Miso tahini dressing has the perfect flavour combination of savoury umami and tangy sweetness.
The creamy tahini miso sauce uses a blend of white miso paste and tahini as the sauce base. And fresh ginger, garlic, and soy sauce complement the delicious Asian flavour profile.
It is a naturally plant-based dressing that’s also nut-free – and a few simple substitutes can make it gluten-free too. And you only need a few minutes to whip up a batch to drizzle all over your favourite salads and sides.
Why you’ll love this dressing
This ginger miso sauce with tahini is a delicious and flavourful way to add instant umami to your everyday cooking.
If you’re looking for a plant-based dressing to elevate your salads and grain bowls, look no further:
- It’s easy to make: Simply whisk everything together for a delicious dressing to pour over your favourite salad.
- It’s versatile: The miso tahini sauce goes well with salads, grain bowls, roasted vegetables, and even noodles.
- It’s accessible: The vegan miso dressing is dairy-free, nut-free and plant-based as written. Be sure to use gluten-free miso paste if you need it to be sans gluten too.
What is miso and tahini?
The combination of umami-packed miso and creamy tahini is one for the books. The resulting Asian tahini dressing is a delicious sauce – perfect for topping salads or enjoying as a creamy plant-based dipping sauce.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste. The fermentation period and the ratio of soybeans to grains determine the flavour intensity. You’ll find a variety of miso pastes in any Asian grocery store. Try white miso paste if you’re unfamiliar with miso – it’s the mildest version.
Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste. Look for tahini in the shopping aisle with nut or seed butter. Or try the Middle Eastern section. It’s also easy to make good tahini at home.
Ingredients and substitutes
This vegan miso dressing is one of my favourite salad dressings. It’s creamy, nutty, umami-packed and slightly sweet to pair perfectly with any salad recipe for every occasion.
And the miso tahini dressing recipe is very flexible. Substitute based on your taste and pantry preference:
- Miso paste: I use white miso paste for a milder, slightly sweet flavour. But you can use yellow miso or red miso paste for a more intense, saltier flavour. Or make a miso substitute with soy sauce, more tahini, mirin and salt.
- Tahini paste: Use good quality tahini paste for the best results – it should contain only sesame seeds. If you don’t have tahini, substitute it with Chinese sesame paste, almond butter, cashew butter or peanut butter for a nuttier flavour. Or make your own tahini paste from hulled sesame seeds using a food processor.
- Garlic: For a smooth texture, I grate garlic with a Microplane. But you can also finely mince the garlic with a knife. Or substitute the garlic with garlic powder for convenience.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger makes a delicious addition to the dressing and boosts the fresh Asian flavour profile. If you don’t have fresh ginger, use ½ teaspoon of ground ginger powder instead.
- Apple cider vinegar: You can substitute it with white wine vinegar or rice vinegar. Or add some fresh lemon juice or lime juice instead.
- Soy sauce: I use all-purpose soy sauce, but if you’re looking for a soy-free or gluten-free dressing, you can use coconut aminos.
- 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 miso tahini dressing.
- Toasted sesame oil: Toasted sesame oil adds a delicious nutty flavour to the dressing. But you can omit it for an oil-free dressing if you wish.
- 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.
- Salt: It enhances the flavour of the dressing. You can use kosher salt or any other type of salt you prefer.
How to make miso tahini dressing
This miso and tahini dressing is perfect for salads, roasted vegetables, or drizzling over grilled fish. It’s super easy to make and comes together in minutes.
Step 1: Place the vinegar and garlic in a mixing bowl. If you have time, let the garlic sit in the acidic vinegar for 5 minutes to mellow the sharpness of the garlic.
Step 2: Add the remaining dressing ingredients (except for the cold water) and whisk until everything is combined. Then whisk a bit longer. Don’t worry if the miso tahini sauce looks claggy and thick – we’ll fix this in the next step.
Step 3: Add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, whisking as you go. Keep adding water until you get a creamy yet pourable consistency. I typically add two tablespoons water.
Step 4: Taste and adjust the seasoning with a pinch of salt for a savoury boost. Feel free to add more miso, vinegar, or maple syrup to balance the dressing to fit your favourite salad.
This miso tahini dressing is great for meal prep.
Store it in a mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week and use it to upgrade your salads, noodles, roasted vegetables and more.
If the dressing thickens in the fridge, whisk in a splash of cold water.
Why not double the recipe?
The vegan miso dressing is a creamy, nutty and flavourful plant-based sauce that is great for salads, grain bowls and roasted vegetables.
Salads: This dressing pairs especially well with dark leafy greens like kale and spinach. It’s also delicious with a Brussels sprout slaw, cabbage slaw, or a simple green salad. Try it in this kale tahini salad.
Grain Bowls: A miso tahini sauce is a great way to add flavour to grain bowls. Drizzle it over a quinoa Buddha bowl for a delicious lunch. Use it as a dip for roasted vegetables or warm grains like farro or brown rice. Or swap out the dressing in this quinoa and kale salad.
Roasted Vegetables: Miso tahini dressing is an easy way to make roasted vegetables. Drizzle it over sweet potatoes, carrots, or butternut squash for a flavourful and satisfying side. Try the ginger miso sauce with hot honey-roasted Brussels sprouts.
Veggie platters: You can also use miso and tahini dressing as a creamy plant-based dip. It works well with fresh vegetable crudités, pita chips, and crispy falafel balls. Add less water for a thicker dip consistency and reserve the sesame oil for garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Frequently asked questions
Miso is a Japanese fermented paste made from soybeans, grains (usually barley or rice), salt, and koji (a filamentous fungus), while tahini is a Middle Eastern ground sesame seed paste. Miso has a savoury, umami flavour, while tahini has a slightly sweet and nutty taste.
Miso dressings typically contain miso paste, vinegar or lemon juice, garlic, salt and water. Additional ingredients, such as olive oil, soy sauce, sweetener, and herbs, can enhance the flavour, while tahini can add creaminess.
Try more recipes with tahini
Tahini is a deliciously nutty Middle Eastern condiment of ground sesame seeds. You can make your own tahini paste at home. Or look for a good-quality shop-bought tahini – it should contain only sesame seeds.
Miso Tahini Dressing
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar , or rice vinegar
- 1 small garlic clove , grated or minced
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste , use gluten-free miso if you need to
- ¼ cup tahini paste
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce , or coconut aminos for a soy-free dressing
- ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cold water , more as needed
- a pinch of salt , or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional) , to serve
- Add the vinegar and grated garlic clove to a medium-sized bowl. If you have time, allow the garlic to mellow in the vinegar for 5 minutes before continuing with the recipe.
- Add the tahini paste, miso paste, grated ginger, maple syrup, soy sauce and sesame oil (if using). Whisk together until everything is well combined. Don't worry if the mixture seizes up – the next step will sort that out.
- Add cold water one tablespoon at a time, whisking as you go. Keep adding water until you get a creamy yet pourable consistency – you'll likely need 2 tablespoons of water.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with a pinch of salt for a savoury boost, and serve. If you're serving the dressing in a bowl, sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds for visual contrast and a pleasing crunch.
- This tahini miso dressing will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Whisk in a splash of water to if the dressing thickens in the fridge.
- When I serve the tahini miso sauce as a dip, I like to reserve the sesame oil to drizzle over the sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- The toasted sesame oil adds a rich nutty flavour to the dressing. But you can omit it for an oil-free dressing. See the ingredients section for more detail on ingredients and substitutes suggestions.
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