Home » Ingredient Substitutes » Tahini Substitute (9 Ingredients You Can Use).

Tahini Substitute (9 Ingredients You Can Use).

Here, you’ll find a tahini substitute list that allows you to use many options for all tahini recipes.

Hummus is an easy, delicious snack you can whip up in just a few minutes. But what happens when you run out of tahini, and it’s one of the main ingredients?

spoon filled with tahini paste, glass jar labeled "tahini".

What Is Tahini?

Tahini is ground sesame seeds prepared in a paste-like consistency. Often, sesame seeds are toasted when making this. Doing this adds a nuttier flavor.

Expect the consistency of tahini to be similar to that of natural nut butter, if not slightly thinner. You’ll often find this food item in Mediterranean cooking. However, some recipes from North Africa and the Levant also include tahini.

This paste offers a delicious, creamy sesame taste. It is used as a sauce or dressing for salad recipes. This also makes a great dip for falafel and a topping for gyro meat.

It’s well-known as the main ingredient in hummus and baba ghanoush.

Types of Tahini

Tahini is available in two varieties: hulled tahini and unhulled tahini. Each type presents a unique flavor. The difference between them lies in the processing of the sesame seeds.

Hulled Tahini

Hulled tahini uses hulled white sesame seeds, aka sesame seeds, with the hull removed. This process includes soaking the seeds and pulverizing them first. Then, the seeds are soaked again to make removing the hull much easier. You can note a lighter color and sweeter taste when using hulled tahini.

Unhulled Tahini

Unhulled tahini uses raw hulled sesame seeds as a base. This provides a darker color and a stronger, bitter flavor.

Best Tahini Substitute and alternatives

1. Homemade Tahini

The homemade version is the best substitute for tahini. This will provide the closest flavor to store-bought options. It’s easy to make and requires only two ingredients – hulled sesame seeds and oil. Blend these two ingredients in a food processor or blender. Do this until the texture is creamy and smooth.

You may notice a flavor difference. This is more notable if you have eaten tahini with roasted sesame seeds before. Yet, the nutty, sweet taste will still be present in your recipes.


The flavor of homemade tahini is almost identical to that of the store-bought variety.


Making a homemade version of tahini can be time-consuming. Finding hulled sesame seeds at your local grocery store may be challenging. Also, the consistency will be slightly different depending on how much oil you use.

Cooking Tip: Use in a 1:1 ratio to replace store-bought tahini.

2. Natural Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is usually on the thicker side. But, a more similar texture is found when using natural peanut butter. Natural peanut butter does not usually have thickeners. For this reason, it has a more liquid-like consistency than tahini paste.

The main flavor will differ as it is made from other ingredients. Yet, natural peanut butter provides tahini’s nutty flavor to recipes. This option will be much sweeter than tahini, making it a good choice for baked goods.


Natural peanut butter is more readily available now and can be found at most grocery stores. It offers a nutty taste in recipes like tahini.


Some varieties of natural peanut butter are on the pricier side. This swap offers a different flavor and has limited uses.

Cooking Tip: Replace tahini with natural peanut butter in a 1:1 ratio.

3. Cashew and Almond Butter

Cashew and almond butter are some of the best tahini substitutes. They are far less sweet than peanut butter, generally. Plus, they also add a nutty taste. You can use them in sauces, salad dressings, and baked goods.

Like natural peanut butter, you’ll want to aim for the natural versions of these nut butters. Doing so will give you the most similar consistency.


These nut butters are also more widely available now. There are now natural varieties without added thickeners. Cashew and almond butter work for some sweet and savory dishes.


These nut butters will provide a different flavor. Plus, they cost more than natural peanut butter and other options.

Cooking Tip: Use in a 1:1 ratio to substitute tahini.

4. Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter is another option for a tahini replacement. This substitute also provides a nutty taste along with a slight bitterness. Sunflower seed butter is less sweet than other nut butter options. This allows you to use it in dips, dressings, and sweet goods.

It is an excellent option for those who have nut allergies. There will be a difference in texture when using sunflower seed butter as it’s thicker. You can blend some plant-based oil with sunflower butter. This will create a closer consistency to tahini.


Sunflower butter is easily found at grocery stores and is relatively reasonably priced. Similar bitterness and nuttiness are gained when using this seed butter.


You’ll need oil for this seed butter to mimic the consistency. This addition will change the flavor of your dish depending on which oil you use.

Cooking Tip: Use thinned sunflower seed butter in a 1:1 ratio.

5. Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is known for its nutty flavor. Both tahini and sesame oil are made from sesame seeds, so they taste the same. Sesame oil just has a more intense taste.

This oil offers a much thinner consistency than tahini. You will need to use much less in recipes.
Sesame oil has been used in China for centuries for culinary and medicinal purposes. Today, this oil is a very popular ingredient in Asian-style recipes. Use this swap when replacing tahini in salad dressings. It can also be a flavoring agent for soups, marinades, and sauces.


This substitute offers a similar nutty sesame taste. It is also easily accessible at grocery stores in the Asian section.


Sesame oil can be on the pricier side. Its robust flavor can be overwhelming if you use too much. Also, this swap might not work in all recipes due to its consistency.

Cooking Tip: Use 2-3 tablespoons of sesame oil for every ¼ cup of tahini.

6. Olive Oil

Olive oil, like sesame oil, has a much different consistency than tahini. Yet, the nutty flavor and the bitter taste will both be there. Depending on the grade of oil purchased, the taste will change and offer fruitiness. Other grades also have stronger olive flavor notes.

Use olive oil in salad dressings, sauces, marinades, and stews. Avoid using this replacement in baked goods as you’ll need to alter the other ingredients.


Many people have this oil in their cupboards, making it easy to access. If not, grocery stores have olive oil available. This ingredient provides a nutty, bitter flavor that mimics tahini’s taste.


The taste of olive oil is stronger than tahini. Plus, it provides extra flavor notes creating a noticeable taste difference. Because oil has a different texture, the uses for this oil as a swap are limited. It’s best in recipes that only use tahini in small amounts.

Cooking Tip: Use 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil for every ¼ cup of tahini.

7. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are an excellent way to introduce a nutty sesame flavor into recipes. Toasted seeds, specifically, does the job wonderfully. Though, this swap has limited uses because it is not in liquid form. Yet, you can use it as a garnish for salads, marinades, and topping for sweets for a subtle sesame taste.

If you’re seeking a nutty sesame flavor, this swap works well in a pinch. Otherwise, choose one of the above options to create sauces, soups, and more.


Standard sesame seeds (not toasted) are affordable. You can also find them in most local grocery stores, in the Asian aisle. They offered a similar taste to tahini when you included them in recipes.


Since sesame seeds don’t have a similar consistency to tahini, their uses are limited. It may be challenging to find toasted sesame seeds, which provide a closer taste to tahini.

Cooking Tip: Use one teaspoon or more of sesame seeds to replace tahini.

8. Sunflower Seeds

You can use sunflower seeds like sesame seeds as a garnish in salads and some baked goods. They will give a nutty, slightly bitter taste. However, you should find sunflower seeds that do not have a shell. Including them in recipes with a shell can make them a challenge to eat.


Sunflower seeds, even deshelled ones, are easy to find in stores and affordable. They provide a similar nutty, slightly bitter taste to salads and marinades. These seeds also work great as a substitute for tahini in hummus.


They will offer a taste difference. As they are inconsistent with the tahini’s texture, this swap does not work well in all recipes. Use this option when you are only after the nutty taste.

Cooking Tip: Use a small handful or about one tablespoon of sunflower seeds in your dishes.

9. Black Sesame Paste

Black sesame paste is one of the best tahini alternatives. It is made from ground black sesame seeds. The flavors are very close, though there is a stronger nutty taste when using this paste. It also appears in black, changing the appearance of dishes.

These sesame seeds are more common in Japanese and Korean recipes and have been used for many years. Likely, you’ve seen these seeds on a sushi roll in the past.


The flavor profile of black sesame paste is almost identical to tahini. You can use it in any recipe that calls for tahini.


While this paste is an excellent replacement, it may not be easy to find. You must order it online if you don’t live near any Asian supermarket. It is also on the pricier side.

Cooking Tip: Use a 1:1 ratio when replacing tahini.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Substitute Yogurt for Tahini?

Yes, you can substitute Greek yogurt for tahini in some recipes. There will be a noticeable flavor difference. Still, you can use this swap for sauces and even a tahini substitute in hummus. Greek yogurt also works well in baked goods, though it will surely make your recipe sourer.

Does Tahini Taste Like Peanut Butter?

Yes and no. There are some flavor similarities between tahini and peanut butter; both are nutty. However, tahini has a sesame seed taste, while peanut butter has a strong peanut flavor.

Where Is Tahini in the Grocery Store?

Tahini is generally in two locations in the grocery store. It can be in the international aisle near the Mediterranean food. Or, you may find it in the aisle with other sauces.

Is Tahini a Hummus?

Tahini is not a hummus. Instead, it is the main ingredient you will often see used to make hummus creamy. Yet, you can make hummus without tahini. You can use a combination of olive oil and lemon juice to create a similar nutty, tangy flavor.

What Is Tahini Sauce Made of?

Tahini sauce is made from both hulled and unhulled sesame seeds. These seeds are roasted or raw, ground, and combined with oil and salt. In some versions, sesame seeds are ground without additional ingredients. This gives a more robust sesame flavor.

How does Tahini Taste Like?

Tahini offers a sweet or bitter flavor, depending on the variety. Both varieties produce a nutty taste in recipes and a sesame seed flavor.


If you’re running low on tahini, or don’t have any, opt for any of the above alternatives.
They will offer delicious flavor and allow you to cook your recipes without tahini.
Homemade tahini is the best alternative. Meanwhile, black sesame paste is the next best tahini substitute if you’re short on time. Next in line are natural nut or seed butter choices. They are great due to their versatility and availability.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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