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Tahini Is the Queen of Condiments (and Here’s How to Use It)
Photo: Michael Marquand/Styling: Jake Cohen

Maybe you’re whipping up a Middle Eastern feast this weekend. Or maybe you’re attempting to make your own hummus for the first time (props). You’ve seen tahini next to your favorite almond butter at the grocery store, but what the heck is it? Here’s everything you need to know about tahini—including why it just might be the most versatile item in your pantry.

What is tahini? Basically, it’s a paste made from toasted, ground sesame seeds. But…it’s so much more than that. It gives nuttiness to sauces and dips, richness to baked goods, and yep, it’s the magical ingredient in hummus. 

And what does tahini taste like? A staple in Mediterranean cuisine, tahini is savory, slightly nutty and deliciously creamy. The best stuff is the kind you can just eat straight out of the jar with a spoon—it’s that good.

OK, sold. How should I use it? Think of tahini like peanut butter and incorporate it into your cooking accordingly. Here are some ideas to get you started: Try spreading tahini on toast (we like it with honey), swirling into brownie batter or cookies or adding to sauces for stir-fries. It makes a great dressing for fish and a tasty dip for vegetables. (And it’s an absolute essential in hummus—bring on the pita.)

Where can I buy it? Any grocery store worth its sesame salt should stock a couple of different brands of tahini. But like olive oil and Parmesan, you don’t want to go for the cheapest option (bad tahini can be bitter and chalky—not what you want). Two brands we love: Joyva and Roland.

Keep in mind: Tahini is full of heart-healthy fats, but this means that the naturally occurring oils will separate. Translation? Don’t be alarmed if you see some oil sitting at the top of your jar. Just give it a good stir and enjoy.

RELATED: What Is Miso, and How Can I Cook with It?

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