Does Hummus Go Bad? Hummus’s Health Benefits and Shelf Life

Hummus in bowl and some chickpeas on a wooden spoon dark background

Hummus is a deliciously popular Middle Eastern spread and dip made from blended chickpeas (garbanzo beans), olive oil, tahini (from ground sesame seeds), lemon juice, and garlic. Versatile, full of nutrients, and perfect for a veggie tray, hummus has numerous culinary and health benefits. But does hummus go bad, and if so, how soon? Without further ado, here are the details on its food safety and expiration date so you can enjoy this savory treat worry-free.

What’s So Great About Hummus?

Interested in the health benefits of hummus? Well, here you go!

1. Hummus Is Rich in Plant Proteins

With 7.9 grams of protein for every 100 grams of hummus (3.5 ounces), this spread is a wonderful vegetarian and vegan source of protein. Protein is important for muscle maintenance, repair, and growth, plus it’s vital for our immune functioning.

On top of that, the same amount of hummus also has 6 grams of fiber, 9.6 grams of healthy fats, significant percentages of nutrients like manganese, copper, folate, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B6, all for merely 166 calories.

2. A Low Glycemic Index for Blood Sugar Control

Chickpeas have a low glycemic index score, a scale which rates the impact food has on our blood sugar levels. Having a low GI score means food is more slowly digested and absorbed, which protects our blood sugar levels from dangerous spikes that could lead to metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes. The healthy fats and soluble fiber in hummus also contribute to gut health, comfortable digestion, and feelings of fullness and satiety that could help you lose weight more effectively.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Abilities

Hummus contains antioxidants, compounds that help guard against free radical damage in the body and reduce the chronic inflammation associated with the exacerbation of multiple long-term health problems. The olive oil component in hummus has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties equivalent to those of commonly prescribed medications, and the sesame seeds that provide the tahini in hummus have been shown to reduce inflammatory markers like IL-6, which is associated with arthritis. Chickpeas and diets rich with legume consumption are also known to help reduce the markers of inflammation in your bloodstream.

4. Nut, Gluten, and Dairy Free

For those with dangerous and painful food allergies, hummus is a side dish you can enjoy without having to worry about horrible side effects and symptoms later. Those with a lactose intolerance or sensitivity, those allergic to nuts, and those with celiac disease can enjoy hummus so long as the packaged hummus chosen at the grocery store doesn’t have added preservatives (the best solution—make your own hummus at home!).

Chickpeas may not be appropriate for those on a FODMAP diet as they are high in raffinose, and sesame seed paste (tahini) may cause an allergic reaction in some as well, but for those with nut, gluten, or dairy allergies, hummus is safe to consume.

5. Hummus Helps Your Gut Flora Flourish

A 100-gram serving of hummus has 16% of the daily recommended fiber for men and 24% for women. Fiber not only helps keep your bowel movements comfortable and regular by adding bulk to your stool, but it also helps feed the beneficial gut bacteria that act as a front-line defense against invading viruses and bugs that may enter your digestive system.

Good bacteria like bifidobacteria have been shown to suppress harmful bacteria from overgrowing in your gut, and chickpeas have been shown to help increase the growth of such gut defenders. Other gut bacteria help contribute to colon health and reduce the risk factors for colon cancer, so feeding this gut battalion the fiber it needs is a wonderful boon for your health.

6. Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, but several of the ingredients in hummus can help reduce your risk factors for cardiovascular complications. A diet rich in chickpeas has been shown to lower dangerous LDL cholesterol levels 4.6 times more than a diet with added wheat (as seen in this 2006 study).

The healthy fats in olive oil have demonstrated a 12% lower risk of heart disease death in those who consume it in high amounts, and at least one study concluded that for every 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil consumed each day, the risk of heart disease goes down by 10%.

7. Weight Loss and Weight Management Tool

General surveys have found that those who regularly consume chickpeas and/or hummus were 53% less likely to be suffering from obesity. While that isn’t a direct correlation, it does indicate that eating chickpeas is conducive to maintaining a healthy weight and having a lower BMI score and smaller waist. Eating fiber-containing foods like hummus is associated with improved feelings of fullness and lower levels of ghrelin, aka the “hunger hormone.” Appetite reduction often leads to fewer calories consumed and an improved weight.

What's So Great About Hummus?

Does Hummus Go Bad? Details on the Shelf Life of Hummus

Now that you know just how beneficial it is to have hummus regularly, your next questions may be along the lines of:

  • How can you store it in your house long term?
  • Does hummus go bad if not refrigerated?
  • Is frozen hummus a better way to go?
  • Is the expiry date on a container of hummus accurate or just an indication of best freshness?
  • How long does it take for hummus to go bad if you make it yourself?

Here are the answers you need for when does hummus go bad.

How Long Is Hummus Good For?

Though hummus is made with naturally preserving ingredients like garlic, lemon, and sesame, hummus does not actually last for all that long before it risks spoilage. Hummus shelf life can vary based on the levels of ingredients in any given hummus recipe. For example, more lemon juice helps it last longer, whereas flavor and texture additions like pesto or roasted red peppers are likely to lead to faster spoiling hummus. Garlic becomes sharper in flavor as it ages, and tahini will ultimately turn rancid with time.

So, what kind of time frame are you looking at to eat that hummus before it goes bad?

  • Unopened store-bought hummus: If that package of Sabra hasn’t been unsealed, it’s good for about 10 days after the “best by” date in the fridge. If frozen it may last for several months after the expiration date, but you’d have to consume it pretty quickly when finally opened.
  • Opened store-bought hummus: After opening your package of store-bought hummus, you’re allowing in potential contaminants from the air and any foods you dip into it (better to scoop out portions with a clean utensil than dip directly into the package). You have about a week to consume an opened package of hummus, so long as you keep it stored in the fridge in between snacks.
  • Homemade hummus: Without the artificial preservatives added to commercially produced hummus, you have 5 days, give or take, to enjoy it if it’s stored in the fridge in an airtight container. However, as with store-bought hummus, freezing your own recipe may also help preserve it for up to 8 months.

Due to the oils contained in hummus, it is always recommended you refrigerate it when it’s not in use to prevent the oils from becoming rancid at room temperature. Leaving it in a cupboard or trying to store hummus at room temperature for over 2 hours may compromise its quality.

Pro Tips: The coldest parts of both your fridge and freezer are the areas farthest from the door, so tuck your hummus way in the back for optimal storage. Also keep in mind that coating your refrigerated hummus in a layer of extra olive oil may help preserve it by “sealing” it better and reducing oxidization (plus it keeps it from drying or caking for an extra day or two of use).

How to Tell When Hummus Goes Bad

If for whatever reason you have hummus you’re not sure you remember the age of, there are ways to notice whether it’s spoiled. Just like smelly eggs, fermented apple juice, or slimy mushrooms let you know something’s not right with your food, hummus has some tells that let you know it’s spoiled.

  1. Separation: When your hummus begins to go bad it will literally fall apart, with the oil separating from the solid elements and starting to pool on the top or the sides.
  2. Smell: When garlic and tahini turn rancid their smell becomes powerfully unpleasant. Fresh hummus has a smell that can make your mouth water, but if that aroma becomes sour, it’s gone bad.
  3. Color: If the peaks and edges of your stored hummus become dark, hard, or crumbly, the descent has begun and this food is no longer fresh.
  4. Mold: As with bread, if you notice even one small portion of visible mold on your hummus, the entire container has been compromised and is now a breeding ground for spores.

Make Hummus Last Safely

If you want to avoid artificial preservatives, you can make your own recipe and freeze hummus in small batches for months at a time. One day of prep can reward you with weeks of safely preserved, healthy hummus that can then be mixed with your favorite toppings and shared with friends.

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