Chickpeas are one of my favorite legumes. They have a texture and flavor that sets them apart from other beans and makes them highly versatile in the kitchen.
Buying chickpeas in canned form is an easy way to cut down on meal prep time, but it also robs you of some of the nutritional benefits. Plus, freshly cooked chickpeas just taste so much better.
If you’ve been hesitant to buy this staple in dry bean form for fear of cooking it, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ll show you how to cook chickpeas in three different ways and give you some of our favorite recipes for using them in.
Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans?
These two different names are often applied to this pale, round bean. Chickpea is derived from the Latin word cicer, which refers to the name of the legume family, Fabaceae. Garbanzo comes from the Spanish name for this world-renowned legume.
Whatever you want to call them, these beans have been a part of human meals for thousands of years. Recordings from France as far back as 6790 BCE make mention of chickpeas. Today they are popular in Indian, Middle Eastern, American, and many more worldwide cuisines.
Like other beans, chickpeas are edible pulses, or seeds of the legume family. Unlike many others in this family, chickpeas have a denser texture and a more neutral flavor.
This mighty legume is also very healthy. Chickpeas contain a ton of nutrients, including folate and manganese, and plenty of fiber. Here’s the nutritional breakdown for 1 cup of cooked chickpeas:
- 269 calories
- 15 grams of protein
- 4.2 grams of fat
- 45 grams of carbohydrate
- 12 grams of fiber
- 26% of your daily iron
How to Cook Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
One great thing about chickpeas compared to other types of beans is that they do not need to be soaked before cooking. It will take a little longer if you skip the soaking step, but it doesn’t add nearly as much time as it does with other beans.
If you do want to soak your garbanzos, simply place the dried beans in a large bowl or pot and fill it with cold water until there’s about 2 inches of water above the beans. Leave the container covered on the counter or put it in the fridge overnight. Soaking for 8 to 12 hours is recommended to cut down on cooking time.
NOTE: For improved taste, we recommend adding 1 tbsp of kosher salt to the water when soaking your chickpeas. This creates a brine that greatly improves the flavor of the finished product.
You can also quick-soak chickpeas by covering them with plenty of cold water, adding 1 tbsp of kosher salt, and bringing them to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer. After 10 minutes, turn off the burner and let the beans sit in hot water for about an hour.
Whether you’re starting with soaked or unsoaked beans, you have three options for cooking your chickpeas: on the stovetop, in a pressure cooker, or in a slow cooker. All come with different pros and cons, but all are still fairly easy to do.
Cooking your chickpeas on the stovetop is pretty straightforward, but does require some babysitting. It can also take a good deal of time, especially if you haven’t presoaked your beans.
For this method, you’ll need a big pot, plenty of water, and a strainer.
- Add your beans to the pot and fill it with water until there is about 2 inches of water above the beans.
- Set the burner to high and wait for the water to boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to a fast simmer.
- For pre-soaked beans, cook for about an hour and 30 minutes. For unsoaked beans, cook for around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
- To avoid burning the garbanzos, keep the water level high enough to cover the beans by adding more water as needed.
- Taste the beans as you near the cook time estimation and pull them off the heat when they reach your desired texture. Less cooking time will result in firmer beans, and more will give you soft beans.
- Strain through a colander and use them in your favorite recipe.
NOTE: That bean water is valuable, especially if you follow a vegan diet. It’s called aquafaba and can be used as an egg white substitute in many recipes.
Pressure Cooker Method
Cooking garbanzo beans in a pressure cooker is by far the quickest method and a great option if you happen to have an Instant Pot or similar appliance.
For this method, you’ll just need your cooker, water, and beans.
- Add your chickpeas to the pot and fill it with just enough water to cover them.
- For soaked beans, cook for 15 minutes (or 25 minutes for beans prepared using the quick soak method). For unsoaked beans, cook for 35 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally (do not manually turn the pressure release valve) after the cooking time has elapsed.
- Strain any excess water and enjoy!
Slow Cooker Method
A slow cooker is a great option if you’ve planned ahead. It takes a long time to cook chickpeas using this method, but it does not require any soaking beforehand. Plus, it’s almost completely hands-off.
For this method, you’ll need your cooker, measuring cups, beans, and water.
- Add your beans to the cooker along with water (6 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans).
- Cover and cook on high for 3 to 3 ½ hours, or on low for 6 to 7 hours.
- Taste frequently and turn off the heat when they’ve reached the desired consistency. Cook longer for soft beans and turn off the heat early for firmer beans
- Drain any excess water and enjoy!
When it comes to canned chickpeas, the hard work has already been done for you. All you have to do is decide how you want to incorporate them into your recipe.
In most instances, the chickpeas just need to be warmed up along with your other ingredients. You can do this by adding them to the skillet or sauce as it cooks. Or by popping them in the oven to get them nice and crispy, as described in this roasted chickpea recipe.
Spice It Up
The above recipes provide the basic instructions for cooking chickpeas so they can be added to your favorite recipes. Of course, you can also cook chickpeas to eat alone or as a side within themselves. If you do this, we recommend adding some spices to the cooking water.
Some of the best options for spicing up your chickpeas include:
- Garlic cloves or garlic powder
- Kosher salt
- Chili powder
- Fresh dill
Storage and Thawing
Freshly cooked chickpeas should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. They will stay good for around 5 days. Similarly, leftover canned chickpeas can be placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days.
Cooking chickpeas in bulk is a great way to cut down on prep time in the future. Once the beans have cooled, take any extra and place them in a ziplock bag or freezer-safe airtight container. You can include the cooking water or not, depending on how you plan to use them in the future. Place the containers in the freezer and use them within about 3 months.
The best way to thaw your frozen garbanzos is to set the container in the fridge overnight. If you’re pressed for time, you can also transfer them to a bowl and cover them with cool water. Change out the water every 10 minutes until the beans have thawed completely.
Our Favorite Chickpea Recipes
Cooking chickpeas is the hard part. Using them to make some amazing recipes is when things get fun. Here are some of our favorite ways to utilize these amazing legumes:
- Chickpea Salad Sandwiches – This vegan take on chicken salad is so delicious, you’ll want to eat it every day. Plus it’s super easy to make.
- Spinach and Chickpea Soup – This thick, garlicky soup is packed with antioxidants and super filling.
- Hummus Four Ways – Hummus is the go-to use for chickpeas. Here, we show you four ways to turn bland beans into a delicious dip.
- Easy Vegan Meatloaf – Didn’t know chickpeas could be used to make meatloaf? Now you do. This savory recipe is simple, hearty, and nutritious.
- Chickpea and Cucumber Salad – The perfect summer salad when you want something healthy but filling.
- Easy Vegan Omelette – This plant-based omelet forces you to get a little creative with your chickpeas (or you can just buy some chickpea flour at the store). But it is worth the work.
- Roasted Chickpeas – Perfectly crunchy and perfectly spiced, this recipe makes the ultimate healthy snack. These crispy chickpeas also make awesome salad toppers.
Don’t forget to save your chickpea cooking water and put that to use too! Aquafaba can be used as an egg replacer in many dessert recipes. Here are a couple of our favorites:
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse – Decadent, delicious, and 100% animal-product-free. You need to try this aquafaba-based dessert.
- Homemade Marshmallows – These vegan marshmallows are better than store-bought and super easy to whip up.
How to Cook Chickpeas
- 1 lb chickpeas dry
- 7 cups water approximate; just make sure you cover the chickpeas with about 2 inches of water.
- Optional: Soak dry chickpeas for 8 to 12 hours.
- Add the beans to the pot and fill with water until there is about 2 inches of water above the beans. Using high heat, bring your water to boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a fast simmer.
- For pre-soaked beans, cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. For unsoaked beans, cook for around 2 hours and 30 minutes.
- To avoid burning the garbanzos, keep the water level high enough to cover the beans by adding more water as needed. Taste the beans as you near the cooking time estimation and pull them off the heat when they reach your desired texture.
- Strain through a colander and use in your favorite recipe.
- To cook chickpeas in a pressure cooker, add the beans, cover with water, and cook for 15 minutes (or 35 minutes for unsoaked beans). Allow pressure to release naturally.
- To cook chickpeas in a slow cooker, add 6 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans. Cook for 3 to 3 ½ hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low.