Not only is hummus one of the world’s most popular vegan foods, it’s also convenient and a fantastic source of protein. Most supermarkets carry at least one brand, and every Middle Eastern restaurant features it prominently on the menu. It’s also remarkably easy to make at home.
What is Hummus?
Hummus may well be the most widely-eaten food in all of Middle Eastern cooking. It’s a simple but satisfying dish typically made of just seven ingredients:
- garbanzo beans
- roasted garlic
- olive oil
- lemon juice
Because people can’t resist screwing up a great thing, hummus occasionally contains yogurt. But the overwhelming majority of hummus you’ll encounter is vegan.
Despite its simplicity, preparation methods differ enormously. So try as many brands as you can, and sample it from as many restaurants as possible. If you don’t like it the first time you try it, you probably had bad luck and should try it again elsewhere.
Nearly every supermarket carries hummus, so it’s reliably available even if you’re traveling through rural North Dakota. Natural food stores often carry local brands that are much tastier than the stuff the big guys make.
Supermarket hummus often contains preservatives, so if that bothers you check the ingredients. There are a few vegan brands that are worth your attention. Hope is made with organic ingredients, and it’s widely sold throughout the United States. As of this writing, Hope offers eight varieties of hummus, and according to their FAQ everything they make is vegan.
If you’ve got a Trader Joe’s grocery nearby, their garlic and Middle Eastern varieties are both vegan and quite good. They also sell a delicious eggplant version that mixes in some baba ghanouj. In Europe, both Aldi and the DM drugstore chain sell excellent hummus. Aldi’s keeps theirs in the refrigerated section. DM sells several flavored hummus products in baby-food style glass jars that you must refrigerate upon opening. I don’t consider DM’s versions authentic hummus but they nevertheless taste great.
You can order hummus to-go from any Middle Eastern restaurant, and it’s likely to be better and far fresher than supermarket brands. Every authentic Middle Eastern restaurant I’ve ever visited makes outstanding hummus.
Conversely, I avoid ordering both hummus and falafel from any vegetarian restaurant that doesn’t specialize in Middle Eastern cooking. I’ve been burned too many times, and feel I’m better off choosing anything else on the menu.
Making it at Home
Hummus is easy to make at home, and doing so will cut your costs by at least half.
Ideally, start with raw garbanzo beans. The best way to cook raw garbanzos for hummus is to use an Instant Pot, which functions as an automatic pressure cooker. Once cooked, any blender can do the job of blending your garbanzos and the remaining ingredients together, but a Blendtec, Vitamix, or a high-powered food processor will do the job faster and yield creamier results.
You can also save time and use canned garbanzo beans, but doing so costs more and your hummus won’t taste as good.
Hummus is wonderful spooned into pitas or included in traditional lavash flatbread wraps. It’s also terrific in sandwiches or smeared onto bagel halves, ideally along with some tomato, sprouts, and pickle slices. Although Mexican-style salsa and guacamole are the traditional dips for tortilla chips, hummus offers another delicious possibility.
One of the most popular ways to serve hummus is alongside carrot or celery sticks. It’s also sensational served with olives or pickled vegetables. It’ll even make rice cakes palatable—a great serving option for the gluten-free crowd.
For further reading: Please see our Middle Eastern foods guide and our vegan foods page.