This spicy harissa hummus is a fiery Moroccan-inspired twist on traditional hummus. It has a light and creamy texture with a gorgeous orange hue.
You will need only a handful of pantry ingredients and a food processor (or high-speed blender). And with a few tips and tricks, canned chickpeas can turn into the creamiest Middle Eastern hummus.
It’s perfect for dipping, spreading, and drizzling. The spicy hummus is sure to become a go-to in your kitchen – it certainly has in mine!
Keep reading for tips and tricks to make the creamiest hummus from canned chickpeas, plus ideas for how to serve it. Or jump to the recipe card if you’re ready to start blending.
Why you’ll love this recipe
This harissa hummus is a flavour-packed twist on traditional hummus with a perfectly light and creamy texture. But there are even more reasons to love this spicy hummus recipe:
- It’s easy to make: With just a few simple ingredients, you can whip up spicy hummus with canned chickpeas in 30 minutes. By cooking the canned chickpeas and blending them while still warm, we get that authentic creamy texture without having to soak dried chickpeas overnight.
- It’s flexible: Adjust the heat level by adding more harissa paste to suit your taste, or try it with another chilli paste. Why not rock the boat a bit and make spicy hummus with gochujang?
- It’s naturally vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free: Tahini provides enough fat and flavour for indulgently creamy hummus, so there is no need to add more oil. Use it as a delicious dairy-free spread for your morning toast to keep things plant-based and flavourful.
- It’s versatile: Serve it as a dip, spread or dressing. It works well as a dip for raw veggies and crispy falafel, or a spread for sandwiches and burgers, or a salad dressing. Why not make a double batch?
- It’s flavour-packed: The combination of tahini, garlic, lemon juice, harissa paste and chickpeas creates a classic Middle Eastern flavour.
Once you start making hummus at home, you will never buy store-bought hummus again!
Harissa hummus ingredients and substitutes
Harissa hummus is a creamy, spicy hummus with a vibrant Middle Eastern flavour. But the recipe is super flexible, and I suggest a few substitutes if you want to play with the flavours.
- Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): For convenience, this easy hummus recipe uses canned chickpeas. But you can also cook your own dried chickpeas in an Instant Pot or on the stovetop (find more details in this recipe for lemony hummus without garlic). A 15-ounce can is roughly equal to one and a half cups of drained and rinsed chickpeas (160 grams).
- Tahini paste: Tahini is a creamy paste made from ground sesame seeds. It adds a nutty flavour to the hummus. Find good-quality authentic tahini or make your own tahini from hulled sesame seeds.
- Garlic: I mince fresh garlic cloves with a knife (not the pre-minced stuff). But you can also use a teaspoon of garlic powder if you want a more subtle garlic flavour.
- Fresh lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed juice (from about half a lemon). You can add more if you want more acidity. Or add a splash of red wine vinegar instead.
- Harissa paste: Different brands have different spice levels, so adjust the harissa to match your spice tolerance. You can use rose harissa paste for a milder flavour with a floral hint (see how to make rose harissa paste from roasted red peppers). Or try smoked harissa for a smoky twist. Add extra harissa paste or dried chilli pepper flakes if you want more heat. And if you can’t find harissa paste, try any of these harissa paste substitutes.
- Water: Use cold water (or ice cubes) to help aerate the hummus for a light and fluffy texture.
- Salt: Kosher salt, sea salt or any other type of salt you prefer works well. Use less salt if you’re worried about over-seasoning, then adjust the seasoning to taste after tasting it.
Optional add-ins and toppings
If you want milder hummus without sacrificing flavour, swap some of the harissa paste for tomato paste. You’ll get the same beautiful orange colour and intense flavour.
Drizzle the harissa with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar and pine nuts, or dukkah.
Then serve the harissa hummus with toasted pita bread, pita chips or crudités for dipping. Or use it as a spread for sandwiches or wraps.
How to make harissa hummus
Hummus purists spend hours soaking, cooking and peeling chickpeas. But thanks to Noor Murad (from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Test Kitchen), we now know how to use canned chickpeas to get the same results with none of the effort (and without a high-speed blender)!
The secret? Cook the chickpeas and remove most of the skins, then blend the chickpeas while still warm.
Step 1: Cook chickpeas until soft
While canned chickpeas are cooked, they’re not soft enough for ultra-smooth, light and fluffy hummus. Removing some of the skins, cooking the chickpeas until soft, and then blending them while warm, is the secret to the creamiest, fluffiest spicy hummus from canned chickpeas.
But you can skip this step if you’re short on time and not interested in hummus perfection (it will still be a delicious dip).
Rub the drained chickpeas between two tea towels to loosen the skins. Then place the chickpeas in a saucepan with a teaspoon of salt and add water to cover the chickpeas by at least 2 inches (5 cm).
Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until softened – 15 to 20 minutes. As they cook, use a slotted spoon to agitate the chickpeas and scoop out (and discard) the chickpea skins that rise to the top.
The chickpeas are ready when you can squish them between your fingers (but before they start to fall apart).
Drain the chickpeas in a colander over a bowl to reserve some of the cooking water.
Step 2: Blend the ingredients
Add the warm chickpeas to a food processor (or high-speed blender) with the remaining ingredients and half a teaspoon of salt.
Blitz until almost smooth. Adjust the texture to your liking by adding the reserved chickpea cooking water two tablespoons at a time. I add four tablespoons for thick and creamy hummus. Add more for thinner hummus.
Then blitz for a few minutes until the hummus is silky smooth and fluffy – scraping down the sides as needed.
Step 3: Adjust the seasoning
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Different brands of harissa paste have different spice levels, so adjust the amount based on your preference. You can always add a little bit more harissa paste or chilli pepper if you like it spicy. You can also add an extra squeeze of lemon juice.
Transfer the spicy hummus to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt flakes and pine nuts, or dukkah. Serve with some fresh vegetables, pita bread or tortilla chips. Or keep reading for more serving suggestions.
Refrigerate leftover harissa hummus in an airtight container for up to five days.
Serving suggestions for harissa hummus
Harissa hummus is a vegan-friendly recipe ready to satisfy any party crowd. Enjoy the spicy hummus as a dip for pita, chips, or raw veggies. Or use it as a spread for sandwiches and wraps.
Hummus platter: Serve harissa hummus with crudités like carrots, radishes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Then add a few olives, roasted chickpeas, and pickles to the platter. Or serve the hummus as part of a falafel platter with labneh, sumac onions, and Arabic chopped salad. Try it with traditional fried falafel or easy baked falafel.
Hummus avocado toast: Spread the spicy hummus on toasted sourdough and top with sliced avocado, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of za’atar and flaked salt.
Harissa hummus pita: Stuff pita pockets with spicy hummus and crispy falafel for the ultimate falafel pita sandwich.
Harissa hummus wraps: Spread harissa hummus on a warm tortilla, add some cooked grains and roasted vegetables, and top with a handful of fresh greens. Roll it up and enjoy.
Harissa hummus pasta salad: Make a harissa hummus pasta salad with cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
Spicy hummus salad dressing: Mix leftover hummus with olive oil, maple syrup, dijon mustard and lemon juice for a delicious creamy hummus salad dressing.
Make a large batch of harissa hummus and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. And let me know how you served your harissa hummus in the comments below!
Frequently asked questions
Harissa hummus is a spicy condiment made from traditional hummus ingredients, such as chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil, with the addition of harissa paste or harissa spice. The harissa adds a fiery kick, depth of flavour and gorgeous orange colour.
Refrigerate homemade hummus in an airtight container for up to five days, or freeze it in batches for three months. To maintain freshness, seal the storage container and use clean utensils to serve the hummus.
The main ingredient in hummus is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans – available as dried or canned chickpeas. The legumes are blended with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil to create the creamy Middle Eastern dip.
- Food processor (or high-speed blender)
- 2 cans (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained*
- ½ cup tahini paste
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons harissa paste*
- 2 tablespoons ice-cold water, or ice cubes
- salt, to taste
- Optional step for ultra-creamy hummus: Rub the drained chickpeas between two tea towels to loosen the skins. Then place the chickpeas in a saucepan with a teaspoon of salt and add water to cover the chickpeas by 2 inches (5 cm). Bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until soft – 15 to 20 minutes. Agitate the chickpeas with a slotted spoon and scoop up the chickpea skins as they rise to the top and discard the skins. The chickpeas are ready when you can easily squish them between your fingers. Drain the chickpeas in a colander over a bowl to reserve some of the cooking water.
- Add the warm chickpeas to a food processor (or high-speed blender) with the remaining ingredients and half a teaspoon of salt. Blitz for a minute.
- Then add some of the reserved chickpea cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to adjust the consistency. I add 4 tablespoons in total for thick and creamy, spreadable hummus. Add more for a thinner hummus. Blitz for a few minutes until the hummus is smooth and fluffy.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Don’t fret if you have 16-ounce cans. The measurements need not be exact for the recipe to work well. A 15-ounce can has roughly 1.5 cups (240 grams) of drained chickpeas. Use 3 cups (480 grams) of homecooked chickpeas to replace the two cans of drained chickpeas.
- You can skip the optional first step. But while canned chickpeas are cooked, they’re not soft enough for ultra-smooth light and fluffy hummus without a high-speed blender. Rubbing off the skins and cooking the chickpeas until soft creates an ultra-creamy and fluffy texture.
- Different brands of harissa paste have different spice levels. If your harissa is potent, start with 2 tablespoons and only add the extra tablespoon of harissa after tasting. You can always add more!
- Store the harissa hummus in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.