20 Easy, Healthy Recipes to Make with a Can of Chickpeas
Wondering what to make beyond hummus? Try these tasty chickpea recipes and see what your favorite can of beans can really do.
Jamie Vespa is a registered dietitian, nutrition and food journalist, and digital influencer who operates the health-centric food blog and social media accounts, Dishing Out Health. She champions the idea that food and the power of cooking can heal, inspire, and help us thrive.
The humble chickpea (AKA garbanzo bean) is perhaps best known for its star role in hummus, the creamy Middle Eastern dip, and don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan! However, the versatility of the chickpea may surprise you. From adding creaminess to vegan chickpea brownies to replacing croutons on a crispy chopped salad, chickpeas are truly a bean for all meals and all seasons.
But first, what are chickpeas?
Chickpeas are part of the pulse family, which are dried seeds of legume plants. You can buy dried chickpeas or canned chickpeas, both of which boast a low price point and long shelf life. Bonus: Canned chickpeas swim in a starchy bean liquid called aquafaba. You may be used to pouring it down the drain, but recently, this liquid gold has gained fame as an egg white replacement in vegan cuisine. Turns out you can whip it into a fluffy meringue for lemon meringue pie or pavlova, or create decadent plant-based macaroons.
Chickpeas are packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants, making them an easy and filling swap for meat. Ounce for ounce, chickpeas actually have four times the iron of a chicken breast! Legumes also have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any food group.
All this aside, perhaps one of the greatest attributes of canned chickpeas is how easy they are to prepare. These powerhouse pulses can serve as the backbone in many pantry-based recipes, creating low-effort and high-reward meals. If you’re wondering what to do with a can of chickpeas, sit back and let this legume light the way.
1. Try beans for breakfast
If you have yet to start your day with beans, you’re missing out on a whole category of fiber-filled breakfast ventures. In the UK, beans are actually considered a staple component of the full English breakfast. (They’re often enjoyed on toast, simply called “beans on toast.”) And while this iconic breakfast duo has nothing to do with chickpeas (the British use canned baked beans in tomato sauce), our friend the garbanzo also has toast-topping potential. Alternatively, toss them in a breakfast skillet with leftover roasted veggies and salsa for a satiating start to the day.
Rise and shine with this chickpea breakfast hash, served with a drizzle of sriracha-tahini sauce for creaminess and heat. Top it with a fried egg or sliced avocado for a healthy, balanced breakfast.
Try mashing some chickpeas with avocado for a higher protein riff on the usual avocado toast. A slick of harrisa paste and Greek yogurt could also form a fabulous foundation for a mound of mashed chickpeas.
2. Mash and make a sandwich
With the right mix-ins, mashed chickpeas are a great stand-in for chicken or tuna as a meatless sandwich filling. Start with a creamy component like mayo or Greek yogurt, or tahini, as in these next recipes, and be sure to add some crunch.
Apples, pecans, and celery create a lot of textural interest here. Once you’ve got it mixed and mashed, enjoy the combo as a protein-rich mid-day snack with crackers, or stacked in a sandwich with fresh spinach (baby kale would be great, too) and shredded carrots for lunch.
In this vegan sandwich, the chickpea filling gets extra savory tang from pickles and capers. Pile it high with your favorite sandwich fixings (lettuce, tomato, red onion), and you’re in for a hearty, hand-held delight.
3. Whip up a dip
There’s a reason chickpeas work so well in hummus. With their sweet, slightly nutty flavor and creamy consistency, they’re the perfect candidates for all your homemade dip endeavors. Simply drain and rinse a can of chickpeas and pop them into the food processor with your add-ins of choice.
Though similar in concept to hummus, avocado stands in for the usual tahini and gives this fresh dip a gorgeous green color. For a variation on the theme, how about Roasted Carrot & Harissa Chickpea Dip?
Chickpeas replace the usual chunks of chicken in this game-day favorite, and pureed white beans and cashews create the creamy texture. With all the nutritious ingredients, cheesy (vegan) flavor, and kick of hot sauce, the dip just might stand in for dinner.
4. Roast and replace chips or croutons
Instead of playing their typical supporting role, chickpeas take center stage as a crunchy snack. When you cook chickpeas in the oven, they crisp up beautifully. Scatter them over a salad for a healthier alternative to croutons, or simply devour by the handful.
Crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these roasted chickpeas with a hint of smoked paprika add quintessential crunch to salads, sautéed greens, or bowls of pasta. Store them in an airtight container so they're handy for snacking, too.
Try roasting chickpeas on a baking sheet with a touch of ancho chili pepper for a little smoky heat and then scatter them over greens and chicken for gluten-free croutons.
5. Toss chickpeas in a salad
With their hearty plant protein, chickpeas can be the driving factor in upgrading a salad from a side dish to the main event.
Looking for weekend meal prep ideas? Drain, rinse, and layer chickpeas with quinoa, marinated artichoke hearts, raw veggies, and other salad fixings for a lunch that can hold up for days refrigerated. At serving time, just top it with greens and avocado.
I particularly love this Mediterranean salad which is hearty enough to stand alone as a meal, yet versatile enough to pair with any entree. Plus, it takes just 10 minutes to prep and holds up beautifully for leftovers (hello, meal prep!).
6. Bulk up a vegetarian curry
For a weeknight curry in a hurry, start with a can of chickpeas. Their mild flavor is the perfect canvas for embracing bold Indian flavors like curry powder and garam masala. A curry is also the ideal pantry meal when you involve a can of coconut milk or tomatoes. Serve over rice or quinoa with a flurry of fresh herbs, and you have all the makings for a weeknight win.
This 30-minute Indian chickpea curry uses sultry spices, coconut milk, and fresh spinach to create a virtuously decadent meal. Vegan, gluten-free, and fiber-filled, it’s nutritious comfort food at its finest.
If your idea of a weeknight win is a recipe that makes plenty for a second meal, check out this big-batch Indian classic, which uses four cans of chickpeas. Fresh ginger-garlic paste and four kinds of spices make the flavors sing. Like the previous recipe, it’s also vegan and gluten-free.
7. Form into fritters
Mashed chickpeas have excellent binding ability, helping create hearty bean burgers and fritters. Crush the chickpeas with a potato masher, or give them a few pulses in the food processor. (Don’t worry about mashing them completely smooth; a few chunks provide great texture.) Switch up the herbs and spices for variety, and this meal prep-friendly option will be a smashing success.
Made with pantry staples, fresh herbs, and a little Parmesan in just 20 minutes, these versatile pan-browned fritters are ready for a salad, a sandwich or wrap, or a good-for-you snack or appetizer with a favorite dipping sauce.
For a different flavor profile, try creating toasty chickpea fritters with a little canned pumpkin and hemp seeds or pumpkin seeds.
8. Make a meatless chickpea “meatloaf”
Take a wholesome, plant-forward approach to a comfort food classic by making a bean-based “meatloaf.” With umami boosters like shiitake mushrooms, tomato paste, and miso paste in the mix, this savory loaf can be just as satisfying as its meaty counterparts.
This vegan meatloaf gets double the legume love with a mix of lentils and chickpeas. Between its hearty texture and rich, savory flavor, it will entice even the most devout carnivores.
Sauteed vegetables, mashed chickpeas, and umami boosters like nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and vegan Worcestershire bake up into a golden loaf to savor.
9. Tuck into a chickpea taco
Chickpeas can help create a fully calibrated plant-powered taco with all the savory qualities you crave (plus protein and fiber, for good measure). The key is to make sure plenty of spices are involved. You can either sizzle the chickpeas stovetop in a glug of olive oil, or roast them until crispy for extra texture. Just don’t skimp on the cool, crunchy fixings.
Cauliflower and chickpeas roast on the same sheet pan for convenience in these hearty tacos. Add a refreshing mango salsa to counter the kick of the chili spice, and these tacos check all the boxes for taco night nirvana.
Saute chickpeas in a little oil plus pantry seasonings (garlic powder, red pepper, cumin, coriander, and black pepper), add shredded cabbage and tortillas, and dinner is ready.
10. Bolster baked goods
Yes, we’re talking chickpeas in baked goods. Blended chickpeas can create soft, cookie dough-like texture in cookies and blondies, often replacing the flour and part of the fat. Plus, their flavor is mild enough to go undetected in sweet treats, especially when chocolate chips or nut butter is involved. Satisfy your sweet tooth while slipping in some extra fiber? Yes, please!
Creamy cashew butter, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and a generous hand with cinnamon make these dairy-free, gluten-free bars a total treat, but they’re secretly good for you.
Chickpeas take the crown for creating irresistible chewy texture in these cocoa-chocolate chip brownies. You can play with the recipe and switch up the chips to peanut butter or butterscotch; or add salty pretzels, mashed Oreos, or colorful sprinkles!
More ways to love chickpeas
Still considering your options for easy and creative chickpea recipes? How about fresh herb falafel, Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Buddha Bowls, or Braised Chickpeas with Tomato, Spinach, and Feta? We have more ideas in the following handy recipe collections.