Spicy Tahini Sauce (or dressing or dip!)
One of the most underrated condiments of all time: tahini IMO! And this simple vegan oil free recipe is a one stop shop for spicy tahini sauce, spicy tahini dip, or spicy tahini dressing! A satisfying balance of garlic, lemon, and spice with a touch of sweetness.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
What is tahini made of?
Tahini is simply sesame seeds that have been hulled and ground into a smooth paste. You can find tahini in almost any grocery store. Depending on the brand, store bought tahini can be raw or toasted.
What does tahini taste like?
Tahini is rich and nutty in flavor. Some brands of tahini paste are more bitter, some are more buttery.
Tahini is generally smooth and silky in texture. Some brands of tahini paste need to be stirred to mix in the natural oils, similar to some natural brands of nut butters.
Check out the best tahini brands accordingly to three Arab American cooks at Kitchn.
Why you’ll love this spicy tahini recipe
This easy vegan tahini sauce is:
- VERSATILE: can be used as a sauce, dressing, or dip on endless dishes
- OIL FREE
- WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED
- GLUTEN FREE
Ingredients & Substitutions
- tahini – This rich and nutty sesame seed paste takes center stage of course.
- garlic powder – Garlic pairs beautifully with tahini. Fresh raw garlic can substitute for powder. Though the powder keeps longer for leftovers.
- coconut aminos – Similar to soy sauce but without the wheat, coconut aminos add some umami flavor with with a bit less sodium. Use tamari and or sea salt instead if unavailable.
- lemon juice – The acid from lemon balances out the rich tahini paste beautifully, which is why almost all tahini sauces include it!
- maple syrup – I prefer some sweetness to balance out the acid, heat, and richness of the other ingredients. Agave syrup or honey can be used in place of maple syrup
- sriracha – the key spice ingredient in this sauce, sriracha brings a beautiful depth of flavor in addition to heat.
- sea salt – Just a touch of sea salt balances out the sauce. If keeping a low sodium diet, can omit.
- warm water – For thinning the sauce to desired level. I will typically thin most for salad dressing and sauce, and use less water for dip.
How to make tahini sauce
First, heat some water on the stove or microwave.
While its heating up, mix all other ingredients in a glass jar or other container with a lid. Stir with whisk or fork.
Next, add in warm water.
Finally, if you have time, let sauce sit on counter for up to an hour to allow flavors to blend. Or, if making ahead of time, store in fridge.
Tahini Sauce Serving Suggestions
Tahini is oh so versatile and will elevates endless dishes. This delicious recipe can be used as a salad dressing, a dip, or a sauce. Here are my favorite three ways for how to use tahini:
1. Oil Free Tahini Dressing
This spicy maple tahini dressing is particularly perfect for a kale salad. It stands up to the tough kale leaves, both softening them with its natural oil and minimizing the bitterness of the kale leaves. Complementary salad ingredient ideas include:
- roasted chickpeas for crunch
- sweet potatoes for sweetness
- tomatoes for brightness
- radishes or fennel for freshness
- my crispy & spicy roasted beets for added kick
- baked tofu for extra protein (I like Trader Joe’s sriracha tofu)
2. Spicy Garlicky Tahini Sauce
Baked sweet potatoes can move from a side dish to a main course with this delectable tahini sauce! Add some roasted chickpeas too for added crunch and protein. Serve with a side salad.
3. Spicy Tahini Dip
Finally, this recipe is amazing as a dip for roasted vegetables. Perfect complimentary veggies include crispy roasted beets, garlicky roasted cauliflower, air fryer sunchokes, broccoli, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and Brussels sprouts.
Store in refrigerator in air tight container for up to 7 days. When ready to use, add a few teaspoons of warm water and stir to thin. If possible, leave tahini sauce out on counter for 30 minutes before use to soften naturally (this will allow for less added water to be needed).
Tahini on its own is not spicy. However, tahini is mixed with other ingredients to make tahini sauce, which is often made spicy.
Some brands of tahini are a bit more bitter than others; it all depends on how the sesame seeds are processed to make the paste.
Yes, tahini is a whole food that is full of nutrients, like healthy fats, thiamine (B1), B6, phosphorus, and manganese. Tahini also anti-inflammatory compounds, antibacterial properties, and is full of antioxidents.
Tzatziki is a Greek sauce made with yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and fresh herbs. Tahini is a Middle Eastern sauce made with sesame seed paste. Both sauces are often used in Mediterranean dishes like falafel.
Tahini is delicious in endless dishes. Most notably, it is a key ingredient in hummus. But tahini can also be used to make sauces, dressings, and dips. Tahini sauce is commonly used in Middle Eastern dishes like falafel as well as in buddha bowls.
For more plant-powered dressings, sauces, and salad ideas, check out:
- 10+ Plant-Based Salad Meal Ideas
- Trader Joe’s Salad Recipes & Ideas
- Tangy Green Herb Sauce
- Simple Heirloom Tomato Salad
- Sumac Salad Dressing
Spicy Tahini Sauce (or dressing or dip!)
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp coconut aminos (can sub tamari or extra sea salt if unavailable)
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 5/8 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp sriracha flexible to add more/less
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 2-6 tbsp warm water to thin* (amount depends on thickness of tahini and how well it is stirred, varies by brand)
- Whisk together all ingredients except water.
- Slowly add warm water until desired thickness is achieved.
Please, let me know what you think of the recipe once you try it by rating and commenting below!