The Umami-Packed Sesame Dressing Will Become a Fridge Staple

Over 20 years ago on a summer visit to my aunt and uncle’s house in Maui, we were invited to their friend’s house for a barbecue. An awkward preteen at the time, I parked myself next to the appetizers and busied myself with the veggies and dip to avoid talking to a bunch of adults I didn’t know.

The dip was totally unfamiliar to me. I was used to ranch next to the carrot sticks back at home, but this creamy dip was nutty and slightly sweet. I couldn’t get enough of it. 

I am not kidding when I say I’ve been thinking about this dip for the last two decades. I didn’t have the palate back then to figure out what I was eating. For some reason, it never occurred to me to ask my aunt and uncle if they knew what it was until five days ago. This time, they were visiting me. I shared my memory, and they laughed, immediately guessing who’s house we were at, telling me this sesame dip was a staple, and rattled off a handful of ingredients — mostly mayo, miso, and honey.

This dressing version is a little different from what they described, a little less sweet and a little tangier, more pourable than a thicker dip. I skipped the miso, instead adding a bunch of toasted and ground sesame seeds for nuttiness. Please don’t make the same mistake I did and wait 20 years to make this.

What Is Sesame Dressing Made Of?

This sesame dressing is based on coarsely ground sesame seeds, lending a toasty, nutty flavor with lots of texture. Toasted sesame oil echoes those flavors, with rice vinegar and soy sauce providing tangy savoriness. A couple of spoonfuls of mayonnaise makes things rich and creamy, and a little honey rounds it all out.

Do I Need a Mortar and Pestle to Grind the Sesame Seeds?

Traditionally, sesame seeds are ground in a suribachi for sesame dressing. A mortar and pestle will also work. A coffee grinder makes the quickest work of the task. You can also whir all the dressing ingredients together in a personal-sized blender or food processor.

What Do I Serve with Sesame Dressing?

Sesame dressing is versatile. Try it with the following:

Meleyna Nomura


Meleyna is a recipe developer, food photographer, and champion of home cooking. She is likely to be found on the sidelines of the Little League field (with a full dinner for four packed in a cooler) or waiting in line for a Trader Joe’s sample.

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The Umami-Packed Sesame Dressing Will Become a Fridge Staple

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