This Creamy Lemon Herb Tahini Sauce is a quick and easy, 10-minute, two-step, Middle Eastern-inspired recipe. It’s made with tahini, fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon juice blitzed together in your food processor.
Use the lemon herb tahini dressing with your favorite salad. Or make it part of your next Mediterranean meal, whether that’s lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins, a pumpkin couscous salad, or falafel stuffed into homemade pita,
Tahini, meaning “grind” in Arabic, is an oily paste made from ground, toasted sesame seeds. It’s used in cuisines from around the Mediterranean and is a key ingredient in hummus in addition to pureed chickpeas.
Tip from the wise quacker: the sesame oil in tahini separates like it does in natural peanut butters, and you’ll need to stir it well before using. Store your open jar of tahini in the refrigerator to prevent the sesame oil from going rancid.
Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations and substitutions
- Sub in mint, arugula, or spinach leaves for the parsley or cilantro, or use a combination. You can also include rosemary, oregano, or thyme, but use them sparingly.
- To make it vegan, omit the yogurt and thin the sauce with water or a plant-based milk to get the tahini sauce to your desired consistency.
- Use a combination of sour cream and yogurt.
Recipe tips and tricks
This is a simple recipe that’s quick and easy to make with a food processor in just two steps. You can also make it by hand with a mortar and pestle.
Step 1: stir the tahini well and then add it to the food processor bowl along with the parsley, cilantro, garlic clove, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Blitz until smooth, scraping the bowl down as necessary. You’ll still see flecks of herbs.
Step 2: The sauce should be pretty thick at this point. To thin, start with a quarter cup of yogurt, sour cream, or water and blitz again. To make a lemon tahini dressing for salads, you’ll want to thin it further.
What to serve with this lemon tahini sauce
No, tahini isn’t spicy at all, but you can add heat to the sauce if you’d like. Or the sauce adds a cooling element if you serve it with spicy food.
If you’re not using it immediately, store the lemon tahini dressing in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Made with yogurt or other dairy, it will keep for one week. If you’ve thinned the tahini sauce with water, it will last two weeks or longer in the refrigerator.
Yes. To freeze, make this recipe up to the point of thinning. It will keep for three to six months in the freezer. To use, let come to room temperature, add it back to the food processor, and thin with yogurt or water as in the original recipe to the desired consistency.
While you can sub in dried herbs, it won’t have the same flavor, color, or consistency. It’s better to use any fresh herbs you can find over dried.
I was always told never to wash any produce until you’re using it, but Kenji Lopez-Alt suggests this method for storing fresh herbs.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
Creamy Lemon Herb Tahini Sauce
- 1 Food processor
- ½ cup tahini
- 1 small clove garlic
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves and thin stems only
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves and thin stems only
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice from about one lemon, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup yogurt (or Greek yogurt, sour cream, or water) plus more as desired for thinning
- Add all of the ingredients except for the yogurt to your food processor and blitz until smooth. Scrape down as necessary and blitz again until the mixture is smooth. You will have flecks of herbs.½ cup tahini, ¼ cup fresh parsley, ¼ cup fresh cilantro, 1 small clove garlic, ¼ cup lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Add ¼ cup of the yogurt, sour cream, or water and blitz again for 10 seconds.¼ cup yogurt (or Greek yogurt, sour cream, or water)
- Check the consistency and taste. Add more yogurt or water, lemon juice, salt, or pepper, as desired.
- Serve immediately or store in a air-tight container or wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Note: Whole Foods sells a Cava lemon herb tahini sauce made with tahini, lemon juice, water, cilantro, garlic, and salt. My recipe is not intended to be a copycat Cava lemon herb tahini sauce. But if you love the Cava tahini sauce, try this homemade version and let me know what you think!
Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking?