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Is Tahini Vegan? Best Vegan Tahini Recipes

Last updated: May 2, 2022

Let’s start this debate by getting rid of any questions you may have about the vegan pedigree of Tahini - yes, it’s 100% vegan, made out of sesame seeds, and is what makes hummus have that extra hearty, hummusy taste.

But hummus is just one of tahini’s versatile uses - its complex nutty flavor and texture has many other uses in vegan treats - from desserts to main courses.

How Do You Make Tahini from Scratch?

You only need a few ingredients to make delicious tahini:

  • Hulled sesame seeds, toasted or untoasted (it depends what kind of flavor you’re looking for - a stronger toasted nutty flavor or a more mild untoasted flavor).
  • Salt - just a little bit to bring out the taste.
  • Oil - depending on your taste - you can use high-quality cold-pressed oils like olive oil, hemp oil, or avocado oil. Or, for that extra nutty taste, you can also use sesame oil, but be careful; it’s pretty heavy!

You don’t need specialized tools in order to turn your hulled sesame seeds into extra creamy tahini - all you need is a high-powered blender.

The ratio of oil per 1 cup of sesame seeds is about ¾ tbsp of your choice of oil. 

NOTE: Tahini has a tendency to shrink in volume when you transform it from dry sesame seeds into a paste - exactly by half. So if you use six cups of seeds, you will end up with three cups of tahini when you’re done blending them.

Another great benefit of making tahini at home is that you have full control over how gluten-free it is. If you don’t have celiac, then trace amounts of gluten found on machinery used to make tahini shouldn’t be a problem - but if you’re sensitive to even traces of gluten, this may be the only way you can enjoy tahini.

Is Tahini Good for You?

Tahini is probably one of the simplest sauces you can make - but also one of the most memorable and flavorful. It contains the goodies found inside of sesame seeds but also the added goodness of whatever oil you use.

Sesame seeds - contain phytosterol, which helps lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. They contain sesamin and sesamolin, which contain antibacterial properties. Sesame seeds contain a ton of antioxidants and will help to keep your cells infection and inflammation free.

As far as vitamins and minerals are concerned, sesame seeds contain:

  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • B1

If you choose to use the following high-quality cold-pressed oils in your tahini, then you’ll be adding a lot of extra benefits to the already healthy sesame seeds:

Olive oil - heart health, alleviates inflammation, protects against heart disease, a good source of vitamins K and E.

Taste: ranges from fruity to nutty, depending on the type

Hemp oil  - has strong anti-inflammatory properties, helps to support a healthy pregnancy, and has high omega-3 and omega-6 acids. The consumption of hemp oil helps in keeping skin healthy, even with conditions like psoriasis, acne, or even cradle cap, and helps to reduce inflammation in severe conditions like MS, rheumatoid arthritis, or IBS.

Taste: very rich nutty flavor

Avocado oil - reduces cholesterol and is rich in oleic acid. It has a 13:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. A lot of healthy oils have about 3:1! Contains lutein for healthy eyes and promotes heart health. If eating a healthy diet is your thing, then keep in mind that avocado oil has been found to promote the absorption of other vitamins and nutrients.

Taste: mild nutty and slightly grassy flavor

Flax oil - flax oil is a recently popular superfood - and so is flax itself. It’s great for the digestive tract and is even taken in capsule form. It helps to balance blood sugar and cholesterol. High in omega-3 fatty acids, it also contains phenolic compounds, which can help to ward off cancer, and contains minerals like calcium and magnesium. Flax oil (or linseed oil) helps to reduce appetite.

Taste: mild and slightly nutty

Walnut oil - just like the brain-shaped walnuts that it’s pressed from, walnut oil can help aid memory and brain function like concentration. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, helps to reduce triglycerides, and may also help you deal with stress better.

Taste: rich and buttery, with a nutty and slightly bitter flavor.

Each oil tastes a bit different and will give your tahini a slightly different flavor and texture.

Salt is always optional in any recipe, but we recommend giving a pinch of rock salt to hone in the flavor. Why rock salt? A disturbing study has found that 90% of sea salt likely contains microplastics, and rock salt is mined directly from ancient deposits deep underground. It’s a sad choice to make, but it’s one that will keep you healthier.

Other Amazing Uses for Tahini

Hummus is only the beginning - tahini has made its way out of the Middle East and is used not only in traditional recipes but in modern vegan recipes that will have you coming back for more.

The only warning that we can possibly have about tahini is - to watch your fat intake:

1 TBSP (15 grams) of tahini contains 90 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein. That’s quite a lot, but this is a powerful ingredient, and just a little bit goes a very long way. 

It also contains:

27% daily value of copper

9% daily value of phosphorous

6% daily value of zinc

7% daily value of iron

5% daily value of calcium

 

Here are some of the most amazing recipes that you have to try, especially if you’re in the mood to experiment with different tahinis (and different cold-pressed oils as well!).

Baba Ganoush

Baba ganoush is a much-loved Middle Eastern dip that you can eat with wraps, dip your vegetables or your flatbread in for a delicious snack, or snack on it whenever a good dip is needed.

It's silkier and smoother than classic hummus because it isn’t made out of chickpeas but with baked eggplant, which is surprisingly delicious and flavorful when mixed with some excellent tahini.

Ingredients:

One large eggplant

Tahini

1 to 3 cloves of garlic (or more, if you’re a huge fan)

Lemon juice

Sumac, cayenne pepper, salt to taste (some people use a ready-made sumac and sesame spice called za’atar).

Good quality cold-pressed oil

Garnish - oil, pine nuts, sesame seeds, or chopped cilantro will do

Directions: 

Roast the whole eggplant - it’s especially flavorful if you do it over open wood coals or a grill. Wait until it cools down a bit and peel off the charred skin. The eggplant should be soft and mushy inside.

Mix the eggplant flesh with a few tablespoons of tahini in a food processor (to taste) - it should be about a quarter cup. After you’re done, transfer the dip into a bowl and add finely minced garlic (it’s best to use a garlic press or store-bought garlic paste) and lemon juice. Add spices to taste.

Note: some people use a bit of greek yogurt to elevate the taste a bit - any cultured vegan yogurt will do here, as long as it’s not too sweet and a bit on the sour side.

 

Nutty and Hearty Salad Dressing

Some salads just need that extra kick of savory goodness. This is a great dressing that will go perfectly on a young cabbage salad or any salad with a crunchy texture.

Ingredients:

2 tbsps Tahini

1 cup fresh spinach

1/4th cup olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

Few sprigs of fresh cilantro

⅓ cup cashews

1 tbsp yeast flakes

2 cloves garlic

Spices to taste: black pepper, salt, lemon pepper, dried or fresh herbs

Directions:

Blend everything until silky smooth, and mix with your favorite chopped salad.

Sauce to Spice Up Those Dark Leafy Greens

Kale, collard greens, and other tough leafy foods like dandelion greens or just about any green that you might have some trouble devouring just on its own are just asking for a delicious nutty sauce. Once you have this one, you won’t be able to go back to just plain dark leafy green!

Ingredients:

2 tbsps Tahini

1 tsp brown sugar

One small orange - peeled (make sure you know it’s sweet, not sour)

Sesame seeds

1 clove garlic

1 tbsp lemon juice

Pinch grated ginger

Spices to taste - freshly ground pepper, salt, cayenne pepper

Directions:

Mix the tahini, brown sugar, garlic, and orange juice in a food processor, until silky smooth. Add lemon juice and ginger and keep mixing. When the mixture has a creamy texture, add toasted sesame seeds and spices. Mix with cooked or sauteed greens before serving. Serve warm.

Sesame Ginger Baked Carrots

These are a perfect Thanksgiving side dish, and non-vegans will probably fight you for it too. There is nothing sweeter than roasted carrots, and they’re especially good when drizzled with a tasty sesame sauce before serving.

This sauce is a mix of hearty and sweet, just like the carrots. You can use it with any roasted root vegetable, like parsnips or beets.

Ingredients:

Two bunches of young carrots, gently peeled

Olive oil

1 handful of pecans

3 tbsps sesame oil

1 tsp brown sugar

4 tbsps apple juice

3 tbsps tahini

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp brown sugar

2 sage leaves - chopped and sauteed separately

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Directions:

Prepare the vegetables for roasting - peel them and rub them with olive oil, making sure all the parts are well covered (but not drowning!). Sprinkle brown sugar over them, and mix to distribute easily. This works best when done with your hands!  Roast vegetables on medium in your oven until golden dark, or slightly more caramelized if you like. They should be soft when stuck with a fork.

For the sauce, mix apple juice, sesame oil, tahini, 1 tsp brown sugar, and spices. When creamy, add chopped pecans and sauteed sage. If the mixture doesn’t come out creamy or liquid enough, add more apple juice until the texture suits you. Sometimes, different types of tahini have slightly different textures, some being more liquid and some being more solid.

Final Thoughts

Tahini is a vegan superfood, and you can use it in just about anything - desserts like homemade chocolate ice cream, hearty nutty soups (it especially adds a kick to spicy peanut-based soups), salad dressings, and much more.

We encourage you to make your own tahini at home, especially if you happen to be gluten intolerant, as tahini is processed on equipment that can have contact with gluten.

Another benefit of making tahini at home is adding your own cold-pressed oils for added benefits and taste. Experiment with different types of oils - avocado, hemp, or walnut - to see how it affects the taste, texture, and quality of your homemade tahini.


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