Does Tahini Go Bad?

So there’s this half-open jar of tahini in your fridge or pantry. It’s sitting there for quite some time now. You got all the ingredients for homemade hummus and noticed that the tahini is past the date on the label. Does tahini go bad?

You really need that hummus for the party tonight, but at the same time, you don’t want anyone to get sick.

If you’re unsure if you can use that leftover tahini, read on to learn more about shelf life, storage, and going bad of this sesame seeds paste.

Light tahini
Image used under Creative Commons from Phil Campbell

Does Tahini Need to Be Refrigerated?

Both unopened and open tahini is shelf-stable, which means you don’t have to refrigerate it even after opening the jar. That said, refrigeration helps retain quality for a bit longer. Otherwise, store tahini in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and sources of heat.

While some people suggest that opened tahini should be refrigerated, it’s okay to keep it in the kitchen cupboard just like you do with peanut butter. In short, chilling the sesame seeds paste in the fridge after opening maximizes its quality and shelf life. If you, however, plan to use the contents of the whole jar in like a couple of months, refrigerating isn’t really necessary.

That said, read the product’s label for storage information. Some producers are adamant about storing their tahini in the fridge after opening. And if they are, you should oblige.

Please note that keeping the paste in the fridge makes it thicker and often ice cream-like in terms of consistency. That’s not helpful in using the paste, but you can’t avoid it.

You can fix the texture of the paste by blending it with a bit of water or sesame seeds oil. Scoop as much tahini as you need, add a teaspoon of water or oil and blend it with an immersion blender. Don’t add the oil or water to the jar unless you’re going to use the rest of the tahini right now.


Got an “expired” bottle of sesame oil and not sure if you can still use it? Read my article that answers the question “does sesame oil go bad?”.

Last, keep the half-open jar of tahini tightly closed when not in use.

Almost finished jar of hulled tahini
(credit: jules)

Separated Tahini

Since tahini is basically a butter made from sesame seeds, it has some similarities with nut butters such as peanut butter.

One of the similarities is that tahini, especially one without any additional ingredients, tends to separate over time. It might come as a creamy paste, but after some time it will separate. The oil will be on top while all the solids will remain at the bottom. It’s a perfectly natural process, and that tahini is safe to eat.

Fortunately, you can easily fix separated tahini. Again, a hand blender or a food processor would be quite helpful. A few minutes of blending and the paste will be back to its creamy consistency. Of course, you can always stir it with a fork or a whisk, but that will take much longer.

Simple Hummus and Veggies
Image used under Creative Commons from Vegan Feast Catering

How Long Does Tahini Last

Tahini comes with a best-by date that’s 1 to 2 years from the date the sesame paste is jarred, and typically keeps for at least a few months past it. After opening, it stays good until the printed date or for at least 5 to 6 months. Also, refrigeration helps keep its quality better.

Since tahini paste is mostly sesame seed oils, it has a fairly long shelf life and it’s difficult to determine how long will it last exactly.

Similar to nut butters, tahini degrades in quality over time. Because of that, you will more likely decide to throw it out for quality purposes, not because it is unsafe to eat.

Jars of tahini usually come with a best-by date. That date informs us of how long the product should maintain freshness. Of course, that date is a rough guess and tahini can easily last a few months longer. But as mentioned earlier, it’s impossible to say how long exactly.

Furthermore, some manufacturers add stabilizers and preservatives to the paste, which makes it retain quality even longer. In short, if you opted for organic tahini, it won’t last as long as one with a few additional ingredients.

Once you open the jar, the process of quality degradation speeds up a bit. That means that ideally, you should finish the jar within a few months. But the paste should keep good for at least a couple of months or until the printed date, whichever comes later.

Tahini Shelf Life

Tahini (unopened)Best by + 6 months 
Tahini (opened)5 to 6 months or best-byBest-by + 6 months
Please note that the periods above are rough estimates and for best quality only.
Container of Joyva tahini
(credit: Jenny Hones)

How To Tell If Tahini Is Bad?

Tahini consists mostly of oils from sesame seeds. Such an environment makes it quite difficult for most bacteria and fungi to grow. Because of that, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever find mold or any type of growth on the surface of tahini. Of course, if you find anything suspicious in the jar, you should discard the taste.

Related: Do sesame seeds go bad?

Tahini, like other fat-heavy products, can go rancid. Rancidity is a type of spoilage that’s mostly harmless when it comes to food safety, so there’s little to no health risk if you eat rancid tahini.

However, rancidity also affects the taste and smell of the oil. Because of that, most people opt into discarding rancid oils, as foods made with those usually taste bad.

The most important factors when it comes to going rancid are time and access to oxygen, but access to light and high temperature play a role too. So if you open a jar of tahini and it smells rancid, you probably should get rid of it.

If the sesame seeds paste looks and smells okay, try tasting it. If it tastes rancid or somewhat off, throw it out too.

Otherwise, it’s most likely perfectly fine to use in your hummus, even if it’s a couple of months past the date on the label.

Related: Does Hummus Go Bad?