Does tahini have gluten?

What is tahini?

Tahini is a condiment made from toasted ground hulled sesame seeds. It has a creamy, nutty flavor and smooth texture. Tahini is a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, where it is used to make classic dips like hummus, baba ghanoush, and tzatziki. It’s also used in sauces and dressings.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form an elastic network that gives bread dough it’s chewy texture. People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten and experience an autoimmune reaction when they eat it.

Does tahini contain gluten?

No, tahini does not contain any gluten. Tahini is made solely from toasted sesame seeds, which are naturally gluten-free. Sesame seeds do not contain the gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. So pure tahini, without any added ingredients, is considered gluten-free.

Why is tahini gluten-free?

Again, the reason tahini is gluten-free is because it’s made entirely from sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are not a grain and do not contain the problematic gluten proteins. Tahini is usually just ground sesame seeds and sometimes a small amount of olive oil or other liquid to thin out the consistency. Since the ingredients are so minimal, there’s no opportunity for gluten to be introduced.

Some brands of tahini do contain added flavors, sugars or thickeners though, so it’s important to read the label and make sure a 100% sesame seed tahini is selected for a gluten-free diet. As long as no gluten-containing grains or additives are used, tahini remains gluten-free.

Is all tahini gluten-free?

While pure tahini with no additives is gluten-free, there are some exceptions:

– Flavored tahini: Some flavored varieties have added ingredients that may contain gluten, like breadcrumbs, flavor extracts, or wheat starch.

– Blended tahini: Tahini blended with other ingredients and spices may also contain gluten. For example, a red pepper tahini blend.

– Stabilized tahini: A few brands use gluten-containing ingredients like wheat starch to stabilize the tahini and prevent separation.

– Cross-contamination: Even plain tahini could be cross-contaminated with gluten during growing, harvesting, processing or transportation if it’s not certified gluten-free.

So check the label carefully and look for a certified gluten-free tahini to be 100% sure it’s gluten-free. Or stick with a simple sesame seed only tahini. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

Is tahini safe for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?

For most people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, pure, unseasoned tahini that only contains sesame seed is considered safe. Since it does not naturally contain gluten, tahini without any questionable additives is fine on a gluten-free diet.

However, for extremely sensitive celiacs, even gluten-free grains and seeds can cause issues due to cross-reactivity. A small percentage of celiacs react to sesame seeds, so tahini may not be tolerated.

It’s best for those with celiac disease to introduce tahini carefully and look for any signs of reaction. Start with a very small amount and discontinue use if any symptoms occur. Fortunately, most celiacs can enjoy tahini safely in moderation as part of a gluten-free diet.

Should tahini be avoided on a gluten-free diet?

For most people avoiding gluten, tahini can be included safely as part of a gluten-free diet. Pure, single ingredient tahini without any questionable additives provides a nice sesame flavor to gluten-free hummus, dressings, marinades and more.

The only exceptions are celiacs who have a reaction to sesame seeds or other seeds. As long as the tahini is verified to be gluten-free and tolerated well individually, it can be enjoyed freely on a gluten-free diet.

Is tahini good for a gluten-free diet?

Yes, tahini can be a great addition to a gluten-free diet. Here are some of the benefits of adding tahini:

– Creamy, nutty flavor – Tahini adds richness, depth, and creaminess to dishes like hummus, sauces, salad dressings and more.

– Nutrient-dense – Sesame seeds provide important nutrients including zinc, copper, magnesium, iron, calcium, fiber and healthy fats.

– Protein – Tahini offers a good source of plant-based protein to help meet protein needs on a gluten-free diet. Two tablespoons provides 5 grams of protein.

– Dairy-free – Tahini makes a good dairy substitute in vegan or dairy-free diets, providing creaminess without milk or butter.

– Fiber – Tahini contains soluble and insoluble fiber for digestive health.

– Versatile ingredient – Tahini can be used in spreads, marinades, dressings and desserts, providing a flavor and texture boost to all types of gluten-free foods.

So in addition to being gluten-free, tahini offers nutritional benefits and culinary versatility making it a tasty and healthy addition to any gluten-free diet.

What about tahini sauce and dressing?

When it comes to tahini-based sauces and dressings, it’s important to read the label carefully and verify all the ingredients are gluten-free. Pure tahini mixed with gluten-free ingredients like lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt makes a safe, gluten-free sauce for dipping and drizzling. But some prepared tahini sauces or dressings could contain thickening agents or seasonings derived from gluten sources. As long as you confirm it’s a gluten-free product, tahini sauce can be enjoyed without worry as part of a gluten-free lifestyle. Check that any brand you buy is certified gluten-free to be extra careful.

Cooking and baking with tahini

One of the nice aspects of tahini is that it can be used in both savory and sweet recipes as part of your gluten-free diet. Here are some ideas:

– Use it to make hummus, baba ghanoush or ful mudammas dip.

– Whisk tahini with lemon, garlic and olive oil for a quick salad dressing.

– Add tahini to gluten-free granola or trail mixes for a sesame twist.

– Make a tahini sauce for drizzling on grilled meats, fish and vegetables.

– Thin tahini with milk or water to make a vegan cream sauce for pasta or veggies.

– Add a spoonful of tahini to smoothies for creaminess and protein.

– Make gluten-free baklava by spreading tahini and honey on phyllo dough.

– Swirl tahini into gluten-free oatmeal cookies, brownies or blondies before baking.

– Use tahini to make halvah, a Middle Eastern confection with ground sesame and honey.

So don’t be afraid to experiment with tahini in all kinds of gluten-free recipes, both sweet and savory. It’s a versatile ingredient that can lend rich flavor and delightful texture.

Tahini substitutions

If you don’t have tahini on hand or want to avoid sesame for allergy reasons, here are some good gluten-free substitutions:

– Seed butters – Try sunbutter (sunflower), almond butter or cashew butter.

– Coconut butter – For a dairy-free option with richness.

– Plain nut or seed oils – Like grapeseed, sunflower or safflower oil.

– Silken tofu or beans – Blended tofu or white beans can provide creamy texture.

– Lemon juice and olive oil – Provides tangy flavor, omit for baking.

-Greek yogurt – Plain yogurt adds richness but won’t provide much sesame flavor.

The texture may be slightly different, but these substitutions can work well in sauces, dressings, dips and spreads calling for tahini. Don’t substitute in baked goods as it will change the consistency. Always check labels to confirm gluten-free status.

Is tahini high FODMAP?

The low FODMAP diet can be confusing, but luckily tahini is considered low FODMAP in servings of 1-2 tablespoons. The high fat content and low fiber make tahini easy to digest. So drizzle away on hummus and salads!

But beware of eating large amounts of tahini. Stick with no more than 2 tablespoons per sitting to prevent digestive issues. And those with severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may need to trial tahini in very small amounts first to see if it causes any unwanted symptoms.

Tahini nutritional information

Here is the nutrition data for 2 tablespoons (30g) of tahini, made from ground hulled sesame seeds (Source: USDA):

Calories 178
Fat 16g
Saturated fat 2g
Carbohydrates 4g
Fiber 2g
Protein 5g
Calcium 64mg
Iron 1mg
Potassium 115mg

As you can see, tahini is high in healthy fats from the sesame seeds. It also provides a good amount of fiber, protein, calcium, iron and potassium in just a small serving. This makes it a nutritious addition to a gluten-free diet.

Finding gluten-free tahini

There are a few good brands of tahini widely available that are marked gluten-free:

– Joyva Sesame Tahini – Labeled gluten-free

– Achva Sesame Tahini – Gluten-free certified

– Seed + Mill Tahini – Labeled gluten-free

– Soom Foods Pure Tahini – Gluten-free certified

– Baron’s Kosher Sesame Tahini – Labeled gluten-free

You can usually find these in major supermarkets, health food stores or online. Just double check the label to confirm it’s plain sesame tahini with no questionable ingredients. And look for the words “gluten-free” somewhere on the packaging.

You can also find tahini in Middle Eastern specialty markets and some farmers markets. Just inquire about the brand and manufacturing process to ensure no gluten cross-contamination if it’s not marked gluten-free.

Making your own tahini paste

If you want to control the process from start to finish, making homemade tahini paste is a good option. All you need is:

  • 1 cup hulled white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil like grapeseed or rice bran oil
  1. Add the sesame seeds to a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden, stirring constantly.
  2. Transfer to a food processor and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Process on high while slowly drizzling in the oil until a smooth paste forms, about 5 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add more oil for a smoother consistency.
  5. Store homemade tahini paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Making your own allows you to control the sesame seed source and ensures there is no cross-contamination. Use high quality, gluten-free oats for the best homemade tahini.


In conclusion, pure tahini made solely from sesame seeds is gluten-free and safe for most people following a gluten-free diet. Just be sure to check the label for any added ingredients and look for a brand that is certified gluten-free to avoid any cross-contamination issues. Tahini makes for a versatile, nutrient-packed addition to both sweet and savory gluten-free recipes. Be mindful of portion sizes if following the low FODMAP diet. Homemade tahini is also an option to take control over the ingredients. Otherwise look for a reputable brand and enjoy tahini to add great flavor and nutrition to your gluten-free lifestyle.

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