We’re going back to basics this week with a recipe for Lemon Tahini Dressing! It has a blend of lemon, garlic and pure sesame tahini in it which means it’s a classic and versatile salad dressing you can use to pour over a salad of simple greens or add it to compliment a healthy buddha bowl. Mixing it together takes less than five minutes and the results are rich and creamy tasting with a balance of bright citrus acidity and earthy toasty sesame flavor.

pouring dressing over salad

Why We Love This Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing

If you’ve been a reader here for a while, you probably know that I  have a “thing” for homemade salad dressings. I have more than twenty salad dressings here on my site, and there are even more in my cookbook too. “Obsessed” is not too strong of a word perhaps. One may say fanatical even. Check out my Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing (one of my most popular recipes ever.)

It’s just that I think homemade dressings are so easy to make, more affordable than store-bought, and they really can make the difference between a meh salad and a salad that you want to attack with gusto. Yeah, you’re going to want to attack your salad when it’s dressed in this Tahini Dressing. It’s that good! 

This dressing is incredible tasting with so many salad combinations! You’ll love it with spring lettuces or baby spinach. I love it with cucumbers, olives, tomatoes and other Mediterranean-inspired salad combinations.

I like to keep a batch on hand to pour over my buddha bowls and salads for lunches all week long.

This Lemon Tahini dressing can also be used to jazz up simple steamed or roasted vegetables. We love the combination of beets with tahini. Try this over our simple roasted beets! I have a ton of other ideas how you can use this tahini dressing too.

Ingredients For This Recipe

Garlic and Salt:

  • First make the garlic and salt paste. Since I don’t want to have the aforementioned dragon breath scenario going on, I just use a single garlic clove. Just a small or medium one will do.
  • Even though this dressing gets blended with an immersion blender or mini prep, I found that because it is so thick, I needed to take the time to do a salt and garlic paste. Otherwise the garlic is too chunky.

Fresh Lemon Juice:

Next add in the lemon juice. For this recipe I only needed 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. This is just enough to give a bright acidic pop and balance the bitterness of the tahini (and greens), without turning us into a pucker faced sour puss. 

Water:

Add in water. To blend the dressing I start with 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water. Since there is a pretty wide range of thickness from brand to brand of tahini (and if you haven’t stirred it well it can settle) I think it is best to start with this amount of water. 

Olive Oil:  

Add in olive oil. As with most dressings, here is where you can pull out your nicer olive oil if you have one. Since it won’t be heated, the fruity flavors of the oil will come through and they taste stronger. Since we already have fat from the tahini, yuo’ll only need two tablespoons of oil here.

Honey:

  • I also like this tahini dressing a little better with some sweetness. See above why I like to add sweetness to salad dressing. Normally I would say, add maple syrup, but not today.
  • Aside: If you’ve never tasted the combo of tahini and maple, stop what you’re doing and print out this maple tahini salmon. You will fall in love! 
  • The reason I choose honey over maple here is that while honey and maple are both sweet, maple syrup is a stronger flavor. So in the case of this Tahini dressing, I wanted to highlight the lemon and to only let the honey give a slight floral note to the flavor profile in addition to the sweet taste.
  • You can of course skip adding any sweetener at all, but beware that the sourness and bitterness will seem a little stronger. {If it’s too much so, add a pinch of salt.] If you’re vegan, you can sub in agave, which is more neutral than maple. 

How to make Tahini Dressing Steb-By-Step

steps to make this recipe

If you have an immersion blender, I recommend making this dressing with it. It makes it ultra creamy and is much less work than whisking it by hand. A magic bullet or mini prep (mini food processor) also works great if you have one. If you have neither, you can always just whisk this by hand too. Note it will take some elbow grease, but don’t give up until the tahini is smooth and incorporated in.

  1. Roll whole lemon on its side with the palm of your hand while pressing it into the cutting board. Cut in half and squeeze out the juice. You will need 3 tablespoons for this recipe.
  2. Chop garlic until roughly minced. Sprinkle with salt and then smash with the side of the knife, and chop the mixture until it becomes a paste. Scrape into a blender or jar of an immersion blender.
  3. Add in tahini, water, lemon, oil and honey (if using.) Puree until smooth.
  4. If dressing is too thick, add one tablespoon water and blend to thin. Continue one tablespoon as a time as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

How to Mix Tahini Dressing By Hand

If you’re whisking the dressing by hand do so in the following order:

  1. Whisk the lemon garlic and tahini first until they’re smooth
  2. Adding in the water gradually.
  3. Then add in the oil and honey at the end. 

Tip: It helps to put a damp towel under your bowl so it doesn’t spin as you whisk.

tahini dressing in a glass bottle

FAQs and Expert Tips

What is Tahini?

  • Tahini, is sesame paste common in Middle Eastern cuisines. It is most commonly used as an ingredient in hummus
  • It has texture similar to peanut butter, but it is more thin.
  • You can purchase it in the grocery aisle in a jar or a can.
  • Often it is in the international section. (Greek or Middle Eastern.) Occasionally it will be with the peanut butters.
  • The fat separates to the top, so once you open the jar or can, stir it really well before using it.
  • Store it in the fridge once you open it, and stir it again before using.

What Can I Use Tahini Dressing For?

  1. At its most simple, I think Tahini dressing is great on greens with veggies such as radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers and olives. To make it a meal, add on some feta if you eat cheese or garlic marinated chicken  if you eat poultry. Both would be a lovely combo! 
  2. Because tahini (and lemon) are common flavors in the Middle East and in Mediterranean cuisines I also love to use this dressing for salads to accompany this Lamb Kofta Kebab recipe. 
  3. You can also use this dressing to pour over falafel or instead of mayo and ketchup for your veggie burgers! 
  4. Toss some romaine, cukes and tomatoes with this dressing, and serve it with these Grilled Za’atar Chicken Burgers. Holy moly, if you do, please invite me over! That would be a dream meal! 
  5. You can also just cut cucumbers into spears and dip them in this dressing. My kids love snacks like that! 
  6. Bake pita chips (or buy Stacy’s if you allow them in your house- I don’t often because I will eat ALL OF THEM in one sitting) and dip them in this dressing. Divine!!

Salad Suggestions For This Dressing

Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back to leave a star rating and review! I appreciate it so much and it really helps! 

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

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tahini dressing pouring over salad

Lemon Tahini Salad Dressing Recipe


  • Author: Katie
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/8 cup 1x

Description

Tahini Dressing with Lemon and Garlic- a vegan friendly and whole30 approved salad dressing to try this month! It takes less than five minutes to make and will transform a basic green salad into a creamy delicious meal!


Ingredients

Scale

1 lemon

1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled

3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup sesame tahini, stirred until smooth

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons honey (or agave to make vegan), optional


Instructions

  1. Roll the whole lemon on its side with the palm of your hand while pressing it into the cutting board. Cut in half and squeeze out the juice. You will need 3 tablespoons for this recipe.
  2. Chop garlic until roughly minced. Sprinkle with salt and then smash with the side of the knife, and chop the mixture until it becomes a paste. Scrape into a blender or jar of an immersion blender.
  3. Add in tahini, water, lemon, oil and honey (if using.) Puree until smooth.
  4. If dressing is too thick, add one tablespoon water and blend to thin. Continue one tablespoon as a time as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

Notes

Tip: To whisk by hand:

  1. Whisk the lemon garlic and tahini first until they’re smooth
  2. Adding in the water gradually.
  3. Then add in the oil and honey at the end.

To Make Ahead: Can be made up to 1 week ahead. Store in a jar in the refrigerator. Let it sit at room temperature or in a warm water bath to loosen it up.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Salad Dressing
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
  • Calories: 71
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Sodium: 165 mg
  • Fat: 6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 1 g

Keywords: Tahini Dressing, Lemon Tahini Dressing, Tahini Vinaigrette, Tahini Salad Dressing