This is the best hummus I have ever had! Not only does it have a great mildly nutty flavor but it also has the creamiest and smoothest texture. Just like any classic hummus, this recipe is vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, and nut-free.
Hummus has been a mainstay of the Middle Eastern diet for centuries. It’s not just in Israel where people argue over the best recipe. Palestinians, Egyptians, Greeks and other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries also claim hummus as their dish. As to where it truly comes from, no one can say for certain.
However, one thing is for sure – Michael Solomonov – an Isreali chef known for his Philadelphia restaurant, Zahav – makes the very best hummus. If that sounds like a bold claim, you have most certainly never had Michael Solomonov’s hummus. It’s incredibly rich and smooth yet ineffably light and satisfying. Bon Appétit even named Solomonov’s hummus the 2015 Best Dish of The Year. One bite, and you’ll be ruined for the store-bought stuff forever.
The secret? According to Michael Solomonov, there are no secrets. “There’s no tricks and there’s no bells and whistles; it’s got to be just made right.”
Tips for Making Hummus
There are essentially two building blocks of Israeli hummus – chickpeas and tahini (tehina) sauce. Get these two right, and you will end up with extraordinary Israeli-style hummus familiar in North America.
- Chickpeas: Solomonov always starts with dried chickpeas. As he says, they are simply more flavorful than canned. If you don’t have the time or desire to cook dried chickpeas from scratch, you can use canned, ideally organic with chickpeas being the only ingredient.
- Tahini: while tahini is rather insignificant in, say, Greek or Lebanese hummus, it stands equal to chickpeas in Israeli hummus. Some recipes call for a near ratio of 1:1, which means that great Israeli-style hummus must rely on great tahini. Not only does tahini add to the complexity of flavor with its bitter undertones, but it also makes the texture smooth and creamy. Solomonov’s favorite brand of tahini is Soom, which is made from white sesame seeds in Ethiopia. The flavor of the tahini should be nutty and lightly, pleasantly bitter.
- Lemon juice: fresh lemon juice is really important to balance out the bitter flavor of tahini and brighten up the flavors.
- Garlic: take a second to slice the cloves in half lengthwise before pureeing them. If there is a green sprout inside, remove it. The sprout imparts sharp, raw-garlic heat.
- Cumin: the most common spice in classic hummus is cumin, which has a warm, earthy flavor and aroma with a bit of both sweetness and bitterness.
- Salt: a generous pinch of salt can transform any mediocre hummus into a terrific one where all the flavors come together perfectly.
- Olive oil (optional): Solomonov doesn’t use any olive oil, so you can leave it out. However, I think that even just a tiny bit of olive oil makes the texture of hummus even more luxurious but it will also weigh it down.
How to Make Best Hummus
Even if you have minimal cooking experience, you can make a perfect batch of hummus yourself with these simple steps:
- Soak the chickpeas. While you can certainly cook unsoaked chickpeas, soaking the chickpeas for 8-12 hours significantly shortens the cooking time. Solomonov also adds baking soda to the soaking water to raise the pH of the water, which helps the chickpeas break down and soften more easily.
- Cook the chickpeas. Once soaked, rinse the chickpeas under cold running water. Add the chickpeas into a medium saucepan, cover them with water again, add some more baking soda, and cook them until they are completely falling apart. If you are using canned chickpeas, simmer them in fresh water with a little bit of baking soda for 40-60 minutes.
- Peel the chickpeas or not? One of the ways to make homemade hummus lusciously smooth is to peel the chickpeas. The skins are the toughest part of the chickpeas and blending them causes the hummus to turn out lumpy and grainy. Well, Solomonov doesn’t peel the chickpeas. Instead, he adds baking soda to both the soaking water and the cooking water and then cooks the chickpeas to the point that even the skins are falling apart. No peeling required.
- Prepare the tehina sauce. Solomonov’s tehina sauce consists of tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt. It doesn’t sound any different from classic hummus ingredients. However, the difference is that Solomonov uses a whole head of raw unpeeled garlic and blends it with the rest of the ingredients and lets the mixture stand for 10 minutes so the garlic mellows. Obviously, the mixture then needs to be strained through a fine mesh strainer to extract as much liquid as possible and discard the solids. Both the unpeeled garlic and acidic environment of lemon juice contributes to the garlic losing its harsh raw bite and pungent aroma, hence the 1 whole head of garlic. I typically use peeled garlic (to avoid having to use a mesh strainer to separate the garlic peel from the rest of the mixture) but do purée the garlic in lemon juice to prevent it from turning too hot.
- Blend. Both a high-speed blender and a food processor work here. I prefer a high-speed blender because the vortex action of a blender can purée food much more efficiently than the outward spinning action of a food processor can. Simply add the chickpeas and tehina sauce into the blender and blend until completely smooth. If using olive oil, add it towards the very end of blending
How to Serve Hummus
Spoon the hummus into a wide, shallow bowl, and flatten it with the back of a spoon. In one smooth motion, with the tip of the spoon in the center of the hummus, push the spoon down and rotate while you spin the bowl in the opposite direction (to create a swirl). Drizzle the hummus with a generous amount of olive oil and top it with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
Serve the hummus with pita bread, crackers, sliced vegetables for dipping… but most importantly, serve it warm. According to Solomonov, temperature is a really big thing. All the nuances and richness of the hummus is more pronounced when it’s at room temperature. Freshly made hummus is never cold. It’s usually served warm and sometimes even hot.
How to Store Hummus
- Refrigerate: transfer the hummus into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- Freeze: transfer the hummus into an airtight, freezer-safe container (leaving a little bit of room for expansion) and freeze for up to 3 months.
More Hummus Recipes
There are endless variations of hummus. You can blend in roasted bell peppers. roasted garlic, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, roasted eggplant, or jalapeño peppers to make the classic recipe even more enticing.
Another option is to use sprouted chickpeas for sprouted hummus.
If you try any of these recipes, please, leave a comment and rate the recipe below. It always means a lot when you do.
- 1 cup dry chickpeas *
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 cup tahini
- 4-6 Tbsp. ice water
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil , plus more for serving
- Soak the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas into a large bowl with 1 tsp./6 g baking soda and cover with water. (The chickpeas will double or triple in volume, so use more water than you think you will need). Soak the chickpeas for 8-12 hours at room temperature. Then drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold running water, and use as instructed.
- Cook the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas into a medium pot with the remaining 1 tsp./6 g baking soda and cover with cold water by several inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low, season with salt, and simmer, partially covered, until the chickpeas are fully tender and beginning to fall apart, 60-90 minutes (depending on the size/freshness of your chickpeas). Top with water as necessary to keep the chickpeas submerged at all times. Once slightly over-cooked, drain the chickpeas.
- Prepare the tehina sauce. While the chickpeas are cooking, make the tehina sauce. Add the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt into a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth, then let the mixture rest for at least 10 minutes. Add the tahini and blend until the mixture is creamy and thick. Finally, add the ice water, 2 Tbsp. at a time, to thin the sauce out. The sauce will seize at first but with more water it will lighten in color and become creamy again.
- Blend. Add the chickpeas and tehina sauce into a high-speed blender (or a food processor) and blend until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the blender as necessary. While the blender is still running, drizzle in the olive oil, if using, and blend until light and fluffy, about 15 seconds.
- Serve. Transfer the hummus into a wide, shallow bowl and flatten it with the back of a spoon. In one smooth motion, with the tip of the spoon in the center of the hummus, push the spoon down and rotate while you spin the bowl in the opposite direction (to create a swirl). Drizzle the hummus with a generous amount of olive oil and top with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Serve warm with pita bread, crackers, and sliced vegetables for dipping.
- Store. Leftover hummus keeps well in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.