I Swear By These 4 Chef Secrets to Make the Best Ultra-Creamy Hummus
Just like there are countless ways to top your toast or make a smoothie, numerous chefs, bloggers, cookbook authors, home cooks and brands that sell it by the tub-full swear by their own tips to make the "best" hummus recipe.
As a frequent healthy snacker raised in a household that only stocked hummus in store-bought varieties, ever since I've lived on my own, I've been on a decade-long quest to master my own mix and make each batch better than the last.
It's a little embarrassing to admit how many rabbit holes I've gone down and how many random trials I've made at this point. From boiling the beans with baking soda to using olive oil only (no tahini) or vice versa (only tahini, no oil) to blending in everything from chipotles to chocolate (hey, dessert hummus is a thing!), my garbanzo dip journeys could just about fill a book as long as War and Peace.
Throughout all of my trials, I've never found a better—or creamier—result than I did by following the hummus recipe on Ottolenghi's website. Perfected by one of my favorite cookbook authors, chefs and restaurateurs, Yotam Ottolenghi, and his test kitchen team, it's a how-to that's now chronicled for all to learn from and love in the book Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love. This is where I discovered the four tips that totally leveled-up my hummus game.
4 Secrets to Make the Best Hummus Ever
While we all have different definitions of "best," and we probably will never beat hummus made from a restaurant that specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine, these techniques have helped me achieve my top-rated homemade batch.
1. Peel the chickpeas.
True, this sounds remarkably putzy and time-intensive. 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.
Speed up the process by following Ottolenghi and co.'s lead: "Spread them out between two tea towels and use your hands to vigorously rub the towels together for a few minutes. Don't press down too hard on the chickpeas; you don't want to crush them. Lift the top towel, to see how you're doing—the friction should have caused the chickpea skins to be released. Discard the skins."
For three more ways to accomplish the task, follow this chickpea-peeling advice from our friends at Midwest Living.
2. Start with warm canned chickpeas.
While Ottolenghi and many others say it's impossible to beat dried, soaked chickpeas, they say that canned chickpeas can come in a very close second place, if you cook them first. After peeling the beans, simmer them in water seasoned with 1 teaspoon of salt and a dash of cumin (to lend a little smoky flavor) for about 20 minutes, or until soft.
3. Use all tahini instead of tahini and olive oil.
Just like chef Michael Solomonov, who shared his Double-Tahini Hummus recipe with EatingWell in 2015, Ottolenghi is a firm believer that the ground sesame spread is full of enough fat that extra olive oil need not be invited to the party. Plus, by opting for all tahini rather than only olive oil or a combo of the two as the fat source, you'll score even more rich, nutty flavor.
4. Add a couple ice cubes to the blender.
Now that your chickpeas are peeled, warm and you have your tahini at the ready, all of the above can go into the blender with garlic, lemon juice, a couple tablespoons of the cumin-y chickpea water and salt. Then add a couple of ice cubes to the mixture; the cold temp paired with the warm beans will aerate it nicely.
"Blitz until smooth(ish), then check on your hummus. You might need more tahini, garlic, lemon and/or salt and very likely more chickpea water. Add a bit of each as you need, the recipe explains. "Blitz the hummus until very smooth, a few minutes at least. Don't worry about the hummus being too loose; it will thicken as it sits."
I spoke with Carolyn Malcoun, senior food features editor for EatingWell, to see if she had any other ideas about how to upgrade your hummus. She called out the note in Ottolenghi's hummus recipe that says "blitz the hummus until very smooth, a few minutes at least," and confirms this is key.
"My dad's cousin had a Lebanese restaurant outside Detroit for years. Every time I went home to visit my family, a visit there was always on the calendar. I even spent a few days with her in the kitchen, learning how to roll stuffed grape leaves, make her perfectly-seasoned kibbeh and more," Malcoun says. "Her hummus was the absolute best. When I asked her how she made it so smooth, she told me to turn on my food processor and walk away. Go vacuum. Do the dishes. When you think it's ready it's not; keep it going."
By allowing the food processor to run for a longer length of time, you'll be incorporating more air into the bean dip. Translation: Your hummus will be far fluffier than if you simply blended until the chickpeas were pureed. (Note: Blenders tend to heat up more than food processors, so, if you're using a blender, keep an eye on it to avoid cooked hummus or a burned out blender.)
And in case you're still on the fence about using canned chickpeas, here's your permission to do just that—and to remember they come with a bonus ingredient that can actually be an asset.
"One of my dad's other cousins' has a cookbook, and I have my dad's old copy. Inside the cover, he had scribbled my grandma's recipe for hummus, which included some aquafaba [the juice in a can of chickpeas]. In comparing it to other hummus recipes [like EatingWell's Classic Hummus], she subbed it for about half of the olive oil. I still make it that way to this day," Malcoun says. You could also try swapping it in for a bit of the tahini in Ottolenghi's recipe.
For even more intel about why homemade hummus is such a magical thing, plus unique ways to top it and serve it, check out our complete guide for how to make hummus from scratch.