20 Unexpected Ways To Use Tahini

Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds, and is a bit like natural peanut butter — only with a sesame twist. Its most common use is in hummus, where it adds an earthy richness to this much-loved dip. Maybe you bought a jar to make hummus and you're wondering what to do with the rest. Or maybe you love it so much that you want some fresh ideas about how to use it. Either way, we've compiled some unexpected ways for you to use tahini.

From baked goods, such as cookies and cinnamon rolls, to creamy pasta dishes and soups, there are plenty of ways to use this delicious paste that you might not have thought about. So, prepare to enter your tahini era as we give you some of the tastiest ways to use up your jar — and you'll soon be going to the store for your next.

1. In instant ramen

Have you ever stirred a tablespoon or two of peanut butter into your instant ramen while it was cooking to add some rich creaminess? Well, you can do the exact same thing with tahini. Instant ramen isn't gourmet, but sometimes you don't have time for anything else — or you want a comforting bowl of noodles with little effort. But adding tahini is a simple way to upgrade your packet ramen, transforming it into something worth savoring.

Add it when the noodles have started to soften but there's still enough liquid left in the pan to dilute the tahini so you can stir it through your noodles evenly. It gives your noodles a creamy finish that's not dissimilar to rich, soy milk ramen broths. It's less sweet and more earthy than peanut butter, so you end up with a more sophisticated flavor.

2. In cookies

Tahini is a superstar ingredient in the world of cookies. Its nutty, complex flavor takes cookies to a whole new level. It gives your cookies this unique, irresistible taste that you won't find in run-of-the-mill cookie recipes. Now, you might be wondering if tahini will make your cookies taste strange. While tahini has an earthiness and mild bitterness, that's actually a great thing in the context of cookies. It adds this interesting depth of flavor that balances out the sweetness, finding perfect harmony.

But tahini doesn't just bring fantastic flavor — it's also a texture game-changer. You see, tahini has this creamy, smooth texture that works wonders in cookie dough. It gives your cookies a moist, tender crumb that's absolutely drool-worthy. Don't forget that tahini plays well with others. You can pair it with chocolate, cinnamon, or even citrus fruits — your imagination is the limit.

3. In cake

You know that rich, nutty flavor that tahini has? Well, imagine that infused into a moist, fluffy cake — sounds good, right? Tahini brings a new dimension of taste to your cake game. If you're tired of the same old vanilla or chocolate cakes, tahini is here to rescue you from cake boredom. Whether you're into citrusy lemon cakes, spiced carrot cakes, or rich chocolate cakes, tahini can team up with any of them. It's like that kid at school who can be friends with everyone. It's also great for adding some moisture to the recipe, giving you a moist, delicious cake that will leave you reaching for another slice.

Now, here's a pro tip for you — when using tahini in cake recipes, make sure to use the good stuff. Go for high-quality tahini that's smooth and runny, or make an easy tahini at home. The cheaper ones might have a gritty texture and overpowering bitterness that could throw off your cake party.

4. On sweet potatoes

Tahini is the perfect partner for baked sweet potato. Make a tahini dressing by thinning it out slightly with water and adding your choice of seasonings, such as salt, garlic, and lemon juice. Then cut your baked sweet potato in half and drizzle that goodness all over it.

The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes contrasts wonderfully with the slight bitterness of tahini. This contrast adds complexity to the dish and prevents it from becoming overly sweet or bland. What's more, it makes for a nutritious meal. Tahini provides essential fats, protein, calcium, and iron. Combined with the vitamins and minerals found in sweet potatoes, you have a meal that packs a nutritional punch.

The combination of tahini and sweet potatoes evokes a sense of comfort and warmth in dishes. It's the kind of food that makes you feel good and satisfied, making it perfect for cozy meals.

5. In smoothies

Looking for a way to turn your smoothies from boring to bursting with flavor? Tahini might be the answer. Its earthy, nutty taste adds depth of flavor to your smoothies. It's especially great in smoothies that contain fruits, as it balances out the sweetness with its slight bitterness. It also has a creamy texture that works wonders in smoothies. 

Tahini is a good source of healthy fats, primarily monounsaturated fats that are beneficial for heart health. Plus, it contains protein, iron, calcium, and other nutrients. And, for those following a vegan diet, tahini is an excellent alternative to dairy-based ingredients like yogurt or milk. It offers a similarly creamy texture without any animal products.

6. Mixed in hot chocolate

If you're sick of the same old bog-standard hot chocolate, we have a flavor upgrade that's really going to change things for you. Tahini brings a fresh wave of creaminess to your hot chocolate. It blends perfectly with the warm liquid, creating this luxurious creaminess that you won't be able to resist.

But, here's the real kicker — the flavor. Tahini has this deliciously rich, nutty, slightly earthy taste that levels up your hot chocolate experience. It's like sipping on a cozy mug of chocolate goodness with a hint of sophistication. You'll wonder why you never tried this heavenly combination before. It might sound like an unconventional pairing, but it's the unexpectedness of it all that makes it so exciting. The nutty notes of tahini complement the rich chocolate flavor, a culinary match made in heaven.

7. On pumpkin

We've been dying for the chance to share the delightful combination of tahini and pumpkin with you. It's like the ultimate fall flavor extravaganza that will make your taste buds jump for joy. We all know pumpkin has that earthy sweetness that we all love in our fall treats. Well, tahini takes it up a notch with a more savory earthiness and nuttiness. When you pair the two, it's a real treat for your palate.

When you slather tahini sauce on roasted pumpkin, something magical happens. Creamy, smooth tahini blends with the tender flesh of the pumpkin, creating this dreamy, velvety texture. But, it's not just about the taste — tahini adds a fantastic nutritional boost. It's chock-full of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. So while you're indulging in the deliciousness of pumpkin, you're also nourishing your body with some serious goodness.

8. As a soup ingredient

Creamy soups are delicious, from cream of mushroom to celery soup packed with heavy cream. But not everyone's stomach is happy when dairy gets added to the mix. Using tahini is a great way to add that rich creaminess to soup, while still making it suitable for vegans and anyone who's lactose intolerant.

All you need to do is replace the heavy cream in your favorite soup recipe with broth and a big dollop of tahini. There's no need to be extremely precise, just keep adding it until you have the level of creaminess that you desire. It blends in beautifully, creating this silky and smooth consistency that will have you craving another spoonful. You don't need to worry about tahini muscling in and overpowering other ingredients. It enhances the overall flavor profile without stealing the show. 

9. In dumplings

Dumplings are the foods of the gods — can you imagine anything more perfect than a tasty blend of ingredients stuffed inside a delicious skin? From Japanese gyoza and Chinese dim sum to Polish pierogi and Nepalese momos, there's a whole world of dumplings out there. You could even classify stuffed pasta as a type of dumpling.

While there are plenty of traditional dumpling recipes to try, they're so versatile that you can really get creative. And adding tahini to the filling is a great way to mix things up. The combination of the soft, doughy dumpling wrapper with the smooth tahini filling creates a mouthwatering contrast that's simply divine. While tahini is creamy and indulgent, it actually adds a lightness to the filling that complements the other ingredients, rather than being overly rich.

10. In bread

Freshly baked bread is a delight, but maybe you're growing weary of the same old recipes. Why not experiment with tahini? It brings this delightful earthy, nutty flavor to bread. When you take that first bite, you'll be greeted with a rich, slightly toasty taste that's absolutely irresistible. If you like to put toppings on your bread, add some sesame seeds for texture and an extra hit of nuttiness.

But it's not just standard loaves that can benefit from tahini. Tahini also works beautifully in brioche, adding richness and moisture to the recipe. You can try it in other breads, too, such as focaccia or as a topping for a flatbread. What's more, it adds a delectable twist to quick breads and sweet breads made with pumpkin, banana, or zucchini. Is there anything you can't do with tahini?

11. With pasta

Tahini is the queen when it comes to adding creaminess to dishes, so if you want to make a creamy pasta sauce without heavy cream, you should get yourself well-acquainted with tahini. Not only is this great for vegans and lactose-intolerant folks, but it's also delicious in its own right. The rich nutty, earthy flavors of tahini bring a complexity to pasta sauces that simple heavy cream just can't match.

Mix it with a broth of your choice to create a creamy sauce for your pasta. You can add in extras such as nutritional yeast for dairy-free cheesiness and lemon to cut through the richness and add some brightness to the dish. It works brilliantly with a range of fresh herbs, including sage, parsley, and basil.

12. In cinnamon rolls

For the gooiest, richest cinnamon roll filling, you need a surprise ingredient — tahini. It's an unexpected twist that takes your classic cinnamon rolls to a new plane of deliciousness. Imagine that warm, comforting taste of cinnamon mingling with the rich, slightly earthy notes of tahini. It's a flavor combination that's both familiar and exciting at the same time. The sweetness of the cinnamon rolls beautifully balances out the subtle bitterness of tahini.

So how do you incorporate tahini into your cinnamon rolls? It's all about the filling. Mix together your usual combination of butter, cinnamon, and sugar, but add a generous glug of tahini paste. To balance out the earthiness of the tahini, you may want to experiment with even more spices, such as cardamom, nutmeg, and a small hint of ginger.

13. In date balls

Date balls, or energy balls, are healthy snacks consisting of dried fruit and nuts blended up and squished together to form a dense ball of goodness. Tahini is the perfect addition to date balls for a number of reasons. First off, these balls are meant to pack as much goodness into a small package as possible and tahini is extremely nutritious, containing decent levels of good fats, protein, calcium, and iron.

Tahini adds this rich, nutty, mildly bitter flavor that complements the sweetness of dates beautifully. Plus, it acts as a binder to help hold everything together. Once you've made your balls, you can get creative with the coatings. Roll your tahini-infused date balls in some toasted sesame seeds or crushed nuts for an extra crunch and a burst of flavor.

14. In popsicles

It's the 21st century and there's no reason why creamy popsicles need to be dairy-based anymore. There are so many options for creating rich, plant-based popsicles and tahini is one of the more out-there options, but it's certainly worth a try, especially for big tahini fans.

Of course, there's a creaminess to tahini but it also has that signature earthiness and that's what makes tahini popsicles so interesting. They're a grown-up alternative to other creamy popsicles. Since you're making them at home, you can pair them with whatever flavors you like. Sweet spices such as cinnamon and cardamom are delicious with tahini, as is dark chocolate, which adds a complementary sweet bitterness.

You can even try dipping your popsicles in melted dark chocolate before coating them with extras, such as sesame seeds, chopped nuts, or fruits, and putting them back into the freezer to solidify.

15. In pies

Tahini in pies, now that's a delightfully unexpected twist. This tasty sesame paste brings a whole new level of creaminess and nuttiness, making those pies taste incredible. When mixed into pie fillings, tahini adds a rich, earthy taste that complements both sweet and savory flavors, so it works in all kinds of pies, from pot pies to fudge pies.

In sweet pies, like chocolate or caramel, tahini lends a unique depth of flavor and a creamy texture that's irresistible. But tahini works in savory pies, too. Imagine a luscious spinach and feta pie with a hint of tahini, or a mushroom pie with a creamy tahini sauce. And let's not forget texture. Tahini brings a smooth, velvety quality to pie fillings that you just can't achieve with other ingredients. So it's well worth experimenting with this ingredient the next time you're craving a sweet or savory pie.

16. In truffles

Normally, you'd make truffles by melting chocolate into heavy cream. However, you can make tahini chocolate truffles by melting together tahini and chocolate before letting the mixture set and rolling it into balls.

Tahini brings a nutty undertone that complements the decadent sweetness of chocolate. The beauty of adding tahini to chocolate truffles lies in its ability to balance out the sweetness. Chocolate can sometimes be intense, but tahini swoops in to save the day with its slightly savory notes. It's like a flavor tag team, with chocolate's sweetness and tahini's nuttiness creating a perfectly harmonious duo.

Once you've made your truffles, you can roll them in a coating of cocoa powder, sesame seeds, chopped nuts, or anything else that suits your fancy. The sophisticated addition of tahini means these truffles are great gifts, leaving anyone lucky enough to receive them in awe of your culinary prowess.

17. With oatmeal

There's no denying that oatmeal is a warming, nutritious breakfast option — but it sure can get boring when you eat it every morning. Maybe you've tried adding peanut butter or other nut butters to it, but you shouldn't overlook tahini as a delicious addition. The earthy undertones of tahini complement the natural sweetness of oats, creating a delicious balance of flavors that'll keep you coming back for more.

Tahini has the power to take oatmeal from basic to gourmet. It adds this wonderful creaminess that transforms your bowl into a velvety delight. Say goodbye to boring, plain oatmeal — tahini turns it into a luxurious treat fit for royalty. Now, let's talk about the nutritional goodness tahini brings to the (breakfast) table. Those sesame seeds packed into tahini are rich in protein, healthy fats, and a host of vitamins and minerals. So not only does it taste amazing, but it also gives your breakfast a nutritional boost.

18. In salad dressings

Salad is often seen as boring, but with the right mix of ingredients, it's anything but. One way to liven up a salad is with a delicious dressing, and tahini dressing makes a change from vinaigrette or honey-mustard dressings. Tahini adds both creaminess and flavor to dressings. The earthy notes of tahini harmonize beautifully with the fresh and crisp elements of your salad. But tahini isn't just taste, let's not forget that it adds a nutritional boost. Salads are often packed with nutrients from veggies and protein and tahini just makes it even better for you.

Another reason tahini shines in salad dressings is its versatility. You can play around with different ingredients to create tasty flavor combinations. From zesty lemon juice to aromatic garlic, you can mix and match to suit your taste preferences. Add a pinch of cumin or a sprinkle of fresh herbs, and tahini will gladly blend in.

19. In frosting

Tahini in frosting? You might be thinking to yourself, "you've got to be kidding," but it works remarkably well. Consider how popular peanut butter frosting is. Now, you already know that tahini is just sesame seed butter, so it makes sense that you could put it in frosting.

We're used to cakes being extremely sweet, but sometimes you want something to cut through that. Enter tahini frosting. Its subtle earthiness and bitterness combined with its nutty flavor brings some complexity to frosting so it doesn't just taste like pure sugar. It might not win any favors at kids' birthday parties, but it's perfect for a decadent, grown-up cake.

And guess what? Tahini frosting is ridiculously versatile. Whether you're frosting a decadent chocolate cake, a zesty lemon cake, or a spiced carrot cake, tahini complements whatever flavors you can throw at it.

20. On pancakes

Pancakes are great, but if you eat them most weekends or even once every month or two, you're probably running out of unique topping ideas by now. Perhaps you're bored of maple syrup or you're looking for something to cut through the sweetness a little.

Well, say hello to your old friend tahini. You can use it to make a sweet sauce to drizzle over your pancakes. The earthy taste keeps pancakes from tasting overly sweet, while the creamy texture really elevates the pancake experience. It's great paired with chocolate or you can mix in syrup or honey along with sweet spices, like cinnamon and ginger. It's not your everyday pancake sauce, but that's what makes it so great.