Several years ago, I stopped eating dairy and meat. While giving up meat was hard, giving up dairy proved to be even more difficult as I often found myself yearning for that creamy richness that dairy provides. Enter—tahini—a creamy, dreamy quarantine discovery that I now use so regularly and religiously that I can not possibly imagine life without it. 

Laila Adarkar

Perhaps you have topped your Cava bowls with lemon tahini sauce or tried the herbed tahini dip at Trader Joes but have been too intimidated to actually get a jar of tahini yourself. Or, maybe you have never even heard of tahini and have no idea what I am rambling on about—in which case I have the honor of being your guide into this delightful tastebud wonderland.

So, let’s start at the beginning. What actually is tahini?

Tahini is a smooth paste made from toasted ground sesame seeds (think peanut butter… but made from sesame seeds instead of peanuts)—naturally vegan, gluten-free, and protein-packed. It is traditionally used in Middle Eastern dishes like hummus, baba ghanouj, or dips for falafel, but in recent years it has become popularized, particularly in the vegan community, for its luxuriously creamy quality that is somehow dairy-free. Now, you can find tahini in everything from salad dressings, to noodle dishes, to smoothies, to chocolate chip cookies

Tahini has transformed my cooking game, and with a little help it can transform yours too.

Tahini sauce is a great way to get started: it’s simple, delicious, and will take your favorite salad, protein, or roasted veggie bowl to the next level.

Laila Adarkar

Here are my favorite tahini sauce recipes to get you started:

Lemon Tahini Sauce: This is the ultimate baseline recipe—I have made it so many times that I can make it in my sleep. It is bright, refreshing, and a consistent crowd pleaser.

Coconut Aminos Tahini Sauce: The tahini sauce from this recipe is also a show-stopper: sweet and smooth with a slight bite from the garlic. *Personally, I like to double the amount of tahini in this recipe to make it extra creamy.

Laila Adarkar

Miso-Jalapeño Tahini: The flavors of ginger, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime marry beautifully here to create a versatile sauce that packs a punch. This recipe is slightly more ambitious but trust me, it’s worth it.

A couple more classics

Laila Adarkar

I can’t forget my favorite quick hummus recipe made endlessly creamy with the addition of tahini.

And an honorable mention must go to this recipe for Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter borne out of the genius that is Samin Nosrat. The combination of softly steamed sweet potatoes with the buttery tahini sauce is surprisingly simple yet unbelievably decadent.

If you have more of a sweet tooth:

Laila Adarkar

Try these Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies or these Gluten-Free Tahini Brownies. Or, drizzle it over your favorite oatmeal recipe in the place of peanut butter like I have done here. My personal favorite: simply spread tahini across a couple medjool dates and sprinkle with cinnamon, and a touch of sea salt.

Now you are just one grocery store stop away from experiencing the creamy culinary delight that is tahini. Trust me, you will not regret it. (If you need assistance on what brand of tahini you should get, check out this article.) Once you get the hang of it, you will be whipping up tahini sauces in your sleep and sneaking spoonfuls before bed wondering how you possibly lived your life without it.