How to Make Tahini

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Learn how to make homemade tahini with this ridiculously easy recipe! It requires only two ingredients: sesame seeds and olive oil.

Tahini (like desiccated coconut and dulce de leche) is an item that people often buy without even thinking about making it themselves. It turns out that the homemade version tastes just as good as the store-bought kind, if not better.

Tahini Recipe Photo
The main difference between homemade tahini and its store-bought counterpart has to do with the texture. This didn’t bother me, as tahini is typically mixed into something.

What is Tahini?

closeup view of sesame seeds
Tahini is a paste of sesame seeds and olive oil. It’s used in all kinds of Mediterranean cooking; it’s a key ingredient in most hummus and baba ghanoush recipes.

You can also use it in baking. I love using it in carob cupcakes with tahini buttercream (or really putting that buttercream on just about anything).

Recipe Tips

To make tahini, you’ll need a heavy, wide-bottomed sauté pan and a food processor.

First, you’ll need to toast the sesame seeds. Begin by heating the pan (a cast iron skillet also works really well) over medium-high heat.

Add the sesame seeds and toast lightly – about 2 minutes, shaking the pan or stirring vigorously so they toast evenly. Keep a careful eye on the sesame seeds as they go from toasted to burnt really quickly; they are done as soon as they start to brown.

toasting sesame seeds
Transfer seeds to a bowl and let cool completely.

Next, you’ll process the toasted seeds with the olive oil.

Tip: If you want to make your tahini extra smooth, use a coffee grinder to grind the toasted sesame seeds to a powder at this point.

Put the toasted sesame seeds in a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. As you can see, I poured rather than drizzled. It worked just fine!

adding olive oil to a food processor full of toasted sesame seeds
Pulse for 3-5 minutes, or until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Add a little more olive oil if necessary to get the consistency you want.

Remove from the food processor and store in the refrigerator.

Choosing Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are sold two ways, unhulled and hulled. It’s important to choose the right one when you make tahini from scratch.

The hull, or seed coat, is found in unhulled sesame seeds (typically sold as natural sesame seeds). Most sesame seeds sold in the United States are hulled, with the seed coat removed.


Using unhulled sesame seeds will give you a thicker end product with a texture like that of peanut butter. This type of tahini is considered to be healthier and, because of its thickness, it is often called sesame paste.

store-bought tahini and homemade tahini on spoons to show textural differences

Store-bought tahini (left) vs. homemade tahini using hulled sesame seeds (right)

Using hulled sesame seeds will yield a smother tahini.

Store-bought tahini (shown on the left) is typically even smoother than the homemade version made with hulled sesame seeds. You can approximate this texture by grinding toasted sesame seeds finely using a coffee or spice grinder.

Why Does Tahini Sometimes Taste Bitter?

Tahini made from unhulled sesame seeds can sometimes taste bitter as the sesame seed coats have a bit of a bitter taste. Most people don’t mind this flavor, but it can be off-putting to some. Use hulled sesame seeds if you want to make sure that you don’t experience any bitterness.

It can also taste bitter if you burn the sesame seeds. Make sure that they are golden brown and not burnt.

Storage

If you are going to eat it within a few days, it’s fine to keep your tahini out on the counter. However, if you plan to keep it around for a few weeks or longer, it is best to store it in the refrigerator.

Can You Use Black Sesame Seeds?

Yes! You can follow the same recipe instructions below using black sesame seeds to make a tahini that is black in appearance.

Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!

Tahini Recipe

Tahini is simple to make - you only need sesame seeds and olive oil.
Course Condiments
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 24 servings
Calories 98kcal
Author Stefani

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  • Heat a heavy, wide-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sesame seeds and toast lightly for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan so they toast evenly. I tend to just vigorously stir rather than toss. (Keep a careful eye on the sesame seeds as they go from toasted to burnt really quickly. As soon as they start to brown, they are done.)
  • Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.
  • Put the toasted sesame seeds in a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil.
  • Pulse for 3-5 minutes, or until it's as smooth as you can get it.
  • Add a little more olive oil if necessary.
  • Remove from food processor and store in the refrigerator.

Notes

Yields about 2 cups.
Tahini should be stored in the refrigerator if not used within a few days.

Nutrition

Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 58mg | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 1.8mg
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Recipe Rating




46 comments:

  1. Brooksays:

    I made this and my tahini has a significant bitter aftertaste. Is that normal?

  2. Bersays:

    5 stars
    Was preparing hummus for a camping trip and realized I was out of tahini. Yikes!! Found your recipe, took out the skillet and the HS Blender and whipped up a batch and it is better than store bought because both I know my sesame seeds are organic and so was my olive oil and lastly it is made with love and care for those that are to be eating it! Awesome recipe and I am very glad you posted it.

  3. Cathleen Gillilandsays:

    5 stars
    Thanks for the recipe as I am an old hand at cooking from scratch. It is my preference – I feel more in control of the food I prepare when I do it this way and the taste and quality is better. Plus who of us hasn’t heard what a shoddy job the FDA is doing in what manufacturers can pass off for a proposed “pure” product.

  4. Anonymoussays:

    didn’t read all the posts, but can this tahini be canned?

  5. Leahsays:

    If you have a VitaMix blender with the grain blades…it will turn the sesame seeds to flour…and make the best hummus ever.

  6. Anonymoussays:

    I just bought a 16 oz. bag of Sesame seeds for $2 at an Asian store. Can’t wait to make this.

  7. Anonymoussays:

    5 stars
    Thanks for sharing your recipe. I buy my sesame seeds in bulk and it’s really inexpensive compared to the store-bought tahini. I like how your recipe involves using the stove-top as most of the other recipes involving the oven make me nervous. I’ve made several batches and it’s so easy!

  8. Blessysays:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe…I wanted to make hummus and did not have tahini..I had sesame seeds and so I searched for tahini recipe and got to this site… Just made tahini(first time making it) and hummus…Thanks again….

    For those searching sesame seeds, for your information—you can find sesame seeds at Indian stores…I guess its comparatively very cheap also..

  9. Anna at In The Next 30 Dayssays:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this! I too “am a messy cook with limited arm strength.” And stirring worked perfectly to roast my sesame seeds. I’m working on a dip with beets, walnuts, and tahini. And this was so much easier than searching the grocery store with two kids in tow.

  10. Anonymoussays:

    Anybody tried making this with sesame oil versus olive oil?

  11. Stefsays:

    Che Dau Xanh – You could if you have a powerful blender.

  12. Che Dau Xanhsays:

    Hey, I’ve been looking for this recipe! Do you think I can use a blender instead of a food processor?

  13. Anonymoussays:

    Indian food stores have three type of sesame seeds- white, brown, and black- for pretty cheap.

  14. myimperfectkitchensays:

    Looks fantastic and so easy to make! I’m going to try this for sure!!

  15. Jennifersays:

    I can’t wait to try making tahini at home, but I’m having a hard time finding the seeds! I saw someone say that Whole Foods has a bin of sesame seeds…has anyone found other grocery stores (in the mid-atlantic area) that carry large quantities?

    I checked Harris Teeter last night & they had 2.4 oz of sesame seeds for $6.35, is this normal pricing?? eek!

  16. NoorInayasays:

    Your tahini is brown because you toasted the sesame seeds too long. They should NOT brown. Also, add more olive oil to make it smoother.

    I’ve had plenty of homemade tahini, and it has been actually SMOOTHER than the store bought stuff (never had the store bought because it just looks so very unsavory!).

    Try the above tips, and you will get authentic tahini. It shouldn’t look like peanut butter.

  17. w8t2nothingsays:

    5 stars
    ughh are you kidding me? That simple! I just bought a jar yesterday at $8! well you know from now on I will be making this. Why didn’t I think about making it myself. Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  18. Stefsays:

    Heather – I’d say about 4 days. But, I’m not food safety expert.

  19. Heather Brandtsays:

    How long does this last in the fridge?
    HEATHERLBRANDT (AT) FRONTIER (DOT) COM

  20. Angie-wsays:

    I am not able to eat seeds at all, so thought I would have to look for store-bought tahini….have never used it before, and am finding it called for in various recipes, including hummus. I will definitely try the coffee grinder route, as suggested by Anonymous – but if bits and pieces remain, I will run it through a fine sieve to get rid of them before adding the oil!

  21. Anonymoussays:

    5 stars
    I used a coffee bean grinder on the seeds first, made it like a powder, then added the olive oil. very few seed hulls and consistency more like the store bought kind. THank you for this recipe, it’s awesome!!

  22. Anonymoussays:

    I’d like to update my comment. I’ve quit adding the oil. Takes a little longer, but if you just keep running the sesame seeds through the food processor, stopping periodically to push them down, they will turn into tahini without the additional oil.

    –isobel

  23. jocelynsays:

    Thanks Stef! The garbanzo beans are waiting for me to “open sesame” and take them all for a spin in the food processor with a little olive oil and lemon. This gardener will share a bowl of humus with the hubby!

  24. Franciesays:

    5 stars
    I’m so glad I found this recipe! I was in the middle of making hummus this afternoon, when I discovered there was no tahini in the house… ~8-/ …an unusual situation for me. So I Googled “tahini recipe”, and found yours. It’s wonderful! I had to use my blender because the half-made hummus was in the food processor, but it worked just fine. I added about a half cup of olive oil before I got the consistency I wanted. I especially like it because it’s not as bitter as the kind I’ve been buying at the store. Thanks! I’ll never do store-bought again!

  25. --isobelsays:

    I buy sesame seeds at winco for a LOT less than the cost of tahini. Also, I’ve tried the toasted sesame oil from the oriental grocery store instead of olive oil. Really adds a fine flavor.

  26. Angiesays:

    They have hulled & unhulled sesame seeds in the bulk bins at Whole Foods near me. The hulled ones should help make your tahini much smoother though the unhulled variety are more nutrient-rich. Hmmm… :)

  27. danpan320says:

    I’ve ground my seeds with a mortar and pestle before throwing them in the blender with oil. Got a lot closer to the consistency of commercial tahini. Sesame seeds are cheaper than dirt by me too!

  28. Lemonade Standsays:

    Hi, Found this thread after cooking Greek fillet steak gyro which I served with my version of tahini last night. Wanted to see how close I got to the real thing. :) I was making a much smaller amount so used a pestle & mortar, ground up the seeds really fine with a pinch of coarse salt, then added the olive oil until I got the right consistency. It was smooth as anything I’d ever bought. Added a few more non-authentic ingredients after that but it was really good with the beef.

  29. Anonymoussays:

    Yes Krista is correct! I have read from other recipes that suggest the same tip. It practically turns the sesame seeds into a soft powder – yumm!!
    http://msmccor100.blogspot.com/2008/11/marks-hummus-recipe.html

    I made the best tasting hummus the other day. Thank you for sharing this!

  30. Anonymoussays:

    Hi, Thanks for the recipe. I think I may have solved the lightly grainy texture issue. If you toast your seeds, cool them, grind them smooth in a coffee grinder, and then whisk in the oil. I found this to make the closest equivalent to store bought texture. thank you for the inspiration to do this at home!

    Krista

  31. Chua L Ssays:

    Hi Can I use black sesame? How can we tell that is is properly toasted? Appreciate your comments. Chua

  32. Anonymoussays:

    So yummy, I think it can replace peanut butter. I may try it for cookies as well as an ingredient for hummus

  33. happy campersays:

    5 stars
    Loved it !!! and was really easy to make!!! Thank you

  34. gagasays:

    Mmm, it’s like sesame butter!

  35. Swapnasays:

    Thanks for the recipe…I always used the store bought ones…

  36. Olgasays:

    I’m so one of those people who never thought about making tahini at home, although I make hummus at home all the time.

    Have you figured out if it’s cheaper to make it at home?

  37. Stefsays:

    Eat! – Hope you like this kind better.

    Esi – Buying lots of sesame seeds isn’t so cheap either, but it is prob cheaper than the store-bought tahini.

    Brooke – Glad to help!

    Cynthia – No problem! Thanks for reading!

    Ergul – Yup – let him eat up!

  38. Mrs Ergülsays:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! Now I can allow my husband to finish the jar of store-bought tahini that cost me almost 5usd! I will be making my own after this jar finishes!

  39. Cynthiasays:

    5 stars
    This is probably more cost efficient than buying ready-made tahini. Thanks for the recipe!

  40. Brookesays:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for the tip! I would never have thought of making my own tahini – even though I always have sesame seeds and never tahini.

  41. EAT!says:

    Thanks for the tip. There was something about the store bought tahini that I never liked.

  42. Esisays:

    5 stars
    I’m definitely going to be trying this since tahini at the store is kind of expensive. Thanks for the tips!

  43. Stefsays:

    Hayley – Thanks!

    Happy Cook – Glad to pass on a new idea. Hope you get a chance to try it!

  44. Happy cooksays:

    Wow you made this at home.
    I always buy in a jar.
    Will bookmark this recipie.
    Happy 2009 to you and your loved ones.

  45. Todd Jordan - tojosansays:

    Looks very yummy. So when can I drop by and get some? :)

    Love the lens work.

  46. Hayleysays:

    5 stars
    Your homemade tahini looks much better than the store bought variety. I love how rustic it looks. Can’t wait to try this one out.

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