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What’s in hummus? Here are all the typical hummus ingredients so that you can make it at home. It’s one of our top recipes for healthy snacks!

Hummus Ingredients | What's in Hummus?
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Believe it or not, there was a time when hummus was not on America’s radar. Thirty-odd years ago, kids did not dip their crackers and carrots into hummus. I know, because I grew up in the middle of America, and no one was talking about hummus. We were eating meat loaf and PB&J. Which reminds me of a true story I just heard on a podcast. Keep reading for more about hummus ingredients, and a story about the power of food.

Related: Classic Homemade Hummus

The power of food: unity through hummus

Back in the 1960’s, a Middle Eastern grade school boy was growing up in the middle of Ohio (his name is Thomas Royal Nimen and the story is here). His school was pretty un-diverse, and one day he came home and told his mom he didn’t want Middle Eastern food in his lunch any more. “From now on, could we do peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread?” he asked. Because, the kids were making fun of him because his food didn’t look like everyone else’s. At the time, everyone else’s was PB&J.

So what does his mother do? The next week, she convinced the principal to do a presentation at lunch. She brought in a load of Middle Eastern food: kibbe, ­fataya, tabbouleh, hummus, and baba ghanoush. And those bullies who made fun of Thomas’s food were loving it. He concludes that while it didn’t solve all the discrimination he faced at the time, it took a significant edge off. Because, as he puts it, “You can’t hurt someone when you’re eating their food.” 

Hummus Ingredients | What's In Hummus?

America’s assimilation of hummus

Food is the great uniter. It allows us to appreciate the beauty and nuance of cultures other than our own. When someone shares their food, they share a piece of themselves. And as Thomas said, you can’t hurt someone when you’re eating their food. Since he was in grade school, the American palate has broadened exponentially. Hummus is almost as common at a school lunch as mac and cheese. My son will grow up eating pico de gallo and bibimbap like they’re meatloaf and PB&J.

And yet, as Americans are we also celebrating these cultures as we assimilate their foods? Are we intentionally seeking out relationships with people who are different from ourselves? Are we welcoming people who are different from us to the tableAs we expand our palates outside of PB&J, let’s also consider expanding our relationships outside of our comfort zones. Let’s invite people different from ourselves to our tables—and at the same time, let’s be willing and humble guests at theirs.

Want to listen? If you’re interested in food and diversity, and how food brings people together, be sure to check out our podcast with Tanorria from MasterChef. She’s passionate about discussing diversity and inclusion around the table. Listen to Episode 47: Cook like a master.

Hummus ingredients | What's in Hummus?

Homemade hummus ingredients: what’s in hummus?

The key ingredients for any hummus are chickpeas and tahini, which is a paste made from sesame seeds. From there, your homemade hummus can be made with any number of ingredients. The classic flavorings are garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Of course, you can add additional flavorings like roasted red peppers, pine nuts, and more. Other fun hummus ingredients include cocoa powder (chocolate hummus, anyone?), curry powder, and beets.

Our homemade hummus recipe is simple, and uses just tahini and aquafaba (the chickpea can liquid) to make it creamy. If you’ve got 5 minutes and a food processor, this recipe tastes great and is potentially cheaper than many purchased brands. Plus, it’s also fun to whip up knowing that you made it with your bare hands.

Can you make hummus without tahini?

Actually…you can. Don’t have tahini? No problem! We’ve got a special variation just for you. This Hummus without Tahini is weirdly delicious spin with a secret ingredient in place of tahini.

Looking for a hummus recipe?

Check out our classic homemade hummus recipe below! Or try one of the recipes below:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free.

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5 Ingredient Classic Homemade Hummus | A Couple Cooks

Hummus Ingredients & Recipe

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) 1x


What’s in hummus? Here are all the typical hummus ingredients so that you can make it at home. It’s one of our top recipes for healthy snacks!



For the hummus

  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 15-­ounce can chickpeas
  • 1 large lemon (¼ cup lemon juice)
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

For the garnish

  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Toasted pinenuts (see below)


  1. Peel the garlic. Drain the chickpeas into a liquid measuring cup. Juice the lemon.
  2. Add the garlic to the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, kosher salt, and 2 tablespoons water from the chickpea can (aquafaba). Puree for 30 seconds, then scrape down the bowl. Taste. If necessary, add 1 to 2 tablespoons aquafaba. Puree for 1 to 2 minutes to come to a creamy consistency. Store refrigerated for 7 to 10 days.
  3. If desired, make the garnish: toast the pinenuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown (or bake in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet for 6 to 8 minutes at 350F).
  4. Top the hummus with cilantro leaves, a sprinkle of paprika, a drizzle of olive oil, and toasted pinenuts. Serve with veggies, pita bread, or crackers (like these homemade crackers!)
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Looking for healthy snacks?

Healthy snacks can be as easy as a handful of roasted salted almonds and dried cherries. However, if you’re up for making a simple recipe, here are a few of our favorite healthy snacks:

Looking for vegan recipes?

Vegan recipes are becoming a more popular request from readers these days. In fact, all of the healthy snacks above are vegan recipes! If you’re looking for a vegan main dish, here are a few of our favorite vegan recipes for dinners:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Marie E says:

    I made this today and it is a very nice hummus recipe! One minor correction to your post however. American kids were absolutely dipping their veggies in hummus 40+ years ago. My husband was eating hummus in Indianapolis in the 70s. His mother purchased in at City Market in downtown Indy. I grew up in Northern Virginia (late 60s-mid 90s) and ate hummus as well as many other international dishes quite regularly. We were not alone in eating an organic, whole food diet either.

    1. Sonja says:

      How interesting, I love hearing this! I suppose it depends on your sub-community and family of origin as to what foods you were exposed to growing up. Myself in the suburbs of Minneapolis and Alex in the Indiana countryside were never exposed to it in our childhoods. I’m glad that today, there’s a much wider food experience here in America. Thanks for reading and making the recipe!

  2. Heather E. says:

    A few years ago I watched my neighbors daughter in the mornings. I had the pleasure of introducing her to a lot of foods that my children loved that she’d never tried. My favorite thing was when her Mom started asking for the recipes. Crunchy chickpeas is one that sticks out as now loved by many of the neighborhood kids! I also loved when they picked our homemade no refined sugar popsicles over the dyed sugar water in plastic! Question about hummus: I know a few children that are allergic to sesame. Bittman has a recipe that replaces the tahini with sun-dried tomatoes and that’s good, but I would like an alternative that doesn’t use sun-dried tomatoes. Thoughts?

    1. Sonja says:

      How fun about introducing your neighbor’s daughter to yummy, wholesome foods! Good question about an alternative to tahini: I have used cashew cream as a replacement with good results. I’ve not tried it in hummus, but I’m wondering if that would add a savory creaminess without altering the flavor too much?

  3. Genevieve Crum says:

    I am so inspired by this post and by the story you shared. Such a powerful challenge to expand our relationships as well as our palates. I’m at the beginning of writing my thesis based upon the belief that to care about food is to care about people, and this post made me smile because it embodies this belief. Food is such a powerful way of connecting with people and learning from each other, and we can no longer care about food without thinking about the people behind it. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Sonja says:

      “To care about food is to care about people” — I couldn’t think of a better thesis! We found this ourselves as we began to unravel food. And it’s one of the things that makes food endlessly inspiring — the people! Thank you for the comment, Genevieve!

  4. Kelli @ Hungry Hobby says:

    Love that! Your son will expose his friends to so much more as well! His friends will always be excited to see what he brought to try new stuff!

    1. Sonja says:

      That’s so kind! Yes, I hope so. It’s amazing how many dishes he’ll grow up eating that I had never heard of! Thanks for the comment.

  5. Christine H says:

    Thanks for the recipe-I’m always on the lookout for a new hummus recipe!
    Your link to the story doesn’t work, I’d love to read it…

    1. Sonja says:

      Thanks for the comment! I tested the link and it worked for me — let me know which link you were referring to!

      1. Christine H says:

        Works now, no worries!