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Tahini Vs Peanut Butter — What’s The Difference?

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Tahini is a type of nut butter that’s popping up in all kinds of recipes, from making hummus to banana bread and cookies. Many even say that it’s healthier than peanut butter, which has long been a staple in every household’s pantry! 

When it comes to choosing between tahini and peanut butter, the debate can be fierce. They are both delicious and have their own unique set of benefits! 

So, what is the difference between tahini and peanut butter? Tahini is made from hulled sesame seeds and oil. The seeds are blended into a smooth texture with a distinct scent and a savory taste. In comparison, peanut butter is made from ground-roasted peanuts and has a nutty flavor. 

Can you substitute one for another? In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of each to help you make the best choice. Let’s get started!

What Is Tahini?

Tahini is a creamy butter made from ground sesame seeds.

The flavor of tahini can be nutty, bitter, or sweet, depending on the type of sesame seeds used and how they’re treated.

Tahini is the main ingredient in dishes like hummus and baba ganoush, and it is also a popular topping for falafel and other Middle Eastern dishes. 

Tahini is commonly used as a dip or spread, as well as an ingredient in sauces, soups, and salad dressings. 

While tahini is most commonly associated with savory dishes, it can also be used in sweet recipes such as cookies and cakes. Thanks to its versatility and unique flavor, tahini is an important ingredient in many different cuisines.

Tahini is also rich with protein, iron, and calcium. It’s relatively high in fat, but most of the fat is unsaturated fat, which is considered a healthy type of fat.  

Tahini Vs Peanut Butter — Similarities And Differences

Creamy peanut butter and peanuts. Spreads peanut butter in the bowl.

When you read the description of tahini, another popular nut butter comes to mind: peanut butter.

Peanut butter is a familiar favorite of many households, so you may wonder whether tahini can measure up.

Let’s take a look at how these two ingredients compare! 

Ingredients 

Tahini is a paste made from hulled, roasted, and ground sesame seeds. The key to making good tahini is to start with high-quality, hulled sesame seeds. These are typically toasted before being ground into a fine powder. 

Next, the sesame powder is combined with oil and sometimes salt to create a smooth, creamy paste.

The ratio of sesame to oil can vary depending on the recipe, but a good rule of thumb is to use one part of oil for every two parts of sesame to create a smooth texture. 

Peanut butter is a popular creamy spread made from ground peanuts that have been roasted. The peanuts are then hulled, the skins removed, and then ground into a smooth paste. Finally, the paste is typically sweetened with sugar and salt. 

Taste

Tahini has a very distinct flavor that is both nutty and savory, with a slightly bitter edge.

Toasting the seeds before grinding them will help to bring out more of their natural flavor and reduce some of the bitterness. However, the sesame scent can sometimes be overpowering.

If you are shopping for tahini, look for a variety that is made from 100% hulled sesame seeds. This type of tahini is creamier and has a more intense flavor than tahinis made from unhulled seeds.    

Peanut butter has a distinctively salty, sweet, nutty, and earthy flavor. In addition to being eaten on its own, peanut butter is often used in baking or as a condiment for savory dishes.  

Texture

Peanut butter generally has a smooth texture, although it can also be sold in a chunky form. When you mix peanut butter into other recipes, it’s usually more blendable. 

On the other hand, tahini can be slightly textured, with more pronounced grains. It also takes a bit more effort to blend in with other ingredients in a recipe. 

Homemade Tahini Vs Homemade Peanut Butter

You can make both tahini and peanut butter at home with a food processor

To make tahini at home, you will only need toasted sesame seeds.

You can find toasted sesame seeds in the supermarket, or toast sesame seeds yourself in a dry pan over medium heat until the seeds are golden brown. 

Then, grind the seeds in your food processor until they are finely ground while gradually adding vegetable oil (or an oil of your choice) until a paste begins to form. The paste should be smooth and spreadable. Then, add salt to taste. 

Similarly, you can also buy roasted peanuts (or roast your own peanuts) to make homemade peanut butter. Peanut butter doesn’t require any oil since peanuts will also naturally release oil when they are roasted. 

Then, process them until a paste starts to form, and add salt and sugar as needed. 

Health Benefits  

Sesame seeds are small, oil-rich seeds that have been used in traditional medicine for centuries, which is why adding tahini to your diet will be very beneficial for your health. 

Tahini is packed with healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds

In addition to their nutrient content, sesame seeds also contain unique plant compounds that may offer health benefits.

For example, sesamin is a compound found in sesame seeds that have been shown to protect against oxidative damage and promote healthy cholesterol levels

Similarly, sesame seeds have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect against cellular damage. These potent plant compounds make sesame seeds a valuable addition to any healthy diet.

Peanuts are a nutritional powerhouse, providing plenty of protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients.

In addition, peanut butter is a good source of fiber and antioxidants, both of which play a role in heart health.  

Peanuts are known for their heart-healthy properties as they contain compounds that help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

However, store-bought peanut butter tends to have high sugar content, so if you are using peanut butter, make sure to use it in moderation. You can also make your own peanut butter to minimize the sugar content in your food.

Storage 

Tahini can be stored in your pantry for up to a month, provided that it’s in a tightly sealed container. If you want tahini to last longer, you can keep it in your fridge for up to 6 months. 

Due to the high oil content, sometimes you will see separation in the tahini, especially if you store it in the fridge.

Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean the tahini has gone bad! You need to mix it to blend the oil with the paste, and it will be ready for use. 

Peanut butter, if it’s made with just one ingredient, will stay fresh in your pantry for three months, as long as you keep it in a tight-sealed container.

If you want the peanut butter to last for longer, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months.

If you have made peanut butter with sugar and salt, you should keep it in the fridge to make it last longer. 

Store-bought tahini and peanut butter usually contains preservatives that allow them to stay fresh in your pantry for up to two years.

Can You Substitute Tahini With Peanut Butter? 

Depending on the recipe, you can substitute tahini with peanut butter.

For example, if you are looking for a spread for your sandwich or as a savory ingredient in your dessert, then you can use them interchangeably. 

However, if you are cooking, then keep in mind that tahini and peanut butter have very distinct flavors.

The sesame scent in tahini can be quite overwhelming, so if you are using tahini in a recipe that calls for peanut butter, make sure to use it in moderation.

There’s usually more sugar in peanut butter compared to tahini, so if you are using peanut butter instead of tahini, the final dish may turn out sweeter than intended. 

Cooking With Peanut Butter

Besides the classic PB&J sandwiches, peanut butter can be useful in many other recipes.

Let’s take a look at some creative ways to use peanut butter in your cooking: 

  • Blend peanut butter with your banana smoothie for a protein boost
  • Spread peanut butter over something warm (ex. toast, wraps, waffles, pancakes) so it will melt and become super creamy
  • Mix peanut butter with your overnight oats
  • Make peanut sauce as a dressing for your salad and spring rolls
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Peanut butter ice cream

These are just some ideas, but you can be as creative as you’d like when cooking with this versatile nut butter!  

Cooking With Tahini

Tahini is often used as a topping or dressing for salad, falafel, or other Middle Eastern dishes. You can also use tahini to make hummus and baba ganoush, and the sesame scent will complement these dishes very well. 

If you’re making desserts with tahini, you can use it to make ice cream or cheesecake. Tahini goes very well with a mild flavor like vanilla, but it will also highlight the distinct flavor of chocolate too!

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