Tahini Recipes

Two months ago, the fearless leaders of Bay Area Vegetarians (Chris and Tammy) posted a recipe for “cheese” sauce made with tahini to SFBAVEG, telling us all it was delicious. They found it in one of Joanne Stepaniak’s wonderful cookbooks, The Saucy Vegetarian. Since they wouldn’t stop talking about it, I finally made a batch. YUM.

It’s great as is, drizzled on baked potatoes, steamed veggies, or just as a dip. I couldn’t stop eating it and kept making more batches, adding a few additions (see below).

The best dish I made with the “cheese” was a hot layered bean dip that I served to visiting meat-eaters who went nuts over it.

Tahini is ground up sesame seeds, like peanut butter or almond butter. It is not a low-fat food, but it does not have any of the bad fats. It’s also high in calcium. If you’re new to vegan cooking, I would recommend buying a jar and trying one or more of the recipes here, because tahini is a good staple ingredient to be familiar with. Having a few good sauces under your belt makes it easy to whip together a meal in no time.

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheese Sauce”
Hot Layered Bean Dip
Tahini Dip
Sesame Ginger Sauce for Pasta

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheese Sauce”

3/4 cup water
6 Tb tahini
2 Tb nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb chopped onions (any kind of onion will work)
2 Tb miso paste

1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt

–Place all ingredients in a blender and process until creamy and smooth.

-Add ½ small can tomato paste for color and a tangier flavor.
-Add 1 can drained, cooked chickpeas for a firmer cheese.
-Add 1 teaspoon chili powder and/or paprika.

Hot Layered Bean Dip

1 can vegan refried beans (most are vegan)
1 jar of your favorite salsa
1 recipe tofu sour cream or 1 tub vegan sour cream
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 small can diced green chilies
2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 cup tahini “cheese” sauce (above)

–Spread the bean dip over the bottom of a glass pie dish. Cover with the cheese sauce.

–Bake at 350 degrees (or use the microwave) until hot, about 10 minutes in the oven.

–Immediately top with a layer of salsa, then dollops of the sour cream, then sprinkle with the tomatoes, onions, and avocadoes. Add chopped cilantro if you like it.

–Serve right away with corn chips.

Variation: Use the cheese sauce to make a heaping platter of nachos.

Tahini Dip

This is a raw foods recipe, if you use raw tahini. Great as a sandwich spread as well as a dip. Very rich and filling. I also love it tossed with salad greens, cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer.

Chop finely:

1 stalk celery
1 bunch green onions or ½ white onion
1 carrot

Mix with:

1 cup tahini
3/4 cup water
3 Tb tamari
1/3 sesame seeds
2 Tb dill
2 Tb parsley
2 Tb lemon juice
1 tsp black pepper

Sesame Ginger Sauce for Pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, toss in your favorite pasta, throw this together while the pasta cooks, then drain the pasta and toss with sauce. Once the spinach scare is over, add two big handfuls of fresh spinach to the bowl with the hot pasta—the heat of the pasta will wilt the spinach perfectly.

1 cup tahini
¼ cup chopped garlic
¼ cup chopped ginger
1/3 cup apple cider or rice wine vinegar

½ cup sesame oil
¾ cup tamari
1 cup water
2 Tb maple syrup

–Combine in blender, puree until smooth.


  1. Kimberly Peterson [Visitor] says:

    The “I can’t believe it’s not cheese sauce” looks great. I have to go out and buy some tahini and start cooking with it. I love giving my recipes great “not” names like BBQ not Beef. 🙂

  2. Hunter Cashdollar [Visitor] says:

    Does it really taste like cheese? Hunter Cashdollar

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