Cooking Chickpeas: Tips and Tricks to Get It Right

Cooking Chickpeas: Tips and Tricks to Get It Right

We’ve got our fingers on the pulse! Cook your way to creamy, flavorful chickpeas with these handy tips.

Chickpeas — a.k.a. garbanzo beans — are some of the oldest cultivated legumes from Turkey. They're economical, a great source of gluten-free protein, and a cup of cooked chickpeas accounts for about 50% of your daily fiber needs. While their buttery texture is versatile, chickpeas get a bad rap for being time-consuming to prep or embarrassingly, giving diners "wind." Fret not, there are ways around these issues ... and many delicious ways to cook them up, fast.

Here are some of our favorite kitchen tips to successfully cook chickpeas, plus a selection of quick chickpea recipes (that aren’t just hummus).

Getting started

1. Know what you're working with: types of chickpeas

There isn’t just one kind! Kabuli chickpeas are the most common in the United States; they’re big, beige, and will have a thin skin. The Desi variety is smaller, yellow inside, and has a thicker skin compared to Kabulis. In specialty stores such as Indian grocers, you’ll find Desi chickpeas dried, split in half, and labeled as chana dal.

At some late spring farmer’s markets, you may discover fresh green chickpeas. Their fuzzy shells can be a pain to remove individually. Instead, boil or grill them for 2 to 3 minutes and pop them open like edamame.

2. Sticks and stones can break your ... teeth?

Before cooking any dry garbanzos (or any bean, for that matter), check them over for rocks or other debris to avoid any nasty surprises. It can be tedious to look through a bowl; instead, spread them out onto a sheet pan to get a better look.

Cooking chickpeas

3.  How long to soak chickpeas...

Soak dry beans overnight in several inches of water for 8 to 12 hours, and it'll shave 30 minutes off your cooking time — and make them easier to digest. When I’m making any kind of bean, I plan to soak them either right before bed or first thing in the morning. 

4. ...and how to reduce the soaking time

When you don’t have a whole day to soak, bring dried chickpeas to a boil in a large pot for 10 minutes. Cover and do a quick soak for an hour off the heat. Make sure you use a big enough bowl or pot for the soaking stage — these babies can triple in size! 

Still don't have enough time? You don’t have to soak canned chickpeas at all; they’ve been rehydrated for you. Just give them a quick rinse and get cooking! 

5. Time to cook: Set it, don’t forget it

You don't need special equipment to make chickpeas — but it can help. To make them on the stovetop, immerse your chickpeas in several cups of water (they should be covered by at least an inch of water). The cook time will vary depending on whether or not you've soaked them but can still take up to two hours. But with the right equipment, you can leave them unattended and go about your day until dinnertime. 

  • In a slow cooker or crockpot, the cooking time will be about 4 hours on the high setting or 8 hours on low.

  • For automatic pressure cookers like the Instant Pot, unsoaked beans will be done in 50 minutes at high pressure; that time reduces to a mere 12 minutes for pre-soaked chickpeas. Follow pressure cooking with 10 minutes of natural pressure release, and employ the delay timer if you have to be away from home. 

Storage tip! Cooked chickpeas can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days or frozen for a month or longer. (The same is true for canned chickpeas once opened). And no, you don't need to store them in water!

Advanced chickpea cookery

6. Layer on the flavors when cooking dried beans

A benefit of cooking dried beans is that you can infuse them with flavor during the cooking process. Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks suggests adding 1 tablespoon of turmeric to your simmering pot. Or follow the lead of Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen and treat the beans like you’re making a rich broth: toss in a parmesan rind, sage, and a couple of crushed garlic cloves while cooking to enrich the beans with extra deliciousness.

But don’t be tempted to add salt — it can toughen up the texture early on. Instead, taste and salt toward the last 20 or 30 minutes of cooking.

Tip: Speaking of flavor, if you’re tackling a chana masalachili, or stew, rest the finished dish overnight in the fridge to mature the flavors. The beans will soak up more of those lovely spices.

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7. Do you need to remove the chickpea skins?

It is absolutely fine to leave the skins on cooked chickpeas — they won’t hurt you. But some complain that when you roast them, they get stuck in your teeth like popcorn kernels. Removing them before blending also makes for a smoother hummus.

It'll take forever to shell absolutely all of them (it’s ok, let those few go!), but here are a couple tricks you can try to make the process a bit easier:

  • Vigorously rinse and wash canned or just-cooked chickpeas in cold water a few times to loosen the skins.

  • If you’re using the canned stuff, toss the drained chickpeas in 1 tsp. of baking soda for every can and cover with water. Warm them in the microwave or on the stove for 2 to 3 minutes. Rinse them with three changes of water. If you agitate and pinch around in the bowl, skins will slough off and wash away.

  • If you're preparing dried chickpeas, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water

    for every cup of dried beans, then cook the soaked beans using whatever method you choose. (According to Cook’s Illustrated, the baking soda creates an alkaline environment where the pectin breaks down and softens the skins. It also makes the beans easier to digest and reduces the risk of that unpleasant wind we mentioned earlier.)

  • If none of these tips are working, drain and lay your chickpeas on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Let them dry for 30 minutes. Rub them between your palms and watch the shells fall off.

8. Don’t throw away the can liquid

When you drain a can of garbanzo beans, don’t throw away the viscous liquid left behind. It’s called aquafaba and is an excellent vegan egg replacement. It whips like a dream and doesn’t impart a bean-y taste. For every whole egg that you want to replace in a recipe, use 3 tablespoons aquafaba. (Tip: No cans for you? You can make your own aquafaba by cooking dry chickpeas in their own soaking water instead of switching it out.)

9. Make chickpea flour

If you find yourself flush with dried chickpeas, you can make chickpea flour, also called gram flour or besan. Simply grind the beans in a grain mill, clean coffee grinder, or high-powered blender for up to 2 minutes. Sift the flour for chunks and store in a sealed container. Some of our favorite recipes using chickpea flour, include soccaBurmese tofu, and sweet besan ladoo.

Time to eat!

10. Toss ‘em together

Once you’ve cooked your chickpeas, the sky’s the limit! Their mild flavor means they play well with all sorts of ingredients. Drizzle them with salad dressing, salsa, or toss with pesto in a large bowl. Eat them with a fried egg. Mix them with olive oil, spices, and rice for a filling chickpea salad.

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11. A flash in a pan 

Looking for a warm dish? Sauté the cooked beans on the stovetop with a bit of tomato sauce or jarred simmer sauce and scoop the whole thing onto a piece of toast.

For a winter treat, add a cup of garbanzos to warm broth and throw in a handful of your favorite greens (like peppery arugula, spinach, or baby kale) and let them wilt. Or try one of these favorite stovetop recipes.

12. Monster mashup

Chopped or mashed, these beans are excellent binders. Whip up a substitute for chicken salad in a sandwich, fry up falafel or form your own veggie burgers.

13. The oven is your friend

Roasted chickpeas make a crispy, crunchy snack that's also fun to throw on salads for extra texture. Don’t skip the additional drying step in the instructions, but do enjoy these warm — you want them crispy, not chewy. 

With chickpeas, you get so much more than what you pay for. We hope these tips speed you through cooking and fill your belly with goodness.

Now it’s your turn! Let us know how you prepare your chickpeas by using the tag #Yummly on Instagram.

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