9 Tips & Tricks for the Best Hummus Ever

A few months back, my friend was raving about this hummus she found at a local Mediterranean restaurant. She claimed it was, “smooth as silk” and by far, the best hummus she’s ever had.

Frankly, this bothered me. What was their secret? I wanted to make the best hummus we’ve both ever had. (What an ego)

Soon after that conversation I bought an industrial sized can of garbanzo beans because it was unbelievably cheap. The hummus was good, but not great. It’s been a month or two since that gallon of hummus in my fridge, which is far too long to go without it.

I tried making it again last night so I could test out a few theories. I hate to toot my own horn here, but I think I’ve nailed a few techniques to get the smoothest, most delicious hummus ever. Here’s the “recipe” I did last year, if you need something to build from. You can use whatever recipe you want! But these are the tricks you can use with any recipe:

1. Dried chickpeas

I’ll be honest with you. For most of my life, I thought using dried beans were some sort of complicated magic trick. Why use dried when you can just have them ready in a can? Well, for most things, I don’t really care. I’d probably used cans for convenience, but with hummus, it’s different because in order for the beans to have a smooth consistency, they have to be cooked properly.

Here, I’ll break it down for you (because I thought this was so complicated, I actually read the directions on the bag): 1. Put the beans in a pot. 2. Rinse them, if you want. 3. Cover it with water. 4. Let ‘em sit overnight. 5. Cook for a few hours (see #2 first). Done. See, that wasn’t too hard.

Update 1/14/2012: Today I used a can of canned chickpeas and it was fairly close to the dried. Dried is better, but if you’re desperate, canned still works. Just dump the can in a pot of boiling water and cook for about 20 minutes. Continue with tip #2.

2. Baking Soda

THIS, my friends, is the trick. This is it. Don’t breeze through this one. When you’re letting the beans soak overnight AND when you cook them, USE BAKING SODA. This is the difference between decent hummus and silky smooth hummus. Just use a few teaspoons for each can. If you forget half-way through the cooking process like I did last night, just throw it in anyway.

The baking soda breaks down that little outer “shell” of the chickpea and allows the water to penetrate the bean faster. This should mean a shorter cooking time. Chemistry, I tell ya’. It’s magic.

3. Smushy

Keep cooking the beans until it falls apart if you just look at it wrong. If they’re solid and semi-firm, they’re not ready. If you use baking soda, they say it should only take about 45 minutes of boiling time. I cooked mine without baking soda for probably 2 hours—then I realized I forgot it—so I put it in, and within no time it was smushy and ready.

4. Blend them Hot

This is my personal theory. It makes sense to me that you should blend them right after being cooked because that’s when they’re going to be the most tender. I feel like if you let them cool and then blended them, they might harden up again. Again, just my theory.

A note about this: I blended the beans when they were hot, but it definitely changed the flavor as I was tasting it. In other words, I knew I put in the right amount of each ingredient, but it didn’t taste that way. Mind you, this morning I tasted it and it was PERFECT. So, just FYI. If you taste it and it just doesn’t taste right, go ahead and blend the beans themselves, but come back to it later after it cools off.

5. Fresh Garlic

Don’t you dare use powdered garlic. Fresh, fresh, fresh. I love the taste of raw garlic, so I didn’t roast mine. However, if you like the flavor, but want it toned down a little, you can add the peeled garlic cloves to the pot of boiling beans about 15 minutes or so before the beans are done. The boiling will cook them just a little bit so the flavors will be toned down. Just toss them right into the food processor with the beans.

6. Fresh Lemon

Come on. Don’t use the concentrated stuff. If you’re making a dish with just a few ingredients like this, especially if it’s fresh & not cooked, each ingredient needs to be great. Does that make sense? Real lemons only.

7. Food Processor

In the recipe I gave you over a year ago, I used a blender because it was all that I had. I do NOT recommend this. Blenders need a more liquid-y consistency to work properly. I definitely recommend using a food processor instead. The blades are larger, they can handle the consistency, and you’ll get a smoother hummus in the end. If you don’t have a food processor, then a blender will technically work.

8. Oil & Water

Speaking of consistency, I have found that I enjoy a lighter, almost fluffy hummus more than the thick, heavy, chunky stuff. If you tip the food processor bucket and the hummus doesn’t move at all, or if you see chunky pieces inside, you may need to add more oil or more water to loosen it up a bit. I think I use at least 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per can of beans, if not more. So if you think you’ve used enough oil, just supplement it with water. It shouldn’t look like cottage cheese. It needs to flow freely in the processor when it’s going full speed.

9. Sleep on It

Hummus is just one of those things you’ve got to let sit overnight, or even a few days to get the perfect flavor. The flavors need to meld and marry. You can eat it right away, of course, but I don’t recommend.

I’ve had a lot of hummus in my lifetime, and I can tell you that using these few tricks turned my mediocre hummus into “Whoa” hummus. It’s seriously like butta’.

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About Ande Truman

Ande has made mistakes in the kitchen since she could reach the countertop. From a restaurant head cook, to cooking meals for friends, to her own solo plate, experimenting & learning drives her. She's also a freelance graphic & web designer, photo/videographer, guitar player and wanderlust-er. In her spare time, she works a full-time 8 to 5 cubicle job. She's the creator of Broke & Healthy.

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Categories: Chickpeas, Cooking Techniques, Featured, Indian, Recipes, Recipes by Ingredient, Sides, Tahini, Vegan, Vegetarian

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7 Comments

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  1. Thank you for sharing these very useful tips. I just looove hummus, and I remembered reading about the baking soda tip somewhere at some point, so I did some Googling and found your page 🙂

  2. I am a huge hummus fan and also self taught in the discipline of home made hummus
    I find some of your tricks and tips quite useful
    however, I have to diagree with the baking soda in excess
    it is good to put a teaspoon of baking soda when soaking them overnight but not when you actually boil them
    on the contrary, before boiling them I minutelly wash the beans so that all the bad smell which the soda took out overnight is drained
    a 11/2 hour boiling over a small fire will work perfecty to get them soft and ready for blending, you do not have to boil them excessively until the beans are destroyed
    try to use roasted garlic (as the Syrians seem to do) instead of fresh gloves, it gives a very special taste and add a teaspoon of cumin (an Arabic ingredient) to the other ingredients
    sometimes, i also add a half teaspoon of dried mint and it goes very well, it gives it a subtle fresh fragrance together with a half teaspoon of sweet red paprika
    enjoy!

    • Hey Hummus Fan, thanks for your comment. Feel free to use whatever methods work best for you. Some hummus makers don’t have time to soak beans, rather, they use canned beans. If that’s the case, it’s faster to use a few teaspoons of baking soda in boiling water for 5-10 minutes to take the exterior skin off. You don’t have to do that, but I’ve found that it’s much smoother. Obviously, the beans would be drained under cold water after boiling.

      Roasted garlic is a great idea–I usually do roasted.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. […] you get started on this recipe, you may want to read through a more updated article called 9 Tips & Tricks for the Best Hummus Ever. But here’s how I like to make […]

  4. Roasted Chick Peas (drained from the can) with olive oil and light garlic salt can be a healthy substitution for peanuts.

  5. This spring when we had lots of salad greens from the CSA, we would have greens topped with hummus for lunch most days. That was a lot of hummus!

    I actually like my hummus to have a little texture, but I am going to try this way (I use an immersion blender since I don’t have a big food processor). I have also experienced the weird taste when “blending them hot”… so much better when it was chilled overnight. I agree on the fresh, raw garlic – it is so good for you and it’s nice to have a “normal” way to eat it raw (along with guacamole, pesto, etc.). Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, Sarah, it definitely tasted weird when I taste tested the hot beans. I’ve made it so much that I have a pretty good idea of how much of each ingredient to put in. So I guessed and kept going. The next morning it was wonderful…but then I tried it again this evening and there are some modifications I want, like more oil and more salt. Anyway, maybe next time I’ll try to cook them, cool them down, THEN mix and see if it still works. Thanks for the comment!

      • I made it yesterday.. The cooking time was impressively short! (Actually the beans fell apart so much that it was hard to drain the cooking water.. I should use less so I won’t have to drain it. It turned out fine anyway.) Very smooth – I think my children like it better this way. C even was happy to take it for lunch, hooray! 🙂