Dill pickle hummus spread onto a black plate on a black background, garnished with dill fronds, chopped pickles and sesame seeds

Dill Pickle Hummus (Instant Pot)

This dill pickle hummus is airy, smooth and packed with briny dill flavor. The perfect snack for dill pickle lovers. A copy-cat version of an insanely good store-bought dill pickle chip hummus, it has the flavor and texture of store-bought hummus with all the benefits of made-from-scratch food. The best part is, you can make so much more hummus for your money when you make it at home with dried or even, to a lesser extent, canned chickpeas. Those tiny grocery store hummus tubs are never enough! Serve with fresh or toasted slices of baguette, pita or corn chips or spread it on any sandwich you’d eat with a dill pickle.

Looking for more appetizer ideas? Try these tomato crostini with anchovy aioli 

What is Hummus?

Hummus is a paste of chickpeas and tahini that’s eaten as a dip, sandwich spread or as a meal itself when generously topped with meats and/or vegetables. Its origins are contested. Both Palestinians and Israelis claim it as their own. Either way it’s ubiquitous in the Middle East and its popularity has spread to much of the rest of the world. The word hummus itself means “chickpea” in Arabic. So all those dips made of beets or squash or broad beans mixed with tahini and lemon juice, delicious as they may be, are not technically “hummus” unless chickpeas are involved. Most hummus is seasoned with lemon juice, garlic and salt, though many recipes include Middle Eastern spices like - sumac, paprika, cumin, or za’atar - either in the spread itself or as garnish. But there are countless ways to flavor your hummus when you make it at home, and this version mimics the flavor of dill pickle chips.

Dried or Canned Chickpeas?

You can use either dried or canned chickpeas for this (or any other) hummus recipe. Canned is certainly faster, and good for when you’re short on time. And there’s no shame in it. Hummus with canned chickpeas is better than no hummus at all. However, I prefer to use dried chickpeas, largely because, after soaking and/or cooking, dried chickpeas work out to be a lot cheaper than canned. 

The biggest barrier to using dried chickpeas for most people is the overnight soaking time required. And, I get it. It’s hard to spontaneously make hummus when you have to plan ahead and soak the chickpeas in water before going to bed. Even when you know you want hummus in advance, It’s easy to forget to soak them anyway. But there is a solution to this problem: cook your chickpeas in your instant pot.   

How to Cook Chickpeas in an Instant Pot.

Cooking chickpeas in an instant pot allows you to make homemade hummus, from dried chickpeas, without having to plan ahead and soak them overnight. You can have chickpeas ready for making hummus half an hour after you decide you want to make it - completely skipping the soaking process. It’s a game changer.

To make a big batch of chickpeas in your instant pot, add 1 lb of dried beans, 8 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of oil plus whatever flavorings you want to the instant pot. (I like to add a few cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of salt, and a bay leaf - but you may want to leave the flavorings out. The beans themselves won’t be as tasty straight out of the instant pot, but you will be able to customize their flavor later, which is great for when you want to use the beans for different purposes). Set your instant pot to pressure cook on high for 25-35 minutes, depending on how soft you want your chickpeas (slightly firmer is better if you plan to peel them). 

I don’t think the instant pot is great for everything. It’s limiting in terms of the textures you can achieve - everything comes out soft and mushy. But this works in your favor for things like beans, since soft and mushy is the texture you want. 

How to Achieve the Lightest, Creamiest Hummus.

Peel the Chickpeas

Hear me out. When I first read about this trick to getting smoother hummus I thought “oh hell no, I shall not be found peeling the skins off of individual chickpeas.” If peeling is a bridge too far for you, I get it. But, I’m sorry to report that peeling chickpeas, though by no means necessary, really does make a smoother, creamy hummus. It’s a texture that mimics a good restaurant or store bought hummus, but healthier and way less expensive. Skip the peeling if you’re short on time, but it’s worth doing if you’ll be serving the hummus to guests, or if you’re after the smoothest hummus possible.

The good news is, you don’t literally have to painstakingly pull the skin off each individual chickpea. The easiest method I’ve found is to transfer your chickpeas to a bowl filled with water, then rub the chickpeas together and swish the water around, removing and discarding the skins that separate from the chickpeas and float to the top of the water as you go. It’s not necessary to get every single chickpea skin, but the more you get, the smoother your hummus will be. 

Warm Chickpeas + Cold Water.

Another trick to getting smooth hummus is to shock your warm chickpeas with some ice or ice water in the blender. The icy water will aerate the chickpeas as you blend, resulting in a fluffy cloud-like hummus texture.

You’re going for a contrast between warm and cold, so if you’ve made your chickpeas ahead of time and they’ve already cooled down, simply warm them up in the microwave for a few minutes before adding them to your blender or food processor. 

Use a lot of Good Quality Tahini.

Tahini - a paste made from ground sesame seeds - is where hummus gets its rich nutty flavor. It’s the difference between eating a dip that feels like a bean, and eating a dip that feels indulgent - so don’t be skimpy with it! The creamiest and tastiest hummus is tahini-forward hummus. Use the best quality tahini paste you can find. Most sources cite Soom as the best brand. But I’ve never been able to find it near me. Experiment with whatever tahini brands are easily available to you to see which you like best.

How do you tell good quality tahini from bad? Good tahini should be silky smooth, easy to stir without a lot of oil separation and taste nutty, toasty with only a hint of bitterness. Look for a brand that uses 100% sesame seeds, and no additional ingredients, ideally humera seeds sourced from Ethiopia or seeds from another single-sourced origin. Minimalist baker, Epicurious and New York Magazine have great side-by-side taste test comparisons of a range of tahini brands that may be available near you.

If you can’t find a good tahini near you but - you could always make your own by grinding up sesame seeds, something I’ve done with black sesame seeds to make a black sesame pumpkin swirl bread.

You could make hummus without tahini, though I wouldn’t bother. The tahini is key. Without it, you’ll end up with more of a grainy chickpea spread than a hummus. You’ll never get the perfect smooth creamy texture or the rich indulgent flavor we all love about hummus without the tahini. If your heart is set on something hummus-like, and you have no tahini, try substituting a nut butter, yogurt or sour cream, in place of the tahini. Your dip will be creamy, if not really hummus.

Cook Your Chickpeas with Baking Soda.

Baking soda helps to break down the chickpeas so that they are softer. Whether you are using the stovetop method or the instant pot method, simply sautee the chickpeas with a small amount of baking soda (over medium heat on the stove or using the saute setting on your instant pot) for about 5 minutes before adding the water and any additional flavorings you want to use. Or, add the baking soda into your soaking or cooking water.

However, keep in mind that cooking the chickpeas with baking soda makes them very soft, which makes them more difficult to peel without discarding too much of the chickpeas themselves. It’s perhaps a technique best used when you want to use dried chickpeas, but don’t want to bother with peeling. 

For more recipe ideas inspired by the flavors of the middle east, try these fried fish sandwiches with tahini sauce and harissa tomato relish 

How to Store Homemade Hummus.

Refrigerate

  • Hummus is good for 3-5 days if kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 
  • The flavours should intensify over time, hummus will also thicken up as it sits in the refrigerator. If you find your hummus leftovers too thick, mix in a bit of water (or, for this recipe, pickle juice), a teaspoon at a time until you get the texture you want. 

Freeze

  • If you want to make your hummus ahead of time, or if you want to make a double batch and save some, It can be frozen. Hummus is a fantastic meal-prep component to have lying around for quick meals or snacks, especially if you’re looking to justify that chickpea peeling time.
  • Portion out your hummus and spoon it into freezer safe airtight containers, leaving about 1 inch of space at the top for the hummus to expand as it freezes. Pour a thin layer of oil on top, to help keep in moisture, then label each container with the date before popping them into the freezer. 
  • When you want to serve frozen hummus, it’s best to transfer a container to the refrigerator the night before and allow it to thaw overnight. It won’t be as light and airy as when it was first made, but try stirring it or blitzing it in a blender or food processor for a few minutes with a few tablespoons of water or olive oil before serving to get back some of the texture. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary, just before serving.
  • Hummus will last in the freezer for 3-4 months. Once defrosted, don’t refreeze hummus that has previously been frozen.
Looking for more ways to use hummus? Turn it into a vegan meal with this braised fennel and leek recipe.

Dill Pickle Hummus Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound dried, OR 3 cups cooked, OR 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste (between ½ and 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup pickle juice (from jar)
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup tahini paste 
  • ¾ cups chopped dill pickles, plus more for serving
  • Olive oil, for serving
  • Sesame Seeds, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook the chickpeas. If using canned or leftover cooked chickpeas, briefly warm them in the microwave and skip to step 3. If using dried chickpeas, add 1 pound of chickpeas, 8 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the instant pot. Cook for 25-30 minutes on high. This will make about double the amount of chickpeas you will need for this recipe. Save the rest for another batch of hummus, or any other chickpea recipe you want. 
  2. Peel the Chickpeas. (Optional, but recommended). Transfer 3 cups of warm cooked chickpeas to a bowl of water. (Briefly warm them in the microwave, if necessary). With your hands, agitate the water, rubbing the chickpeas together. Their skins will begin to separate from the chickpeas and float to the top. Discard the skins. Don’t worry about getting every single skin, but the more you get, the smoother and creamier your hummus will be. Drain the chickpeas. 
  3. Add the chickpeas, garlic cloves, lemon juice, dill fronds, ½ teaspoon salt, ice cubes and ¾ cups of the dill pickle juice to a blender or food processor. Blend for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tahini to the blender and blend a few minutes more. The hummus should be pale, smooth and airy. If it’s too thick, blend in the remaining pickle juice, a tablespoon or two at a time, until you get a consistency you like. Adjust the salt and lemon juice to taste. Add the chopped dill pickles and pulse just enough to mix them through.
  5. Serve. Spread the hummus onto your serving dish. Using the back of a spoon, create indents around the edges of the hummus. Generously drizzle olive oil over the hummus, allowing it to settle into the indents. Garnish with chopped dill pickles, dill fronds and sesame seeds.

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