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In its most basic definition, tahini is ground sesame seeds. But to those who have grown up enjoying the condiment, a staple in Mediterranean, West Asian and North African cuisine, tahini is a major ingredient in a huge array of dishes. From hummus to halva, a base for sauces and an item that can be served on its own, tahini is a versatile food that is also allergen-friendly. Tahini is high in potassium, protein and calcium and is vegan, making it a great option for non-meat eaters and anyone with a nut allergy. In some places, it’s used for breakfast dishes as a spread on toast, while in others it can be mixed with date syrup for a sweet dessert. In conclusion, there’s not much you can’t do with delicious and nutritious tahini.
Not only is tahini a versatile food that can be used at every meal of the day, but it’s also packing some impressive stats for health. Using sesame seeds as its main (and often only) ingredient, tahini is nutritious, high in antioxidants, can help decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes, improves kidney and liver function and contains anti-inflammatory properties.
If you’re new to the world of tahini, you’ve likely already eaten it in dips or sauces without realizing it. Cooking with tahini is a great way to add a nutty and creamy flavor to any dish, including desserts like cookies and brownies, but it’s important to separate the good tahini from the bad.
Good vs. Bad
Good tahini can be eaten on its own and has a mild nutty and creamy texture and taste. Bad tahini is chalky and acidic.
Keep it Current
Tahini doesn’t have as long a shelf life as other condiments that are typically packed with preservatives, so keep an eye on the expiration date. Because of the high oil content, tahini can easily go off in a short period. If it doesn’t smell right, it’s time for a new jar.
Make it Saucey
If you’re using tahini to make a sauce, many chefs recommend going with a two to one ratio with tahini and water (the tahini should be the bigger number). There are no shortages of recipes on how to make the best tahini sauce and since it’s all-natural, it’s very forgiving. Good news, newbies!
As with any natural product that is made with oil, there is a chance that tahini will separate from the oil once it’s been bottled. Think about the layer of oil at the top of your jar of natural peanut butter. An easy fix is pouring the contents of the jar into a blender or food processor and re-mixing the tahini and oil. After it has been blended, refrigerate the tahini in an airtight container and voila — perfectly mixed tahini that is ready to serve.
Can I Make It Myself?
You can definitely make tahini yourself by using raw sesame seeds. Tahini is typically made with white hulled seeds for a smooth texture or unhulled seeds for a richer flavor. There’s toasting, blending and mixing involved. Adding oil and salt typically helps to create a creamy texture and bring out the flavor. Or, you can try one of the delicious jars of tahini we’ve included on our list, which are great for when you’re short on time and want to get straight to enjoying your delicious dish.
1. Soom Foods Pure Ground Sesame Tahini
For a creamy tahini that is delicious on its own or as a base for dips, sauces and desserts, we like Soom Foods Pure Ground Sesame Tahini. The women-owned, award-winning brand is ideal for sweet or savory recipes and is made using Ethiopian White Humera sesame seeds that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Soom tahini has minimal separation and a few quick spins with a spoon will bring the product back to a creamy finish. Soom also makes a chocolate tahini halva spread that has less sugar than other chocolate spreads and is nut-free.
2. Mighty Sesame Co. Organic Tahini
For tahini that you can feel good about eating on anything (or enjoy on its own), we like the Mighty Sesame Co. Organic Tahini. Made with Ethiopian sesame seeds, the one-ingredient product uses roasted peeled organic sesame seeds to create a delicious product that is organic, gluten-free, vegan and packed with plant-based proteins. The smooth tahini from Mighty Sesame is available in Harissa and Whole Seed and comes in a squeeze bottle that makes it easy to get the yummy tahini onto your food faster. The company also sells several tahini-based products, including bars with pistachio, vanilla and cocoa nibs.
3. Pepperwood Organics Stone-Ground Whole Sesame Tahini Paste
MADE WITH UNHULLED SEEDS
Most tahini is made with hulled seeds, which have a lighter color and a smoother taste. Unhulled sesame seeds can often have a stronger taste, which can sometimes be bitter. Unhulled seeds also have more nutritional properties than their hulled counterparts, which is why we like Pepperwood Organics Stone-Ground Whole Sesame Tahini Paste. The company offers both hulled and unhulled options with little bitterness in the latter. Made with organic whole sesame seeds, Pepperwoods’ tahini makes an excellent base for hummus and baba ghanoush and can be enjoyed on its own. The company uses a traditional stone grinding process to create their tahini and deliver a product that is smooth and creamy.
4. Baron’s Pure Tahini Sesame Paste
For a tahini that is creamy and easy to pour, we like the Baron’s Pure Tahini Sesame Paste. Made with pure ground sesame seeds and no added salt, the liquid consistency of Baron’s tahini makes it an excellent base for several dishes, including hummus and sauces. The tahini has only a small amount of bitterness that can be easily lessened by using it as a base for dishes that require other ingredients. Packaged in a BPA-free plastic container, Baron’s tahini has a smooth finish that makes it ideal for handling in the kitchen.
5. Roots Circle All-Natural Sesame Tahini Paste
Made from 100% pure sesame seeds that are single-sourced, Roots Circle All-Natural Sesame Tahini Paste has a creamy texture that is delicious to enjoy on its own or as a base. A great option for anyone transitioning to a plant-based diet or who wants to incorporate more protein into their dishes, Roots Circle offers both organic and conventional options for customers. Delivering a warm and nutty flavor, Roots Circle is perfect for everything from dips to desert.
6. Har Bracha Tahini Paste
For an authentic tahini paste, we like Har Bracha’s offering. Made with real roasted sesame seeds, Har Bracha is a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern kitchens. The family company was founded in Israel in the early 2000s and delivers unprocessed tahini that is flavorful and has a rich texture. Har Bracha’s tahini is on the more expensive side, but customers will appreciate the high quality of the product and the ability to enjoy the tahini on its own with little intervention.
7. Tarazi Organic Tahini Sesame Butter
BEST FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES
Most tahini is inherently ideal for people with allergies, barring they don’t have any issues with sesame seeds. Tahini is typically kosher, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, vegan and dairy-free. But for those who want to go one step further and ensure that their tahini is not only delicious but safe for all, we like Tarazi Organic Tahini Sesame Butter, which is processed in a nut-free facility. Made in California, the organic and non-GMO tahini is 100% natural and made without any preservatives, additives, chemicals or salt. Just delicious tahini that is great on its own or as a base.
8. Chocolate Date Tahini Spread by Just Date
BEST FOR DESSERTS
Tahini is a great base for desserts, but what about a spread that is a dessert on its own? Take out the leg work and enjoy the Chocolate Date Tahini Spread by Just Date. A healthier alternative to most chocolate-hazelnut spreads, Just Date’s spread is made with tahini, Medjool date syrup, cacao powder and sea salt. Perfect for baking into cookies and brownies or using to drizzle over ice cream and fruit, the spread is the ideal dessert pairing for tahini lovers everywhere.
9. Seed + Mill Organic Tahini
MINIMAL STIRRING REQUIRED
If you want your tahini to be ready to enjoy straight out of the jar without any stirring or blending necessary, we recommend Seed + Mill Organic Tahini. Using hulled and roasted Ethiopian sesame seeds, Seed + Mill have created a smooth tahini that can last up to a year if stored properly in a fridge. The New York-based company sells its organic, plant-based tahini in 16-ounce jars. The company also makes an 11-pound chef’s bucket of tahini for those who can’t get enough of the delicious sesame seed spread.