5 Best Substitutes for Tahini

dish of tahini next to sesame seeds

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Tahini, also known as sesame butter, is a condiment made from sesame seeds. It is similar to a nut butter in terms of texture and consistency, and the ingredients are usually pretty simple. Toasted or raw hulled sesame seeds are ground into a creamy mixture. 

In recipes for hummus and baba ghanoush, tahini is a staple. It is also used to make various dips and salad dressings. Tahini can usually be found in the condiments aisle near the nut butter in most grocery stores. It also can be found in the international section or at specialty markets.

Whether used to make hummus or as a base in other condiments, tahini is a delicious ingredient that is also a nutritious source of fats. For times when a tahini substitute is needed, try these alternatives.

Why Use an Alternative?

Sesame is the ninth-most common food allergy among adults and children. Because sesame seeds are the main and often only ingredient in tahini, people with food allergies may seek a tahini alternative to avoid having an allergic reaction.

Pure tahini, and foods containing large amounts of tahini, are often high in nutritious fat. Though the fat content in tahini contains many benefits, if your healthcare provider has recommended you reduce your intake of dietary fats for health reasons, this is something to be aware of.

Depending on the other ingredients, tahini-based foods like hummus, baba ghanoush, and salad dressings can also be high in sodium. Those who have been advised by their healthcare provider to reduce their sodium intake also may look for an alternative ingredient.

Finally, tahini can be more expensive and difficult to find than other ingredients. Consequently, some tahini substitutes are more cost-effective and accessible. Running out of tahini is also a valid reason for seeking a substitution to use in recipes.

Tahini Nutrition

This nutrition information for 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of tahini made from toasted sesame seeds is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 89.2
  • Fat: 8.07g
  • Sodium: 17.2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3.18g
  • Fiber: 1.4g
  • Sugars: 0.073g
  • Protein: 2.55g

Tahini is used as a condiment in cooking, but it is also used as a base in some recipes. Therefore, it can be consumed in small or large quantities. When consumed in large amounts, tahini is a potent source of calories and fat. It also contains some minerals, such as iron, phosphorus, calcium, and zinc.

Popular Substitutes

Because tahini is the butter of sesame seeds, you might want to consider a nut or seed butter as a go-to substitute. Other options include greek yogurt and sesame oil. These tahini substitutes will complement your dish since they are all sources of healthy fats and contribute to a creamy consistency.

Cashew Butter

Peanut butter is often recommended as a substitute for tahini, but cashew butter may yield better results. It is a more neutral nut butter and is often used as a base for plant-based dips, sauces, and salad dressings much like tahini.

For those with sesame allergies, cashew butter is a seed-free alternative. However, it is not suitable for those with nut allergies. Nutritionally, cashew butter contains slightly more calories and carbohydrates. However, it contains less fat and more protein. You can substitute cashew butter in a one-to-one ratio.

Almond Butter

Almond butter has become a popular choice of nut butter. It is often used in lieu of peanut butter because it has more fiber and micronutrients. It can also be used as a tahini substitute because it is creamy, rich in healthy fats, and mild in flavor. While it is not a choice for people with nut allergies, people with sesame allergies may be able to enjoy almond butter in place of tahini.

When comparing the nutrition facts of almond butter to tahini, the two condiments are similar. Almond butter, while slightly higher in calories and fat, contains fewer carbohydrates and more protein. You can use almond butter in a one-to-one ratio.

Sunflower Butter

If you are looking for an ingredient that closely resembles tahini, try sunflower butter. Both tahini and sunflower butter are made from seeds, though sunflower butter is usually thicker than tahini.

Sunflower butter has more calories, fat, and carbohydrates, but it also contains more protein. You can use sunflower butter in a one-to-one ratio when replacing tahini in your recipes.

Keep in mind that sometimes sunflower butter may not yield the same flavor profile, particularly in savory dishes, if your brand contains added sugar. You can make your own using sunflower seeds and some sesame oil or you can try to find a store bought version that doesn't contain sugar.

Greek Yogurt

Many people turn to Greek yogurt for its nutritional profile. This high-protein food is versatile and full of nutrients, making it a popular substitute for a variety of ingredients, including tahini. 

It also works exceptionally well when substituting tahini in dips and sauces because they are a thinner consistency. Because Greek yogurt has a different texture than tahini, you may need to adjust the ratio to other ingredients.

Nutritionally, Greek yogurt has more protein and less fat. It is also not as calorically dense as tahini. However, it contains less fiber and more sugar than tahini.

Sesame Oil

For those looking for an option free of sugar, sodium, and carbohydrates, consider sesame oil. It is also a sesame product like tahini, so it may lend some of those similar flavors to savory recipes like hummus or salad dressings. Sesame oil contains more calories and fat per serving but it is also void of protein and fiber.

A Word From Verywell

There will come a day when you are following a recipe and realize a certain ingredient, such as tahini, will not make it into the final dish. Whether this is due to allergies or other restrictions, or you have simply run out of it, you will need an alternative. Fortunately, there are several directions you can take that do not include tahini.

Nut and seed butter tend to be the best replacements for tahini. They have a similar creamy consistency and add smoothness to recipes for hummus and dips. For those with nut and seed allergies, Greek yogurt may be the best choice.

Whatever alternative you choose, you may need to adjust the recipe to account for a change in flavor and moisture content. Tahini substitutes can also alter the nutritional content of the overall dish, so keep that in mind as well.

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7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. USDA, FoodData Central. Seeds, sesame butter, tahini, from roasted and toasted kernels (most common type).

  3. USDA, FoodData Central. Nuts, cashew butter, plain, without salt added.

  4. USDA, FoodData Central. Nuts, almond butter, plain, without salt added.

  5. USDA, FoodData Central. Seeds, sunflower seed butter, without salt.

  6. USDA, FoodData Central. Yogurt, Greek, plain, low-fat.

  7. USDA, FoodData Central. Oil, sesame, salad or cooking.