This tahini pasta sauce recipe is incredibly rich, creamy and packed with flavor. It’s perfect for serving hot or to make a cold pasta salad. It’s vegan and free from gluten, nuts and soy.
Serve along with some veggies for an easy, quick and delicious meal whenever you’re craving pasta!
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Tahini Pasta Sauce Ingredients
There’s plenty of room to customize this recipe based on what you like and/or have on hand. It’s a great meal to add veggies to, especially if you have some to use up quickly! In general, you’ll need:
- Tahini: Of course, you’ll need tahini to make this recipe! Tahini offers a lot of flavor, satisfying fats and some protein to create a well-balanced meal.
- Olive oil: To enhance the flavor of this sauce, sauté onions and garlic (then the rest of the spices) in olive oil.
- Onion and garlic: I love loading this sauce with sauteed onions and loads of garlic! You can adjust the amount of onion/garlic to your liking.
- Tomato: Tomato provides liquid, some acidity and a bit of sweetness to the sauce. The final sauce has a very subtle tomato flavor but is so creamy and rich you likely wouldn’t guess there’s any.
- Nutritional yeast: This ingredient is a staple in most vegan kitchens as it adds a cheesy flavor to any meal. Nutritional yeast is not the same as baking yeast and the two ingredients cannot be substituted.
- Dry basil and oregano: I add some dry basil and oregano to give the sauce a nice, earthy, herby flavor. Use any dry herbs you like, or toss in some fresh herbs just before serving the pasta.
- Salt and pepper: Season the sauce to your liking with salt and pepper.
- Red chili flakes: I’ve become a huge fan of adding some spicy heat to my pasta sauces. I find it really enhances other flavors, but if you don’t like heat, skip this ingredient.
- Lemon juice and balsamic vinegar: Rich and creamy sauces always benefit from an acidic ingredient like citrus or vinegar. I couldn’t decide between lemon juice and balsamic for this recipe, so I used both. The combo of these flavors is one of my favorites, but you can use just lemon juice or just balsamic if you prefer.
- Pasta: To serve, use any type or shape of pasta you like. The tahini sauce makes enough for about 400 grams of dry pasta. You’ll also take some pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce, but if you forget this step, just use regular water or vegetable broth.
How to Make Pasta with Tahini Sauce
This recipe is very easy to make and can be prepared in just a few simple steps.
Step 1: Cook Pasta
Follow package directions to cook your pasta of choice. Before draining the water, save about 2 cups of the pasta water.
Step 2: Prepare Sauce
Warm olive oil in a sauce pot or pan over medium heat. Sautee the finely diced onion for about 5 minutes, then add minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Next, add chopped tomato and spices including nutritional yeast, salt, dry basil, dry oregano, black pepper and optional red chili flakes.
Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomato is completely broken down into a paste. There shouldn’t be any pieces of tomato left.
Finally, add tahini, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar along with about 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Stir until the sauce is smooth and creamy, adding extra pasta water until reaching your desired thickness/ consistency. I typically add 2 cups of pasta water.
Step 3: Toss and Serve
Finish the dish by tossing the pasta in tahini sauce.
You can serve topped with vegan parmesan cheese and/or a sprinkle of fresh chopped herbs (basil, oregano, parsley, etc.).
How to Create a Balanced Vegan Meal
Beyond having incredible flavor, this tahini sauce is packed with healthy fats and a small amount of protein. Serving it on pasta will also provide plenty of carbohydrates.
You may want to consider adding additional protein to this meal. My favorite way to add protein to pasta dishes is with a can of chickpeas.
I love serving this pasta with a side of roasted or grilled veggies and/or a side salad for extra vegetables.
You can also cook additional vegetables into the sauce. Simply chop and add them to the onions and garlic while they cook. Zucchini and mushrooms work especially well when cooked into tahini sauce.
Tahini Sauce Variations
I love tahini-based sauces and salad dressings. Some other delicious ways to make tahini sauce for salads or pasta are:
- Vegan tahini dill dressing
- Classic lemon tahini sauce
- Miso orange tahini sauce
- Balsamic tahini sauce
How to Store Leftovers
Refrigerate leftover tahini pasta in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the sauce itself, if not tossed with pasta, for a few months if needed.
Enjoy leftover tahini pasta cold or warmed using a microwave (or in a pot on the stove).
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Tahini Pasta Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 milliliters)
- 1 small onion , finely diced (85 grams)
- 6-7 cloves garlic , finely minced (22 grams)
- ½ large tomato , chopped (100 grams)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (20 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dry basil
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ cup tahini (120 grams)
- 1-2 cups pasta cooking water *
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (30 milliliters)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (30 milliliters)
Step 1: Cook Pasta
- The amount of sauce this recipe makes will coat about 400 grams of dry pasta.
- Cook your pasta of choice according to package directions. Before draining the water, reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.1-2 cups pasta cooking water
Step 2: Prepare Sauce
- Warm olive oil in a sauce pot or pan over medium heat. Add minced onion and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small onion
- Add minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.6-7 cloves garlic
- Add chopped tomato, nutritional yeast, salt, dry basil, dry oregano, black pepper and red chili flakes. Cook until the tomato is completely broken down into a paste; about 5 minutes.½ large tomato, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon dry basil, 1 teaspoon dry oregano, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ - ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Add tahini, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar along with about 1 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water.½ cup tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Stir until the sauce is smooth. Add additional pasta cooking water to reach your desired sauce consistency (I typically use 2 cups of pasta water).
Step 3: Toss and Serve
- Toss the tahini pasta sauce with your cooked and drained pasta.
- Serve hot or cold, topped with optional vegan parmesan cheese and/or fresh chopped herbs of choice.
More Vegan Sauce and Dressing Recipes
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.