Go-To Lemon Tahini Sauce (with Easy Variations!)

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE SALES LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY FULL DISCLAIMER POLICY FOR DETAILS.
Homemade tahini sauce is pure magic! Made with just 4 ingredients in less than 10 minutes, this Lemon Tahini Sauce is creamy, bright, slightly nutty, & eat-straight-off-the-spoon kind of good thanks to fresh lemon juice & garlic – perfect for drizzling on falafel, shawarma, & other Mediterranean dishes! The perfect, simple sauce to meal prep & add an extra punch of flavor & creaminess to any dish.

This easy tahini sauce recipe also includes 3 easy variations for herbaceous green tahini sauce, spicy red tahini sauce, & maple orange tahini sauce. Naturally vegan & dairy-free.

Want more feel good recipes? Sign up for our PWWB email list HERE & we’ll send you 7 flavor-forward, totally nourishing, feel good dishes plus NEW recipes as soon as they hit the blog – all delivered straight to your inbox!

Lemon Tahini Sauce is poured into a clear glass Mason jar. The jar sits atop a light blue textured surface with a blue and white plaid linen napkin and three lemon halves surround the jar.

Homemade tahini sauce is pure magic! Made with just 4 ingredients in less than 10 minutes, this Lemon Tahini Sauce is creamy, bright, slightly nutty, & eat-straight-off-the-spoon kind of good thanks to fresh lemon juice & garlic – perfect for drizzling on falafel, shawarma, & other Mediterranean dishes! The perfect, simple sauce to meal prep & add an extra punch of flavor & creaminess to any dish. This easy tahini sauce recipe also includes 3 easy variations for herbaceous green tahini sauce, spicy red tahini sauce, & maple orange tahini sauce. Naturally vegan & dairy-free.

Easy Homemade Tahini Sauce for Falafel, Shawarma, & Other Mediterranean Dishes!

If there’s one thing I wholeheartedly believe in, it’s the power of having a magical homemade sauce in the fridge. Having a simple-yet-flavorful sauce on hand, ready to drizzle over any dish, is a weeknight cooking game changer. Tahini sauce totally fits the bill: it’s super easy to make & adds out-of-this-world flavor & texture to any dish – especially amazing Mediterranean dishes like falafel & shawarma!

This lemon tahini sauce recipe is my go-to. One of its secrets is soaking the garlic in lemon before whisking up the sauce (a tip I learned from Chef Michael Solomonov via Serious Eats), which takes away some of its bite & creates a tahini sauce with the perfect balance of bright, creamy, & nutty flavor.

One of the things I love most about this tahini recipe, though, is its versatility. While my go-to is lemon tahini sauce (it’s simple & perfect all on its own!), there are endless ways to tweak it & create entirely different, equally delicious sauces. Below, I’ve included 3 of my favorite variations to this tahini sauce recipe: herbaceous green tahini, spicy red tahini, & maple orange tahini (a fall fave!). Give any of them a try & you’ll realize how easy it is to make delicious homemade tahini sauce!

A gray platter is filled with a variety of prepared vegetables and a small white bowl of Lemon Tahini sauce in the center for dipping. The vegetables have been garnished with fresh dill, a lemon wedge and cracked pepper. A woman's hand dips a radicchio leaf into the tahini sauce and a blue and white plaid linen napkin rests alongside the platter.

Easy Tahini Sauce Recipe Highlights

You need to stock your fridge with homemade tahini sauce ASAP because it’s…

  • QUICK & SIMPLE. My easy lemon tahini sauce recipe only uses 4 key ingredients & takes 10 minutes to throw together. It doesn’t get more simple than that!
  • PERFECT FOR MEAL PREP. Since tahini sauce stores well in the refrigerator, it’s perfect to keep on hand for adding a little extra flavor & creaminess to any weeknight dish.
  • ENDLESSLY VERSATILE. I love the classic bright & creamy flavor of lemon tahini sauce, but with a few simple tweaks you can also enjoy herbaceous green tahini, spicy red tahini, & maple orange tahini. So many flavor combinations to enjoy!

This homemade tahini sauce recipe will change your meal prep for good! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Lemon Tahini Sauce, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

What is Tahini Sauce Made Of? Tahini Sauce Key Ingredients

Lemon Tahini Sauce ingredients arranged on a light blue textured surface: runny tahini, lemons, garlic, kosher salt, and cold water.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You only need a few key ingredients to homemade tahini sauce:

  • Tahini – Be sure to look for runny, pourable tahini to ensure that the oil hasn’t separated too much from the solids. (Like any nut butter or seed butter, tahini separates the longer it sits & becomes much harder to work with.) Runny tahini is so much easier to measure & whisk into a smooth & creamy sauce. More details on tahini below!
  • Lemon juice & garlic – Classic ingredients that add wonderful flavor, creating a perfectly balanced bright-yet-creamy tahini sauce.
  • Ice cold water – Using cold water creates a tahini sauce with much more creamier texture. The cold temperature helps the mixture emulsify & prevents any clumps.
Ingredient Spotlight

What is Tahini?

Tahini is essentially sesame seed paste made from hulled sesame seeds, oil, & salt – that’s it! Plain tahini is a pretty amazing way to enjoy the flavorful, humble sesame seed.

Soom makes my all-time favorite tahini. They source their sesame seeds from Ethiopia, where the climate is just right for growing. It’s the best tahini I’ve ever tasted! Trader Joe’s organic tahini is also pretty awesome, though you can find tahini in most conventional grocery stores these days, stocked either in the “international” aisle or near other nut & seed butters. 

Fun fact! ⇢ While tahini is popular for making savory dishes like hummus & baba ghanoush, it’s also an amazing ingredient to use in sweets! Tahini’s nutty flavor makes it an easy substitute for peanut butter (& a perfect pairing with chocolate). My Tahini Scotcheroos & Tahini Buckeyes both feature tahini paste.

How to Make Homemade Tahini Sauce

Making your own tahini sauce could not be any easier! This is a one-bowl operation that only takes about 10 minutes to prep. Whip up a batch of homemade tahini & keep it on hand in for up to one week for drizzling over anything & everything – trust us, you’ll be so glad you did!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

Soak finely chopped garlic in fresh lemon juice. To make lemon tahini sauce, start by whisking lemon juice & finely chopped garlic together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside to sit for 5-10 minutes. Why? ⇢ This a hot tip I picked up from Chef Michael Solomonov via Serious Eats & it’s completely changed my tahini sauce game! Raw garlic’s flavor is pretty strong. It can easily overpower a sauce – especially a sauce with naturally mild flavor like tahini. When the garlic soaks in lemon juice, the acidity of the lemon takes away its bite.

2

Whisk together the tahini sauce. Add tahini to the garlic mixture, whisking to combine. As you whisk the tahini sauce together, slowly add ice-cold water until your desired consistency is reached. Why? ⇢ Adding water slowly helps emulsify the ingredients. You have complete control over the texture here, so don’t rush it. I like using about ⅓ cup of water for a thick-yet-pourable lemon tahini sauce, but if you prefer a thinner tahini dressing, feel free to use more. 

The result? An incredibly creamy, super delicious sauce ready to use on all your favorite Greek & Mediterranean dishes.

How to Make Go-To Lemon Tahini Sauce, step 2, Mix the tahini sauce: Tahini sauce fills a ceramic bowl. A woman's hand holds a small mini whisk that rests inside of the bowl and is being used to combine the sauce. Three lemon halves and a wooden citrus reamer surround the bowl. A small ceramic bowl filled with cold water rests alongside the larger bowl filled with tahini sauce to be slowly streamed in to thin the sauce.

Easy Tahini Sauce Recipe Variations

Herby Green Tahini Sauce: Add up to 1 1/2 cups of roughly chopped fresh herbs to this base tahini sauce recipe for a beautiful green, bright, & herbaceous homemade tahini sauce. Parsley, cilantro, basil, & chives are all great herbs to use. Rather than whisking in the herbs, I suggest blending the sauce to a smooth consistency in a food processor. Blending the herb stems & leaves is much better for the texture of the tahini sauce.

Spicy Red Tahini Sauce: Add up to 3 tablespoons of red harissa sauce or paste to my base tahini sauce recipe for a kick of heat! Harissa is a spicy Moroccan chile sauce made from red peppers & one of my favorite ways to add spice to both falafel & homemade tahini. This is my go-to harissa

Maple Orange Tahini Sauce: Replace the lemon juice in the base tahini sauce recipe with the juice from half of an orange, plus one tablespoon of pure maple syrup. This fall-inspired tahini sauce is slightly sweet & pairs well with naturally savory-sweet dishes like roasted carrots or sweet potatoes.

How to Use Tahini Sauce

I always turn to lemon tahini sauce when I want an added burst of flavor in my favorite Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, & Greek dishes. These recipes often feature warm spices, cool herbs, & loads of veggies, making tahini sauce the perfect nutty complementary flavor! I like to keep a jar of homemade sauce in my refrigerator so I can make use of it throughout the week. Its uses are truly endless.

Some of my favorite ways to use tahini sauce include…

Other Tahini Sauce FAQs

What is tahini sauce made from?

Tahini is a smooth paste made of ground sesame seeds. Tahini sauce is made by combining tahini with water, lemon juice, & garlic. Unfortunately, tahini is not a very friendly condiment if you have a sesame allergy!

How to thicken tahini sauce?

The more water you add to tahini sauce, the more drizzly & thin it will get. If you want a thicker tahini sauce, add less water. If you have a thin sauce that you want to make thicker, whisk in a bit more tahini until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Adding both water & tahini in small amounts slowly gives you greater control of the texture!

Is tahini sauce vegan?

Yes! Tahini sauce is naturally vegan, dairy-free, & gluten-free. It’s the perfect topping to enjoy on all your favorite Middle Eastern or Mediterranean-inspired dishes!

How long can I store tahini sauce?

Homemade tahini sauce will keep in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It’s a great thing to meal prep over the weekend & use on busy weeknights!

A gray platter is filled with a variety of prepared vegetables and a small white bowl of Lemon Tahini sauce in the center for dipping. The sauce and vegetables have been garnished with a lemon wedge and cracked pepper. A blue and white plaid linen napkin, a loose lemon wedge, and a knife with a wooden handle surround the platter.

I can’t wait for you to try this Lemon Tahini Sauce, or any of the 3 recipe variations! They’re so easy to throw together & they’re absolutely perfect for meal prep. If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Craving Mediterranean-Inspired Meals? They’re our favorite, too! Be sure to try my favorite Shawarma Hummus Bowls, Homemade Crispy Falafel, Lamb Meatball Meal Prep Bowls, or this easy Sheet Pan Veggie Shawarma next. Happy cooking! ♡

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Lemon Tahini Sauce is poured into a clear glass Mason jar. The jar sits atop a light blue textured surface with a blue and white plaid linen napkin and three lemon halves surround the jar.

Simple Lemon Tahini Sauce (+ 3 Easy Variations!)

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 3/4 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Greek & Mediterranean
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Homemade tahini sauce is pure magic! Made with just 4 ingredients in less than 10 minutes, this Lemon Tahini Sauce is creamy, bright, slightly nutty, & eat-straight-off-the-spoon kind of good thanks to fresh lemon juice & garlic – perfect for drizzling on falafel, shawarma, & other Mediterranean dishes!

Naturally vegan & dairy-free. Refer to the Recipe Notes, below, for 3 easy variations!


Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ cup runny tahini (see Recipe Notes, below)
  • 2 lemons, juiced (4-6 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • heaping ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • up to ⅓ cup ice cold waterLemon Tahini Sauce ingredients arranged on a light blue textured surface: runny tahini, lemons, garlic, kosher salt, and cold water.

Instructions

  1. Mix the lemon & garlic: Add the lemon juice & garlic to a bowl, whisking to combine. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. How to Make Go-To Lemon Tahini Sauce, step 1: Lemon juice & garlic are mixed in a ceramic bowl with a small mini whisk that rests inside of the bowl. Three lemon halves and a wooden citrus reamer surround the bowl.
  2. Mix the tahini sauce: To the lemon garlic mixture, add in the tahini sauce, seasoning with kosher salt. Stir to combine. While stirring constantly, slowly stream in the water a few tablespoons at a time. Continue stirring & and adding water until the tahini sauce smooths out to your desired consistency. The tahini may seize up a bit at first – this is fine, it’ll smooth back out once the water is added.
  3. Serve immediately, drizzled over your favorite chicken shawarma or veggie shawarmahummus bowl or salad, falafel (or falafel burger!), with fresh veggies or whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!A gray platter is filled with a variety of prepared vegetables and a small white bowl of Lemon Tahini sauce in the center for dipping. The sauce and vegetables have been garnished with a lemon wedge and cracked pepper. A blue and white plaid linen napkin, a loose lemon wedge, and a knife with a wooden handle surround the platter.

Equipment


Notes

  • Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds, similar in texture to nut butters. You can find tahini in most conventional grocery stores, in the “ethnic” aisle. My favorite tahini is Soom, which you can order straight from Amazon! Trader Joe’s Organic Tahini is also great, & affordable.
  • Storage: Tahini sauce will keep, stored in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week. Tahini sauce will thicken as it sits, simply stir in a splash of water or two before serving to loosen it up to your desired consistency. 
  • Easy Tahini Sauce Recipe Variations: 
    • Herbaceous Green Tahini Sauce: To this base tahini sauce recipe, add in up to 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped herbs of choice (e.g. parsley, cilantro, basil, chives, etc.). For a smooth & creamy sauce, prepare in a food processor (rather than whisking as described).
    • Spicy Red Tahini Sauce: To this base tahini sauce recipe, add in up to 3 tablespoons red harissa sauce. Harissa is a spicy Moroccan chile sauce made from red peppers. This is my favorite harissa sauce.
    • Maple Orange Tahini Sauce: Replace the lemon juice in this base tahini sauce recipe with the juice of 1/2 an orange & add 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup. This fall-inspired tahini sauce is slightly sweet & pairs well with naturally savory-sweet dishes, like roasted carrots or sweet potatoes.

Keywords: Tahini Sauce Recipe, No-Cook, Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy, 5-Ingredient Recipes, Pantry Staples

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

A gray platter is filled with a variety of prepared vegetables and a small white bowl of Lemon Tahini sauce in the center for dipping. The sauce and vegetables have been garnished with a lemon wedge and cracked pepper. A blue and white plaid linen napkin, a loose lemon wedge, and a knife with a wooden handle surround the platter.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Love Feel-Good Recipes? Join Our Email List!

Sign up for the PWWB email list & we’ll send you 7 of our all-time favorites straight to your inbox. These recipes are…

  • Flavor-forward – Life’s too short for boring food.
  • Nourishing comfort food – Made with real, wholesome ingredients!
  • A joy to cook & a joy to eat.

Plus, we’ll keep you in the loop by sharing every NEW recipe as soon as they go live on Plays Well With Butter – all delivered straight to your inbox!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

Topics

Sign up for our newsletter

Leave a Rating & Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FREE Grilling Guide

Tips for your BEST grilling season yet with TONS of delicious recipes + 15 BONUS

go-to grilling marinades!

5-DAY EMAIL SERIES

Jess of Plays Well With Butter stands on a deck behind a stainless steel Weber Genesis II propane grill. In the background, a blossoming tree & a house with beige siding.