Learning How to Make Sesame Paste is easy, and it’s a fantastic ingredient to have at the ready to make things like salad dressing, baba ghanoush, halva, and all sorts of tasty baked goods. Sesame paste is often confused with Tahini, but the two are subtly different.
If sesame paste is not on your radar, once you have some on hand, it will be, and you’ll be using it all the time. It’s easy, and will keep well for at a month in the refrigerator (if properly stored).
This creamy ingredient with a nut-like flavor is incredibly versatile and can be used in dozens of recipes.
Tahini vs Sesame Paste
First, let’s distinguish between Tahini and Sesame Paste. Yes, they can be interchangeable — but, their flavors are subtly different.
- Sesame paste refers to a paste made from (usually heavily) toasted sesame seeds. This gives it a darker color and more intense, deeper flavor.
- Tahini, on the other hand, can be made from raw, untoasted (or very lightly toasted) sesame seeds to create a lighter, slightly bitter, nutty flavor
- Both are used primarily in Greek, Middle Eastern, North African, and Turkish cuisine.
- Sesame Paste and Tahini can be made with white or black seeds.
Ingredients for Sesame Paste
- raw, white sesame seeds – We will be toasting the seeds in step one of the recipe. If you need to save time you can purchase already toasted sesame seeds. I find however, toasting them myself provides more flavor.
- toasted sesame oil – Toasted sesame oil adds more flavor than regular. (The bottle might not say toasted sesame oil, but very often it is in fact toasted. Check the ingredients to see if it’s made with toasted sesame seeds (which should be the only ingredient). Kikkoman an example of this.
How to Make Homemade Sesame Paste
(More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
– Add sesame seeds to a large skillet and place it over low-medium heat.– They will begin to turn golden within a couple of minutes. Move the pan around often, and once they are all golden, look a bit oily, and are aromatic, remove them from the heat.– Pour the toasted seeds onto a baking sheet to cool to room temperature.
– Once cooled, pour them into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and blend. The seeds will go through several stages . . .
From whole seeds to a coarse powder.
To a coarse paste.
To a thicker almost smooth paste, at which point you should add the toasted sesame oil.
– Continue to blend.
Finally, you’ll have a very creamy, smooth sesame paste.
– Pour the contents into a jar. Be sure it’s sealed tightly and refrigerate.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
- You can make this with raw sesame seeds (Tahini). The result will be a lighter color and a more mild, slightly more bitter flavor.
- While it’s quick and easy to make, you have to be very patient during the processing time. It will take a good few minutes before the seeds will begin to look like they’re turning into a paste.
- You can substitute the toasted sesame oil with regular sesame oil or olive oil — the flavor will be very subtly different, and for most, it’s not a detectable difference.
- You can also skip the oil all together, but you’ll have a much thicker paste which might be trickier to use in recipes.
- The amount of oil can also be adjusted, depending on the consistency you want. This is a personal call — store bought and homemade sesame paste (and Tahini) will vary in consistency.
- If the sesame paste is very firm when you remove it from the refrigerator, to soften it, keep it at room temperature for a few hours, or warm it for a few seconds in the microwave.
- Can you use a blender instead of a food processor? You can use a blender, but unless it’s extremely powerful (like a Vitamix), a food processor is much better. I’ve tried it in my Blendtec (which I love) and can’t get as smooth a consistency as I can in the food processor.
Uses for Sesame Paste
This creamy creation can be used in all sorts of delicious recipes.
- It’s a key ingredient in rich and creamy Hummus recipes.
- It’s combined with roasted eggplant to make the Middle Eastern dip, Baba ghanoush.
- Halva, one of my favorite sweet treats ever — is made with it.
- Sesame paste is one of many ingredients in Dan Dan sauce, which takes noodles to another level.
- This dressing made with is fantastic, not only on salads, but also drizzled over roasted vegetables.
- I’ve even made scrumptious Sesame Chocolate Truffles with sesame paste.
- In an airtight jar, sesame paste should last up to a month in the refrigerator.
- If you want to freeze it, it’s easiest to use if you divide it into smaller portions first. You can fill an old school ice cube try with it, or freeze it on a parchment-lined plate in small scoops, which can later be put into a tightly sealed container. It will last at least six months (likely longer) in the freezer.
Sesame Paste Recipe
- 1 cup white hulled sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- Toast the sesame seeds. Add the sesame seeds to a large skillet and place it over low-medium heat. They will begin to turn golden within a couple of minutes. Move the pan around often, and once they are all golden, look a bit oily, and are aromatic, immediately remove them from the heat. (Be careful as they can go from golden to black quickly!) Pour the toasted seeds onto a baking sheet and let them cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
- Process toasted seeds into a paste. Pour the cooled, toasted seeds into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend the seeds until a paste has formed. This will take 2 to 3 minutes, and every so often, stop the processor and use a spatula to scrape down the sides. Then add the oil and continue to blend until the mixture is as smooth as possible, about another 3 minutes.
- Store. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. (A jar with a tight fitting lid is best.)
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