The Best Smooth Hummus Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Puréeing garlic directly in lemon juice prevents the formation of sharp, pungent compounds, delivering smoother garlic flavor.
  • Dried chickpeas provide better flavor than canned.
  • Overcooking the chickpeas in water with baking soda makes them easier to blend.
  • Puréeing the chickpeas while they're still hot lets you use a blender instead of a food processor for smoother texture.

Sometimes recipes come off really easily, without a hitch. Other times they take lots of tweaking and planning. This is a rare case of a recipe that came out relatively easily, but was full of so much fascinating science that I ended up devoting a few extra days to it anyway. It ended up yielding an explanation of a technique that I'm going to be incorporating into countless recipes going forward. That's my favorite kind of recipe: one that delivers on deliciousness right now, and even more deliciousness in the future.

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*If you impatient types wanna cut to the fun, science-y part, skip down to where I talk about The Science of Garlic Flavor, and see what it's all about. Just promise you'll come back and read up on the rest, okay?

Hummus is Levantine and Egyptian in origin, but the puréed mixture of chickpeas and sesame has been eaten all over the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and North Africa for centuries. Its flavor and relative ratio of ingredients vary wildly from region to region, but today I'm focusing on the Israeli version familiar in the US, which is made with tons of tahini and a touch of cumin.

The problem is, it's hard to find a perfect batch. Store-bought hummus typically has a great, ultra-smooth and -creamy texture, but it lacks flavor and is not easily customizable to our own personal tastes. Homemade hummus, especially when made with dried chickpeas, may have amazing flavor that we can play with any way we like, but it's quite difficult to get it as smooth as the store-bought stuff. So what if you want hummus that is smoothandflavorful?

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I've spent the last couple of weeks soaking, peeling, boiling,pressure-cooking, blending, puréeing, smashing, smooshing, occasionally trashing, and, of course, eating chickpeas to figure out all the tricks in the hummus book. Here's what I've learned so far. (And yes, thereisa way to pack in both flavor and texture without the tedious task of peeling hundreds of individual chickpeas!)

Making Tahini Sauce for Hummus

The other day in mypost on roasted eggplant with lentils and tahini, I mentioned that the method of making tahini sauce in Michael Solomonov'sZahavis the best technique I've ever tried, and it works wonders for hummus as well.

While tahini may play only a small role in the hummus of, say, Lebanon or Greece, in Israel it stands on equal footing with the chickpeas. Some recipes call for a ratio of almost 1:1, which means that great Israeli-style hummusmuststart withgreat tahini sauce.

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To make Solomonov's version, you start by putting whole, unpeeled garlic cloves—a whole head's worth of them—in ablenderwith a good amount of lemon juice and blending it to a pulpy purée. You then press the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. The first time I tried this, I was convinced that it was going to be incredibly, inedibly pungent and sharp. A whole head of raw garlic was in that bowl, after all!

To my surprise, I smelled the liquid and tasted it and found that, while it had a powerful, sweet garlic aroma, it had none of the harshness or raw, hot garlic bite you'd expect. Clearly this was something that was going to need further investigating, but for the time being, I moved on, promising that I'd come back to it later.

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Finishing the tahini sauce is as simple as adding some ground cumin and store-bought tahini—sesame paste is one of those things that is simply easier and better to get store-bought than to try grinding at home—and thinning it out with water.

Tahini behaves in an interesting way when you add liquids to it. Out of the jar, it's pretty soft and flowing. As you add a little water or lemon juice, it'll first seize up and turn thick like cement. Continue adding water, and it'll eventually thin out into a pourable sauce. Whisking thoroughly between small additions of water ensures that the sauce is smooth, light, and lump-free.

Canned vs. Dried Chickpeas for Hummus

Time to address the chickpeas. I started by tackling the obvious first question: Are dried chickpeas really better than canned?

A couple of quick blind tastings gave me an answer. The bland, tinny flavor of canned chickpeas can't compare to the full flavor of chickpeas that are cooked from dry before blending. But carefully rinsing canned chickpeas to remove excess liquid (it's the liquid that's the biggest culprit in that canned flavor), then simmering them for about an hour in fresh water with some aromatics, can work wonders, so, in a pinch, there are ways to make canned chickpeas better.

To cook my dried chickpeas, I tried a few methods, including soaking versus not (soaking overnight is a good idea if you remember to do it, but you can cook un-soaked dried chickpeas without a problem if you're willing to simmer them for an extra hour or so); adding baking soda to the soaking and cooking water (this raises the pH, which helps the chickpeas break down and soften more easily); and cooking them on the stovetop versus in the pressure cooker (the latter is great for speed-cooking, but it will also deepen the color a little, giving you a darker hummus).

I finally settled on soaking the chickpeas overnight with a little baking soda and cooking them in fresh water on the stovetop, with onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and some more baking soda, until tender. I then drained them, reserving a little cooking liquid to adjust the texture of the hummus.

Do You Need to Peel Dried Chickpeas for Hummus?

Read enough recipes for hummus, and you'll start to note that those promising extra-smooth texture all have one thing in common: peeling the chickpeas before blending.

So I dutifully peeled an entire batch of chickpeas before puréeing them (...34...35...36...finally got one bite's worth of chickpeas done!) and had some friends come over and taste them, side by side with a batch of hummus made from unpeeled chickpeas.

Yup, definitely smoother and lighter in texture. But let's be honest: Who the heck wants to peel that many chickpeas one at a time?

There's a much easier way to do it, for the record. Once you've cooked your chickpeas, transfer them to a bowl of cold water and massage them firmly between your hands. The skins should mostly slip off and start to float above the chickpeas, making them relatively easy to scoop out and dump in the compost.

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Still, not having to peel them at all would be easier. It occurred to me that I might be letting my typical cook's instincts get the better of me in this situation. I'd been cooking the chickpeas until they were perfectly creamy and intact—the way I'd want them if I were serving them whole. But in this case, what if I just went all out and cooked the s$%& out of them?

I tried it, cooking the chickpeas until they were literally falling apart—skins, flesh, and all.

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Bingo. Blending those chickpeas in thefood processorturned out a hummus that was as smooth as store-bought.

How to Make Your Hummus Extra Smooth

I was happy with my results and all set to publish my recipe, when my buddyChef John Fraserdropped a brand-new technique on me. I was having dinner at his restaurant,Nix(which, for the record, is the best vegetarian/vegan restaurant I've ever been to), and was amazed at how incredibly smooth his hummus was. Compared to his, mine felt like the sludge water in the bottom of a Death Star detention-level trash compactor. I asked him how he got it so darn smooth.

"We do it in the blender," he told me. Because of their vortex action and high-power, low-torque blade motion,blenderscan purée foods much more efficiently than a food processor can.

The problem is that they don't work very well for pasty, viscous things like hummus; the hummus sticks to the side of the blender jar and never really comes in contact with the blade. So what was John's secret?

Blending it hot.

It seems so obvious in retrospect. Starchy, viscous liquids get firmer as they cool. Up to this point, I'd been cooking my chickpeas and cooling them before adding them to the food processor. Transferring them to a regular blender straight from the pot, along with plenty of their cooking liquid, makes it easy to blend them into a thick, smooth paste with the texture of a milkshake.

I actually ended up taking another piece of John's advice: adding some of the mirepoix in his cooking liquid to the blender along with the chickpeas. A little extra carrot and garlic in the blender add depth of flavor without taking away from the chickpeas.

Once the chickpeas are blended, I whisk in my tahini sauce and season to taste with salt, cumin, and olive oil. The hummus is then ready to be chilled and served. I like serving it at just about room temperature, drizzled with olive oil, dusted with paprika or za'atar, and piled with some warm chickpeas or chopped parsley.

The Science of Garlic Flavor

One thing was still bugging me: that garlic. How was it that I was adding a whole head of garlic, but getting only aroma, without any of the hot, pungent garlic flavor I'd expect? I'm the kind of guy who likes to know where his sausage is coming from, which means that I really wanted to get to the bottom of this garlic mystery, but I wasn't sure where to start. The answer came to me while I was trying to streamline the recipe.

The hummus was fantastic—smooth and flavorful—but I thought to myself,If I'm going to be puréeing my chickpeas anyway, why bother making the tahini paste separately? Can't I just dump everything in the blender and hit go?I tried it out, placing the cooked chickpeas with their liquid, tahini, cumin, lemon juice, salt, and peeled garlic cloves into the blender, all at once.

I tasted the new batch and nearly had to spit it out: The sharp, hot garlic flavor was overwhelming. It tasted just like you'd expect five cups of hummus with a full head of garlic in it to taste. What the heck? How could this batch, which used the exact same ingredients as the previous batch, taste so darn different?

I knew that the hot flavors in garlic develop when the enzymealliinaseconverts a mild compound calledalliininto a more pungent one called allicin, and I also knew that this reaction doesn't take place until the garlic is sliced open and cells are ruptured. It's for this reason that you can drastically alter the flavor of garlicjust by cutting it in different ways. But in my hummus, the garlic was getting fully puréed either way, so what was up?

I set up a little experiment to see if I could figure out what was at the root of the issue. I theorized that the difference in flavor might be attributable to two factors: the pH of the liquid that the garlic is puréed in (perhaps it's essential to first purée the garlic in a very acidic environment before diluting it down), or whether or not the garlic is peeled before puréeing.

I ran six heads of garlic through the blender:

  • Unpeeled, with lemon juice
  • Unpeeled, with vinegar
  • Unpeeled, with water
  • Peeled, with lemon juice
  • Peeled, with vinegar
  • Peeled, with water

I then let them sit in containers for five minutes (in order to allow time for any enzymatic reactions to take place), then smelled and tasted them.

From aroma alone, it seemed like peeling versus not peeling was at least part of the answer: The batches of garlic cloves that were peeled had a stronger garlic aroma than those that weren't. But tasting them told a very different story. While the batches of garlic puréed in lemon juice and vinegar had a very mild flavor, the ones puréed in water were so hot that they burned the back of my throat as I tried to swallow them. It's definitely the acidity in the lemon juice and vinegar that prevents the garlic from turning hot.

Some further digging turned upthis research paperfrom theAfrican Journal of Biotechnology, which details the activity of alliinase relative to pH. Here's a graph of the data:

Turns out alliinase is highly active at a neutral pH, with peak activity at a very slightly acidic pH of 6.5. As you get more and more acidic, its activity drops off precipitously. Lemon juice has a pH of just around 2. The study's data goes down only to a pH of 3, but extrapolating that graph, we can guess that at pH 2, allicin's activity is reduced to a quarter or less of its peak activity.

That'swhat keeps garlic from becoming too harsh. Once enzymatic activity has stabilized, you can then incorporate that garlicky-but-not-harsh lemon juice mixture into your tahini sauce and hummus without fear.

I've since used the garlic-in-lemon trick in a number of applications, ranging frombaba ganoushto a vinaigrette for some simpleroasted cauliflower. Any time you have lemon and garlic in a recipe, it's good to consider whether or not you might gain some advantage by upping the garlic flavor without upping its harshness.

This is my favorite kind of recipe: one that tastes great, but also teaches you an entirely new technique that has applications well beyond the scope of the original recipe.

Sorry, I'll be right back. I'm heading off to purée some garlic. (After having a bite or two of hummus, that is.)

March 2016

After additional testing, this recipe was updated to call for a specific amount of cooking liquid to add to the blender in Step 3, to add language on the desired consistency in Step 4, and to add instructions for adjusting the finished consistency in Step 5.

Recipe Details

The Best Smooth Hummus Recipe

Prep10 mins

Cook2 hrs

Soaking Time8 hrs

Total10 hrs 10 mins

Serves8to 10 servings


  • 1/2 pound dried chickpeas (1 generous cup; 225g); see notes

  • 2 teaspoons (12g) baking soda, divided

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 small onion, split in half

  • 1 small stalk celery

  • 1 small carrot

  • 2 medium cloves garlic

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups (350ml) tahini sauce with garlic and lemon

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

  • Za'atar, paprika, warmed whole chickpeas, and/or chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving


  1. Combine beans, 1 teaspoon (6g) baking soda, and 2 tablespoons (24g) kosher salt in a large bowl and cover with 6 cups (1.4L) cold water. Stir to dissolve salt and baking soda. Let stand at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse beans thoroughly.

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  2. Place beans in a large Dutch oven or saucepan. Add remaining baking soda, 1 tablespoon (12g) salt, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and bay leaves. Add 6 cups (1.4L) water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover with lid slightly cracked, and cook until beans are completely tender, to the point of falling apart, about 2 hours. Check on beans occasionally and top up with more water if necessary; they should be completely submerged at all times.

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  3. Discard onion, celery, and bay leaves. Transfer chickpeas, carrot, and garlic to a food processor or high-powered blender (such as a Vitamix, BlendTec, or Breville Boss; see note) with 1 cup (235ml) cooking liquid. Cover blender, taking out the central insert on the blender lid.

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  4. Place a folded kitchen towel over the hole in the center of the lid to allow steam to escape. Holding the towel down firmly, turn the blender to the lowest possible speed and slowly increase speed to high. If the mixture becomes too thick to blend, add cooking liquid, 1/4 cup (60ml) at a time, until a very smooth, thick, and spreadable purée forms, always starting the blender on low speed before increasing to high. If your blender comes with a push-stick for thick purées, use it. Continue blending until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer 1 cup cooking liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate.

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  5. Transfer hot chickpea mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in tahini sauce. Whisk in salt to taste. Transfer to a sealed container and allow to cool to room temperature. It should thicken up until it can hold its shape when spooned onto a plate. If purée is too thick, add reserved cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until hummus is desired consistency.

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  6. Serve hummus on a wide, shallow plate, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with za'atar, paprika, warmed whole chickpeas, and/or chopped parsley. Leftover hummus can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

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Special Equipment

Food processor or high-powered blender


Canned chickpeas can be used in place of dried if you want a faster version. To use canned chickpeas, drain and rinse 1 (28-ounce) can of chickpeas. Transfer to a saucepan with 1 carrot, 1 small onion split in half, 1 celery stalk, 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 bay leaves. Cover with water, bring to a simmer, and cook until very tender, about 1 hour. Proceed as directed starting with step 3. A food processor can be used in place of the blender, though it won't produce hummus that is quite as smooth.

  • Hummus
  • Middle Eastern
  • Chickpeas
The Best Smooth Hummus Recipe (2024)


How do you make hummus not grainy? ›

Peel the chickpeas.

But it makes a major difference, helping to create a texture that's not grainy in the least and is creamier than you'd imagine.

What makes hummus taste better? ›

Next, enhance the blank slate of flavor with a few squeezes of lemon juice, a sprinkling of garlic salt, a turn of freshly cracked pepper, a heavy-handed sprinkle of paprika, and a generous drizzle of your nicest olive oil. Bonus points if you have an herby olive oil on hand with a little color to it.

Why is my hummus not creamy? ›

Tip for extra CREAMY hummus

Add enough liquid! Compared to other hummus recipes, I use little tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice and olive oil. I want the hummus to taste like chickpeas and not like sesame or slightly bitter due to adding too much olive oil or lemon juice. Ergo, I add enough water.

Why is my homemade hummus so bland? ›

As I'm sure you're aware, chickpeas don't have a lot of flavour to them, so they need some pretty punchy ingredients to make it what it is. Yes, adding things like cumin or paprika will make it more interesting, but at the end of the day, if there isn't enough salt and lemon (acid), it will taste bland and insipid.

Why add baking soda to chickpeas for hummus? ›

Baking soda: Adding baking soda to the chickpeas helps make the legume easier to digest, softer, and makes them easy to peel. Don't skip this ingredient!

Is hummus supposed to be smooth? ›

For me, a good hummus has to be smooth and creamy, with a balance of smoky tahini, lemon juice, and salt.

Why do you add ice water to hummus? ›

It's already a near-perfect food. That said, we've started adding cold water to our hummus. While it sounds counterintuitive, the water makes the hummus creamy, light, and almost fluffy in texture. It's a trick we learned from Yotam Ottolenghi that has improved our hummus game considerably.

What's the best olive oil for hummus? ›

I use 1/3 cup in my recipe, and I choose a brand with a smooth texture and a mild, nutty flavor that's not bitter. My favorites are Cedar's (available at most grocery stores), Seed & Mill (the best ever), and Soom. Extra-virgin olive oil.

What is a good substitute for tahini in hummus? ›

If you feel adventurous, try replacing the tahini with an equal amount of peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, Greek yogurt, chopped roasted peppers, pitted olives, roasted beets, steamed sweet potato, avocado, or thawed frozen peas, to name just a few possibilities.

Why is my hummus not getting smooth? ›

Not using baking soda when cooking the beans.

Instead, cook the dried beans with a little baking soda, which softens the skins, along with the beans themselves, making for an extra-smooth purée. Follow this tip: Add a teaspoon or so to the water the chickpeas soak in and then again to the water they're boiled in.

What thickens hummus? ›

If , for some reason, you ended up using more liquid than you should have or if you still want a thicker consistency, you can add a bit more tahini. And if you chill the hummus for an hour or so before adding any garnish, that should help as well.

Why does Sabra hummus taste bad? ›

It tastes bad - the amount of lemon and tahini is off. It has preservatives and it has ingredients that are unnecessary (like salt), it uses soy bean oil, and other stuff like locust bean gum that I'm guessing is added for a smoother texture.

Should hummus have cumin? ›

In this hummus recipe, adapted from "How to Cook Everything," tahini is essential, as are garlic and lemon. But this dip is also flexible: cumin and pimentón are optional, as are herbs or blends like za'atar. Hummus can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.

What is the best brand of hummus? ›

The #1 Hummus to Buy. Esti's Original Recipe Hummus is the best store-brand hummus to buy, according to our testers. The hummus looked like what we felt like good hummus should look like—a creamy shade of tan rather than the unnatural-looking variations of yellow that some other brands had.

Why does my hummus taste grainy? ›

The most important thing to note about chickpeas is that they have translucent skins. Those skins are the cause of grainy hummus, and they dampen flavor.

Should chickpeas be cooked before making hummus? ›

These wet chickpeas have been dried and then boiled already, so they are ready for making hummus. However, many stores offer them in dried form—and in that case, you do need to soak or cook chickpeas for hummus, in order to soften them enough for blending into hummus' signature creamy texture.

Why is my hummus chalky? ›

Getting your tahini ratios wrong

Tahini provides an all-important fatty element to hummus, giving it a smooth mouthfeel and a thick-bodied, creamy consistency, and its nuttiness and complexity stop the dip from becoming too vegetal or chalky.

What if hummus is too thick for blender? ›

If the mixture is too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time. Turn up to the highest speed and blend for a few seconds until hummus is completely smooth. 2. Stop blender and taste the hummus.

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