Tahini Sauce With Garlic and Lemon Recipe

Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Why It Works

  • Blending whole garlic cloves in lemon juice prevents harsher garlic flavors from forming, leaving the sauce aromatic instead of pungent.
  • Whisking together the tahini and water slowly and thoroughly makes a light, smooth sauce.

The technique of blending whole unpeeled garlic with lemon to make tahini sauce was something I read in Michael Solomonov's Zahav. With this much garlic you'd think it'd be overwhelming, but don't worry, it stays quite mild due to blending it in the lemon juice.

Recipe Facts

Active: 5 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serves: 16 servings
Makes: 2 cups

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  • 1 whole head garlic, broken into individual unpeeled cloves (about 20 cloves)

  • 2/3 cup fresh juice from 3 to 4 lemons (160ml)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (2g)

  • 1 generous cup tahini paste (about 10 ounces; 300g by weight)

  • Cold water

  • Kosher salt


  1. Combine garlic and lemon juice in a blender. Pulse until a pulpy puree is formed, about 15 short pulses. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Press out as much liquid as you can with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula, then discard solids.

  2. Add cumin and tahini paste to lemon/garlic juice and whisk to combine. The mixture will seize up and turn pasty. Add water a few tablespoons at a time, whisking in between each addition, until a smooth, light sauce is formed. The tahini sauce should very slowly lose its shape if you let ribbons of it drop from the whisk into the bowl. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate for up to 1 1/2 weeks.

Special equipment