This easy maple tahini dressing is the ultimate plant-based salad dressing. It is creamy, nutty, tangy and sweet and takes only a moment to pull together.
With a handful of pantry ingredients, you can turn tahini into a delicious salad dressing to effortlessly boost flavour in your midweek meals. And it happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free and naturally vegan.
The versatile dressing quickly became a cherished go-to in my kitchen – I now make it all the time. And I’m sure you will love it too!
Why you want to make this dressing
I adore this tahini and maple dressing for its exquisite balance of sweet, tangy and savoury flavours.
And if that’s not enough to get you whisking, there are many more reasons to love this creamy dressing:
- Simple recipe: It’s super easy to make without fancy kitchen equipment.
- Creamy texture: It has a luxurious, velvety texture even though it’s a dairy-free dressing.
- Gluten-free: The creamy tahini dressing is naturally gluten-free.
- Vegan: It also happens to be vegan.
- Nut-free: Tahini is a paste of ground hulled sesame seeds making it a nut-free vegan dressing with a nutty flavour.
- Only five ingredients: You’ll need only a handful of pantry staples to whip up this easy salad dressing.
- Add it to everything: This homemade dressing pairs beautifully with salad greens, roasted veggies, sandwiches and any meal needing a flavour boost.
Maple tahini dressing ingredients and substitutes
This maple tahini dressing recipe requires a handful of simple ingredients:
- Garlic: I recommend grating fresh garlic with a Microplane for an ultra-smooth texture, but you can also finely mince the garlic with a knife. Or substitute the fresh garlic clove with half a teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Apple cider vinegar: You can swap it for white wine vinegar or rice vinegar for a milder flavour. Or add some fresh lemon juice instead.
- Maple syrup: I adore the subtle smoky sweetness maple syrup adds to the savoury dressing. But you can use honey, agave nectar, or any other liquid sweetener. Or try hot honey for a spicy tahini dressing.
- Dijon mustard: It adds some extra tang. If you don’t have Dijon mustard, substitute it with yellow mustard, or whole-grain mustard, or try another Dijon mustard substitute. Just check the ingredients label to ensure that the product is gluten-free and dairy-free should you require it. And if you’re not a mustard fan, substitute it with a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Tahini paste: This is where this dressing gets its ultra-creamy texture and nutty flavour. Use a good quality tahini paste for the best results. If you don’t have tahini, substitute it with almond, cashew or peanut butter for a nutty flavour. Or learn how to make tahini paste from sesame seeds using a food processor.
- Cold water: It thins the tahini paste to create a smooth and creamy dressing. Use cold water and add it gradually to achieve the desired consistency.
- Sea salt: It enhances the flavour of the dressing. You can use kosher salt or any other type of salt you prefer.
How to make maple tahini dressing (step-by-step)
This tahini dressing is super simple to make. You essentially just whisk the ingredients together and add water until you have a pouring consistency. But with a few extra tips, you can create a perfectly balanced, creamy salad dressing.
Try these easy steps for the creamiest tahini dressing:
- Step 1: Mellow the garlic with vinegar
- Step 2: Add maple syrup and Dijon mustard
- Step 3: Blend in the tahini paste
- Step 4: Gradually add water
- Step 5: Season to taste
Step 1: Mellow the garlic with vinegar
Take a peeled garlic clove and grate it using a Microplane for an ultra-smooth tahini dressing. Alternatively, you can finely mince the garlic.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the grated garlic and ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar. Allow the garlic to sit in the acidic vinegar for 10 minutes to mellow its pungent raw garlic flavour.
Step 2: Add maple syrup and Dijon mustard
To the vinegar and garlic mixture, incorporate two tablespoons of maple syrup and one tablespoon of Dijon mustard. If you don’t have any Dijon mustard available, you can swap it out for lemon juice. Mix well to combine.
Step 3: Blend in the tahini paste
Add ½ cup of tahini paste to the mixture and blend it using a fork.
The mixture will become thick and sometimes grainy. It may also seize up. But don’t worry, it is normal. And it will turn creamy when you slowly add the cold water.
Step 4: Gradually add water
Slowly add cold water, two tablespoons at a time, and stir with the fork between each addition. I add a quarter cup, but you may need to adjust the amount of water depending on the thickness of your tahini paste.
Once the sauce loosens, switch to a whisk and continue adding water a little at a time.
This process will result in a smooth and creamy dressing.
Step 5: Season to taste
Taste your maple tahini salad dressing and season it with sea salt. I typically add a teaspoon of sea salt but feel free to adjust the amount to suit your taste preferences.
You can also add more maple syrup and vinegar to taste. The tahini dressing should be light in colour and consistency. And if you want an even silkier texture, whisk in two tablespoons of olive oil.
The maple tahini recipe makes a cup of tahini dressing. Refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to a week. If the mixture thickens in the fridge, whisk in a tablespoon of water.
How to use tahini dressing
Maple tahini dressing is a deliciously creamy and nutty dressing. I love to make a big batch as part of weekend meal prep and use it to boost easy weekday lunches.
It pairs especially well with Middle Eastern salads and kale salad.
Toss it with roasted vegetables: Drizzle maple tahini dressing over roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash for a flavourful and satisfying side. Or serve it with:
Dress your salad: This creamy, tangy maple tahini salad dressing is particularly good with bitter greens like kale or radicchio. But you can drizzle it over any salad. Try it with this quinoa and kale salad recipe.
Use it as a dip: Serve tahini maple dressing with fresh vegetable crudités, pita chips or crispy falafel. Add more tahini if you want a thicker dipping consistency.
Top your grain bowls: Tahini maple dressing loves any Buddha bowl or grain salad. Try it with a bulgur wheat salad.
Spread it on sandwiches: Use maple tahini dressing as a spread on your favourite sandwiches, wraps, or pitas. It adds a rich and nutty flavour that pairs well with roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, or falafel. Try it with this falafel pita sandwich.
Frequently asked questions
Tahini dressing is made from tahini (ground sesame paste), vinegar or lemon juice, garlic, salt and water. Additional ingredients, such as olive oil, sweetener, salt, and herbs, can also enhance the flavour.
Tahini dressing is very versatile. Drizzle it over salads, roasted or grilled vegetables, grain bowls, or falafel. You can also use it as a dip for raw veggies and pita bread. Or spread it on sandwiches and wraps.
Yes, most tahini dressings are vegan. It uses plant-based ingredients like sesame seeds, lemon juice, and garlic. And it’s a popular choice for vegans in search of a creamy, flavourful dressing or sauce.
Tahini makes a delicious and nutritious vegan salad dressing. Just thin it out with lemon juice (or vinegar) and water, then season with fresh garlic and salt. Boost the flavour with fresh herbs, spices and maple syrup.
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and grated*
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard*
- ½ cup tahini paste
- ¼ cup cold water, more as needed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- Place the grated garlic and vinegar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Let the garlic sit in the acidic vinegar for 10 minutes to mellow.
- Add the maple syrup and Dijon mustard to the vinegar, and mix well. Then add the tahini paste and mix with a fork. The mixture may seize up and turn thick and grainy. But don't worry, it will become creamy as we add the water.
- Next, add the water two tablespoons at a time, stirring with the fork between each addition. Once the sauce loosens, swap the fork for a whisk and keep adding water a little at a time. The sauce will become smooth and creamy.
- Taste and season with salt – I add 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Adjust the maple syrup and vinegar to taste.
- I grate garlic with a Microplane for an ultra-smooth tahini dressing, but you can also finely mince the garlic.
- You can swap the Dijon mustard for lemon juice if you don’t have any Dijon. Or see ingredients and substitutes for more alternatives.
- Refrigerate maple tahini dressing in a sealed container for up to one week.