The Best-Ever, Only-Recipe-You'll-Ever-Need: Hummus
We dipped into 5 of the best hummus recipes to find one winner
Hummus—a dip or a lifestyle? If a serve-yourself grazing table of mezze lacks a dish of hummus—was a meal really shared at all? You can eat it for a traditional, rib-sticking breakfast, lunch, or dinner—topped with extra chickpeas and vegetables or ground lamb and pine nuts. It’s that most snackable item that disappears first after a trip to the supermarket. But how well can you make it at home?
First tries at homemade hummus can lead to disappointment, I know my first attempts as a penny-pinching student meant I often went easy on olive oil and tahini—leaving me with a watery, gritty paste that all the lemon in the world couldn’t revive. So to aid all in search of that perfect hummus recipe, we tested 5 of the internet’s best basic hummus recipes to finally answer some of our most pondered questions (Is there a difference between canned or dried chickpeas? Do I even need olive oil? Does it really need THAT much tahini?) to the most obvious: What is THE SECRET to hummus magic?
Our team, armed with spades of flatbreads and batons of carrots, celery, and cucumber, voted with a criteria of taste, texture, look, and WOW factor. Chick-chick, boom. Let’s take a dip.
1. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s hummus from "Jerusalem"
If you don’t think of Ottolenghi when you think hummus, you must not yet own a copy of Jerusalem. The hit cookbook, which offers a beautiful insight into the city’s rich cuisine was written by co-chefs Israeli Ottolenghi and Palestinian Tamimi—who describe hummus as the unifying food of the city. This recipe is their take on the city’s favorite dish.
The ingredients: Dried chickpeas, water, baking soda, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, ice water, olive oil for serving.
The method: For this hummus, you start with dried chickpeas, soaked overnight. These are then rinsed, drained, added to the pot with baking soda—which helps to break down the chickpeas rendering them creamy and soft— and stirred over heat, before water is added as the mixture is boiled. Once soft, the chickpeas are added to a food processed and pulsed with a generous amount of tahini, 4 cloves of garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Once the mixture is smooth-ish and combined, iced water is streamed in. The ice water helps emulsify the mix into the airy final result. You’re advised to let the hummus rest at least 30 min before serving it on a plate, swoosh style and served with a glug of olive oil on top.
The verdict: This is the hummus I personally predicted to win (you’ll have to read on for the results). I love the silky, whipped texture—I have a particular obsession with rich foods that can be magicked into airy creations, think tempura or pavlova. During the tasting, there were some negative comments I am sadly obliged to publish for journalistic integrity: “It’s like garlic paste” (Jan from Tech I’m looking at you) or “It’s too smooth” (an anonymous antelope) being some of them. Pff, is what I say to that—although I will admit that perhaps it could have one less garlic clove as it did cause an enduring garlicky aftertaste—and this is coming from a garlic fan. There, you cannot call me biased.
2. BBC’s "Quick Hummus"
Searching for instant gratification, us humans are obsessed with shortcuts, so in the name of efficiency, I added a speedy hummus recipe to the mix. The results can be summed up pretty quickly, too.
The ingredients: Canned chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, ground cumin, salt, and water.
The method: Canned chickpeas are drained and added to a food processor along with lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, tahini, and water, and blended until creamy. It’s then swooshed onto a plate, drizzled with olive oil, and extra whole chickpeas, if desired.
The verdict: This was quickly dubbed the most forgettable of the hummuses (I really hope this is the plural) on the table. To me it tasted watery and bland and the texture too grainy—the chickpeas skins really made themselves known in that fun ‘stick to your molars’ way. According to Julie, Head of Creative—“It has WOW factor in that it’s completely underwhelming.” Cry hummus, cry.
3. Bon Appetit’s "Classic Chickpea Hummus"
Bon Appetit’s recipes have a strong history in our very best competitions so naturally, I had to put their hummus to the test. Would their canned chickpeas and added spices be a match for Ottolenghi?
The ingredients: canned chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, tahini, ground cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, za'atar and extra olive oil for serving.
The method: The canned chickpeas are drained, rinsed, and dried and added to a food processor along with lemon juice and garlic (that you’ve either made into a paste or micro-planed, I did the latter), plus tahini, cumin, salt, and a generous amount of pepper. Once smooth, olive oil is streamed in and the mixture pulsed again until smooth. The hummus is served with a generous sprinkle of za'atar and olive oil on top.
The verdict: This hummus is definitely boosted by the addition of za'atar and cumin—although I did find the texture a little too stiff for my liking. Besides this minor grizzle, my (admittedly poor-hearing) ears did not catch a single neg. It was praise all-round from my fellow esteemed editors Xueci (‘Uh, it’s amazing’) and Julia (“Perfect for the ‘gram”).
4. Salma Hage’s Hummus from "The Mezze Cookbook"
I found this recipe in The Mezze Cookbook, a collection of vibrant Middle Eastern recipes by Lebanese author Salma Hage—given the role of hummus as the ultimate share plate, I couldn’t not include this version.
The ingredients: Canned chickpeas (plus reserved canned liquid), garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt, olive oil for serving.
The method: The chickpeas are first drained and ¼ cup (50 ml) of the liquid from the can is reserved. They’re then transferred to a food processor with the garlic, tahini, lemon juice (Hage advises 2 lemons, first you add half, then as needed to taste) salt, and olive oil for serving.
The verdict: This hummus was pretty universally branded as too sour—the acidity from the lemons seemed to overpour the creamy flavors completely. No two lemons are sized the same, so I’m sure it would have been a perfectly good recipe had that level of lemon been just right. However, if you like a lot of zing, our UI/UX designer Ivette said it had WOW-effect, and was in fact potentially her favorite, because it was so different and lemony compared to the rest.
5. NYT Cooking "Turkish Hummus with Yogurt"
This recipe caught my eye as it uses creamy full fat yogurt, instead of tahini, to enrich the hummus. Could it be a contender?
The ingredients: dried chickpeas, water, salt, garlic, cumin, olive oil, Greek yogurt, lemon juice.
The method: The chickpeas are soaked overnight, rinsed, and drained and transferred to a pot with water to be simmered for two hours. Some of the cooking liquid is reserved before draining the cooked chickpeas. The garlic is added first to the food process to blitz it. Then, the chickpeas, salt, cumin are added, pulsed, before adding the olive oil, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and enough chickpea water to render it smooth. You then garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley as desired.
The verdict: There wasn’t a huge amount of buzz around this recipe. To me, the texture was a little too bitty and it was lacking in creaminess, compared to some of the others. That said, if you served up this dip without others to compare to, it’d probably still disappear from the plate. Just be sure to go for toppings like the pomegranate seeds and parsley, as well as a generous glug of olive oil.
The part you really want to read: WHICH IS THE BEST HUMMUS?
Was I surprised? No. Delighted? Yes. I assure you, while I’m not jumping up and down yelling “I called it!”, I am sitting here smugly, plotting who next I will make the Ottolenghi/Tamimi hummus for. What I love about the recipe is that it’s the hummus basics (chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice) with no frills, just a couple of fancy tricks for kitchen magic. Both this hummus and BA’s entry were stand-out recipes, worth every single chickpea.
#1 *WINNER* Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s "Hummus" from Jerusalem — Hummus heaven on a plate *WINNER*
#2 Bon Appetit’s "Classic Chickpea Hummus" — A crowd pleasing big dipper
#3 BBC’s “Quick Hummus” — The surprising middle ground
#4 NYT Cooking “Turkish Hummus with Yogurt” — We miss you, tahini
#5 Salma Hage’s “Hummus” from The Mezze Cookbook — The "sour" loser
What’s the secret to perfect hummus?
It worked! I feel I can now write you some foolproof homemade hummus tips with confidence. Before this competition, I was semi-convinced I’d never be able to make hummus at home to rival a bowl at my favorite hole-in-the wall Lebanese eatery. Now, I might be able to come close.
Work to taste: As we learned with Salma Hage, you need to keep adjusting as you pulse. Don’t add all the lemon juice at one, but go little by little till you get it just right. The same can be said of garlic, if you’re not a super fan, reduce the amount (and mince or grate it before adding to the food processor to make sure it breaks down).
Boil the chickpeas with baking soda: Ottolenghi’s smooth hummus can really be accredited to this trick. The softened chickpeas were a breeze to pulse and no gritty bits remained. Although his recipe called for soaked, dried chickpeas, I’d bet you could boil up canned chickpeas with some baking soda to similar effect. Sidenote: If you don’t want a super-smooth hummus, just don’t boil until too soft.
Iced water, iced water (baby): The ice water helps everything emulsify—that is, allowing the fats and waters present in the mix to bond, which again, gives you that enviably-Ottolenghi whipped texture.
Be generous: You cannot skimp on these two ingredients for a rich, creamy result. Always finish with a generous lashing of extra-virgin olive oil on the serving plate The end.
Garnishes: Feed the eyes first with flavor-boosting garnishes. Sequined with pomegranate seeds, New York Time's hummus immediately stood out from the crowd as did Bon Appetit's dusting of za'atar.
Mastered the classic, now try these hummus recipes with a twist...
What’s your favorite hummus recipe? Let us know in the comments or upload your very own recipe to your profile to share with the community!
Published on February 18, 2020