Adding more tahini than you think is only the start of it.

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Credit: Greg DuPree

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made hummus from scratch, both for personal and professional reasons. Working in professional kitchens and making big batches of it taught me a thing or two about the best way to make hummus and what gives it that I-can’t-stop-eating-this-creamy-concoction vibe. One thing is for certain, few decent tubs of store-bought hummus can compare to a batch you make yourself.

Making your own hummus couldn’t be easier, really, and that’s one of the many things I love about it. If you have all the ingredients at the ready, it takes just 5 minutes to make. That’s definitely less time than it takes to go to the store and back. The cooked chickpeas needed don’t have to have been ones simmering on the stove until tender—canned chickpeas are more than okay, they’re ideal for hummus! A good rinse is all you need to prep these (and maybe picking away the chickpea skins if they annoy you as much as they annoy me, but they’re 100% fine).

Now that that’s settled, get yourself a good container of tahini. Tahini is a thick, creamy paste made from ground sesame seeds that you can use in dressings and sauces, and pretty much like you would nut butters. Hummus really shines when a hefty amount of tahini is used. So I’m not talking about a tablespoon or two, I’m talking 1/2 cup of tahini (make sure it’s stirred well to reincorporate the natural oils that rise to the top) blitzed in a food processor with 3 cups of cooked chickpeas (that's about 2 15.5 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed). Once you become familiar with the nutty taste of tahini, you’ll probably realize that’s why you love hummus so much and you’ll add more than just half a cup. I fully support it!

Beyond the proper use of tahini, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and coriander are my other non-negotiables. I like my hummus bright, hence the 1½ teaspoons lemon zest plus 3 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 2 lemons). While the 1 small clove grated garlic adds another layer of flavor with a very subtle kick. I add a ½ teaspoon of ground coriander to the mix simply because I love its aromatic properties and it makes everyone wonder what’s in it. If you only have ground cumin on hand, that works! Or skip the spices altogether, you’ll still end up with a flavor-packed hummus you’ll be dipping more than just baby carrots in. That’s the beauty of hummus, it’s not just for dipping crudites or pita chips. It’s also great spread on bread for a sandwich, with falafel, or as a healthy side to grilled chicken or seared steak.

To reach creamy nirvana add 1/2 cup water when processing all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender (use the chickpea cooking water if you started with dried chickpeas). Once it's smooth, it should take about 2 minutes, add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the hummus and process one last time. Adding oil into hummus is a topic full of debate but I like processing the ingredients with some oil to add some richness and body to the hummus. Season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and several grinds black pepper and you're ready to serve.

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Now I know you’re wondering how to make that swoosh in the hummus the oil so elegantly sits on when served. With the back of a spoon, go around the rim of the plate moving in towards the center, then drizzle some olive oil on top. I’ll leave the toppings up to you, but feel free to sprinkle with paprika, chopped herbs, more chickpeas, maybe even crispy chickpeas!