Sunflower Tahini

Want to stick to locally produced, but miss tahini? Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a sesame producer in Australia, but we can help you with a great tahini alternative. We were put on to this tasty workaround from one of the food makers we supply, and I did some looking around and it is a thing. I combed through a few recipes and cobbled together something that I think is pretty fantastic. 

While it can be made from raw sunflower kernels, toasting them first gives a closer flavour to that of sesame-based tahini. If you like the bitterness of unhulled tahini, give it more of a toast. I like it just browned, so it isn’t too bitter (then I can just spread it on crackers and it goes with everything). 

This tasty tahini replacement works great in hommus, or on its own as a sunflower spread. It keeps well in the fridge in a jar and can be used as a straight swap for any recipe that calls for tahini. 

For this recipe, you will need a food processor or high-speed blender. While a high-speed blender works a bit better, I did use a food processor for the latest version of the recipe, and the results were great (it just took a little longer)

• 250g (2 cups) sunflower kernels

• Water

• 100ml (92g) oil. I use macadamia for a nuttier taste, but olive oil works well.

• salt to taste

Soak the sunflower seeds in water overnight (or at least 4 hours)

The next day, drain the soaking liquid and give the sunflower kernels a little rinse.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or use a silicone baking sheet.

Spread the sunflower seeds in a single layer on the lined baking and place it in the oven (for this recipe, you will need two 30cm trays)

Check after 10 minutes, toss the kernels, and give the tray a shuffle, so they toast evenly.

Repeat every 10 minutes until they are nice and golden, which should take 20 – 30 minutes.

Set aside to cool.

Put the sunflower seeds into a blender or food processor, add 100ml of water and blend. This will take a couple of minutes in the blender, and about 6 or 7 in the food processor

With the blender running, slowly drizzle in oil until you have a smooth paste.

You may need to add more water to get the desired consistency.

Once you have the consistency you want. Add a bit of salt to taste and then give it another little blend until it is all incorporated. Taste again and season as required.

Store in a jar in the fridge. Easy!


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