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10 Common Mistakes in Hummus Recipes

So, you tried making hummus and it came out different then you expected? Here’s a list of common mistakes, that will help you improve and make a better hummus.

FOA: Have you checked our Hummus Recipe already?
It is not just a hummus recipe, but the recipe for real hummus.

I’m making hummus for many years, and since this blog came to life I go over many hummus recipes every week, in search for new revelations.

But most hummus recipes I came across in blogs – even good and respectable blogs like the ones I’d list in this post – are simply wrong. True, there are variations and improvements anywhere you look, but many people seem to use improvised hummus recipes, which has nothing to do with the traditional basics.

If you tried making hummus yourself and were disappointed with the outcome, try going trough this checklist of common mistakes in hummus making.

1. Using canned chickpeas instead of dried ones.

(example: Eco Child’s Play).
That’s the most common mistake of all, and it is devastating to both flavor and nutritional value. I devoted a special post for that canned chickpeas thing.

2. Using oil instead of tahini, and/or using too little tahini.
(example: Cooking with Vegs)
Some people actually confuse tahini with sesame oil with tahini. Some so-called respectable restaurants, use oil because it’s cheaper. For these reasons, many people do not know how real hummus should taste like.

3. Using too much tahini.
(example: Eco Child’s Play)
I’m very fond of tahini and use it as much as I can in many dishes. But in the case of hummus, too much tahini in not a good idea.

4. Using WAY too much garlic.
(example: RecipeZaar)
Too much garlic in your hummus will make it taste like… well, garlic. I do like garlic very much, but I also like my hummus to taste like hummus, not like garlic.

5. Not using garlic at all.
(example: BestRecipes)
There’s simply no such thing as hummus without garlic.

6. Using various spices, but not the basic traditional ones, such as cumin.
(example: Teresa Cooks )
Garlic, lemon, cumin, salt – and preferably parsley and olive oil on top; that’s the basic combination which give the traditional flavor.

7. Using Garbanzo beans (large Mexican chickpeas) instead of smallest chickpeas you can find.
(example: The Comfort)
Actually, I used the term “Garbanzo beans” a few times myself when referring chickpeas, but the truth is that Mexican chickpeas are only one variety of chickpeas, and not the best choice. Always prefer small-grained chickpea when possible.

8. Using canned lemon juice.
(example: Playing with my food)
Not only is canned lemon juice less healthy, but it also leaves an aftertaste that is pretty annoying. If you have no other choice, use citric salt. Also, not ideal in terms of health but it tastes much better.

9. Using coriander instead of parsley.
(example: VIOLI)
Sure, they look very similar, but they taste differently.

10. Not using baking soda (and adding salt to the cooking water).
(example: Wednsday Chef)
In order to get to the right texture, the chickpeas must be really really soft. I once cooked a pot of chickpeas for eight long hours (without salt, which keeps the chickpeas from softening) until I realized it will NEVER be soft enough without the use of baking soda.

After checking this matter carefully I can tell you this:
a. Baking soda does not effect the taste nor the the nutritional value, as long as you use it right.
b. All the professionals (meaning, the chefs of Arab hummus places) use baking soda.

15 Comments on 10 Common Mistakes in Hummus Recipes

  1. My boyfriend and I prepared hummus this evening following your recipe. It was simply amazing. We didn’t have the lemon but however it was really tasty.
    Thank you for this recipe.

    Giulia+Dani from Italy

  2. No problem whatsoever with coriander. I’ve seen it used in Lebanon, Israel and Turkey. It’s perfectly traditional and makes for a delicious houmous if you like the taste.

  3. Rebecca Mahoney // October 15, 2016 at 12:15 am // Reply

    Thank you. Cumin and real lemon juice is the only you’ve listed that I haven’t used. Will do this again. Lol

  4. stefano bozzo // November 7, 2016 at 6:04 pm // Reply

    In Lebanon hummus is without garlic almost everywhere, and it’s much better. With garlic is called beiruty hummus. So your statement number 5 is false.

    • sherryroeder // April 30, 2017 at 8:57 pm // Reply

      Good to know!! I am anaphylactic/allergic to garlic and will be making my own hummus.

      • Laurie Mintz // June 9, 2017 at 7:37 pm // Reply

        I have not tried this, and don’t know the extent of your allergies, but Elephant Garlic is in the leek family and has a garlic-like flavor. You may be able to substitute and get a hummus that is closer to a traditional version.

  5. uma ranchigoda // January 25, 2017 at 1:41 am // Reply

    i followed all your tips but my hommus is way too thick? Any advice?

  6. Kitchen professional here. When we made our large batches of hummus, we never bothered with salt or baking soda. It’s a waste of resources spent. Yes seasoning the water is okay, but ideally we seasoned it as we blended it. It’s not going to affect how soft it is cooked.

  7. >> coriander instead of parsley.
    >> … they look very similar…

    Did you mean to say cilantro instead of coriander by any chance?

  8. Marcus Piscaer // December 3, 2017 at 11:45 am // Reply

    I love your recipe. The best humus I had in my life was from the tiny hole in the wall lebanese family shop in Paris. There were flattered by how passionate I was about their humus. She said it has to do with this special white tahini they had. They used NO garlic, and the tahini to chickpwa ratio was 1:1. No spices, just lemon juice, tahini and chickpeas.

  9. Marcus Piscaer // December 3, 2017 at 11:57 am // Reply

    To add to my above comment, I believe the white tahini would come from these seeds:

  10. Sherri McKay // February 11, 2018 at 8:26 pm // Reply

    I’ve been eating hummus for over 40 years. My sister-in-law is Syrian makes it fresh and I’ve eaten some pretty good store bought ones. I ordered some at a restaurant one day. It was lumpy and tasted burnt. Maybe it was the smoked paprika.
    When I removed a couple of the lumps it looked like raw chicken flesh. The server had no explanation and the chef who prepared it was unavailable. Can someone explain what was in the hummus? It was not onions,garlic or parsley.

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