Do you love soup? Specifically carrot or any vegetable soup. Well, that means you’ve heard of Tahini. But let’s say you lack run out of Tahini, what are other alternatives you can use to replace it?
In A Snapshot, here are some Best Substitute for Tahini in Soup
- Cashew and Almond Butter
- Peanut Butter
- Sunflower Seed Butter
- Greek Yogurt
- Sesame Oil
- Sesame Seeds
- Black Sesame Paste
- Kerisik (toasted coconut paste)
- Canola Oil
- Homemade Tahini Sauce
Read on to find out more about the brief history of tahini, types of tahini and what you can use to replace them in soup.
What Is Tahini?
Tahini, called tahina in other countries, is a thick condiment from the Middle East that is made from ground sesame seeds. It is a standard ingredient in the Mediterranean and in some parts of North African cuisines.
You will find it in dips from the region, including baba ghanoush, halva and hummus. The quickest way to describe it is that it is like peanut butter, but the sesame version of it.
Of course, it has that flavor because it is made up of hulled sesame seeds that had been toasted and emulsified into a smooth, creamy consistency. Because of it, it comes with a nutty, savory taste.
The paste is not even limited to savory dishes. It is also found in sweet concoctions, such as the halva. Bakers use it for various recipes, such as chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, and even the Lebanese dessert dibs bi tahini.
Types of Tahini
Comparing hulled and unhulled Tahini is much like comparing white and brown rice. Both create a different taste, depending on the processing of sesame seeds.
Hulled tahini uses white sesame seeds that are hulled, meaning its brown layer (outer shell) is being removed. This type of tahini is what you commonly see in shops. Hulled tahini is lighter in color and sweeter in taste.[Source]
Un-hulled tahini is not that popular, but it’s something you can still see in shops or is something you can make yourself.
The main difference of un-hulled tahini from the hulled one is that the brown layer or its outer shell is not removed. Without the outer layer being removed, its result is darker than hulled tahini and it gives a slightly bitter flavor to it.
Which tahini is better for you? If you want a hint of sweetness to your dish, then the hulled one is the recommended one for you. However, if you want a more natural flavor, then you should go for the un-hulled tahini.
9 Best Tahini Substitutes
Now that we know what Tahini is and what it’s used for, let’s look at the alternatives you can use to substitute Tahini, whether it be for the reason of being allergic to sesame or if you’re too lazy to go to your nearest store and purchase a bag of tahini.
Because the ingredient comes with a sesame-like nutty flavor with an emulsified consistency, you must find a substitute that comes with the same flavor, texture, and consistency.
In the case of soup, people will even more immediately notice if something quite different has been used aside from the Tahini.
Cashew and Almond Butter
Since Tahini has a nutty flavor with a peanut butter texture, cashew and almond butter are great substitutes for it. Cashew and almond may give your dish a taste of sweetness and they do not have the hint of bitterness of Tahini.
As for the serving, since our cashew and almond butter are fresh and almost 100% of cashew and almonds, try adding the same amount of the butter from the normal Tahini serving on your dish.
How to make your own Cashew and Almond Butter
Now, if you’re wondering how you can make your cashew and almond butter, it’s quite easy!
First, you need to have cashew and coconut oil, and a food processor.
- Place the cashews on a medium-sized baking sheet and spread them evenly
- Toast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes. To know when they’re ready, take a look at them if they’re lightly golden.
- Let the cashews cool on the pan a little for about another 10 minutes.
- After that, add the roasted cashews to the bowl of your food processor and grind it.
- Once the cashews form a thick, crumbly paste, scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time, specifically once after every few minutes.
- Now you may have a thick mixture on your food processor. And to make it creamier, just put 2-3 teaspoons of coconut oil and process for another 5 minutes to make it smooth and creamy.
Do the same with the almonds.
If there’s cashew and almond butter, peanut butter surely can’t be missing out. You probably have one at home, unless you’re allergic, so you don’t have to make one of your own.
But if you don’t have peanut butter, refer to the instructions on the cashew and almond butter making and you can get yourself your PB!
Toast the peanuts until evenly golden, let it cool for a while, process it until the texture is thick, and smoothen it with a few tablespoons of neutral oil.
Although peanut butter gives a silky texture like tahini, its flavor is stronger so it would be recommended to use it in a minimal usage to imitate the same taste and texture like tahini.
And just like tahini, peanut butter also has benefits and nutrition. It helps lower bad cholesterol and increase the protective cholesterol. It’s a natural source of arginine which is an amino acid that may prevent heart and vascular diseases by helping the blood vessel function normally.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Sunflower seed butter is an alternative not only for tahini but also for peanut butter if you’re allergic to nuts.
How do you make sunflower seed butter? It’s similar to making cashew and almond butter, except that you have to toast it at a higher temperature and you need to process them for 20-25 minutes.
Make sure you check on them once every 10 minutes and stir them to avoid the seeds from getting burnt. You can add sugar and salt, and keep processing it for a couple more minutes until the texture is the same as peanut butter. If you want to make it smoother and creamier, just wait another 5 minutes and put 1-2 tablespoons of oil.
And what’s great about sunflower seed butter is that it is almost 100% sunflower seeds, so it is a source of many vitamins and minerals that support your immune system to help fight off viruses.
Just like tahini, Greek yogurt has a thicker and creamy texture that mimics that of tahini, except Greek yogurt isn’t recommended for dishes or recipes that counterbalance sweetness.
Unlike tahini, Greek yogurt has more protein and less fat, and it has less fiber and more sugar than tahini. Greek yogurt is preferable if you’re restricting yourself with a healthy meal or if you want a balanced diet, but it’s not recommended if you’re looking for a nutty taste.
In short, Greek yogurt is profuse with nutrients. It also makes a good substitute for sour cream if you don’t have one at home.
Sesame oil is from the same source as tahini. It’s a compressed oil from sesame seeds that works well as a tahini substitute but without the paste and creamy consistency.
Despite this, it works great if you’re looking for more flavor. Because the consistency is different, the 1:1 substitution technique isn’t highly suggested.
Use a minimal amount. So if you’re looking for an alternative for tahini without sugar, carbs, and sodium, you might wanna try this one out. Although it has more fat and calories and is not rich in protein and fiber, sesame oil may still be a fair substitute for tahini if you’re looking for something that gives more flavor.
As we all know, sesame seeds are the very soul of tahini. Therefore, a generous amount of these will be enough for your tahini needs. Since sesame seeds are fresher and more natural, use them sparingly.
The downside of this alternative is that it doesn’t work well with large servings or if you want to use tahini as a dressing or a dip.
The good side of sesame seeds is the nutrients and benefits they provide.[Source]
These include the following:
- A good source of fiber
- Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body
- A nutritious source of plant protein
- Good source of vitamin B
- helps in lowering blood pressure
Black Sesame Paste
Black sesame paste is a Japanese condiment used in making sweet and savory recipes. It is not recommended in making hummus as the color may change drastically.
You can get these for a decent price online, or you can make them at home.
To make black sesame paste, you’ll need black sesame seeds and honey or sesame oil for the sweet-savory goodness. Then, the seeds are toasted and processed by using either a food processor (makes the process faster) or ground using Suribachi and Surikogi (the Japanese mortar and pestle) into a thick blend before it is sweetened using honey. It is sweetened because the un-hulled seeds taste bitter.
The taste of black sesame seeds is rich and nuttier than tahini, which is made of white sesame seeds (hulled or un-hulled.) And here’s a fun fact, you can store black sesame seeds in the refrigerator for a month!
Black sesame seeds contain lots of nutrients such as proteins, fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc! And regular intake of black sesame seeds could lessen the oxidation in the body. It can improve blood pressure, and also provide antioxidants.
Kerisik (toasted coconut paste)
Yep, Kerisik is a coconut paste, sometimes referred to as coconut butter. It’s a Southeast Asian condiment that is commonly used in Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean cooking.
It can be made into a paste of the same consistency as Tahini. So, it can work well as a substitute.
The main ingredient is coconut, but it gives a nutty taste and has a grainy and creamy texture that is slightly similar to tahini, except that tahini has a smoother and silkier texture.
If you want a nutty flavor with a mix of sweetness, you should definitely try Kerisik.
If you were contemplating using sesame oil, you could also work with canola oil anyway. It is neutral enough to combine with sunflower seed butter.
Think about it. If you are going to use sesame oil and add it to sunflower seed butter, you may get an overpowering taste that will highlight the fact that you are not using Tahini.
Homemade Tahini Sauce
Last on the list, we have homemade tahini sauce!
If you can’t seem to find tahini in stores, or if you want to make your own, this is the best option for you!
Making tahini sauce is a piece of cake. All you need is sesame seeds, sesame oil (canola or olive oil would also work, but sesame oil is better), and a food processor!
First, you’re going to put the seeds into a spacious and dry saucepan on a stove until it is lightly golden and when there is a sense of fragrance. Using an oven is less recommended as sesame seeds are light and tiny, which means they tend to burn easily.
Wait for the seeds to cool down for a while and when they have, pour them onto the bowl of the food processor, and process until thick, powdery paste forms.
To smoothen the paste, add a couple of tablespoons of your preferred oil. 3-4 tablespoons should do the work. When you’ve added the oil, continue processing and start scraping some paste from the sides of the bowl a little.
After this, your tahini is done! Now it’s smooth and ready for any soup you like.
When do you need a substitute for Tahini?
The quick assumption is that you are looking for a Tahini substitute because you have run out of the ingredient in your kitchen. However, there could be other reasons, such as the following:
You cannot find Tahini in your area
So, perhaps it is not as easy as going to the store and looking for some of this nutty paste to add to your soup. Maybe the stores in your location do not even have stocks of the ingredient.
So, the best way to accomplish your cooking plans would be to find a substitute. It’s too expensive for you
You may be surprised, especially if you find nut-based butter quite expensive. It may be different, depending on where you live. Tahini can be expensive in some places. So, you must have other options if need be.
You like the taste but don’t like the texture, or vice-versa
The paste texture of Tahini makes it work well with preparing soup. It makes the soup more filling instead of watery. However, if you do not like its sesame taste, you may want to go for something sweeter like butter or more neutral like canola.
On the other hand, you may like the taste but not the texture. So, you can go for sesame seeds, which feel more tangible on the tongue but won’t thicken your soup if it is not a paste.
You have an allergy
So, you have a Tahini allergy. More likely, you are allergic to the sesame in it. If that is the case, taking anything with Tahini will cause you to break out in hives or even go on anaphylaxis. There is no other choice but to find safer alternatives that do not contain sesame. We have a few on our list above.
An epinephrine injection on the ready can help, but it is not advisable to push your luck. Avoid anything with sesame, including Tahini.
Be aware of any of your family members having the same sesame allergy.
A lower-fat option would be welcome
While Tahini can provide you with proteins and other nutrients, it has more fat and calories than other options. So, you may want to know if you can go with lower-fat, lower-calorie alternatives.
As you now know, looking for substitutes does not always mean you have run out of Tahini in the kitchen. Perhaps, you are not supposed to have any in the kitchen.
You may also be doing the substitution to keep yourself healthy or even save a life.
Preparing your own Tahini at home as an option:
So, you still want something as close to Tahini, as possible. If you have the necessary ingredients at home, you can make your own.
Here are some of the steps in which Tahini usually is prepared:
- Ensure that the sesame seeds are hulled and washed.
- Roast the hulled seeds over a large stone bed that had been heated.
- Turn the roasted seeds using stone mills until they become a paste.
- If you plan to do it at home, you must skip some of the steps to make things easier for you and whatever equipment you may have.
You can buy the sesame seeds already hulled and raw or even unhulled. It depends on how you want them. You can use any type but find out more about the variations to get the specific taste that you like.
For example, the toasted ones are the least bitter. You will come to realize that if you know how to make homemade peanut butter, you will find making homemade Tahini easy enough.
What do you do with the unhulled or hulled seeds?
- First, toast them. The seeds are better toasted before you mix them into a Tahini paste. Toasting them on the stovetop rather than in the oven will give you a superior taste. Sesame seeds also burn quickly.
- Use a wide and dry saucepan. Then, you can toast the seeds over a medium-low fire. Constantly stir with a spoon.
- Use a food processor to help the sesame seeds reach a crumbly consistency. You can also use a high-powered blender if you want.
Whatever appliance you may choose to use, you must make sure to scrape the bottom and sides to ensure all seeds will be part of the final product.
- Afterwards, add a few tablespoons of neutral-tasting oil to help the crumbly paste turn into a smoother cream. Three to four tablespoons seem to hit the spot that store-bought Tahini usually has.
You can store the resulting taste in a jar for about a month. So, only make enough of the concoction that will last you for that period. The resulting Tahini paste will be less expensive than the one you buy from the store.