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This easy 5-minute shawarma white sauce recipe blends yogurt with tahini, fresh lemon juice, and garlic for a delicious savory sauce. Swap out half of the yogurt with mayo for an even creamier texture!

drizzling yogurt shawarma sauce off spoon into bowl

Takeout from your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant will be a thing of the past when you find out how easy it is to make the secret sauce at home.

Give me 5 minutes and I’ll give you a healthy, flavorful sauce that you can drizzle on wraps, spread on sandwiches, dip into with raw vegetables, or serve along with grilled chicken, meat, or fish.

This quick and easy sauce simulates traditional sauces you’d find served with shawarma in the Middle East, but is blended and mellowed. It’s a versatile sauce that lasts in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, which makes it a good option for meal prep!

overhead view of chicken shawarma skewers with vegetables and bowl of garlic yogurt tahini sauce

Ingredients

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

shawarma white sauce ingredients
  • Plain whole milk Greek yogurt – Or for a richer flavor and texture, use half Greek yogurt and half mayo. If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can substitute with an equal amount of sour cream. You can also use regular plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, and reduce the added water.
  • Tahini – Tahini is a common ingredient in traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. It adds a subtly nutty, bitter flavor. This recipe goes light on the tahini, but feel free to add up to 4 tablespoons of tahini if you like the flavor (and increase the water as needed).
  • Lemon juice – When you first add lemon juice to tahini, it will thicken significantly. After that, we add water a little at a time until it becomes a pourable sauce.
  • Water – Add water to thin out the sauce until it reaches your desired consistency. It should be thick, but thin enough to pour or drizzle.
  • Garlic – Garlic lends a ton of flavor to shawarma sauce! Skip the garlic powder because it makes all the difference in the world to use fresh garlic here.
  • Salt – To make sure our sauce isn’t bland.
  • Cumin – Cumin adds an earthy warmth and subtle underlying smokiness.

Instructions

how to make tahini yogurt white shawarma sauce
  1. Add the yogurt, tahini, and lemon juice to a medium bowl and mix to combine.
  2. Whisk in the water until it reaches your desired consistency (it should be pour-able, but not watery).
  3. Whisk in the garlic, salt, and cumin.
  4. Taste and add more tahini, lemon, and/or salt if desired.

Storage

Store this sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

top view of spread of chicken thigh shawarma skewers with sauce and pita bread for sandwiches
This sauce is perfect drizzled on Chicken Shawarma Kebabs!

Variations

  • Spicy – Add up to 1 teaspoon of ground cayenne, hot paprika, or your favorite ground spicy pepper. (Aleppo pepper is delicious here; it adds an intense fruity flavor, subtle heat, and notes of smokiness.) As always with spicy-hot spices, it’s best to start with less, taste it, and add more as desired!
  • Herby – Add up to 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, parsley, cilantro, or dill.

Tips

  • You can use regular plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt. Just decrease the amount of water added. And while we’re talking about yogurt, you don’t have to use whole milk yogurt; low-fat yogurt will work fine, but the sauce will be less rich and creamy.
  • If you aren’t familiar with the flavor of tahini, it can be quite a surprise. Yes, it’s rich and nutty, but it’s also quite bitter! The yogurt helps mellow the flavor here, and if you want it even more subtle, swap out half of the yogurt for mayonnaise.
  • Go for fresh lemon juice and fresh garlic here. With minimal ingredients in this sauce, fresh makes a huge difference.
front view of chicken shawarma sandwich with tahini yogurt sauce pickles and onion

Shawarma White Sauce Recipe FAQs

Is Shawarma White Sauce the Same as Tahini Sauce?


No. Shawarma white sauce contains tahini, but they’re not the same thing. Tahini sauce is simple a mixture of tahini, fresh lemon juice, water, and salt. (You can find the recipe for regular tahini sauce in my roasted chickpea salad recipe where I use it as salad dressing.)

What Sauce is Used in Shawarma?


I’ve had shawarma in a few countries around the Middle East and and noticed two different types of sauces that are traditionally offered with it: 1) whipped garlic sauce (called toum) with chicken shawarma, and 2) tahini sauce (called tarator) with lamb shawarma. Toum is spicy hot from garlic, and tarator is bitter from tahini. They are both delicious (toum is my personal favorite!), but are not familiar flavors to the Western palate.

That why here in the U.S. it’s popular to find shawarma served with something called “white sauce”. It’s essentially a combination of Greek yogurt (or equal parts Greek yogurt and mayo) with a little bit of tahini, fresh lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and water. I’ve also seen some variations that add fresh herbs, such as mint, parsley, or dill.

This yogurt-based white sauce brings together flavor components of garlic sauce and tahini sauce, but in a milder, less intense version that’s mellowed with yogurt.

What Can I Use White Sauce For?


You aren’t limited to just shawarma sandwiches and platters! Serve this flavorful sauce with falafel or French fries for dipping. Use it as salad dressing or vegetable dip. Or serve it as a condiment with grilled fish, chicken, or steak!

Can I Make Shawarma Sauce Without Tahini?


Yes! If you need to omit the tahini due to a sesame seed allergy or any other other reason, feel free to do so and reduce the water accordingly. Without tahini, this is essentially a garlicky yogurt sauce that tastes similar to tzatziki without cucumber.

More Middle Eastern Recipes to Try

bowl of whtite sauce for shawarma on wooden table

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Shawarma White Sauce Recipe

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
This easy 5-minute shawarma white sauce recipe blends yogurt with tahini, fresh lemon juice, and garlic for a delicious savory sauce. Swap out half of the yogurt with mayo for an even creamier texture!

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Ingredients
 

  • 1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt (or use half Greek yogurt and half mayo)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Water start with 3 tablespoons and add more to reach desired your consistency
  • 1 large clove garlic crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

Instructions
 

  • Add the yogurt, tahini, and lemon juice to a medium bowl and mix to combine.
  • Whisk in the water until it reaches your desired consistency (it should be pour-able, but not watery).
    mixing water into sauce
  • Whisk in the garlic, salt, and cumin.
  • Taste and add more tahini, lemon, and/or salt if desired.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 3/4 cup, or 6 (2-tablespoon) servings.
  • Net Carbs: 0.9g per 2-tablespoon serving
  • Storage: Store this sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 26kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.002g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 104mg | Potassium: 40mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: Arabic and Middle Eastern
Keyword: Garlic Yogurt Sauce, Shawarma Sauce, Shawarma Sauce Recipe, Shawarma White Sauce, Shawarma White Sauce Recipe, Tahini Yogurt Sauce, Yogurt Garlic Sauce, Yogurt Tahini Sauce

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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