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Lemon Tahini Dressing (Oil Free)

Our lemon tahini dressing with yogurt is an oil free dressing with a hint of garlic, similar to a shawarma sauce. I love spice so have added some toasted cumin. It is simple to make in around 5 minutes so can be made in no time.

Although tahini itself does have natural oils, there is no added oil in this dressing. Instead the tahini is blended with Greek yogurt and fresh lemon juice to make this delicious Mediterranean tahini dressing.

This easy lemon tahini dressing is versatile and can be served with a whole host of dishes, but it works particularly well as a shawarma sauce, alongside grilled meats and vegetables.

What’s even better, this simple lemon tahini sauce can be made in a matter of minutes, but packs a real flavour punch when added to food.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • The perfect balance of flavours, creamy yogurt is blended with nutty tahini, sour lemon and just a hint of pungent garlic and spicy cumin to perfectly balanced dressing.
  • Homemade dressings and sauces just taste better than anything you can buy in a store or supermarket.
  • Make ahead and leave the dressing in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
  • Feeding a crowd? No problem this recipe can be easily doubled up to suit numbers.
  • Ready in 5 minutes, that’s a winner for me any night of the week!

What is tahini?

Tahini is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. Tahini is a nutrient dense paste that is made by grinding sesame seeds. You can buy dark and light tahini and which you choose comes down to personal preference.

Light tahini is paler in colour and made by grinding hulled (skinned) seeds. Whereas, dark tahini is made from the unhulled sesame seed making is a more nutritious option. I love using dark tahini as it has a stronger flavour and is slightly bitter. But if you haven’t tried tahini before I would suggest starting with a light tahini.

How to make lemon tahini dressing:

Ingredients to make lemon and tahini dressing, including lemons, yogurt, tahini, garlic and toasted cumin seeds.
  • Look out the few simple ingredients, ready to start.
Crushing toasted cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar.
  • Place the cumin seeds into a dry pan and place over a medium heat. Toast the cumin seeds for 2 minutes, moving the seeds around the pan so they do not burn.
  • Once the seeds start to become aromatic, remove the pan from the heat. Place the seeds in a pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste.
Mixing ingredients to make a yogurt based dressing with lemon and tahini.
  • Now add all the ingredients into a bowl and give everything a good whisk to combine to a smooth dressing.
  • Taste the dressing and adjust the flavours and seasoning to suit your own taste.
  • This recipes makes quite a thick and creamy dressing. If you want a looser pouring consistency, add just a touch of water to thin the sauce.
  • Place the dressing into the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Lemon tahini dressing ingredients & substitutions:

  • Greek yogurt is something I always have in my fridge. It has a great thick consistency and a lovely sour flavour. It is delicious on its own, but a great ingredient to add to sauces, dressings, curries and marinades. If you don’t have Greek yogurt, substitute with regular natural yogurt – you don’t want a flavoured yogurt.
  • Fresh garlic is crushed and added raw to the sauce. I recommend starting with 1/2 clove and if you want to add a little more you can do so.
  • Lemon juice is a favourite ingredient and adds great sourness to the dressing, balancing out the creamy yogurt and slightly smoky tahini.
  • Tahini comes in light and dark varieties and either can be used in this sauce, it’s entirely down to preference. I love dark tahini, but I recommend starting with light tahini if this ingredient is new to you.
  • Cumin seeds are not traditional in a shawarma sauce, but it love the flavour that they add to this dish. Toast the seeds first, before grinding to really enhance their flavour. If you don’t want to add any spice, then leave the cumin out.
  • Salt seasons the sauce, start with a pinch and add more to suit your own palatte.

Recipe variations:

This dressing can be easily adapted to include other flavours, depending on what you are serving it with. Here are some ideas:

  • Swap the lemon juice for orange juice, giving the dressing a slightly sweeter flavour.
  • I have added cumin seeds, but you could also add other spices like smoked paprika or coriander.
  • For a hit of chilli try adding some fresh chilli, chilli flakes or ground chilli powder.
  • To make a vegan lemon tahini dressing simply swap the Greek yogurt for a dairy free Greek yogurt.

Serving suggestions:

This versatile sauce tastes great when served with grilled meats and vegetables. Try it drizzled over my Moroccan Chickpea Stew with Harissa, Easy Chicken Shawarma Kebab or Lemon & Paprika Chicken Kebabs. Or serve is as we’ve done here with my Honey Roasted Carrots.

Even better, load the chicken kebabs and this delicious sauce onto our simple Yogurt Flatbread, along with some of our delicious Baba Ganoush.

Leftover sauce can be added to sandwiches for a real punch of flavour. You can also add a little extra water to loosen the sauce and serve it as a great tasting salad dressing.

For more recipes read my Easy Mezze Platter Ideas post.

Useful hints and tips:

  1. Adapt the thickness of the dressing/sauce! Some Greek yogurt is thicker than others, so if your dressing is too thick, add water to the to achieve the consistency of dressing or sauce that you want.
  2. Balance the flavours. Always check the balance of the dressing before serving. You can add in other flavours and seasonings to suit your own palatte.
  3. To make your lemon tahini dressing Vegan, swap the Greek yogurt for a dairy-free alternative.
  4. Allergy advice: gluten free, egg free, soya free and nut free. For comprehensive and detailed allergy advice go to Allergy UK.

FAQ

What is shawarma sauce made from?

Shawarma sauce is a garlic and yogurt sauce flavoured with lemon juice and tahini. I have also added some toasted cumin seeds as I love adding just a touch of spice to most things.
This Mediterranean tahini dressing is used in a whole host of dishes, but often served as a Shawarma sauce alongside grilled meats and vegetables.

Can shawarma sauce be made ahead?

Yes, this easy lemon tahini dressing is a great make ahead element for any meal. Make the dressing in a container with a lid. Then once the dressing has been combined, store it in the fridge for 2-3 days. When ready to enjoy, remove the dressing from the fridge and give quick whisk to combine all the ingredients again if they look to be splitting, then serve.

Why does tahini seize with lemon juice?

Tahini can seize when small amounts of water-based liquids are added to it, eg water or any citrus fruit juice. This Mediterranean tahini dressing may seize a little when the lemon juice is added, but it’s not a problem. Once you start adding in more liquid and the remaining ingredients, the tahini will loosen and become smooth again.

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Additional recipe suggestions

If you love great tasting dips to serve alongside try some of these recipes:

Lemon Tahini Dressing (Oil-free)

Our lemon tahini dressing with yogurt is an oil free dressing, flavoured with just a hint of garlic and toasted cumin.
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 108kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 250 g Greek yogurt
  • ½ clove garlic (crushed)
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 pinch salt
  • water (optional)

Instructions

  • Place the cumin seeds into a dry pan and place over a medium heat. Toast the cumin seeds for 2 minutes, moving the seeds around the pan so they do not burn.
  • Once the seeds start to become aromatic, remove the pan from the heat. Place the seeds in a pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste.
  • Now add all the ingredients into a bowl and give everything a good whisk to combine to a smooth dressing.
  • Taste the dressing and adjust the flavours and seasoning to suit your own taste.
  • This recipes makes quite a thick and creamy dressing. If you want a looser pouring consistency, add just a touch of water to thin the sauce.
  • Place the dressing into the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Notes

Some Greek yogurt is thicker than others, so if your dressing is too thick, add water to the to achieve the consistency of dressing or sauce that you want.
This lemon tahini dressing can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. Just give everything a good whisk together if it looks to be splitting.
Always check the balance of the dressing before serving. You can add in other flavours and seasonings to suit your own palatte.
Nutrition Facts
Lemon Tahini Dressing (Oil-free)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 108 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 37mg2%
Potassium 155mg4%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 17IU0%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 90mg9%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

• Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only •

Course : Dressing
Cuisine : Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Keyword : best lemon tahini dressing, mediterranean tahini dressing, shawarma sauce, tahini dressing
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Recipe Rating




Chloe Edges

Friday 6th of May 2022

I absolutely love spiking my yoghurt sauce with tahini - Its so tasty on middle eastern style dishes!

Lesley

Monday 9th of May 2022

Me too Chloe, I love adding tahini, such a great flavour.

Jo Keohane

Monday 2nd of May 2022

I love tahini and this sauce looks delicious. Will be trying it very soon for sure!

Lesley

Tuesday 3rd of May 2022

Thank you Jo, it's certainly a sauce that's made regularly in my kitchen.

Cat

Monday 2nd of May 2022

So delicious! I will be slathering this one everything this summer.

Lesley

Monday 2nd of May 2022

Thank you Cat, me too, I love that you can make it in minutes.

Choclette

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

I love tahini sauce, but haven't made it with yoghurt in far too long. Your recipe looks lush and delicious and I've very keen to make some now.

Lesley

Wednesday 27th of April 2022

Thank you Choclette, its such an easy sauce to pull together and like you I love the flavour tahini brings to food.

Kacie Morgan

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

Oh, I am drooling. I can just imagine myself eating this on falafel salad/pittas, chicken shawarma or a meaty lamb kebab.

Lesley

Wednesday 27th of April 2022

Thank you Katie, it is such a versatile sauce, but you're right, perfect with falafel and grilled meats.