Homemade Tahini

We eat lots of hummus and so go through quite a bit of tahini. I’m pretty sure when people set out to reduce their waste, their hummus intake becomes inversely proportional. There’s likely a mathematical theory that proves this.

This past weekend, I cooked two cups of chickpeas in my pressure cooker for hummus but then realized I had very little tahini on hand. I can buy tahini in bulk at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco but I don’t get there as often as I’d like to. I did, however, have bulk sesame seeds and bulk toasted sesame oil in the pantry. Several people on social media had told me that they make their own tahini so I thought I would give it a try.

I’m sold.

From bottom left, clockwise: Toast sesame seeds, grind, add oil, grind some more, store in a jar in the refrigerator


  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, or as much as needed to reach desired consistency
tahini ingredients
You need only two ingredients to make tahini


1. Toast sesame seeds in a skillet over medium-low heat for about five minutes. Toasting develops a nuttier and more intense flavor. But be careful! The sesame seeds can easily burn. While toasting them, stir almost constantly. After you toast them, spread them out on a cookie sheet or very large plate to cool. Otherwise they will continue to toast in the pan.

If you prefer, skip the toasting step. For this post I did make a second batch of tahini with sesame seeds I hadn’t toasted. It tastes good but I do prefer the nuttier toasted version.

toasted sesame seeds
A cookie sheet works well for cooling toasted seeds

2. Whir the seeds around in a food processor for a couple of minutes, until crumbly.

homemade tahini
Grind up sesame seeds until crumbly

3. Add the sesame oil. I used toasted sesame oil. You can use olive oil also. Whir around for a few minutes more. The tahini will become creamier.

homemade tahini
Add some oil to the ground sesame seeds and process

4. Continue to whir around for several more minutes. It may seem that your tahini will never become creamy when all of a sudden it does. Be patient. It won’t take that long. If after five minutes, your mixture still has a crumbly consistency, add a small amount of additional oil (e.g., a teaspoon or so).

homemade tahini
Almost there…
homemade tahini

If, like me, you don’t love washing your food processor more often than you need to, make hummus in it right after you remove the tahini. Go here for my basic hummus recipe.


You can also make tahini with black sesame seeds—the unhulled version. I found these more difficult to grind up but they made good tahini also.

Black sesame seeds for tahini
homemade tahini
Tahini made with unhulled, black sesame seeds

13 Replies to “Homemade Tahini”

  1. Awesome, thank you, I had not gone that direction to make my own Tahini. I too have Sesame seeds, sesame oil, and love Hummus! Now, I am empowered to do it. How do you know your sesame seeds are still viable? Just smell them? If they are rancid, do I toss them? Or will the heat cure the rancidity?
    Thank you, Trudy

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Trudy, apparently the seeds will smell nasty if they are rancid. I just looked this up now and read at a UC Davis link that rancid nuts are safe to eat but most people dislike the flavor: http://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/files/44384.pdf (page 2 under “Storing Nuts”) I’m not sure if toasting will help with that flavor or not. If they smell really bad, maybe not. I would say, give them a whif and if they smell good, make the tahini. ~ Anne Marie

  2. Many thanks for this recipe. How do you store your tahini, and how long does it keep?

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      So I have been storing it in the refrigerator but I don’t know if that’s actually necessary. Just now I found this post from Epicurious about how to store nut butters: http://www.epicurious.com/ingredients/how-to-buy-and-store-nut-butters-like-a-pro-article It says you don’t have to refrigerate them but they do last twice as long in there. As for how long to store it, the last jar I filled at the bulk store lasted about six months in the refrigerator before we had eaten it all, so at least that long, probably longer. The bulk store tahini I had been buying contained only sesame seeds and oil also.

  3. Madeleine Lawrence says: Reply

    Genius idea to make it right before the hummus! I hadn’t thought of making my own tahini but will definitely give this a go.


    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Thanks Madeleine. Enjoy! ~ Anne Marie

  4. I make my tahini as I make the hummus. I grind up just enough sesame seeds with a little oil to make the amount I need for that batch of hummus. No need to store at all and doesn’t add any extra work to making the hummus.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Oooh, that’s brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

  5. This looks awesome. It makes me sad though, because I have lost 1 pound of black sesame and 1 pound of white sesame d/t dropping the glass storage jars. This is a huge downside for me of storing in glass. I lost a pound of hemp seeds too. 🙁

    1. Try storing them in cloth bags which you can make yourself from muslin or cut down pillow cases.

  6. I love tahini and can’t wait to try homemade…both white sesame seeds and black! Question: did you toast the black seeds? thanks in advance.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      I didn’t toast the black seed because I wanted to try making the tahini with raw seeds. I prefer toasted personally, but both methods work.

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