When you are pondering an appetizer for a party, you can never go wrong with hummus. It’s popular with kids and adults, it’s easy to make in quantities large or small, and it’s highly adaptable.
Earthy, savory, creamy, protein-packed: hummus is a great base for all kinds of add-ins.
Sure there are a bunch of pre-made flavor variations available at the store, but it’s so easy to make your own “house” version. Then you not only have a crowd-pleasing party appetizer (or snack), you also have bragging rights!
If you are making homemade hummus, just add in any of the following while blending it up.
Or—this is even easier—you can buy a tub of good quality prepared hummus, transfer it to the food processor and dump in the extra ingredients. It’s a smart shortcut, and no one will be the wiser.
All of these add-ins are calculated to be blended into 1 1/4 cups (or a 10-ounce container) of hummus. But feel free to dial the amounts up or down as you like, depending on how pronounced you want the flavors to be. Each of these doctored hummus variations can be whirred up in a blender or food processor.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
You can use store-bought roasted red peppers, or make your own (here's a recipe from my site The Mom 100). If you are using store-bought, it’s ideal to buy them freshly made at a prepared foods counter or an antipasto bar, but you can use jarred as long as they haven’t been preserved with vinegar, which might give the hummus too much unwanted tanginess (when I make homemade hummus I do like to add a small amount of lemon juice provide brightness and acidity, but too much “sour/tart” throws off the savory flavor balance of the dip). Check the label to be sure.
What to Do: Cut 1 peeled roasted pepper into chunks. Mince 2 tablespoons of the peppers, and set aside. Blend the remaining peppers right in with the hummus.
Once you’ve transferred the hummus to a serving bowl, pile the reserved peppers on top for garnish. Add a final drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of Kosher salt, along with a sprinkle of smoked or regular paprika for a nice presentation.
Hummus With Caramelized Onions and Za'atar
Slowly cooked onions add a sultry depth to hummus, and a sprinkle of Middle Eastern za’atar at the end adds a well-matched nutty herbal note.
What to Do: Dice 1 large yellow onion. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium to medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is very soft and golden brown. Lower the heat if the onion starts to brown too quickly—you want to cook them slowly so that their natural sweetness comes out.
Scoop out about 1 tablespoon onions and reserve for garnish, if desired. Blend the rest into the hummus. Transfer the hummus to a bowl and place the tablespoon of reserved chopped onions in the middle.
Top with a sprinkle of za’atar seasoning, which is a lovely, dusky blend of sesame, sumac, salt and herbs that pairs so nicely with the umami-ness of the onions the onions (If you don't have any za'atar on hand, this hummus is great with just the caramelized onions!)
Smoky Jalapeño Hummus
If the seeds and membranes of the jalapeños are removed, the level of heat is pretty gentle—leave in some of the seeds if you want a spicier hummus.
What to Do: Turn a grill or your gas burner on to medium heat. Place two whole jalapeño peppers over the fire, and use tongs to turn them as the bottoms start to blister and turn brown. Cook until the entire jalapeño is browned, about 3 to 4 minutes in all. (Here's Elise's video to show you how.)
Alternately, you can brown the jalapeños under the broiler—position the rack about 6 inches from the heat source, place the peppers on a baking sheet and turn them frequently as they blister, again about 3 to 4 minutes in all.
Let the peppers cool until you can handle them, then peel off the skins and remove the seeds and membranes from the middle and discard (or allow some of the seeds to remain in the jalapeno if you want a spicier hummus).
Blend the jalapeños into the hummus, scrape into a bowl, and sprinkle the hummus with a bit of olive oil and some kosher salt. I like to sprinkle a tiny bit of red pepper flakes on the top to let people know this hummus is spicy.
Olive Tapenade Hummus
Store-bought jarred tapenade—a chunky olive-based spread—adds a Provencal touch and salty richness to hummus.
You can also make your own tapenade, if you like: blend up 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, 1 tablespoon drained and rinsed capers, 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
What to Do: Blend 2 tablespoons of tapenade into the hummus, scrape into a bowl, then sprinkle a tablespoon of toasted pine nuts over the middle of the bowl for garnish.