Lemon Tahini Dressing

$1.56 recipe / $0.39 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.72 from 7 votes
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It’s about time this delicious, magical elixir got its own blog post. I first used this dressing on a cauliflower salad years ago, and have been adding it to salads, side dishes, meal preps, and more ever since. So here is the famous Lemon Tahini Dressing recipe on its own, so you can bookmark it and easily refer back or share it whenever you want. And if you haven’t tried this lemon tahini dressing yet, get on it! You’re missing out!

Lemon tahini dressing in a wooden bowl dripping over the side, a cut lemon in the back

What is Tahini?

Tahini is a paste made out of ground sesame seeds. Think peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead of peanuts. It has a very distinct flavor that is slightly nutty and mildly bitter. You can find tahini in the grocery store either near the peanut butter or near middle eastern ingredients.

Tahini stays good in the refrigerator for months, just like peanut butter, so don’t worry about not being able to use the leftovers. Not only will you want to make this dressing over and over, but it’s the key ingredient for making really good homemade hummus. You can check out the rest of our recipes that use tahini in our tahini archives.

Can I Substitute the Tahini?

I don’t suggest substituting the tahini in this recipe because the tahini is what makes this dressing what it is. Not only is the nutty-bitter flavor perfect for balancing the lemon and garlic, but the thick texture emulsifies with the lemon juice and water to create a thick and creamy dressing (without using dairy).

How Long Does This Dressing Last?

For any homemade dressing, I suggest refrigerating it for a maximum of about five days. Fresh ingredients, like garlic, and even dry spices can contain yeast and mold that can eventually begin to ferment the dressing.

How to Use Lemon Tahini Dressing

The original recipe where I used this incredible dressing is my Roasted Cauliflower Salad, but I’ve also used it on other salads, like this Mediterranean Farro Salad. This dressing is also great drizzled over roasted vegetables, bowl meals, or used as a dressing for wrap sandwiches.

Do I Have to Use Fresh Lemon?

Nope! While I do have some pretty fresh lemons in the photos, I most often make this recipe with bottled lemon juice for convenience (and price). If you do have fresh lemons that will definitely make the dressing even more flavorful, but I wouldn’t consider it a deal breaker, by any means. And if you need it, here are 5 tips for getting the most juice out of your lemons.

A spoon stirring the thick lemon tahini dressing in a wooden bowl, ingredients on the sides
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Lemon Tahini Dressing

4.72 from 7 votes
This super fast and easy dressing has bold flavors of garlic, lemon, and nutty tahini. Drizzle over salads, roasted vegetables, and more!
Author: Beth – Budget Bytes
Side view of a wooden bowl with lemon tahini dressing, some dripping down the side
Servings 8 2 Tbsp each
Prep 5 mins
Total 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup tahini ($1.13)
  • 1/3 cup water ($0.00)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice ($0.18)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth, thick, and creamy. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

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Equipment

Nutrition

Serving: 2TbspCalories: 62.31kcalCarbohydrates: 2.95gProtein: 1.79gFat: 5.39gSodium: 74.73mgFiber: 0.99g
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How to Make Lemon Tahini Dressing – Step by Step Photos

lemon juice being poured into a blender containing the rest of the dressing ingredients

Add ⅓ cup tahini, ⅓ cup water, ¼ cup lemon juice, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), ½ tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, and ¼ tsp salt to a blender.

Blended lemon tahini dressing in the blender

Blend the ingredients until the dressing is thick, smooth, and creamy.

Lemon tahini dressing dripping off a spoon into a wooden bowl. Lemons in the background

Serve immediately or refrigerate for later!

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  1. I’ve never had tahini but am curious about trying a couple of your recipes that use it. However, I don’t like peanut butter–the smell is very strong and offensive to me, and my partner doesn’t like it either. You compare tahini to peanut butter here, does that extend to smell/taste, or is it more of an appearance or texture thing? I’m not sure if it would be worth investing in a jar, and I don’t want to buy a more expensive ingredient if I probably wouldn’t like it.

    If not tahini, are there alternative dressings you’d recommend for this or the Maple Tahini dressing for salads that use them?

    1. Tahini is pureed sesame seeds. Peanut butter is pureed peanuts. Two completely different beasts, but made in a very similar way. XOXO -Monti

  2. Flavorful dressing.  Enjoyed on grilled eggplant along with a favorite IPA.

  3. I LOVE tahini but hate working with it. So messy, stirring away the natural separation and all. Can you recommend a brand that is less fuss or a trick to keep it mixed after the first go round? Thank you I LOVE your site…your recipes have saved me and my family!

    1. I haven’t noticed any difference between brands, but if you keep it in the fridge after stirring that definitely slows the separation.

  4. This sounds so tasty. Honey is a must! I’ll be making this soon!!

  5. A zesty condiment easily thrown together from pantry ingredients, excellent! Mine initially came together with a whipped, soft-peak consistency. I actually added more water and some olive oil because I wanted it a bit thinner for green salads. I’m enjoying it as a veggie dip along with some cheese and crackers for a light lunch.

  6. When I use tahini from a jar, it has a slight bitter taste that I don’t like. But prepared tahini-based dips don’t. I’ve used Whole Foods 365 and Sprouts brands. Suggestions?

    1. It might just be that the other ingredients in the dips mask the bitterness. Since this dressing has such a high amount of tahini in it, the flavor probably won’t be masked as much as in something like hummus. Sometimes a bit of sugar can balance out bitterness, so you might like my maple tahini dressing, which is just like this but a little sweeter.

  7. Glad this recipe finally got its own post! I’ve been making it from the recipe page for your roasted cauliflower salad for a while now. It’s tasty and refreshing; I love to dip veggies in it!

    1. This one is hard for me to imagine with fish, so I think I’d actually have to try it before weighing in. My intuition tells me that it might be a bit strong for fish, but I’m not sure.

  8. Glad this recipe finally got its own post! I’ve been making it from the recipe page for your roasted cauliflower salad for a while now. It’s tasty and refreshing; I love to dip veggies in it!

  9. If you’re putting everything into a blender, is it important to mince the garlic first? Is there a change to the flavor, or do whole cloves not liquefy well?

    1. It just depends on your blender. With the blender I have the whole cloves tend to get stuck under the blades and remain whole, so the mincing is just an extra safety net. :)