Tahini cookies?! They’re not at all what you’d expect from a cookie and that’s what makes us love them all the more. The perfect collision of sweet and savory and gluten-free and paleo-friendly.
These tahini cookies are chewy and nutty and salty and subtly sweet and unlike any other cookie you’ve ever had. In the words of one of our recipe testers, they’re “a bit too exotic for the average cookie consumer.” Which makes them all the more magnificent for those of us who prefer something a little different to take with our cup of tea or after yoga or at midnight or on our way to work in the morning or just about anytime something a little sweet is required. Kindly note, in addition to being lovely in both taste and texture, these tahini cookies are also gluten-free as well as dairy-free and egg-free and, yes, even paleo-friendly. To be quite frank, they’re probably not something you want to bake for chocolate chip cookie loyalists. That’s perfectly fine. More for the rest of us.–Renee Schettler
☞ Table of Contents
- 2 cups ground almonds (blanched or unblanched; also sometimes labeled almond meal; do not substitute almond flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Slightly generous 1/2 cup honey (or substitute maple syrup for vegan)
- 3/4 cup tahini (sometimes labeled sesame paste)
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons vanilla extract (yep, tablespoons)
- 1/4 cup sliced or roughly chopped almonds or pistachios (raw or roasted)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) if you prefer chewier, softer cookies or 375ºF (191ºC) if you prefer slightly crisper, more well-done cookies. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, salt, and baking powder.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the honey, tahini, and vanilla until everything is completely combined and the mixture has begun to thin a little, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Pour the contents of the saucepan into the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir with a spoon or mix with your hands until everything is combined and a dough forms. The dough should come together easily and feel quite warm and soft and squishy. Refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes so that it firms slightly.
- Pinch off about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough and roll it into a 1-inch (2.5-cm) ball. Place it on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the blobs of dough about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. If a flatter and somewhat crisper cookie is desired, use the tines of a fork to gently flatten the dough. Sprinkle with sliced or chopped almonds or pistachios, gently pressing the nuts into the dough so the don’t fall off during baking.
- Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. The cookies will puff a little during baking but will flatten somewhat during cooling. Watch carefully so that the bottoms don’t overbrown. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets on wire racks. If you can, store the cookies in an airtight container.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
We adored these tahini cookies. Seriously, I watched one of our dinner guests eat 4 in a row! The flavor of toasted tahini and almonds with the richness of vanilla and the natural sweetness of honey….swoon. The flavor was amazing—especially for a gluten-free cookie. I didn’t find that the cookies spread very much at all; they smelled toasty and delightful while cooking and resembled peanut butter cookies when taken from the oven. Overall, a great recipe. The first time I made these, I used an oven temperature of 375°F. But we all found the cookies to be too dense and not chewy enough once they cooled. So I remade them. And boy what a difference a lower oven temperature made. This time I baked them on the middle rack in a preheated 350°F oven for 8 minutes. Took them out of the oven and let them rest for about 10 minutes. I am munching on one now (and am contemplating a second…)! They are fabulously chewy this time and perfectly cooked. Golden brown on the bottom and super flavorful and the texture of a perfectly baked peanut butter cookie. They are fabulous.
Tahini gives these gluten-free, vegan cookies a depth of flavor not offered by nut butters. Ground sesame seeds are nutty in flavor with a subtle bite. This bite, though wonderfully present, is tempered by the addition of almond flour and raw honey. They’re great paired with a cup of tea or hot coffee or, grabbed on the go, these cookies are a wonderful snack. Since sesame seeds provide a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, they’re almost guilt-free. Raw pistachios were good although I preferred chopped, lightly salted, roasted almonds. The crunch was sensational. The cookies stored well and I actually enjoyed them better after they rested overnight in an airtight container. I preferred the flavor and texture. They were uniformly soft and chewy (but not underbaked) from edge to center and the tahini flavor further mellowed. I stored the cookies in an airtight container. The nuts on top provided the necessary texture contrast that really elevated these cookies.
We became instant fans of these tahini cookies! They’re delicious, full of sesame aroma, and satisfyingly chewy—almost like macaroons. They’re packed with protein and good fats and having one as a mid-afternoon snack would easily hold you over until dinner. The recipe is super easy and you can bake all the cookies at once. I put both baking sheets in the oven on the lower and higher racks and swapped the sheets after 5 minutes of baking.
These tahini cookies are unsweet in a pleasant, side-of-the-saucer sort of way. Preparing these is simple. And the payoff? Each two-bite treat is rich with almonds and bitter with tahini that’s almost tempered by the honey. It doesn’t take a sophisticated palate to like these little gems although marketing these as a “cookie-shaped afternoon snack” is the way to go as it’ll scare off those disappointed by anything other than a familiar factory-made confection. I quickly polished off 5 before leaving the kitchen. Instead of pistachios, I topped with a slivered almond (I like the decoration to match the ingredients). I’d love to experiment with alternate flavors for these—maybe some orange zest or cardamom.
These cookies are hearty, salty, and satisfying. It’s crazy how similar the wet mixture resembles a cookie dough made of butter and brown sugar. The dough was laughably easy to throw together with minimal ingredients and almost no mess. Although incredibly oily, the dough does crack easily when rolled into balls. The dough doesn’t spread out well and remains rather clumped. I would recommend completely flattening the cookies to your desired size with a fork before baking.
I had high hopes for these and I was not disappointed. Delicious and slightly savory. The tahini and honey come together almost like a caramel or butterscotch with gentle heating, and when mixed with the almond flour, the dough comes together like a moist playdough, pulling cleanly off the bowl in a few minutes. At 8 minutes, the cookies were perfect. Do NOT overbake these! One pan stayed in the oven an extra minute and they were a bit overdone although totally edible. Love having this vegetarian- and protein-friendly cookie to share. If you keep your almond flour in the freezer, like I do, just sift it into the bowl with the baking powder and salt and you can make sure the lumps are gone. For the tahini, it tends to separate whether it’s from a brand new jar or one that’s been opened and kept in the fridge, so take a few minutes to stir it thoroughly before measuring it. It’s an excellent example of an unusual set of ingredients that yield something really good. My honey was a mixture of clover and mesquite.
Use tahini paste in a cookie? I guess there are more seemingly bizarre combinations. But I had to try this one and was really pleasantly surprised. The cookies are indeed chewy as advertised as well as surprisingly filling with a mild, moderately sweet flavor. The tahini, almonds, and honey provided recognizable taste notes without any being dominant. In the case of the tahini, the flavor is there but doesn’t trigger a sense that these should be savory instead of sweet, and the 2 tablespoons of vanilla are absolutely necessary to help accomplish that by bringing each of the elements together into a pleasurable bite that could easily double as a protein bar for its ability to satisfy both one’s sweet tooth and one’s desire for a pick-me-up after exercise. I used roasted salted pistachios, which played really nicely off the sweeter flavors and amped up the cookie. These cookies came together in a breeze.
These chewy tahini cookies are packed with protein from nuts and seeds and are mildly sweetened with honey so you can feel good about having these anytime of day (and that, in my opinion, includes breakfast). I love the texture of these cookies, which was reminiscent of a thicker, chewier Florentine lace cookie.
This tahini cookies recipe is a great recipe for people who love tahini. The texture is nice and chewy and the cookies aren’t too sweet. They make a great afternoon snack with a cup of milky tea. If you love tahini, this recipe is a winner. However, a couple tasters who are very sensitive to bitterness were not the biggest fans of these.
Originally published March 25, 2017