Homemade Tahini (Sesame Paste)

So Easy to Make & MUCH Cheaper-Make Just What You Need WHEN You Need It

Tahini (Sesame Paste); notice all the added oil?

Tahini is a paste, like peanut butter, made from sesame seeds, used often in Middle Eastern cuisine. AND it is so easy to make in 5-10 minutes (depending on your type of equipment), that it just does not pay to buy the store brands.The traditional tahini is pure sesame paste, made from toasting and grinding raw sesame seeds

Americans have a lot to learn about sesame. In other parts of the world, like East Asia (China and Japan are the world’s number 1 and number 2 sesame seed importers, and it’s a $2.81 billion industry), they’ve been using the seed for thousands of years and it’s much better understood—not confined, much of the time, to the tops of hamburger buns.

Because most commercial brands of tahini add oils to their mix, I suggest taking the extra step of making your own. It is also MUCH cheaper and you can make just the amount you need. We have included the recipe below and it takes all of 5-10 minutes to whir the tahini paste together and makes for a wonderful, fresh, buttery paste. Hulled sesame seeds create the best creamy tahini.

Note: This jar of tahini (pictured), which obviously has added oils, does NOT list any ingredient other than sesame seeds on their label. So that means you have no clue WHAT OILS they used. It could be sesame oil or olive oil (most frequently used) or motor oil! Okay, just kidding on that last one. I called this company myself and spoke with a very disrespectful man who told me I hadn’t a clue about how to make tahini. I laughed….hard….big belly laughs.

Homemade Oil-free Tahini

Makes 1 cup

1-1/2 cups raw, hulled sesame seeds (about 8 ounces)
Warm water as needed



  1. Place sesame seeds in your food processor, or blender, and process on high until creamy, scrapping the sides as needed. It will take 5-10 minutes to blend depending on your equipment.
  2. If you find it is not getting smooth and creamy, add the water, a few drops at a time, to help it along.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should last about two months.


Any raw, hulled sesame seeds leftover after opening the original container should be refrigerated or frozen for maximum freshness and flavor. They will last for a maximum of 3 months in the refrigerator.

Make Only the Amount You Need

I find tahini is used up quickly in my home when I make it. However if you have a recipe using a specific amount (like 1/4 cup for hummus), you can effectively measure out about 1-1/2 times the amount of seeds (6 tablespoons sesame seeds = approximately 1/4 cup of tahini) and grind to a paste.

Homemade Tahini Variations

*You can use whole sesame seeds as well. Your tahini will just be thicker and not  as smooth. Sesame seeds with the hull will create a thicker consistency. This is usually when I will add oil to it to achieve a smoother consistency. But the oil DOES change the flavor.

To make tahini with oil, simply replace the water above with oil, drizzling it into the blender a little at a time. Take care not to use too much or you may end up with tahini “soup”.

You may also use toasted sesame seeds, but there’s a difference in flavor, with the toasted seeds tasting more rich and nutty. Whether it’s important to your recipe is up to you to decide. You’ll be adding about the same amount of protein and fats no matter which you use, but you may find the difference in flavor not important enough to bother toasting them for your recipe. If not, no harm done. You’ve saved yourself ten minutes of prep time.

Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Or bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Watch to avoid scorching as this creates a very bitter, undesirable taste.

Black Tahini is made with black sesame seeds, creating a whole new dimension of flavor. Black tahini is stronger and more intense with an extremely toasty, just-shy-of-burnt taste. (Another challenge of attempting black tahini at home: roasting the already-black seeds without burning them.) Black sesame seeds, popular in Japanese food, are a more pungent, more bitter cousin to white sesame seeds, and they’re always sold with their hulls—that’s the part that’s black. If you remove the hull to reveal the white inners, part of that sharp intensity is reduced, but sesame experts will still detect the difference.

Uses for Tahini

  • You can eat tahini as a dip. Simply mix in any seasonings (sweet or savory) you like and enjoy on crackers, pita bread, or fruits and vegetables.
  • You can use in it in the traditional recipes to make hummus, baba ghanoush, or that wonderful, sweet confection, halva.
  • We add a bit of honey to our tahini and eat it spread on bread, crackers, or with just a spoon. Fair warning, it’s addictive!
  • Use it in salad dressings and dips in place of mayonnaise and other oils for an oil-free diet regimen.
  • Tahini makes a great thickener for soups, sauces, and gravies in a gluten-free diet.
  • It is also wonderful as a binder for dehydrated cracker recipes.
  • Try our recipe for Herbed Creamy Mock Ranch Dressing using this tahini.

What do YOU use tahini for? Let us know in the comments!

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