Plus, the preferred application for each brand

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Credit: Photo by Rebecca Firkser

I use tahini at every meal, nearly every day. The toasty, creamy sesame seed butter adds depth to everything from vinaigrettes to smoothies to quick breads. Thanks to the maturing American palate, we’re now lucky enough to be able to find at least a few different brands of tahini at many grocery stores. There are a lot of fancy tahinis out there, some of which are currently in my refrigerator at home, that can only be purchased at specialty stores. For the sake of this taste test, however, I stuck with five brands that are available at large grocery stores or Amazon. Ultimately, when it comes to tahini, you should taste your way through a few brands to decide what you like best.

Credit: Photo by Rebecca Firkser

The Starter Tahini: 365 Everyday Value Organic Tahini

Like a best friend in a rom com, 365 tahini was inoffensive and charming. It was pretty mild in its toasty flavor, and not at all bitter. While it wasn’t very assertive in flavor, it had a very pleasant texture. I could see this tahini doing just as well in a tahini-miso cream as it would do in a salad dressing.

The Tahini You Don’t Mind Using Up When the Recipe Calls for More Than 2 Tablespoons: Joyva Sesame Tahini

Even if you’ve never tasted tahini, you probably recognize that orange tin. Joyva is a perfectly safe tahini—it’s not too mellow and it’s not too bitter. There are just a couple drawbacks: You need a can opener to open the sealed tin, and before you can use if for the first time you have to use a bit of elbow grease to stir up the separated oil and thick ground sesame seeds.

The Tahini You Leave in the Back of the Pantry and Forget About: Once Again Organic Tahini

If you're in the midst of making a recipe that calls for tahini, and you have none left in your favorite jar, you might be happy to find a jar of Once Again in the back of the pantry. Because hey, you probably can’t use ketchup in your tahini tea cake. However, the jar was in the back of your pantry for a reason: This tahini is very assertive, and so tangy it’s almost sour. It would probably be fine in a sauce or baked good, but I can’t say much else for it.

The Tahini to Use in Baking: Roland Tahini Pure Ground Sesame Seed

More robust than 365, Roland tahini is a perfect choice for sweets. Roland is kind of bitter, but also well-rounded, like a peanut butter that went to grad school. This tahini would perfectly offset the sugar in a fruit smoothie, cookie dough, or buttercream frosting.

The Tahini That’s So Good I’m Eating It Straight from the Jar Please Save Me from Myself: Soom Foods Pure Ground Sesame Tahini Paste

Soom tahini is creamy and smooth. While many tahinis are too bitter to eat solo, this tahini wants you to enjoy it all the time: with sliced apples, in dressing, as a dip for a pretzel stick, in granola or granola bars, right off the spoon. It's the best of this bunch. Soom tahini can and will do it all, and you should always have some on hand. Good thing it's sold in packs of two on Amazon.