Photo: Jennifer Causey

The competition wasn't even close.

Sara Tane
February 14, 2018

If there was one word to describe tahini in our present world of food, it’d probably be ubiquitous. We can’t escape the fact that this stuff is literally showing up everywhere. Aside from its most common use as an essential component in hummus, it can also be used in baked goods, grain bowls, poultry dishes, salad dressings, and sauces. Quite frankly, there’s nothing that this sesame seed paste can’t do, if you ask me (a self-proclaimed tahini connoisseur).

However, like any other food item, not all tahinis are created equally, and there’s nothing that drives that point across better than tasting 8 different brands side by side (some were brutal on the buds). Given that all tahini is made with one ingredient, and one ingredient only, (roasted sesame seeds), we were interested to see just how varied the differents brands would taste. Here’s what we thought.

Soom

This brand was our tasting panel’s unanimous favorite—there’s almost no competition, if we’re being frank. The consistency is velvety smooth, and it has the cleanest, richest flavor. Soom possesses just enough bitterness without pushing it over the edge. One of our staffers noted that she doesn’t use tahini frequently, but could definitely see herself actually buying a jar of this. This stuff will make your next tahini creation taste next-level, but honestly, we’re not opposed to spooning it straight out of the jar. It’s worth pointing out that you’re definitely getting what you pay for here. When it comes to price, Soom is $12.95 for a 16-oz. jar, and you’ll likely need to order it online. We think it’s worth every penny, but ultimately, that’s your call to make.

Krinos

This was another brand, available at grocery stores such as Publix, that we really enjoyed. The smooth, not-too-oily consistency makes for a pleasurable textural experience, and it offers a subtly sweet flavor that balances out the paste’s signature bitterness. There’s even a slight hint of saltiness in the Krinos tahini that elevates the entire flavor profile. You can find this brand in the Kosher section of your local supermarket.

Whole Foods 365 Organic Tahini

Like the previous two, this tahini nails it in the consistency department—it’s smooth, silky, and delightfully creamy. While the flavor of the 365 brand isn’t as rich and toasty as Soom, it also does not possess an off putting bitterness, thus making it an option that we were all in favor of. Especially given that it’s a generic brand that’s readily available, this felt like a good option for a ~casual tahini enthusiast~.

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Trader Joe’s Tahini

This one definitely caught us off guard, but in the best way possible. We all agreed that it almost tasted more like an unsweetened nut butter, as it delivers almost no bitterness (and tasted oddly like almonds or roasted peanuts). Being the cheapest and least bitter option of them all, we think that this would make for a great “gateway” tahini, if you’re a newbie but excited to try tahini out for size.

Cedar’s Pure Ground Tahini

We liked this one because like some of the other brands, it didn’t need to be stirred. When we opened its jar, the spread was already super smooth and creamy without any oily separation. The flavor of Cedar’s is on the richer and sweeter side, yet not quite as pronounced as some of the varieties that we ranked higher. All in all, this is a solid tahini option, but nothing earth shattering to report here.

Artisana Organic Tahini

The texture of this brand is, in short, not okay. It was fairly difficult to work past the unappealing mouthfeel of this tahini because it was so overly grainy and chalky. Texture aside, the flavor isn’t much to write home about either, as we found it to be quite dull and lifeless. Being one of the pricier options, we see no reason to go out of your way to purchase this one.

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Once Again Tahini

This one probably had the most confusing flavors of them all. Possessing an excessive amount of bitterness, it almost has a burnt, charred taste that is extremely unpleasant. The texture was grainy and super oily, making for an overall upsetting tahini experience. Big thumbs down for this guy.

Joyva

There was something extremely off about this tahini, and none of us could quite put our finger on what made it so unpalatable. Just take our word that it was not great. For whatever reason, it has a strong salty punch that translates to tasting borderline burnt or rancid. The texture is impossibly chunky, and trying to stir the separated oil back into the tahini is nothing short of a pointless effort. For this tahini and the other brands that we weren’t so hot on, you could probably get away with blending it into a garlicky hummus with no problems. However, in an application where the flavor of the tahini really has a chance to shine through, we say opt for Soom, Krinos, or Whole Foods 365, and be done with the rest.

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