While tubs of premade hummus are a convenient option for parties or potlucks, homemade hummus is much tastier and creamier than anything you can get in a store—and it's easier than you think! Follow these steps for perfect homemade hummus.

Kimberly M. Holland
Updated June 16, 2020
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Pictured recipe: Pressure-Cooker Hummus

Hummus is a wonderfully easy and incredibly simple thick dip made with chickpeas (also knowns as garbanzo beans)–a perfect gluten-free snack you can eat with raw vegetables. It doubles as a creamy spread for sandwiches too. Hummus originated in Egyptian cuisine, but it was popular across the Middle East, around the Mediterranean and in North Africa before making its way to the United States. Many store-bought hummus options are good in a pinch–they're smooth and flavorful–but making your own hummus is a great way to experiment with ingredients and save money at the same time.

What Are the Ingredients in Hummus?

Pictured recipe: Garlic Hummus

Classic hummus has six ingredients: chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and salt.

Chickpeas form the base of the dip, becoming creamy and smooth when blended in a food processor or blender.

Olive oil helps make the blended beans smooth and adds volume to the dip, but because it's not cooked, you can certainly taste the flavor of the oil. That's why it's important to use a good-quality olive oil in your homemade hummus.

Garlic can be added raw, roasted or boiled to the hummus mixture. It adds a pungent punch of flavor. Roasted garlic is sweeter and less potent. Raw garlic is often assertive–be careful with how many garlic cloves you add.

Lemon juice is tart and bright, helping to balance the nutty chickpeas and grassy olive oil.

Tahini, a sesame paste, adds richness and a delicious toasted flavor. If you don't have tahini or don't like it, you can use any nut butter, including peanut butter.

Salt is the bare necessity of hummus flavoring. Many DIY hummus makers will experiment with spices and herbs to find the right combination for personal preferences, but salt is what makes it shine.

Hummus variations may include any number of spices, including ground cumin, smoked paprika and ground sumac. The chickpeas may be combined with other ingredients, including edamame, avocado and beets. This adds color and flavor to the slightly sweet and nutty chickpeas. Flavorful ingredients like olives, roasted red peppers and sesame seeds are sometimes used too.

The Best Way to Make Hummus

Pictured recipe: Roasted Beet Hummus

Soaking dry chickpeas overnight is recommended for the creamiest and most flavorful homemade hummus. Canned chickpeas can be used in a pinch, and they do make a delicious hummus. However, like all canned beans, the chickpeas may retain a tinny flavor from their long storage in the can.

If you have the time to soak dried chickpeas, do. You won't regret it when you see how much more flavorful this dip can be.

How to Soak Dry Chickpeas for Hummus

Pictured recipe: Double-Tahini Hummus

1. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup dry chickpeas with 1 teaspoon baking soda (this helps soften the chickpeas to make them creamy). Add enough water to cover the legumes by one inch. Let the chickpeas soak overnight.

2. Drain the chickpeas and rinse them.

3. Put the soaked chickpeas in a medium stockpot and cover with two inches of cold water.

4. Bring to a boil. Keep at a rolling boil until the chickpeas are tender and almost falling apart, 25 to 40 minutes.

5. For the creamiest hummus, peel the chickpeas by pinching the skins off each bean. While time-consuming, these skins can make hummus lumpy. If you remove the skins, you can expect very creamy hummus.

Once the chickpeas are done cooking, it takes about 20 minutes to put it all together.

How to Make Hummus

Pictured recipe: Farmy Hummus

1. To a large food processor, add the cooked or canned chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and salt. Blend until mostly smooth.

2. With the food processor running, slowly add a stream of olive oil–about 1/4 cup. Process until desired consistency. For the best results, consider processing for several minutes, stopping it every 30 seconds or so to scrape down the sides before giving it extra time.

3. Spoon into a bowl. Top with olive oil, spices or fresh herbs, and serve.

Why Homemade Is Best

Pictured recipe: Carrot Hummus

Store-bought hummus is often delicious, but it may be made with preservatives you don't want to eat. Likewise, some are high in sodium. Making your own ensures you can control the ingredients, have the freshest batch possible and save a little money at the same time.

Because hummus is so easy to make, you can play with proportions of ingredients and spices to find the just-right combination that you and the people in your house prefer. For example, if you don't like the grassy flavor of olive oil, you can use the reserved chickpea liquid (called aquafaba). It makes the processed chickpeas smooth without the oil, and it has a slightly sweet flavor, making it more ideal than plain water. A different oil choice, like walnut oil, is also a great idea.

How to Serve Hummus

Pictured recipe: Avocado Hummus

White pita bread is a classic companion to hummus. Fried or baked pita chips are popular, too. However, these refined-grain options offer little in the way of nutrition.

Opt for a whole-wheat version if you do prefer the bread as your hummus dipper. Better yet, use raw vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli and bell peppers, as a dipper for hummus.

Some Middle Eastern traditions serve hummus with grilled meat, fish or roasted vegetables. You can also serve it as a dip for another Middle Eastern favorite, falafel.

Spread hummus on your sandwich in place of mayonnaise. Try hummus in dishes where you might use mayo, too. This includes deviled eggs, egg salad and potato salad.