In this How to cook chickpeas guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about this versatile, tasty, and nutritious kitchen staple.

Knowing how to work with canned and dried chickpeas, store them, and use them to make delicious plant-based meals can be a game-changer for everyday cooking.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the step-by-step process of soaking and cooking dried chickpeas to perfection and how to use them in delicious protein-packed recipes that satisfy every palate.

cooked tender chickpeas in a white sift with hand holding a white spoon

Dietary Note: chickpeas are suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.

1. What are chickpeas?

dried chickpeas in the hands of a woman with nail polish

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, gram, and chana, are an affordable, nutritious, and tasty legume used as a staple in many cultures worldwide, particularly in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and South Asian dishes.

From Indian cuisine, where chickpeas are mixed with flavorful spices and used daily as a staple, think of chana masala, chickpea curry, and cauliflower curry to delicious Middle-Eastern recipes like hummus, falafel, fatteh, and spinach stew.

In Italian cooking, they are used in comforting home-cooked recipes like pasta e ceci and chickpea soup, regional recipes like farinata, and quick and easy recipes like farro salad and chickpea pasta salad.

Falafel on a plate of hummus

Chickpeas are an affordable and healthy protein source widely available in canned, dried, and flour forms.

They are also environmentally friendly, with one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions scores of all protein sources.

Chickpeas are not only delicious in traditional recipes; they also work wonderfully in modern plant-based recipes. Plus, their flour and cooking water (aquafaba) can be used as an egg replacement.

From hummus pasta and chickpea frittata to chickpea frittata muffins, from chickpea tuna salad to crunchy roasted chickpeas, you’ll never get bored of this versatile, delicious, and healthy ingredient.

chickpea curry with spinach

Types of chickpeas

two types of chickpeas
A bowl of ceci neri (black chickpeas) next to a bowl of white chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

Three varieties of chickpeas are most popular worldwide:

  1. White chickpea/Kabuli Chana/Garbanzo: that’s the most common variety in the Western world; they have a light beige color and are commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern recipes.
  2. Desi Chana: this variety is mainly grown in India. They are smaller than white chickpeas and have more rugged skin.
  3. Ceci Neri or black chickpeas: That’s a small, rugged, ancient variety found in Italy, especially in the center and southern regions of Umbria, Apulia, and Basilicata.

    Fallen into disuse in the last century, ceci neri are now coming back as a gourmet ingredient thanks to their incredible taste and impressive nutritional value.

In their dried form, chickpeas need to be soaked before cooking. Canned or jarred chickpeas are already cooked and don’t require soaking – drain and rinse them well under running water.

Q&A: Are garbanzo beans chickpeas? Yes, chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing. The name “chickpea” comes from the Latin Cicer, whereas the name Garbanzo comes from modern Spanish.

2. How to soak chickpeas

chickpeas before and after soaking

Soaking is essential because it makes chickpeas more digestible, breaking down the complex sugars that cause bloating and discomfort.

Soaking also improves the absorption of nutrients, reduces cooking time, and improves the texture of the chickpeas.

Traditional Soaking Method (recommended)

The traditional way of soaking dried chickpeas is a simple, hands-off process that requires minimal effort, and you can do it overnight or during the day while at work.

Put the dried chickpeas in a colander and rinse them under running water to remove soil debris and dust.

Add the rinsed chickpeas to a large pot you will use to cook them. Add plenty of water to cover them by 4 inches or 10 cm. They will triple in volume.

Optionally, stir in a teaspoon of baking soda to help their skin soften (highly recommended if using chickpeas to make spreads like hummus or red pepper hummus).

chickpeas after 12 hours of soaking in a big pot with hands holding the pot

Let them soak at room temperature from a minimum of 8 hours to a maximum of 24 hours; overnight or during the day while you are at work is best.

If soaking for more than 12 hours, we recommend changing the soaking water to prevent bacterial growth.

Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas well before cooking them in fresh water.

Note: as the dried chickpeas soak, enzymes help break down proteins and complex carbohydrates, making the chickpeas more digestible.

This fermentation produces a gassy, earthy, almost eggy smell; be assured that this is normal and there’s nothing wrong with your chickpeas.

Dried chickpeas before cooking in a white sift with two hands

Quick Soaking Method

Put the chickpeas in a colander and rinse them under running water to remove soil debris and dust.

Add the rinsed dried chickpeas to a large pot you will use to cook them. Add plenty of boiling water to cover them by 3 inches or 7 cm.

Optionally, stir in a teaspoon of baking soda to help soften the skin and speed up soaking.

Cover with a lid and soak for 2 to 3 hours. Then drain, rinse, and cover with fresh water before cooking them.

No Soak Method

If you own an instant pot or pressure cooker, you can cook the chickpeas without soaking in about 45 to 60 minutes, covered with 1 inch of water (2.5 cm).

Even when we cook the chickpeas in the instant pot, we prefer soaking them for at least 8 hours, making them more digestible and less gassy.

After soaking, you can cook chickpeas in a regular pot on the stovetop, in an instant pot (pressure cooker), or a slow cooker.

dried chickpeas with a hand and a white spoon

3. How to cook dried chickpeas on the stovetop

Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas well under running water, then add them to a large pot – you can use the same pot where you soaked them.

Cover them with fresh water – you’ll need about 3-4 cups per cup of chickpeas.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently until tender – about 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the size and age of the chickpeas.

Skim off the foam that forms on the surface.

Tip: if you want to add salt, do so towards the end. Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda if you use chickpeas to make hummus.

Chickpeas cooking on stovetop and removing foam with wooden spoon

Check for doneness by pressing one chickpea in between the thumb and index finger. They should be tender and mash easily.

testing the tenderness of chickpeas by squeezing in between fingers

4. How to cook chickpeas in the Instant Pot

If you are serious about eating more legumes (chickpeas, beans, and lentils), we recommend investing in an instant pot, which allows you to cook chickpeas in 15 minutes, hands off.

Instant pot chickpeas also have a better texture and a more concentrated flavor than stove pot chickpeas.

Drain and rinse soaked chickpeas, add them to your instant pot, and cover with 1 inch or 2.5 cm of water.

You can add a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda if you use chickpeas for hummus.

Close the lid and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.

Tip: You can select the beans mode if your pot has it, or go custom mode, high pressure, 10 minutes, no reminder.

instant pot set for 10 minutes cooking

Manual release the steam, remove the lid, and you are done.

removing pressure from instant pot with a hand

You can drain the chickpeas and store them in an airtight container, freeze them, or use them for soups, salads, and stews.

drained and cooked chickpeas in a white sift

5. How to cook chickpeas in a slow cooker

Place soaked chickpeas in a slow cooker, cover with 3 inches of water and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until tender.

This method is the slowest and is only recommended if you have a slow cooker you trust and can leave unattended while the chickpeas cook.

6. Why cook chickpeas from scratch?

chickpea pasta salad

Canned chickpeas are an excellent alternative to dried chickpeas and offer the same nutritional benefits as home-cooked dried ones.

So, if you are short on time and want to eat more legumes, go for it. It is a lot better to eat canned chickpeas than no chickpeas at all!

However, after a few years of eating canned chickpeas, we finally switched to dried chickpeas – also thanks to our instant pot purchase.

Here is why we prefer using dried chickpeas over canned ones:

Easier to digest

This is anecdotal evidence based on personal experience after years of eating chickpeas. We couldn’t find any real science to support this hypothesis.

However, for us, home-cooked chickpeas are much easier to digest.

They don’t cause discomfort and bloating. We often feel bloated and gassy when we eat canned chickpeas (this is true for lentils and beans).

My theory is that as the chickpeas sit in the can with their cooking liquid, they absorb some of the gas-causing sugars.

roasted chickpeas with curry powder

Better taste

Canned and jarred chickpeas often smell foul, and because they sit in their cooking liquid for months, their flavor is compromised.

Homecooked chickpeas taste nothing like canned and have no foul smell.

As they cook, they fill your house with a comforting nutty aroma. They taste beautifully nutty and creamy, and we noticed we eat a lot more of them simply because they taste better.

Better texture

Canned chickpeas are often undercooked and sometimes overcooked. They have a grainy texture, and they are all but creamy.

Soaked and homecooked chickpeas are beautifully creamy, and you can cook them to your liking by tasting them as they simmer.

For example, if you make hummus, you can cook them a little longer with a small amount of baking soda to soften the skin. You’ll have the best hummus of your life.

If you make curries or salads, leave them al dente to keep their shape in the final recipe.

Hummus on a plate with chickpeas in the middle and lemon on the side

Control the ingredients

You can choose organic chickpeas, control the amount of salt, and avoid all preservatives.

To customize their flavor, you can add spices and herbs like cumin or bay leaves.

They are cheaper

While canned chickpeas are certainly not expensive, dried chickpeas are 2 to 4 times cheaper, even factoring in the energy required to cook them.

Plus, you can cook them in batches and store them in the freezer for months.

Sustainability

Consuming canned chickpeas is already massively beneficial to the environment, especially if you substitute them for meat and dairy.

Now, imagine not having to produce and transport all the cans and jars of chickpeas. That’s a huge impact.

Chickpea salad in a white bowl

7. Should I add baking soda when soaking and cooking chickpeas?

While some online opinions mention that baking soda might negatively affect vitamin B6 levels in chickpeas, we couldn’t find any solid peer-reviewed scientific evidence of this.

So, we add a teaspoon of baking soda when soaking 3 to 4 cups of dried chickpeas.

If we make hummus, we add a tiny amount to the cooking water – about 1/4 teaspoon for every 3 cups of dried chickpeas.

Here are some benefits of adding small amounts of baking soda:

Softer chickpea skins

Baking soda makes the soaking water alkaline. This helps break down the pectin in the skin of the chickpeas, making them softer and easier to cook.

This results in chickpeas with a creamier and softer texture.

For example, if you are making hummus, you might want to discard some of their skin. Adding baking soda makes this easier.

discarding the skins of chickpeas

Shorter cooking time

Also, because the skins are softer, the chickpeas cook faster.

A negative side effect is that the chickpeas might overcook and get mushy.

Also, too much baking soda will make the chickpeas taste funny, almost soapy.

So don’t add more than 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of dried chickpeas.

roasted pepper hummus in a white bowl with hand holding a pita bread

8. More questions

How much does one cup of dried chickpeas make?

Like most dried legumes, chickpeas, too, as they soak and cook, absorb water and expand.

Chickpeas triple in volume when cooked. This means that 1 cup (200 grams or 7 ounces) of dried chickpeas makes about 3 cups (510 grams or 18 ounces) of cooked chickpeas, which is enough to serve 3 people.

How many chickpeas per person?

It depends if you eat them on their own or in a soup, stew, or curry with other ingredients.

In general, you should consider about 1/4 cup (50 grams) to 1/3 cup (70 grams) of dried chickpeas per person, which is equivalent to 3/4 cup (130 grams) to 1 cup (170 grams) of cooked chickpeas.

How many chickpeas in one can?

One can of chickpeas contains about 1.5 cups of cooked chickpeas which is equal to about 230 grams or 8 ounces of cooked chickpeas.

What is chickpea flour?

Gram flour, besan, or chickpea flour is made from finely ground dried chickpeas.

It’s a popular ingredient in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cooking, and it’s suitable for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets.

It’s often used as an egg replacement, binder, and thickener; it’s healthy and rich in protein, fiber, and vitamins.

Some popular recipes with chickpea flour are Italian farinata, Indian pakoras, zucchini fritters, chickpea flour muffins, and savory pancakes.

What is aquafaba?

Aquafaba is the liquid in a can of cooked chickpeas or beans.

When whipped, it resembles the texture and consistency of beaten egg whites, and for this reason, it is a popular egg-white replacement in vegan recipes.

If you want to try it, check out our vegan brownies and vegan meringues.

Vegan brownies stacked on white plate

How long does it take to cook chickpeas after soaking?

Soaked chickpeas have a cooking time that ranges from 30 minutes for the fresher and smallest chickpeas to 2 hours for larger and drier ones.

Those times apply for simmering on the stovetop. In the instant pot, soaked chickpeas cook in 10 just minutes.

9. Storage & Make Ahead

cooked chickpeas in an airtight container

Make ahead: Making chickpeas ahead is an excellent idea for meal prep as they keep well for days and even months.

Refrigerator: Drain the chickpeas and let them cool down completely at room temperature in the colander, covered with a lid. Then, transfer them to an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for 4-5 days. They should always be covered in the refrigerator so they won’t dry out and retain moisture.

Freezer: Drain the chickpeas and let them cool down completely at room temperature in the colander, covered with a lid. Then, transfer them in smaller batches in freezer bags and freeze them for 3-4 months.

Thaw & Reheat: Defrost chickpeas in the microwave or over several hours in the fridge. You can add frozen chickpeas directly to soups and stews. Reheat in the microwave or stovetop in a saucepan with boiling water.

cooked chickpeas in a plastic bag for freezer storage

10. How to use cooked chickpeas

Thanks to their versatility, you can use cooked chickpeas in various recipes and cuisines.

They are excellent for making tasty snacks and appetizers, wholesome and delicious breakfasts, and endless main courses and side dishes.

They pair well with most veggies, grains, spices, herbs, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Here are some ideas on how you can use them.

Spreads & Dips

Soups & Stews

Chickpea Spinach Stew on rice with spoon

Curries

Salads

11. Recipes with chickpea flour

13. More cooking basics

cooked chickpeas in a white sift with white spoon

How to Cook Chickpeas

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 1 vote
Knowing how to work with canned and dried chickpeas, store them, and use them to make delicious plant-based meals can be a game-changer for everyday cooking.
Here's how to soak and cook chickpeas to perfection.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Soaking: 8 hours
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6 – 12 servings
Course: Main, Side dish
Cuisine: International

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried chickpeas (about 2¼ cups)
  • 8 cups water + more for soaking and rinsing
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda optional
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Instructions 

HOW TO SOAK CHICKPEAS

  • Add 1 pound dried chickpeas to a colander, rinse them under running water, and add them to a large pot.
    Add plenty of water to cover them by 4 inches or 10 cm.
    Optionally, stir in 1 teaspoon baking soda to help their skin soften (recommended if using the chickpeas for hummus).
    chickpeas after 12 hours of soaking in a big pot with hands holding the pot
  • Let them soak at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours; for example overnight or during the day while you are at work.
    If soaking for more than 12 hours, we recommend changing the soaking water to prevent bacterial growth.

HOW TO COOK DRIED CHICKPEAS ON THE STOVETOP

  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then add them back into the large pot with 8 cups water (you need about 3 cups of water for 1 cup of dried chickpeas).
    Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender – about 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the size and age of the chickpeas.
    Skim off the foam that forms on the surface.
    Tip: If you'd like to salt them, add 2 teaspoons salt 15 minutes before they are done cooking.
    tender chickpeas after cooking on the stovetop
  • Check for doneness by pressing one chickpea in between the thumb and index finger. They should be tender and mash easily.
    Drain immediately and cool down at room temperature in a colander covered with a plate.
    testing the tenderness of chickpeas by squeezing in between fingers

HOW TO COOK CHICKPEAS IN THE INSTANT POT

  • Drain and rinse soaked chickpeas, add them to your instant pot, and cover them with 1 inch or 2.5 cm of water.
    You can add a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (recommended if you use them for hummus).
    Close the lid and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes.
    instant pot set for 10 minutes cooking
  • Manual release the steam, remove the lid, and you are done.
    removing pressure from instant pot with a hand
  • Drain immediately and cool down at room temperature in a colander covered with a plate.
    drained and cooked chickpeas in a white sift

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of chickpeas as a main course (about 1 heaping cup of cooked chickpeas) out of 6 servings.
STORAGE & MAKE AHEAD
Make ahead: Making chickpeas ahead is an excellent idea for meal prep as they keep well for days and even months.
Refrigerator: Drain the chickpeas and let them cool down completely at room temperature in the colander, covered with a lid. Then, transfer them to an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for 4-5 days. They should always be covered in the refrigerator so they won’t dry out and retain moisture.
Freezer: Drain the chickpeas and let them cool down completely at room temperature in the colander, covered with a lid. Then, transfer them in smaller batches in freezer bags and freeze them for 3-4 months.
Thaw & Reheat: Defrost chickpeas in the microwave or over several hours in the fridge. You can add frozen chickpeas directly to soups and stews. Reheat in the microwave or stovetop in a saucepan with boiling water.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 275kcal, Carbohydrates: 46g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 661mg, Dietary Fiber: 13g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 51IU, Vitamin B6: 0.4mg, Vitamin C: 3mg, Vitamin E: 1mg, Vitamin K: 7µg, Calcium: 79mg, Folate: 421µg, Iron: 5mg, Manganese: 2mg, Magnesium: 87mg, Zinc: 3mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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