Chickpeas 101: Your Ultimate Guide to Chickpeas

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How to Buy, Cook, Use, and Store Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans, Bengal gram, and Egyptian pea) have satisfied countless hungry adults and children. They’re food heroes.

It goes like this…

You come home from a busy day of work. After going for a jog, you’re starving. And you don’t feel like cooking. Can you wait 45 minutes for a bag of unhealthy food to get delivered?

But wait, you have a can of chickpeas in your pantry! Instant dinner.

Sound familiar?

A can of chickpeas is a lifesaver. You can make chickpeas even more convenient and affordable by learning how to cook dried chickpeas.

You know what they say:

“Give a man a can of chickpeas, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to cook dried chickpeas, he’ll eat for a lifetime”.

No one actually says that, but it kinda holds true.

Chickpeas can be cooked a variety of ways to create a delicious and healthy dish in just a few minutes. They will save you time and make meal prep easier.

The biggest advantage of chickpeas? They provide you the peace of mind that you are just a few minutes away from a healthy meal.

This guide will help you learn everything you need to know so you can master chickpeas. You’ll gain the confidence that you can whip up a 5-minute meal as long as you have some chickpeas in the kitchen.

Are Chickpeas the Same as Garbanzo Beans?

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Are chickpeas the same as garbanzo beans?

Yes, chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing.

The term chickpea comes from the Latin word: cicer. Over time, the name for chickpeas evolved from cicer to what we say today in most of the world: chickpeas.

However, Spanish bean eaters use the word “garbanzo” to call the same bean. This term dates back to the 1750s in the Basque region of northern Spain. The term stuck with cuisine coming out of that region and is still used today in some parts of the world.

Dried chickpeas

What Are Chickpeas?

Now that we have the chickpea vs. garbanzo debate settled (they’re the same thing), I will use the word “chickpea” in the rest of this guide.

Chickpeas are in the legume plant family. They are the seed (or “pulse”) of the legume plant that produces them. They have been around for hundreds of thousands of years with the earliest human recordings dating to over 9,000 years ago in France.

Today, India produces over 50% of the world’s chickpea supply. Chickpeas are a staple ingredient in Mediterranean, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines because of their versatility, nutritional benefits and availability.

Chickpeas play a huge role in diets that do not contain meat because they are one of the best plant-based protein sources. They are especially important in vegan and vegetarian diets.

Chickpea Nutrition

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA, 0.5 cup (125 grams) of canned chickpeas (about 3.5 servings per can) has the following nutritional values:

  • Calories: 160
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 26 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Sugar: 1 grams

So, chickpeas are primarily carbs with healthy doses of protein and fiber. Perfect for using as the base of a healthy meal.

Health Benefits of Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a critical component in plant-based diets because of their relatively high protein content. They are also packed with other vitamins and minerals. According to Healthline, chickpeas are rich in folate, fiber, phosphorus, and iron to name a few.

The high protein and fiber content means that chickpeas will help you feel full. This leads to better weight management and appetite control. Chickpeas also have certain characteristics that may help defend against heart disease and cancer.

Chickpeas are a great source for carbohydrates. They are low on the glycemic index. Meaning that they help keep your blood sugar from spiking after eating.

It takes time for your body to absorb and digest chickpeas. This helps defend against post meal fatigue, weight gain, and diabetes. Much different from eating a slice of pizza or bowl of pasta made using refined carbs.

Chickpeas and chickpea flour

Potential Downsides of Chickpeas

As you learned, chickpeas are super healthy. They play a huge role in plant based and vegetable rich diets because of their protein content. But, there are two known potential downsides of chickpeas.

First, chickpeas and all legumes have natural compounds called saponins. This compound is what causes the foaming in a can of chickpeas. Saponins haven’t been shown to cause any issues in humans, but they are toxic to fish and other cold-blooded animals. They have also been shown to cause upset stomach and diarrhea in some other animals.

Second is that canned chickpeas may come in a BPA lined canned. BPA is linked to a range of possible health effects. But, you can take steps to mitigate this risk.

Look for cans with a non-BPA lining which will obviously eliminate this risk. In any case, rinse canned chickpeas under running water before consuming. This will help rinse off any residue.

How to Buy Chickpeas

Types of Chickpeas

If you live in America, you’ve probably only seen one type of chickpea. And it’s beige and round. But, there are several types of chickpeas widely used throughout the world:

  • Kabuli – This is the large, light colored rounds that are commonly found in America. These are nutty, creamy, versatile and have a thin skin. These are mainly grown in South America, Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean region. A
  • Desi – Small, dark chickpeas with a yellow interior and thick skin. These are mainly grown in India, Mexico, Iran and East Africa. Also known as Bengal Gram or Kala Chana. Most of these chickpeas are skinned and split. These split desi chickpeas are called chana dal.
  • Green – These are immature chickpeas that are still in their pod. Green chickpeas are tender and will cook much faster than mature, dried versions.

How to Buy Chickpeas

Not only are there several types of chickpeas, you can also buy them in several ways. Here are the primary forms you’ll find chickpeas.

Dried

Dried chickpeas are the ultimate affordable meal prep ingredient. You’ll typically find dried kabuli chickpeas in the bulk section of your grocery store. Dried chickpeas are much cheaper than the canned version.

Store dried chickpeas covered in an airtight container at room temperature. Although they will technically last for 2+ years, dried beans do lose moisture and become more difficult to cook over time. So, use within a year or so max.

Also, buy from a supplier or grocery store that goes through their inventory often to ensure the beans weren’t sitting in the bulk section of their store too long.

Dried (split)

The majority of desi chickpeas are skinned and split to create chana dal. This quicker cooking variety is primarily used in soups or stews in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine. Use these similar to lentils or split peas.

Chana dal

Canned

The almighty can of chickpeas is probably the most widely available and used form (in the U.S., at least). Choose cans that:

  1. Do not have a BPA lining – This should be indicated on the can label somewhere.
  2. Do not have any preservatives – The ingredient list should be short and sweet like chickpeas/garbanzo beans, water, and maybe salt. Avoid ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
  3. Have minimal or no salt – Most canned chickpeas do have added sodium, but there are also no-salt options. The amount ranges from less than around 90 mg (about 4% of recommended intake) to over 400 mg (up to 20%). So, I recommend avoiding anything on the higher end.
  4. Are organic (optional) – I try to buy organic when the cost isn’t too outrageous. I find that organic chickpeas are typically only 20 – 30 cents more than conventional. Something I can handle if I’m only buying a can or two. If I need more chickpeas than that, then I’m going dried anyway.

Flour

Chickpea flour is widely used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. It is also used throughout traditional Indian and Mediterranean dishes. It is your secret ingredient in keeping falafel or other patties together.

Chickpea flour

Roasted

Roasting chickpeas at home is super easy. More on this below. But, you can buy chickpeas already roasted as well. Roasted chickpea snacks are an increasingly popular and healthier alternative to potato chips or other salty snacks.

Where to Buy Chickpeas

You can find dried and canned chickpeas at your local grocery store. Chickpea flour and roasted snacks are a bit harder to find, but they are available at large and/or specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Chana dal is the hardest to find. Your best bet to find them locally is at an Indian market.

Another option for buying chickpeas in all their glorious forms is ordering online. You can purchase them off Amazon and get them delivered right to your door.

Thrive Market is an online market that offers organic, non-GMO foods at a discounted rate for its members. If Costco, Whole Foods and Amazon had a baby, it would be Thrive Market. And it will meet your chickpea needs.

Get $20 in shopping credit when you purchase a Thrive Market membership through this link.

How to Cook Dried Chickpeas

Soaking Dried Chickpeas

Dried chickpeas need to be soaked prior to cooking using one of the methods below. This will make them easier to digest and cook more quickly.

Option 1: Long Soak – Soak chickpeas in water so that it covers them by a few inches. They will roughly double in size. Add 1 tablespoon of slat for every pound. Let soak at least 8 hours.

Option 2: Quick Soak Method – Add dried beans to a large pot and fill with water so it covers them by a few inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 1 hour.

Cooking Chickpeas – Stove top

Add drained chickpeas to a large pot of water salted. Add 1 tsp. for every pound of chickpeas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes – 1.5 hours until tender.

Check out this post on How to Cook Dried Beans for more details on this method.

Cooking Chickpeas – Pressure Cooker

Add drained chickpeas to cooker. Cover with a few inches of water – about 6 cups per pound of chickpeas.

Cook chickpeas on high pressure for 5 minutes and natural release for 20 minutes. Release the remaining pressure before opening the lid.

Cooking Chickpeas – Slow Cooker

No need to soak chickpeas before cooking in a slow cooker. Add chickpeas and enough water to cover by a few inches- about 8 cups per pound of chickpeas. Close cooker and cook on high for 8-10 hours until chickpeas are tender.

How to Tell When Chickpeas Are Done

The chickpeas should be creamy and tender on the inside, but not mushy. You should be able to squeeze them with your fingers. You’re trying to match the texture to a can of chickpeas, so note their tenderness next time you have a can.

The length of time it takes to cook chickpeas depends on their freshness. If chickpeas are really fresh, they’ll cook much quicker.

How to Store Cooked Dried Chickpeas

You can use cooked chickpeas immediately or let cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator. Store drained or directly in their cooking liquid. The beans will last 3-4 days.

Dried Soaked and Cooked Beans
Dried, Soaked, and Cooked Chickpeas (from top to bottom).

Dried Versus Canned Chickpeas Conversions

Here is a little math that will come in handy. Below are some general dried bean conversions. Remember, canned beans are just cooked beans.

  • 1 pound dried beans = 6-7 cups cooked beans
  • 1 pound dried beans = 2.5 – 3 cups dried beans
  • 1 can of beans = 1.5 cups of cooked beans
  • 1 can of beans = 9 oz. of cooked beans
  • 3/4 cup dried beans = 1.5 cups of cooked beans (about the same as a can)

As a general rule, dried beans about double through the soaking and cooking process.

How to Prepare Cooked or Canned Chickpeas

Now that you have your hands on cooked chickpeas either in a can or cooked from dried, it’s time to turn them into even more delicious dish.

Drain and rinse canned chickpeas or cooked chickpeas before performing one of the below methods.

How to Roast

Want a quickly and healthy snack? Or an instant salad topper to add some crunch? Then try roasted chickpeas.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet and pat dry with a kitchen towel. The drier you get them, the crispier they’ll become.
  3. Toss them with olive oil and kosher salt.
  4. Roast for about 20 minutes or until crispy, shaking the pan once halfway through cooking.
  5. Toss with your favorite spices like paprika, cumin, and/or black pepper. (optional)
  6. Use immediately or let cool and store in a jar with some headroom or a lightly covered bowl. Roasted chickpeas will start losing crispiness have a day or two, but will keep for up to 5 days.
Roasted chickpeas

How to Sauté

Sautéing chickpeas in a hot pan with olive oil will also give you browned and flavorful results. Here’s how:

  1. Heat about 2 Tbsp. olive oil per can of chickpeas over medium heat.
  2. Pat chickpeas dry with a kitchen towel. Add to pan and sauté until chickpeas become are golden and slightly blister, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Season with salt. Toss with your favorite spices like paprika, cumin, and/or black pepper. (optional)
  4. Use immediately or let cool and store in a jar with some headroom or a lightly covered bowl. These chickpeas will start losing crispiness have a day or two, but will keep for up to 5 days.

Other Ways to Use Chickpeas

One of the reasons chickpeas are so widely used is because of their versatility. Roast them, fry them, mash them, pulverize them, add them to soup, add them to stew, and the list goes on.

Here is a rundown of some other popular chickpea cooking techniques.

Marinated Chickpeas Meal

How Can I Use the Leftover Liquid (Aquafaba) in the Can?

Aquafaba is the fancy term for the liquid that is leftover in the chickpea can. It is also the liquid leftover from cooking dried chickpeas, but it is much thinner and less useful.

Its main use is as an egg substitute in vegan recipes. Aqaufaba helps bind brownies and cookies together, serves as the binder for homemade vegan mayo, and even can be whipped into merringues.

Check out this guide from Minimalist Baker for more ideas on how to prepare and use aquafaba.

Can of chickpeas

The Important Lesson: Always Have a Can of Chickpeas in Your Pantry

I can’t think of anything in my pantry cupboard that provides me with more piece of mind than the two cans of chickpeas I have in there. That is two $1 and 5 minute dinners when.

When you’ve mastered canned chickpeas, I highly recommend learning to cook dried chickpeas. Your wallet and meal prep dishes will love you for it.

If a can of chickpeas (about 1.5 cups) give the confidence that dinner is only a few minutes away, think about if you had 4 or 5 cans (how much you get from 1 pound of dried chickpeas) worth of cooked chickpeas in your refrigerator. You can rest easy.

Next, you’ll need to get your hands on some high quality chickpeas. Check out Thrive Market for all of your organic, non-GMO chickpea needs. Plus, get $20 in shopping credit when you purchase a Thrive Market membership through this link.

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