What Is Tahini?

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds and oil, and it is a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. The paste has a creamy texture that is similar to nut butters and packed with nutritional benefits including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, calcium, iron and magnesium.

Tahini is not typically eaten on its own because it has a very bitter taste. However, the paste is a key ingredient to many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes including hummus, halva and baba ghanoush. If you regularly dabble in this cuisine, it could be beneficial for you to start making your own tahini instead of buying it from the store. Making your own tahini gives you more control over your recipe and is often cheaper than buying jars of the paste.

Here is a guide to how to make this sesame paste:

bowl of tahini sauce with sesame seeds on blue cloth

Hulling The Sesame Seeds

Traditionally, tahini is made by separating sesame seed hull from the bran and then grinding the bran into a paste. This can easily be done by allowing the sesame seeds to soak in tap water for a few hours, preferably overnight. The hulls will loosen on the seeds, which can then be easily removed by hand and used to begin making the tahini. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-hulled sesame seeds to save you time and effort.

wooden spoon with sesame seeds
Shawn Hempel/Shutterstock

Making Your Own Tahini

Making your own tahini paste is an incredibly simple process and only requires two ingredients to make the basic recipe.


  • One cup sesame seeds
  • ΒΌ cup olive oil, or as needed


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Spread the sesame seeds onto a baking sheet
  • Bake in a preheated oven until the seeds are fragrant
  • Pour the toasted seeds into a blender and add the needed olive oil. Blend until the seeds are completely smooth.

Store the tahini paste in a sealed container in the refrigerator. When properly stored, tahini can last for up to six months. If the mixture begins to separate over the months, simply stir before using it.

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