Hummus 101: How to Make the Best, Easiest & Cheapest Hummus Ever.

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hummus

My dad is Israeli, so I was raised on hummus.

I can’t remember a time  growing up when we didn’t have a bowl of it in our refrigerator and back then, hummus wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now. They didn’t sell it ready-made in the grocery stores and most people had no idea what it was unless they had Middle Eastern relatives, like me.

I’ve always liked hummus first and foremost because it tastes good, but I love how convenient it is and what a simple, nutritious snack it makes. I was thrilled when hummus went mainstream and the prepackaged kind is great in emergencies, but it doesn’t live up to the homemade version. Grocery store hummus, in its vacuum sealed, plastic tubs, contains preservatives, namely citric acid, which affect the taste. I don’t prefer it, plus, hummus isn’t meant to sit around for three weeks before someone eats it. I don’t like the plastic packaging and buying hummus instead of making it is expensive.

Some of those little tubs cost as much as five dollars!

Making fresh hummus is much easier than you think. It tastes better than the pre-made kind, is way cheaper and healthier and it produces no plastic waste.

When I was a teenager, my grandmother taught me how to make hummus and over the years, I’ve tweaked her recipe a bit, while still remaining true to family tradition, and now I’m passing the secret on to you.

Basic Hummus

2 cups of fresh cooked chick peas, cooled and drained

1/3 cup of tahini (sesame) paste

1/4 cup of good quality, extra virgin olive oil (raw preferably but if you can’t find raw olive oil, use the best quality you can find).

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cloves of fresh garlic (the kind you actually have to pull off the bulb and peel yourself. Don’t cheat!)

About one to two tablespoons of finely grated white onion (This is optional. My grandmother would tell you that it’s necessary, but I’ve started leaving it out because I don’t like onions very much and I think it’s fine.)

Dash of ground cumin

Dash of dried, ground coriander (the powder, not fresh cilantro)

Dash of hot pepper paste or sauce. In our family we use a Middle Eastern hot pepper, spice paste called Shug and it’s excellent, but you can use Harissa, Sriracha or whatever you like, though I would avoid using anything like Tabasco because the vinegar messes up the flavor of the hummus.

Paprika and more olive oil for garnish

The most important trick to making perfect hummus is using dried chickpeas and cooking them yourself. Please listen to me when I tell you that using canned chickpeas isn’t as good. Dried chickpeas are dirt cheap and super easy to cook. Follow the directions on the bag and if you can boil water, you can cook dried chickpeas. Canned chickpeas have a metallic flavor and most likely are full of BPA, so make your own.

A bag of chickpeas will make far more than is needed for this recipe, so what I do is cook up a big batch. Then I divide the cooked chickpeas into individual two cup packages, which I freeze. They freeze very well and then whenever you want to make hummus just pull a bag out of the freezer, defrost and you’re good to go.

Now the next step I skip, but if my grandmother were here she would tell you not to. Apparently, if you want to make perfect, velvety hummus you must skin each individual chickpea, which you do by pinching them lightly between your thumb and index finger until they pop out of their thin shell. I have terrible childhood memories of having to do this for what seemed like millions of chickpeas, so if you have kids that you want to torture or if you really want to sit and skin a couple hundred chickpeas, like my grandmother, then be my guest, but in my world? Ain’t nobody got time for that—I don’t mind some skins in my hummus.

The next part is far easier. Throw everything except the paprika into a blender, food processor or food mill and puree it. You will get the smoothest results with a good blender. Add room temperature water a little at a time to thin it a bit and help the blending process.

Once it’s nicely pureed, taste your hummus and season accordingly. Remember, this is your hummus. You can do whatever you want to it. You want more lemon? Add some. More salt? Put it in. You like it extra-spicy? Spice it up. Some people prefer much more garlic than I do, so my garlic measurement is conservative. Feel free to add a couple more cloves.

To serve: Spread the hummus on a plate, drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. Serve with pita bread, rice chips, cucumbers, olives, radishes – whatever you like to dip. Also use it as a spread on sandwiches and wraps.

Or just eat it with a spoon like pudding. That’s what I usually end up doing.

This is a very basic hummus recipe. Being a hummus traditionalist over here, I don’t like to mess with my recipe too much. However, add-ins can be delicious, so here is a list of things you can add to dress up your hummus. Be sure to add them before you puree the chickpeas.

Roasted red peppers

Artichoke hearts

Fresh cilantro

Chopped jalapeno

Pitted Kalamata Olives

Sauteed spinach

Toasted pine nuts

Salsa

Baked sweet potato (Warning! My grandmother would not approve.)

Lemon Zest

Roasted Garlic instead of raw

Roasted eggplant puree

 

Store your hummus in a glass bowl and keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. If it lasts that long. Enjoy!

Relephant:

Yoga, Culture & Hummus. 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus & Artichokes.

No Bean Zucchini Hummus.

 

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

 

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victoriafedden

Victoria Fedden received her MFA in creative writing from Florida Atlantic University. Her blog was voted 2011’s Best Humor Blog by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, and her personal essays have been anthologized in I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and My Other Ex. She also regularly contributes to elephant journal, Scary Mommy, Babble, and Your Tango, among many other blogs and websites. Her memoir THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE will be published by Picador USA in June 2016. She lives with her family in Fort Lauderdale and online at her website. Please visit her Facebook page for updates and inspiration.

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anonymous Jul 30, 2015 9:15am

I use plain Greek yogurt and pickled jalapenos instead of tahini….fewer calories.

anonymous Jul 26, 2015 3:48pm

I adore hummus, and certainly prefer my own – but I never add oil – disagrees with my stomach. Thanks for the tip above about chana dal !

anonymous Mar 1, 2015 3:37am

You can improve this basic recipe by replacing the lemon with lime and using yellow onion instead of white.

anonymous Jul 21, 2014 8:11pm

Chickpeas and Hummus always bothers my stomach and is hard to digest. Hummus-style Fava beans works for me, with no discomfort or overly full feeling.

anonymous May 18, 2014 7:31pm

I'd never touch hommos that looks like the picture on article. This is what real hommos is supposed to like from the real makers of it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lebanese_style_

anonymous May 18, 2014 7:52am

Stir in the seeds of one pomegranate. Delicious!

anonymous May 18, 2014 6:17am

The best hummus I have had and healthier too is Ottolenghi's recipe for hummus.( google it and you will find it). It has no oil in it, it is a smooth as can be. We had roasted garlic in ours along with fresh garlic.

anonymous Apr 21, 2014 7:11pm

That recipe was awesome!

Eating it now, and it's awesome.

anonymous Apr 19, 2014 4:20pm

Hummus is a Lebanese food! No wonder it tastes great!

    anonymous May 18, 2014 7:21pm

    Yes, it's Lebanese, Palestinian & Syrian. It's not Isreali like some people here claim.

anonymous Apr 19, 2014 12:32pm

I never tried to peel the chickpeas, what effect does it have?
Here is a nice video of a hummus recipe that I can recommend: http://youtu.be/-hpeYdNOzlg

anonymous Mar 1, 2014 8:35pm

This sounds delicious. A Greek restaurant in Fl. had the best fersh Hummus I had ever tasted. They didn't use Chick peas, but dried white beans and said the secret was slowly adding enough good olive oil slowly while blending, making it silky. This recipe sounds so good. I love Hummus on bagels, the ones wih everything and somtimes will add a thin slice of prociutto on top.

anonymous Feb 25, 2014 5:49pm

I make my own; over the olive oil and put zatar; it is soo good. that is what I learned in Israel at the Sea of Galilee.
When I looked into cooking chickpeas some gave a lengthy process of soak and drain cook and rinse, drain and cook some more, or something like that. Then I found one that said, just wash the chickpeas really well to get dirt out of crevices if any. Then put in a crock pot with water an inch or so over and cook until done to the tenderness you want. I was hooked. Be sure there is always plenty of water because you will trow away the water. Some skins will come off, but I am like you, I do not skin mine; they are ground real fine in the process and they don't taste bad even on their own. There is plenty to share with a one pound bag of chickpeas. I freeze some as hummus, and some as frozen chickpeas that are great added to many kinds of salads and pastas.

anonymous Feb 25, 2014 2:34pm

YUM!! Thanks!

anonymous Feb 24, 2014 7:09pm

Thanks!! Do you have a print friendly version perhaps?

anonymous Feb 24, 2014 2:09am

What I would like to add to this: sprouting the chickpeas for 2 days (8-12h soak, drain and then just rinse twice a day) makes the hummus even healthier and easy to digest!

    anonymous Feb 24, 2014 5:12pm

    Ahh, I'll have to try that. I've heard about sprouting beans and grains but I don't know anything about it. I'll look into it. Maybe I'll experiment and write a future article about it. Thanks so much!

anonymous Feb 24, 2014 12:59am

The only thing I would add is that I like to mix it all up while the chickpeas are still warm. I think the flavors blend better, PLUS, eating fresh, warm hummus with a spoon is my idea of nirvana. (I'll take it over ice cream any day.) Also, I reduce any leftover cooking water and add that in as well, for extra smoothness and extra flavor.

    anonymous Feb 24, 2014 5:09pm

    Yup. I love it warm too. I will stand there and eat it right out of the food processor with a spoon.

anonymous Feb 23, 2014 10:34pm

A friend let me know that very smooth hummus can be made from baby chickpeas which haven't yet formed the outer skin of mature chickpeas. Available in mid-eastern food stores, they are known as chana dal (split desi chick peas).

anonymous Feb 23, 2014 9:57pm

To avoid confusion with coriander… when you're talking about ground coriander, it's the seed that is ground. I usually call it ground coriander seed. Then no one will think it's the fresh leaves.

    anonymous Apr 19, 2014 12:44am

    Thanks – I would've used the leaf! lol

anonymous Feb 23, 2014 4:40pm

I would love your Shug recipe!

    anonymous Feb 24, 2014 5:10pm

    Unfortunately I don't have one. We always buy a premade one at the Israeli grocery store.

anonymous Feb 23, 2014 4:24pm

Hello, thanks for this. Do you chop the garlic or just chuck it in? 🙂

    anonymous Feb 24, 2014 5:10pm

    Chuck it in! The processor grinds it up for me.

anonymous Feb 10, 2014 10:39am

this was really good. thank you for sharing!

anonymous Feb 9, 2014 2:12pm

You can add baking soda to the water as the chickpeas are boiling and this helps make them softer 🙂

anonymous Feb 8, 2014 10:20am

Yummmm! Sounds perfect. If I can't buy Sabra Brand Hummus in the store I just go without… But I love the idea of cooking the garbanzo beans in advance and then freezing in 2 cup bags. I could then whip fresh hummus up in just a few minutes. Thanks.

anonymous Feb 8, 2014 7:03am

I know there is a trick with baking soda and the chickpeas to get the skins off, but I can't remember the process! I did it once and my hummus was velvet smooth! I can't wait to try this recipe!

    anonymous May 18, 2014 7:25pm

    This is a trick many people use to make it smooth – but careful because it's hurts the stomach!

anonymous Feb 8, 2014 6:53am

I make it too, and so much better. I've only found one brand in the grocery that was really,really good. Most of them suck. I will add the pine nuts (and some sun-dried tomatoes) to my next batch. Thanks!

anonymous Feb 7, 2014 2:44pm

I have never made my own hummus but since I do love to cook, I have considered it. Now I have what looks to be a wonderful recipe! Thanks so much!

anonymous Feb 6, 2014 1:59pm

How long does tahini usually keep?

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 3:26pm

    Seems to me a very long time. It's like peanut butter. I keep mine in the fridge. I usually use it up within a couple of months and it has never spoiled on me.

anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:35pm

Grew up a little bit in Israel, have family over there, and hummus is in my blood. I've eaten so much of it that it probably really is.
Thanks for this – some nice tips. I also garnish with a little extra lemon juice with the paprika and olive oil.
Oh man, i just had dinner but this has made me hungry all over again!

    anonymous Feb 6, 2014 1:52pm

    I always tell people the same thing! I definitely have hummus running through my veins instead of blood!

anonymous Feb 6, 2014 12:35pm

Grew up a little bit in Israel, have family over there, and hummus is in my blood. I've eaten so much of it that it probably really is.
Thanks for this – some nice tips. I also garnish with a little extra lemon juice with the paprika and olive oil.
Oh man, i just had dinner but this has made me hungry all over again!

    anonymous May 18, 2014 7:23pm

    Hummos is not Israeli, it's Palestinian.

Sukriti Chhopra Jun 27, 2018 6:45am

Love your style of writing and the recipe of course!

Gayle Fleming Oct 18, 2017 4:37pm

This the third time I've made hummus with your recipe. Today I actually shucked the chickpeas and oh, my what a difference in texture. Now I'm hooked I will always do this.