients. If your protein powder is not sweetened, you may want to add an extra teaspoon or two of sweetener.
- Cornstarch — We’ll use cornstarch to thicken the lemon curd topping.
- Turmeric — A pinch of turmeric makes that lemon curd sunny yellow.
- Garlic cloves — Because we’re sautéeing the garlic, it mellows the garlic, meaning we can use more of it
- Olive oil — A little bit of olive oil is added to cook the garlic
- Tahini — This is a sesame seed paste and you can usually find it in the health food or international food section of many grocery stores or online
- Lemon juice — Of course, freshly-squeezed lemon juice is great, but you can use bottled lemon juice too
- Salt — I like to add minimal salt because the lemon juice adds a salty flavor
- Optional fresh parsley — I love adding a bit of fresh parsley as a garnish!
Raw vs Cooked Garlic
Most tahini sauce recipes call for raw garlic. If you prefer the flavor of raw, you can skip sautéeing it, but be sure to reduce the amount of fresh garlic in your recipe to 1–2 cloves.
How to Make Tahini Sauce
Now, let’s discuss how to make tahini sauce from scratch. There are only a few simple steps involved:
- Sauté Garlic — Cook the garlic and olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, until tender, 3–5 minutes. If the garlic starts to sizzle, turn the heat down.
- Create Tahini Paste — Add the tahini, lemon juice, and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine. This creates a thick paste.
- Add Garlic & Water — Now comes the magic. Add the tender garlic with any oil from the skillet to the tahini paste and pulse a few times. Next, add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse in between additions. Continue until you achieve the desired consistency.
- Serve it Up — Garnish this sauce with freshly chopped parsley and serve it with your favorite dishes (more on that below).
Instead of sautéed garlic, try this garlic confit instead. It’s good to keep this confit on-hand for adding garlic seasoning to any of your favorite recipes.
Cook garlic over low heat so that it tenderizes slowly. Cooking garlic over high heat can cause it to brown, giving it a bitter flavor.
What is tahini sauce made of?
Tahini sauce is made from rich tahini (ground hulled sesame seeds), citrus juice (such as lemon juice), garlic, and water to create a smooth consistency. It is a traditional sauce used as a condiment in a Mediterranean diet.
If you’re wondering how to use this sauce, here are some of the best ways:
- With Falafel — Drizzle this tangy sauce over baked falafel as a snack
- Sandwich Condiment — You can make a falafel sandwich or any vegan sandwich and serve this creamy relish as a condiment
- Serve with Kabobs — Make some vegan kabobs or skewers and drizzle this sauce over the top
- As a Dip — Serve it with crudité or vegan naan bread as an appetizing dipping station
- Use as a Salad Dressing — Add a little plain vegan yogurt and white wine vinegar to make a tahini yogurt sauce that you can serve over salads (my favorite)
To make a spicy tahini sauce, add a teaspoon of sriracha or hot chili flakes.
What do you do if you can’t get your hands on tahini? I know the feeling, living in the Midwest, it’s not always readily available. You can make your own tahini, or you can use a tahini substitute like almond butter or sun butter (made from sunflower seeds). These alternative nut butters can be found in health food stores.
To store, transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated. It will keep 5–7 days in the fridge.
- 4 to 5 large garlic cloves , peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt (or more based on taste preferences)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Cook garlic and olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. If the garlic starts to sizzle, turn the heat down.
- Add tahini, lemon juice, and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse again. This should form a thick paste.
- Add the tender garlic with any oil in the skillet to the tahini paste and pulse a few times. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse in between additions. Continue until you achieve the desired consistency.
- Serve tahini sauce with freshly chopped parsley on the top. Serve it with falafel, a crudité platter, salads, and more.
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The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
This post was originally published in 2020 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.