Recipe: The Raw Tahini Dip That Done Stoled My Heart

October 11th, 2011 - filed under: The Food » Recipes

Confession time: back in my omni days, I was totally one of those “ranch girls”. You know the type – hell, you may even be the type. (no shame!) Ranch on french fries. Ranch with pizza. Have you ever had a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich dipped in ranch? Yeah, just sayin’ . . .

So obviously, all these things can be veganized very easily. And for a while that’s just exactly what I did. But over time, as I moved away from processed products and transitioned to a primarily whole foods diet, I sort of left the ranch behind. And for a long time I just did without. I ate my raw veggies with hummus like a good vegan (ha!), but I never replaced that cravable, always-applicable, easy “go-to” dip.
Until . . .

Tahini. Dear, sweet, slightly bitter but oh-so-delectable, nutrient-rich and totally unique, tahini from the heavens. I heart thee!

Tahini has filled the void where ranch once resided. Tahini, with its tang and bite, with its high protein and exceptional calcium count, with the sort of ubiquitous zest that will accompany any flavor profile. Tahini is like the “jeans” of the food world!

And this dip, just a little bit different every time I make it (which is why it’s so dang wonderful), is the “perfect pair”. It goes. with. everything.

I slather it on raw crackers. I use it as a salad dressing. I pour it over roasted root veggies and baked potatoes. It’s a great for dunking sandwiches and it’s equally divine as a mayo replacer/bread spread. And of course, it’s my ultimate, go-to raw veggie dip.

The following recipe is written in approximations, because that’s how I roll with it. That’s why it’s fun! You can work with what you have on hand and you can adjust to suit your tastes. Get creative with it and play around!

1 cup tahini (raw, made from unhulled sesame seeds)
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, or any combination of the two
2-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1-4 tablespoons soy sauce/tamari/nama shoyu (raw), depending on how salty you like it
1-4 cloves garlic OR 1/2 – 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 – 1 teaspoon cumin
water to thin, as needed

- use less soy sauce and add fancy salt, like smoked salt
- add liquid smoke (I almost always do this – SO GOOD)
- add diced jalapeño OR jalapeño powder OR red pepper flakes
- add curry powder
- add diced red onion, or onion powder
- use less soy sauce and add some miso paste

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend! Add water to thin to desired consistency (runnier for dressing, thicker for dip) (also, it will thicken up some after being refrigerated). This will store for up to two weeks in the fridge.

And that’s all there is to it! The best part about tahini? Totally kid approved:


  • Kate

    I love savory dips! This looks delicious and that pic of your little one is adorable!

  • Jen @ Light Enough to Travel

    Ooh. I bet chipotle spices would be good in this too. For dipping yam fries? Yes, please!

  • Anonymous

    this sounds great! i love tahini sauces. before any of the good vegan cheeze or nut cheeze recipes came out, i had a cookbook that made something like this. you pour it on top of casseroles and bake it on top, it forms a cheeze crust too!

  • Mandee

    Yum! It’s only 9am here but this sauce has me wishing it was lunch time so I could make it and have it on a salad.

  • joanna

    waits is KILLING me here.

  • teegan dykeman-brown

    ah, miso tahini dip. i think at one point you mentioned this without any recipe. so hubby and i came up with our own (measurementless, because that’s how we roll):
    drop of tamari
    caramelized onions
    a little water or coconut milk just to liquefy it.
    hello, delicious.

  • erosan

    I consider unfair that you tempt us with a totally cute pic of Waits. I mean, you had me wanting to do this recipe before I even read the ingredients.

    BTW tahini is difficult to come by in my town. Is it difficult to make my own?

  • felicia

    oh yum! i’m always looking for non-processed alternatives to my condiments! what a great idea. also Waits is adorable.

  • Jane

    Oh yeah…another tahini fanatic! I always have to have some laying around and it’s a must for all of my salads.

  • Meghan

    Omnomnom. I eat tahini dip a lot (I buy tahini in 8lb buckets from a little middle eastern grocery), but I tend to be lazy and just make mine outta lemon juice, tahini, and water to thin. Sometimes I add some garlic. I’ll have to try your variations!

  • Rande McDaniel

    yummers! I am completely obsessed with tahini, especially going vegan this month! Cute pic at the end too :D

  • kris

    Despite putting nooch on my popcorn for a while, I have yet to really discover it’s true awesomeness till recently when you said it’s in your standard salad dressing. Boy did that open my eyes. Now I’m looking for more ways to use it. Yesterday I made herbed nooch biscuits for dinner. And my grandparents even commented on how good they were!
    Looking forward to trying this now too!

  • Annie

    It’s reasonably easy, using either a grinder or a mortar and pestle (I use the latter), grind up 1 cup of sesame seeds, slowly incorporating 1/4 cup oil (sesame is obvious, but it’s expensive and you can use a combination). Toasting the sesame seeds before hand adds a nice flavour, and you can toast them in a dry frying pan or in the oven, keep a close eye on it though, they brown very quickly.

  • Annie

    When I spent some time in a forest blockade in Tasmania, I came up with something similar this to go with a ‘kinda-sorta’ Caesar salad after getting a donation of lettuce and assorted veg from local farmers and having 50% of the food tent full of stale bread (for croutons). All communal meals were made vegan, so it was pretty damn useful, that and the fact that any sort of non-vegan product would not have kept. It was a welcome alternative to the usual fire-cooked smooshy lentils/beans known as “hippy slop”.

  • Annie

    Oh also, if you roast a whole bulb of garlic (skins on, full thing intact) and then let it cool and squeeze out all the roasty-smokey garlic smoosh and mix it with tahini and a little lemon, it’s a super dooper anti-pasto dip.

  • Annie

    Ohhhh. And tahini with a drizzle of molassas tastes like halva. Last ‘ohhh, and…’, promise!

  • Jen Roger

    Isn’t that pretty much a hummous recipe but without the chickpeas? My fave hummous recipe is from La Dolce Vegan and it’s practically identical to what you’ve posted. SO DELICIOUS.

  • Jeannie Turpin

    I love the pictures you post of your little guy loving veggies!!! It is so great to see that even when kids are very young they can like/love veggies. It’s so sad that some kids I’ve seen on TV shows lately who don’t even know what the names of fruits and veggies are! Keep up the great job, mom, with raising your little one!!!!

  • Leslie

    Tahini 101- what is the best way to make the tahini from raw organic sesame seeds? Soak the seeds??? Oil, to add or not to add? This simple task seems to be avoiding me. I have sesame seeds in my fridge for about 2 weeks, they are getting lonely. Please enlighten me!!! I live for tahini but am currently using TJʻs brand which honestly I do not really trust……..Blend or food processor or mortar and pestle???????

  • Rebecca

    This sounds crazy good! I have avoided tahini for many reasons (had a roomie who was super-allergic to sesame seeds so I didn’t DARE bring tahini, hummus, etc. into the house—which led to my creating a totally awesome, fat-free, sesame-free Moroccan roasted butternut squash hummus that everyone always goes ga-ga for!)

    Also, tahini can taste a bit too bitter for me (particularly the raw tahini) but I think the other flavors of this would blend together nicely (and hide some of that bitterness). Tahini on its own? Not for me. I tried making a tahini nutella…blech!

    Looking forward to “borrowing” some tahini from a friend and trying this soon!

  • Fran@BCDC

    Sounds tasty!

  • Denise Moore

    Would you post your hummus recipe? Sounds good!

  • Shell

    I am SO happy to finally :) have this recipe. I think my life is about to change! And, on another note, how do you store your veggies? I am not sure I am doing this right (based on droopy leaves)…

  • April

    This dip sounds quick and yummy! I think I am going to add fresh parsley or green onion when I try it. Thanks for (finally) sharing, Sayward!

  • XOXO

    You RAW Vegans are so adorable! If there is such a thing as ‘God’ he/it/they must look at your bunch and chuckle w/delight at the appreciation you give to mere leaves, roots, fruits, flowers and seeds. if gratitude is the attitude you my friends have nailed it. The incredibly cute baby pic at the end just seals the deal. The Vegans shall inherit the Earth : )

  • Nathalie@ThoraThinks

    Thanks for sharing, Sayward! I’m enjoying some dip (with liquid smoke…yum!) right now with fresh radishes as I sketch ideas for new book projects. :D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Chipotle is brilliant! I’m doing this next. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I live in a constant state of “slayed”. However, I have now met Milo so I know that you live there as well. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    That’s awesome! The caramelized onions sound sort of genius, I adore caramelized onions . . . ooh, or leeks! I think I’m going to try caramelized leeks!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I made some just after posting this, in fact! It’s the exact same process as homemade nut butter, but since the sesame seeds are so small, it just takes a lot longer. Like, a good 10-15 minutes of whirring before they really soften up and release their oils. But it’s worth it, because the homemade stuff is – of course – so much better! (and better for you since you can use unhulled seeds, most stuff is made with hulled seeds and that removes a lot of the calcium).

  • Sayward Rebhal

    The nooch really adds such a nice quality! Also, extra protein and Bs. ;-)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Congrats on going vegan!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    That sounds A-Mazing

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I guess it’s close, but I’ve never seen hummus with nutritional yeast or soy sauce. Either way, it sure is good!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I have a tutorial on making nut butter and I just do the exact same thing to make tahini. I don’t soak because the water would make a weird texture (it wouldn’t emulsify) and I don’t add oil because sesame seeds have plenty of their own! Most recipes call for added oil, but it’s not necessary IF you just let the machine run for long enough. Keep stopping and scraping down the sides and just keep blending. After a while – and tahini takes a LONG while – the whole thing will suddenly “relax” and release the oils. It’s pretty awesome. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I’d love to hear that recipe too!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    In plastic bags in the crisper, except my crispers are usually overflowing so sort of stuffed in plastic bags all over the place! =) I don’t use any of those fancy “preserve freshness” bags, though I’m told they work.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Green onion is great, I’ve done that! Parsley sounds awesome too – very ranch-y!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aw, love this comment!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I am looking forward to your new book projects!

  • Rebecca

    I know…isn’t teasing someone with a delish-sounding recipe so cruel?? I actually get such compliments on it (along with my vegan, oil-free, nut-free, gluten-free dog biscuits..that humans end up eating! Ha ha) that I have been encouraged to try and sell it somehow. Now if I just wasn’t a wuss when it came to marketing!

    Ha ha…Perhaps I can email the recipe to Sayward and then she can pass it along to it can be kept “under wraps.”

    I’m super-lame. Forgive me!

  • Rebecca

    see above!

  • Rebecca

    A tip for greens that works WONDERS for me (particularly with spring mix lettuces..or all lettuces for that matter, spinach, etc.) is to add a paper towel to the container/bag of greens. I usually like to put it at the bottom and then toss the greens in—trying to get the towel around as much of the greens as I can.

    You can also use a sponge (or so I am told) but sponges really freak me out (!). A regular kitchen towel (or hand towel) works also and then you can just toss it in the wash. (I don’t have a washing machine…nor do I really have paper towels on hand very often, so I use what’s around)

    Hope this helps! Too many delicious veggies had gone to waste before I discovered this trick!

  • Rebecca

    Someone at a raw-luck I went too kept insisting that tahini had oil in it. However, my best friend from childhood is Middle Eastern, as are some my cousins (although you wouldn’t know it by looking at me! I’m so typical caucasian it’s laughable—especially with my Middle Eastern and Filipino cousins!). And I know, for a fact, that traditional tahini is simply sesame seeds. Nothing else. Nada.

    You are indeed correct. Sesame seeds have so much natural oil it is not needed (but many packaged brands do add it in these days)

  • Melisa

    How I <3 thee, Miss Sayward! Your timing is impeccable. And the best part? I have all these ingredients already! Guess what I'll be making tomorrow?! Besides another batch of pumpkin cookies…

  • Meghan

    I almost always put soy sauce in my hummus, and have been known to sneak some nootch in too!

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  • Jdconte

    Sayward! Thank you. This sauce is amazing. I can’t wait to check out more of your recipes.

    Genesis 1:1

  • Leslie

    JUST finished making this…THE BEST THING EVER……. Another BA success in my kitchen!!!
    Wanted to let you know that when I met you a few weeks ago at Peopleʻs Market (I was visiting my grandbaby) I was blown away. To me it was equal to seeing a celebrity and I almost did not have the nerve to say hi!! Glad I did, you are awesome. That was a “moment” for me!!!! BTW, my husband and son have a big crush on you… you are gorgeous!!!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh my gosh Leslie, I was just thinking about you this morning! I had wanted to email you after we met, but couldn’t find your email.

    I was so embarrassed when we met, because I was having such a rough day and also hadn’t, like, showered in 2 day, and I was afraid I made a totally horrible impression, haha. Maybe it was all in my head though. I’m so glad you said hi! Next time you’re in town we should grab lunch or tea or something. =)