Using Baking Soda

When cooking chickpeas, baking soda is used to soften the peas. Some say it affects the nutritional value and the flavor of the hummus. I tend to disagree.

One of the comments I do remember out of the batch I accidentally deleted earlier today (see the last post), was about baking soda. The person who wrote it noted that it has negative effect on the nutritional value, and also gives the hummus a soapy after taste.

He/she specifically mentioned the content of vitamin B which is presumed to be lost while cooking when using baking soda.

Well, I heard that claim before, and did some research of my own. As for the Vitamins – although chickpeas are certainly rich of them when raw, you shouldn’t expect much of it to survive the long cooking. Much of the nutritional value attributed to hummus, actually comes from the tahini – as far as vitamins are concerned. The cooked chickpeas are still rich in minerals, though.

The soapy flavor thing is, indeed, a possible side-effect of baking soda overuse. The secret, naturally, is to use a small amount of it – which all good hummus places do, with great success. You CAN use a pressure cooker, as one of the readers suggested a while ago. But if you don’t have one the baking soda is a must, or else the chickpeas would never be soft enough to achieve that famous creamy texture.


17 Responses to “Using Baking Soda”

  1. Karin on April 12th, 2008 4:24 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on my blog. I especially appreciate the advice on cooking my own dried chickpeas and then making the hummus. I will use the baking soda (in small amounts) as suggested.
    I have to say, I am just in awe of your hummus blog. That is devotion!

  2. shooky on April 13th, 2008 12:13 am

    You’re welcome, and thanks for the compliment. I think it shows hummus is a passion of mine, ha? :)

  3. Ailis on April 18th, 2008 1:40 am

    I have 700g of chickpeas soaking downstairs and stumbled across this website when I searched for a good hummus recipe. As Karin says, this website demonstrates an admirable devotion! Extremely impressive! I will make hummus according to your recipe tomorrow. Fingers crossed! :)

  4. Ailis on April 18th, 2008 2:08 am

    I just ran downstairs and changed the water and added some baking soda. The power of the internet to educate – eh? One tiny dilemma though – since I’ll be dealing with already-soaked chickpeas, by how much should I alter the chickpea quanity in order to avoid messing up the ratio in the recipe? The recipe calls for 2 cups of completely raw chickpea. Would that equate to around 4 cups of the soaked variety, since they swell to double their original size? Thanks!

  5. Rob R on November 26th, 2008 11:41 pm


    I have a question…

    Do you have a formula for the amount of baking powder I would use if I wanted to scale your recipe up? Would it just double or triple like the rest of the ingredients?


  6. James on June 18th, 2009 8:19 am

    Sorry for the double post(I posted on your hummus recipe page too) but I would really love to know what water to baking soda ratio you recommend. For the first time today I ruined a perfectly good batch of hummus and got that soapy aftertaste as well as a texture that was too creamy for my taste even though I did not add extra water when grinding. It ended up with the texture of mayonnaise – yuck.

    Again I suspect it was because I only used a little more than double the amount of water when soaking overnight and the 1 tablespoon of baking soda was too concentrated in the water. Next time I will add much more water but I would like to know if you have a water/baking soda magic formula for the perfect texture.

    Maybe I missed it but I didn’t see it on your site. If it isn’t there you may want to consider adding it for people like me who manage to mess up your great recipe. Thank you so much again. Thanks to you I have been eating hummus almost every day for about two weeks straight.

  7. Maren on March 29th, 2010 10:03 pm

    Well, I was a sort of a fan of hummus before my visit to Israel, and definitely after that. As it is almost impossible to get good hummus, or any kind of hummus, to be honest, in my country, Estonia. I decided to make it myself. We live in a Nordic country, chickpeas are imported, tahini is imported, lemons are imported, cumin is imported, salt is imported as is all the rest – is there anything left? My mistake – garlic – we grow probably the best garlic in the world, even Italians envy us, honestly. The rest of stuff I bought from a local premium eco store, and I hope that they sell good stuff. I followed your recipe, with soda, and the result, was very tasty (well, it’s still warm). I hope the flavours are in balance also when it’s cold. The best what I’ve got since Dec last year, when I was in Israel. You know, most of the hummus recipes have a huge amount of oil to be added and I don’t like it at all. Your way seems much better. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of the world.

  8. Elizabeth on July 29th, 2011 5:23 am

    I heard this tip about using baking soda about a year ago (probably right here!), and have used it in my hummus recipe ever since. I never noticed any aftertaste at all. I love that you have a hummus blog. More people should make it from scratch! Dried chickpeas are so ridiculously inexpensive, that if you’re on a budget it’s worth the relatively small effort to use them instead of canned.

  9. kaylynne50 on July 3rd, 2013 8:46 pm

    Love the blog…just made Hummus today with Baharat, a spice mixture I bought at the Spice Market in Cincinnati, Ohio, and one with homemade Pesto….taking them to an Independance day celebration later…

  10. Andrew on January 27th, 2014 9:21 am

    Question: The recipe says to change the water at least once while soaking. Do I add more baking soda when I change water?

  11. jg on July 15th, 2014 4:38 pm

    How much water do you use for the overnight soak?

  12. Shooky Galili on July 15th, 2014 5:29 pm

    The water should be 1-2 inches above the chickpeas.

  13. Anna Z on August 10th, 2014 11:21 am


    I had just about given up on cooking chick peas because I had never been able to get them soft after hours and hours of cooking. I just cooked 250 grams of dry bio chick peas with 3 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate and they are perfect and so delicous and nutty. No soapy taste at all.

  14. Anna Z on August 10th, 2014 11:23 am

    Sorry, I forgot to mention, I had soaked them overnight, changing the water once.

  15. Anna Z on August 10th, 2014 11:23 am

    Sorry, I forgot to mention, I had soaked them overnight in plain water (no salt, no bicarb), changing the water once.

  16. Shooky Galili on August 12th, 2014 3:36 pm

    That’s great Anna. Next time try soaking for 24 hours. It’ll get you even better results.

  17. jg on August 12th, 2014 4:57 pm

    Do you use baking soda for overnight soaking when you make falafel as well?

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