Tahini Is The Perfect Mayo Substitute For Creamy Salad Dressing

If you've ever made your own homemade salad dressing, you likely agree that store-bought is no match compared to the kind you whip up from scratch. Sure, the commercial stuff is convenient, but a freshly whisked dressing is well worth the few extra minutes of prep time. While many salads call for mayonnaise-based recipes, you might not always want to saturate your arugula or kale with a heavier dressing. Mayonnaise contains plenty of fat, which can overwhelm more delicate greens and vegetables. If you haven't yet tried swapping it for tahini, you're missing out.

There's no need to rely on mayonnaise to make salad dressing nice and creamy. In most cases, tahini's mild taste and velvety texture allow it to blend well with whatever ingredients you might have on hand, meaning it's an easy substitute for mayo. Plus, tahini offers plenty of potential nutritional benefits that won't have you questioning whether the salad you just prepared is still healthy once it gets tossed in that decadent dressing. This is one plant-based switch that's worth the hype.

How to swap mayonnaise for tahini in salad dressing

While you can purchase jars or cans of it at the supermarket, you only need two ingredients to make homemade tahini: sesame seeds and oil (though you might want to add a bit of kosher salt, too, to bring out the seeds' nutty flavor). The condiment is full of healthy fats and also loaded with antioxidants. There has been limited research, too, to suggest that consuming sesame seeds can reduce your risk of cancer as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, though more needs to be done to confirm these findings.

Tahini pairs well with lemon juice, a common ingredient in vinaigrettes, meaning the flavors of your dressing will pair well with the salad despite swapping mayonnaise for the sesame seed spread. Try mixing together some tahini and lemon juice, plus a bit of olive oil to thin it out, then seasoning the dressing with sea salt to create the perfect simple addition to pretty much any salad. Besides using it as the base for a Caesar salad, you can try it with cold picnic sides like pasta and potato salads or a melange of chickpeas, herbs, and ancient grains.

Tahini is vegetarian and vegan friendly

Whether because of dietary restrictions or allergies, some people can't or won't consume eggs, meaning mayonnaise is off-limits. Tahini offers an excellent alternative for those with vegetarian or vegan diets who can't enjoy the fatty condiment. If you're basing a salad around tahini dressing, there are a few add-ons you might want to include to yield the best flavor pairings.

If you're building a vegetarian or vegan salad, legumes are an excellent source of protein and a strong choice of ingredient for the heart of the salad. Pickled onions add a tangy sweetness and go great with tahini, as does marinated or grilled eggplant. For a hit of spice, don't be afraid to chop up a chile pepper and add it to the mix.

While tahini is an enjoyable spread on its own, some find it to be slightly bitter. In this case, consider adding a drizzle of honey over the top of your salad or into the tahini dressing to add a touch of sweetness, or opt for a sweet, citrusy fruit, such as clementine slices instead — the savory and sweet elements will be an ideal match.