What is hummus?
Hummus (alternately spelled “humus”, “houmous” and “hommus”) is the Arabic word for “chickpeas”. It’s a dip or spread made primarily with cooked chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, and salt; some versions also contain cumin.
Hummus has been a staple in many Middle Eastern countries for centuries, though there are countless regional and family variations.
The problems with store-bought hummus
Store-bought hummus, the kind sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, is a commercialized American invention. And it fails to deliver in terms of taste and texture.
Let’s talk texture first. In Middle Eastern countries, hummus is not served cold. Rather, it’s served warm or at room temperature because when it’s cold, the texture is stiff and even gloopy.
That thick texture that clings to the back of a spoon for dear life? That’s NOT what you’re looking for. Hummus should be creamy, yes, but it should also be somewhat loose and pliable.
What kind of chickpeas should you use to make hummus?
For the best consistency hummus, you’ll want to use dried chickpeas. Cooking chickpeas from scratch enables you to cook down the chickpeas until super soft, which is one of the secrets for getting super smooth, luxurious hummus.
But don’t worry, you can still make great hummus from canned chickpeas that’s 10 times better than store-bought hummus. More on how to do that in the “how to make hummus from canned chickpeas” section.
How to cook dried chickpeas
First, soak the chickpeas. This softens the chickpeas, speeding up the cook time; it also aids in digestion.
To soak chickpeas, simply add to a large bowl and cover them with enough cold water. Cover the bowl and soak for 8 hours (or up to 12 hours). I also add baking soda to the soaking water (½ teaspoon for 8 ounces/227g of chickpeas).
Tip: Adding baking soda to the soaking water AND the cooking water helps to soften chickpeas the most and does so quickly (they get really soft in just 45 minutes). Plus, the baking soda helps remove many of the chickpea skins so you don’t have to peel them individually. And soft chickpeas without skins = creamy, smooth hummus.
Once soaked, drain and rinse the chickpeas.
If you want to soak your chickpeas but forgot to do it overnight, you can try this quick soak method.
- Add the chickpeas to a saucepan and cover with several inches of water. Add the baking soda (½ teaspoon for 8 ounces chickpeas).
- Bring to a boil and boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then take the saucepan off the heat. Cover and allow the beans to soak for 1 hour.
COOKING DRIED CHICKPEAS IN THE INSTANT POT
Soak the chickpeas per the above instructions, then drain and rinse. Add the chickpeas to your Instant Pot with 3 ½ to 4 cups of water, along with ½ teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Pressure cook at high pressure for 15 minutes, followed by a natural pressure release.
COOKING DRIED CHICKPEAS ON THE STOVE
Add 8 ounces/227g of dried and soaked chickpeas + ½ teaspoon of baking soda to a medium saucepan (I used a deep sauté pan since my saucepan was dirty). If doubling the recipe, use a larger saucepan. Cover the chickpeas with 6 cups (1.45L) of water.
Bring the chickpeas to a boil. As they come to a boil, you’ll notice that a thick white foam starts building on the surface. Use a spoon to skim off as much of it as you can (if thin traces remain, that’s okay).
Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover the pot. Adjust the heat to maintain a rapid simmer or gentle boil for 30 minutes. Then, add in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the chickpeas are very soft and smush together when pressed with the back of a spoon or fork.
Tip: You want the chickpeas to be much softer than if you were to eat them whole in a salad or wrap. You should be able to smush the chickpeas easily.
Drain the chickpeas and pick out any loose chickpea skins.
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1/4-1/2 cup tahini
- 1-2 lemons, juice
- 1/2-1 cup water
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2-1 tsp salt
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
How to make the best homemade hummus
Note: I like to make my hummus with chickpeas that have been recently cooked, so it keeps the hummus warm. However, if you’ve pre-cooked and refrigerated your chickpeas, consider warming them up a bit. I find that warm chickpeas blend more smoothly than cold chickpeas.
Blend the chickpeas for 1 to 2 minutes until pureed, scraping down the sides as you go.
Add the tahini, cumin, and garlic (start off with 1 clove if you’re not a huge garlic person).
Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
Blend until the mixture starts to come together, then start streaming in the ice water, a tablespoon at a time until you have your desired texture. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt, garlic, cumin, or lemon juice as desired.
Transfer the amount of hummus you plan to eat/serve to a shallow bowl or plate. Use the back of a spoon to make waves or to make a well in the center. This will enable you to pour the olive oil into the crevices/ridges.
Drizzle the garlic-lemon oil (from the topping) into the ridges or into the well. If you didn’t make the fried garlic-lemon topping, drizzle a good-quality extra virgin olive oil.
If desired, top with chopped parsley and either paprika or sumac (tart, sour).
Using canned chickpeas to make hummus
If you don’t want to cook dried chickpeas from scratch, yes, you can use canned chickpeas to make this recipe.
Note: For 8 ounces (227g) of dried chickpeas, substitute with 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans.
While it’s easiest to just use a can of drained chickpeas to the food processor, the texture can be slightly chunky and not lusciously smooth. This is because, for hummus, you want super soft chickpeas that have fewer skins. And canned chickpeas are not super soft (they’re rather firm and great for salads/bowls and eating whole).
To remedy that, you can cook the canned chickpeas (even though they’re already cooked). Add them to a saucepan, cover with an inch or two of water, and add ½ teaspoon baking soda. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chickpeas start falling apart.