Nashville Hot Hummus with a Ring of Fire

hot hummus

If you are looking for a dramatic pot luck contribution to impress both vegans and non-vegans alike, this is it. It’s smoky, savory, spicy, and substantial, yet low fat (a vegan buttermilk replaces some of the oil that is traditionally called for in hummus recipes).  Plus, who doesn’t want to tuck into a ring of fire with some fresh, hot pita?

You can adjust the heat, olive oil, and salt to your preference. For best results, use a high-speed blender or food processor.


1 1/3 cup chickpeas, or 1 can
2/3 cup unsweetened nut milk
½ cup sesame seeds, toasted
½ small onion, sliced
¼ cup olive oil, or less (depending on your preference)
the juice of two lemons (approx. ¼ cup)
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider or white)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon hot paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 heaping teaspoon. ground cayenne, or to taste
sea salt, optional
approx. 16 oz. water
hummus mise en place


Make the buttermilk:

  1. In a glass bowl, combine the nut milk and vinegar.
  2. Stir for 30 seconds to emulsify, and then let stand while completing the rest of the steps.

Caramelize the onions:

  1. Heat a dry skillet for several minutes. Test that it is hot enough by splashing a few drops of water into the center of the skillet. If the drops merge to form one big ball that rolls around the interior, it is ready. See How to Saute without Oil
  2. Add the onions and allow them to begin to caramelize.
  3. Deglaze the skillet with 3 tablespoons of the water.
  4. Allow the water to cook down and the onions to cook to a deep brown color. You may need to add a tablespoon or two more water.
  5. When the onions are completed, place them in a heat-safe bowl, and allow them to cool to room temperature.

Make the hummus:

  1.  Place the sesame seeds in the blender or food processor, and secure the lid. On the highest setting, mill the seeds until they are powdery and begin to release their oils. You do not want to see any whole seeds.
  2. Add the nutritional yeast, buttermilk, lemon, cumin seeds, hot paprika and cayenne. Pulse until blended, and the cumin seeds are crushed.
  3. Add 1 cup of the chickpeas (reserving 1/3 cup for decorating), half of the oil, if using (if not using oil, add more water), and approximately 6 oz. water. For a thinner hummus, add more water in increments. Pulse until smooth.
  4.  Add the garlic and lightly pulse to incorporate it into the hummus.


  1. Spoon the hummus onto a serving plate with raised edges.
  2. With a spoon, create a circular indentation in the center.
  3.  Sprinkle the remaining oil in the indentation and on top of the hummus.
  4. Place the onions at the edge of the ring, creating a boundary.
  5. Place the whole chickpeas in the center.
  6. Outline the onions with Siracha.
  7. Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the hummus. You can also use a butter knife to mix some of the paprika with oil.
  8. Salt to taste, optional.

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