The best hummus is so rich, creamy, and nutty, you’d be happy eating it with a spoon. And while packaged is fine, the dip is cheaper to make at home (psst, there’s also no need for preservatives). On top of that, it’s a pretty simple process—with the correct formula.
Follow these no-fail tips from the pros (some of which sound like something you’d hear in a chemistry lab) to make ohmygodamazing hummus like they do in the Middle East, and then eat like a king whenever a craving hits (which is pretty much daily for us at Greatist).
The Perfect Homemade Hummus
1. Start with the best ingredients (it’s worth the higher price).
Since there aren’t too many, each needs to be high quality—skimping on even one will result in a subpar final product. That means using fresh lemon juice and garlic (no jarred or bottled stuff!), extra-virgin olive oil, and a flavorful tahini. (The best are found in Middle Eastern markets, but a national brand like Joyva works too.) And that brings us to the last, most important ingredient of all…
2. Use dried chickpeas.
3. Lose the skins.
Traditional hummus is made from chickpeas without skins to create a smoother consistency. Seems like a lot of work, but there’s a secret to make it much easier: baking soda. Adding a pinch to the soaking chickpeas and again while they cook will help loosen the skins. The magic happens because the alkalinity of the baking soda prompts a chemical reaction that causes the skins to start to dissolve. Once the chickpeas are done cooking, plunge them straight into an ice bath.
“The skins will rise to the top, and you simply strain them off,” says Emily Seaman, co-chef at Philadelphia hummus hotspot Dizengoff. Anything remaining can be easily removed with your fingers.
4. Be generous with tahini.
“Really authentic hummus has a lot more tahini than most American hummuses,” Mathis says. How much? At Dizengoff, Seaman uses a ratio of four parts chickpeas to three parts sesame seed spread to lend the hummus a super nutty taste and velvety texture (plus extra protein and calcium from all those little seeds). So for every cup of chickpeas, use 3/4 cup tahini.
5. Pull out the food processor.
Unless you have an industrial-strength blender, both Mathis and Seaman agree it’s the best tool for getting the smoothest hummus possible.
6. Leave the chickpeas for last.
Rather than mixing all of the ingredients at once, start with the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and a little bit of water. This will add extra air, making it lighter and creamier. Once you’ve made the tahini mixture, add the chickpeas. While it’s processing, add another splash of water to whip in even more air and make the dip extra light, fluffy, and heavenly.
7. Save the olive oil for topping.
The majority of American hummus recipes call for blending in olive oil, which makes the hummus creamier and also gives it a dip-like consistency. But in traditional recipes, that’s what the tahini and water are for. Once you’ve transferred the hummus to a bowl, top it with a drizzle of fruity (aka extra-virgin) olive oil plus a dusting of paprika for a touch of color. Yes, it’ll be ruined in seconds as you dive in, but pretty presentation makes food taste all the better.
8. Serve ASAP.
Most of us make a big batch of hummus, stick it in the fridge, and happily dig in all week long. But authentic hummus is served fresh, right after it’s made—no chilling. If you have to make it ahead of time, let it come to room temperature (or close to it) if possible, then readjust the seasonings and lightly whisk to smooth it out, Seaman says.
Ready to give it a go? Try this traditional hummus recipe. (Heads up: You may want to double it. Chances are you’ll gobble it up fast!)