Genius Recipes

A Genius 5-Minute Hummus From America’s #1 Restaurant

The brilliant duo behind Zahav wouldn't let you down.

September  4, 2019

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Creative Director and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.

When I first heard tell of a Genius five-minute hummus, it sounded like a gimmick and, frankly, a lie.

For one thing, I thought that very good homemade hummus required dried chickpeas simmered into creamy oblivion. And for another, I know there are very few things I can accomplish in five minutes flat—making hummus couldn’t possibly be one of them.

And then I saw that the fabled five-minute hummus came from Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook, the co-authors behind the cookbook Israeli Soul and chef-partners behind Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia, which was named—ahem—the best restaurant in the country at this year’s James Beard Awards.

So what are Solomonov and Cook—makers of untold amounts of award-winning hummus the traditional way—doing in the quick-and-easy game? Very simply, Cook says, “we wanted to develop a recipe for hummus that takes away the excuse for buying store-bought hummus.” Simmering into oblivion won’t do that.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Soom now spells theirs tahini, but there are other brands that are more traditional Middle Eastern that spell it tehina or tahina. The key is to buy a good, additive free brand. Both brands listed in the recipe are good quality.”
— Bonny M.

Brilliantly, they were also inspired to develop their recipe around a standard 16-ounce jar of tahini, since one of the more irritating barriers to getting truly great, consistent homemade hummus is having to stir and measure a portion of tahini from a jar that’s settled irretrievably into an oily top layer and stiff putty on the bottom. No need to stir here—just scrape it all into the food processor. Many minutes saved!

And it really is done in five minutes, if you have your ingredients nearby (if you need to gather them, give yourself another five or so). Solomonov even pulled it off on Vice Munchies in four and a half minutes with one hand taped to his head.

To clock in under five minutes, you might assume that everything just gets chucked in the food processor. Most quick hummuses on the internet do that, and the results are perfectly good. What makes Zahav’s 5-minute hummus shoot well beyond good to straight-up genius is the order they add ingredients, and when they pause to let the clock run.

They start with blending the tahini with lemon, cumin, salt, and a tiny amount of garlic until it looks peanut-buttery. Then they drizzle in ice water to emulsify with the tahini and whip up into a tan cloud that looks like Marshmallow Fluff.

Only then do two cans of chickpeas go in—a requirement for speed, as you probably expected. On this point, Cook wrote to me in an email, “I was surprised we got a little backlash.” Solomonov added, “Apparently, canned chickpeas can be considered blasphemy.” But as Cook has pointed out, canned chickpeas are often of very high, very predictable quality, while dried chickpeas can be less trustworthy—if they’ve been sitting on a store shelf (or in your pantry) for a while, they’ll be drier and harder to cook through.

The challenge with canned chickpeas is that they’re cooked to al dente and then frozen in time, to easily drain and toss into salads, smashes, sautés, and so on. By cooking from dried, other homemade hummuses have the luxury of cooking their chickpeas to absolute mush, so that they have no choice but to whip up smooth. Happily, by starting with the airy bed of whipped tahini sauce and letting the canned chickpeas whir for three more precious minutes, not a bit of grainy grit remains.

But when do Solomonov and Cook really make it, since they have access to Outstanding Restaurant in America hummus anytime they want?

Both say they do quite often at home, especially for their kids. “It’s quick,” Cook wrote. “When you have a house full of screaming kids, sometimes quick is what you need.” Solomonov added, “Also, the kiddos don’t know the difference between five-minute hummus and 24-hour hummus.”

I would add: Most adults won’t either.

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Perhaps something perfect for beginners? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Candie Vhaskos
    Candie Vhaskos
  • Carol
  • Nancy
  • Mary
  • Tia Lombardi
    Tia Lombardi
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Candie V. May 1, 2020
k everyone, it's a jar of tahini, not tehina. Tehina is all of the above ingredients combined excluding the chickpeas:
Carol September 6, 2019
I made this recipe yesterday and was so disappointed. Too much Tahini/tehina(however you spell it) for my taste. I prefer more chickpea flavor to a strong tahini flavor.
Nancy September 5, 2019
By happenstance, a new podcast features Adena Sussman, who has a new book out about tehina and cooking with it.
Tune in at about 18:41
Nancy September 5, 2019
Her interview starts at 18:41; tahini part at about 24:45
Mary September 4, 2019
This is an enormous amount of tahini. A quick search for whole foods 16 oz tahini lists 16 servings per container at 190 cal per serving. Total calories = 3042! And that'd just for the tahini. The recipe portion size says 4 servings. You do the math but I think I'll pass in favor of different ratios and more balance nutritionally.
Tia L. September 4, 2019
Ice the water drained from the chickpeas — aquafaba — and try that instead of the iced water.
Missy W. September 4, 2019
Frank needs to calm down.
Sean F. September 4, 2019
That isn't the recipe they published 2 years ago. It's a quick sped-up version of the real deal.
Bonny M. September 4, 2019
I believe you will find that tahini and tahina are the same thing...both 100% ground sesame seeds. Just two different spellings. You will find this often when dealing with international ingredients...many differences in spelling depending on where you are located. Soom now spells theirs tahini, but there are other brands that are more traditional Middle Eastern that spell it tehina or tahina. The key is to buy a good, additive free brand. Both brands listed in the recipe are good quality.
Frank September 4, 2019
I really think Food 52 needs to make sure people know the ingredient they are using is TEHINA not TAHINI. This is going to cause a lot of confusion.
jane D. September 4, 2019
since you are making an issue of this (where none, apparently, exists) i must ask:
are you israeli... or middle eastern, in general... or work for a company called 'soom foods'?

i ask because those are the only places that make an issue of the spelling, based on my google search.
in the question and answer section of the 'soom foods' website, one of the owners, who lived in israel for many years, answered the question "what is the difference between tehina and tahini?" this way:
"Hi Stephen, Tehina is just another way of spelling tahini that’s closer to how it’s pronounced in Hebrew."
i would think she would know.

so then, since you claim that tehina and tahini are two different things, could you please clarify for me what the two things are?
Ann September 4, 2019
The order the ingredients are added is genius...but the 2:1 chickpea to tahini ratio has to help, too. That's a very high tahini content!
Frank September 4, 2019
But it's not Tahini, it's Tehina. I posed the question about Tehina in the questions section.
Emma L. September 4, 2019
I can’t wait to see our staff fridge filled with 5-minute hummus containers in the weeks to come.
patricia G. September 4, 2019
My non-genius, more than 5-minute approach -- but much shorter than the 24 hour version: cook canned chickpeas in plenty of water, stirring, till the skins float off, then proceed as usual. Intrigued by the 5-minute recipe and will try it to see if I can take this much tahini. Maybe the taste gets whipped into submission!
Frank September 4, 2019
See above comment. It's not Tahini, it's Tehina. I'm not sure what it is, but I did find a recipe for it.
Holly September 4, 2019
Frank, I think they are the same thing, at least according to the Google