Want Great Hummus? Here's What You Need to Know

Some hummus is eh. Some is good. Some is great. And some is exceptional. We're aiming for that last one—and, if you're making your own hummus, the chances are so are you.

Now, hummus isn't as easy as dumping chickpeas in a food processor, adding tahini and olive oil, and calling it a day. No! Like most things that scream simplicity, its technique and flavors are nuanced. It requires a little bit of planning, prepping, and (sometimes) ingredient-sourcing.

Here are 11 of our best hummus tips, aimed at helping you get that "exceptional" title:

  • Soak dried chickpeas in baking soda to raise their pH, which results in softer skins post-cooking.

  • The quality of tahini matters! Chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav prefers Soom Foods.

  • For creamy hummus, overcook the chickpeas until they’re just shy of being mushy.

  • Purée, purée, purée: Whip your hummus in the food processor for longer than you think you should. This will result in, again, uber-creamy hummus.

  • You don’t have to peel garlic: Purée your unpeeled garlic with lemon juice and salt. Let it sit (the garlic will mellow in this time), the strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve. It’s potent—in a great way!

  • If using canned beans, use the canning liquid instead of water. It will thicken the hummus.

  • On the liquid note, be conservative at first. You can always add more to thin out the mixture, but it’s much harder to fix a too-thin hummus.

  • And still on the liquid note, adding a little ice water at the end helps to lighten things up.

  • Let hummus rest for at least thirty minutes before eating. It will give the flavors a chance to come together.

  • Yes, topping hummus with olive oil is a good idea. But so is drizzling in a little olive oil in the last seconds of mixing.

  • You can use Swiss chard stalks to make ethereally light "hummus" (see here) (that's not technically hummus at all).

  • To improve store-bought hummus (because, yes, sometimes you just don’t have the time/want to make hummus) fold in two to three tablespoons plain Greek yogurt. It will make it seem creamier and lighter. Then, taste for seasoning, drizzle it with olive oil, and sprinkle some paprika on top. Done.

Tell us: Do you have any hummus tips?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sara Branscum
    Sara Branscum
  • Dorene
  • Edward Romer
    Edward Romer
  • Decs
  • Michael Miller
    Michael Miller
I fall in love with every sandwich I ever meet.


Sara B. March 2, 2019
My recipe is from "Beans of the West" that I received in 1980 and have used ever since. Instead of the tahini that is used today it calls for ⅓ cup toasted sesame seeds (that I buy at the Asian grocery). They are ground in the FP before adding the beans and other ingredients. Great.
Dorene February 27, 2018
Adding hot water-have used the Silver Palate recipe for years

Edward R. February 27, 2018
Top with sumac
Decs March 9, 2017
The secret to our favorite hummus is preserved lemons. I use a whole lemon in one can of chickpeas. It is outstanding and everyone loves it. A little smoked paprika on top and olive oil and there you have it.
Michael M. February 26, 2017
I always manage to get soft, silky hummus, by adding about 3 Tbsp x-virgin olive to a 15-16 oz can of chickpeas. I is absolutely necessary to process the mixture for at least 5 minutes. While processing, I add small amounts of cold water.

If by accident my mixture is a bit loose, I add a bit of panko, let is sit for a few minutes to hydrate, then blend again until smooth. Never fails.
Terry P. February 26, 2017
I use a vitamix for mine. Two cans of chickpeas, one undrained and one drained, seasame seed, garlic, lemon, bit of cumin. Often a touch of cayenne. Our current favourite is top drizzle a bit of smoked olive oil.
Andrea N. February 22, 2017
I soak and simmer the chickpeas, then peel them. It's a Paula Wolfert thing and seems fussy but the flavor is a cleaner and texture is knockout. My husband loves the peeled chickpeas so I "taught" him how to do it! Family project.
Ellen J. February 22, 2017
Best recipe for hummus in my opinion is from the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and the key to that recipe is once it is made in the food processor you add some water and let it process for 5 minutes so as to add air in the hummus! It is to die for! Really the best I have ever made!
Windischgirl February 21, 2017
Last time I made chickpea hummus, I used home-cooked chickpeas....and to thin it at the end, I used the aquafaba (instead of ice water). Such a light, fluffy texture!
AntoniaJames February 21, 2017
I soak in salted water -- recommended on Serious Eats -- and cook with a pinch of baking soda.
I always make at least a double batch and often a triple batch of hummus. It freezes well; after freezing it will benefit from a touch more lemon juice, a generous dash of cumin and a glug of olive oil.
I like to sprinkle a couple good shakes of za'atar, or dukkah, or toasted sesame seeds on the top of the hummus - not paprika, as many do -- for more flavor and tiniest bit of crunch. ;o)

P.S. I make these crackers from lavash wraps, all the time, which are perfect with hummus:
Corj February 21, 2017
Probably sacrilegious but I often add full fat cream cheese. Makes it extra rich and creamy without a major flavor alteration
erin February 21, 2017
Seconding the advice to peel the chickpeas. It's an annoying extra step, but unless you're making gallons of the stuff it doesn't add that much time, and it does make a significant difference. Be sure to cook the chickpeas until they're really starting to give, or the skins will come off in tiny bits and you'll be miserable.
Leith D. February 21, 2017
Peel the chickpeas. It's time consuming but so worth it.
jdkjd February 21, 2017
I add the lemon juice and garlic at the bottom of the blender to mellow before I add the chickpeas (with skin removed). I have to tell you that removing the skins is a real pain, if you don't want to do that - just overcook the chickpeas and blend the bejesus out of it.