This comprehensive guide on how to cook dried chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, includes everything you need to know about this nutritious legume. Whether you want to cook them in an Instant Pot, on the stovetop, or in the slow cooker, keep reading to learn all about soaking, cooking, and freezing chickpeas. Plus you'll learn about the effect of salt and baking soda and when to use them!
Chickpeas are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly Lebanese cuisine. You'll find them in popular dishes such as hummus as well as lesser known ones outside of Lebanon, such as balila and fattet hummus.
There are quite a few Lebanese recipes that I want to share with you that include chickpeas in the ingredients, so I decided to start a "Chickpeas Recipe Series". To kick off my chickpeas recipe series, I created this detailed guide for you which includes instructions on how to cook chickpeas in an Instant Pot, on the stovetop, and in the slow cooker.
- What Are Chickpeas?
- Health Benefits of Chickpeas
- Dried Chickpeas vs Canned Chickpeas
- Do You Need To Soak Dried Chickpeas?
- Long Soaking vs Quick Soaking
- Do You Need Baking Soda When Soaking or Cooking Dried Chickpeas?
- Should You Salt The Water When Soaking and Cooking Chickpeas?
- Volume of Dried vs Cooked Chickpeas
- How To Cook Chickpeas in an Instant Pot
- How To Cook Chickpeas on the Stovetop
- How To Cook Chickpeas in the Slow Cooker
- Chickpea Experiment
- My Favorite Methods for Flavor and Texture
- How To Store and Freeze Cooked Chickpeas
- Flavor Variations
- Tips To Make Perfectly Cooked Chickpeas
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Try These Recipes With Your Batch of Cooked Chickpeas
- More Healthy and Delicious Recipes You Will Love
What Are Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a legume from the plant family of legumes called Fabaceae. The chickpea plant produces edible seeds, which are the part we eat. These seeds are left on the plant to brown and dry completely before being harvested, at which point they become referred to as pulses. Other pulses include dry peas, lentils, and beans.
In Lebanon, we commonly enjoy fresh (or green) chickpeas as a snack in the summer, when they are in peak season. Instead of the small, firm, and beige seeds you're familiar with, they are vibrant green, plump, crunchy, and a little juicy. They are such a fun and delicious snack! Here in the US though, I rarely find them fresh, but if I do find them at the Middle Eastern or Mexican market, you best believe I'm filling up a bag of them.
The good news is that even if you can't try them when they're green, dried chickpeas are also a delicious option. When cooked, chickpeas have a mild flavor and creamy texture, making them versatile for all sorts of recipes - whether you leave them whole, blend them, or roast them.
And now in case you're wondering, chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same exact thing. There's no difference at all! Garbanzo is actually the Spanish word for chickpea, which became common to use in the English language. So it's the same exact legume, just two popular names for it.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse and a really amazing source of complete, plant-based protein. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central, one cup of cooked chickpeas contains 14.5 grams of protein, 12.5 grams of dietary fiber, and a significant amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and several vitamins.
Although chickpeas are higher in carbohydrates, they have a low glycemic index, which is perfect for those with issues regulating their blood sugar. Consuming chickpeas regularly can also promote brain and mental health, as well as protect you against heart disease and certain cancers. Check out this article by Healthline to learn about all the benefits of eating chickpeas.
Dried Chickpeas vs Canned Chickpeas
There's no denying it, canned chickpeas are so much more convenient than buying dried chickpeas, and I will never shame anyone for keeping canned chickpeas in their pantry. But I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that cooking your own dried chickpeas is much tastier, healthier, and significantly cheaper than buying canned. Plus it's super easy!
For $1, you can either enjoy one mediocre can of chickpeas OR about SIX cups of perfectly cooked chickpeas. That means you can get four times the amount of chickpeas for the same price by opting for dried instead of canned.
Aside from the cost, there is a remarkable difference in texture when you compare canned chickpeas with ones you've cooked at home from dried. Canned chickpeas are generally grainier and have more of a bite. In Lebanese recipes, they would be considered undercooked.
When you cook your own chickpeas at home, the result is tender, creamy chickpeas that are so addictive you can eat them straight out of the pot. I speak from experience.
And last but not least, cooking the chickpeas from scratch is healthier since you can control the amount of sodium and you won't be adding any suspicious ingredients or preservatives in your chickpeas.
So if you've never cooked dried chickpeas before or you're not sure you're doing it right, this guide is just for you! I will teach you how to cook chickpeas from scratch so you can save some money and enjoy better tasting chickpeas. Let's get started!
Do You Need To Soak Dried Chickpeas?
The short answer is no, you don't need to soak the chickpeas before cooking them. But the fact is, soaking dried chickpeas is something I highly recommend for a couple reasons.
First of all, as with all dried beans and legumes, soaking them actually makes them way easier to digest because it makes them release indigestible sugars. In other words, you may fart a lot if you don't soak them. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Another important reason to soak chickpeas is cooking time. Chickpeas can take ages to cook, but if you soak them in water before you plan to cook them, it will reduce the cooking time by about half.
And finally, soaking the chickpeas allows them to cook more evenly. So if you ask me, I think you should always soak your chickpeas. It's so easy, there's really no reason not to. Unless you're bad at planning ahead, then keep reading...
Long Soaking vs Quick Soaking
There are two methods of soaking chickpeas - long soaking and quick soaking, which sound self-explanatory but here's how you do it:
Long soak: Sort through the chickpeas and discard any stones and discolored or shriveled chickpeas. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl or pot and cover them with several inches of cold water. The chickpeas will almost triple in size so make sure to account for that and add more water than you think you need. If using salt and/or baking soda, add it to the water and give it a stir. Let the beans soak for at least 8 hours, but ideally 12 hours or up to 24 hours. If it is a particularly warm day, place the bowl in the fridge if soaking for more than 8 hours.
Quick soak: Sort through the chickpeas and discard any stones and discolored or shriveled chickpeas. Place the beans in a large pot and cover them with lots of cold water. Place them over high heat to bring them to a boil, then let them boil for five minutes. After that, remove the pot off the heat and let the chickpeas sit in the hot water, covered, for one hour. If using salt and/or baking soda, add it to the chickpeas after removing the pot off the heat, and stir.
As you can see, the quick soaking method involves more babysitting, so if you can get yourself to plan ahead, I'm a bigger fan of the long soak because it requires almost zero effort and results in better soaked chickpeas.
Do You Need Baking Soda When Soaking or Cooking Dried Chickpeas?
This is a debatable topic, as there are some mixed opinions about soaking and/or cooking chickpeas with baking soda. First of all let's talk about WHY baking soda is used.
Baking soda is alkaline, which is the opposite of acidic. When cooking chickpeas, it is not recommended to cook them with anything acidic (e.g. onions, tomatoes, lemon juice) because the acidity can prevent the chickpeas from softening enough.
Enter baking soda. By adding baking soda, you are increasing the pH of the water and making it more alkaline. This helps break down the pectin in the chickpeas which softens their skins better and faster. This is especially important when you are making hummus and want the creamiest consistency possible.
As far as WHEN to add the baking soda, there are several options. Some people like to add it only during soaking time. Others like to add it only during cooking time. Yet other people choose to add baking soda both when soaking and cooking the chickpeas.
Personally, I like to use it only for soaking the chickpeas. Baking soda tastes bitter and salty, so you have to rinse the chickpeas well after cooking them if you use baking soda while cooking.
When I cook chickpeas, I like to save their broth (aka aquafaba), and I don't want any off flavors in it - even if the amount of baking soda used is small. I find that soaking them with baking soda is more than sufficient, so I personally never cook chickpeas with it.
When deciding whether or not you want to use baking soda and whether to add it while soaking or cooking, there are a couple things for you to consider.
First of all, you need to consider the age of your chickpeas. The older and more stale the chickpeas, the longer they will take to cook. I mean, they can take forever to cook and still never get very creamy.
Granted, you don't know how old chickpeas are when you buy them at the store. But if you've had a bag of chickpeas in your pantry for over a year, this is the time to take advantage of baking soda's softening power.
If you need to buy chickpeas, I recommend going to a store that has a high turnover of chickpeas, meaning they are always restocking with fresher chickpeas. A Middle Eastern or Indian market would be a great place to buy dried chickpeas. If you don't have one near you, the bulk bins at grocery stores might be a better option than the bagged chickpeas.
The other consideration when deciding whether or not to cook the chickpeas with baking soda is the nutritional effect it has them. Although many people believe it has no effect, Guy Crosby, a professor at Harvard School of Public Health, confirmed that cooking food with baking soda can damage several nutrients including vitamin C, while not hurting others. Check out this article from The Boston Globe for more details so you can make an educated decision.
But the question that comes up for me is: does soaking the chickpeas with baking soda affect their nutritional value? I couldn't find any article regarding soaking with baking soda.
With that said, I choose to give my chickpeas an extended soak in water with baking soda to soften them as much as possible. But you may choose to soak chickpeas without baking soda if that makes you more comfortable, just expect a much longer cooking time than what my recipe states.
Regardless, you'll want to be patient and cook the chickpeas until you can easily mash them between your fingers into a creamy consistency.
Should You Salt The Water When Soaking and Cooking Chickpeas?
This is yet another debatable question if you ask some people. Many claim that if you salt the water too early in the cooking process, the chickpeas will never soften enough and will stay a little hard or underdone.
I have always cooked my beans with salt, as I truly find that it results in a more flavorful and thoroughly seasoned bean, and I have never experienced issues with the beans not softening.
As for salting the soaking liquid, yes! Soaking the dried chickpeas in a brine helps the salt penetrate deep into them, resulting in more flavorful chickpeas from the inside out.
And that's not the only benefit of salting the soaking liquid. If you're up for more reading, I highly recommend reading Kenji López-Alt's bean experiment over on Serious Eats. I also went ahead and did my own experiment which I elaborate on further down in this post. Long story short, trust me and salt your chickpeas while soaking AND cooking!
Now that you learned my tips and tricks to prep these babies, let's get to how to cook chickpeas - and I have three different and easy methods for you!
Volume of Dried vs Cooked Chickpeas
A lot of recipes online call for canned chickpeas or cooked chickpeas, so it can be confusing to know how much to cook if you are using dried chickpeas. Here is little cheat sheet to help you convert:
- 1 can chickpeas = 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 cup dried chickpeas = 3 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 pound dried chickpeas = 6 cups cooked chickpeas
How To Cook Chickpeas in an Instant Pot
Anyone who knows me or has been following me for some time knows how much I love my Instant Pot. My mom has used a stovetop pressure cooker for as long as I can remember, and that beast of a pot was SCARY to me.
The Instant Pot, though, is so easy to use and saves me so much time in the kitchen with less babysitting. For those reasons, the Instant Pot (or any other electric pressure cooker) is my favorite method of cooking chickpeas and other long cooking beans.
First, drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas until the water runs clear, then place them in the Instant Pot insert and cover with water. Add a little bit of salt, then cover with a lid and set the valve to the sealed position.
If you soaked the chickpeas with baking soda, pressure cook them on high for 15 to 20 minutes depending on how firm or creamy you want them, then allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for about 20 minutes.
If you soaked the chickpeas without baking soda, pressure cook them for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, then allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for about 20 minutes.
However, if you didn't soak the chickpeas, you'll need to pressure cook them on high for at least 45 minutes to one hour, followed by a 20 minute natural release.
Turn the valve to the venting position then open the lid. You will find some white foam, or scum, floating on top of the chickpeas after you open up the Instant Pot lid. It's from the proteins released while cooking the chickpeas. Simply use a strainer to skim the foam off and discard it. That's purely for aesthetics, as it's not harmful to eat that foam.
Keep in mind that the Instant Pot cooking times I'm giving you are for tender, creamy chickpeas which is how they need to be in Lebanese recipes. If you prefer firmer chickpeas, reduce the cooking time to achieve your desired consistency.
How To Cook Chickpeas on the Stovetop
First, drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas until the water runs clear, then place them in large stock pot and cover with several inches of water water. Add a little bit of salt, then cover with a lid and place on high heat to bring to a boil.
Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Some foam will form at the top during the initial part of the cooking process. Simply skim it off with a slotted spoon and discard.
If you'd like firmer chickpeas, cook them uncovered. For creamier, more tender chickpeas, cover the pot with a lid but leave it slightly ajar so it doesn't splatter and rattle the whole time.
Simmer the chickpeas until tender. If you soaked the chickpeas with salt and/or baking soda, it will take about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on how firm or creamy you want the chickpeas. If you soaked the chickpeas in only water, it will take about 2.5 to 3 hours for creamy chickpeas.
How To Cook Chickpeas in the Slow Cooker
You can get away with cooking the chickpeas in the slow cooker without soaking them in advance, but if you're planning ahead and have the time, I would still recommend soaking them.
If not soaking them, sort through the chickpeas, discarding stones and discolored or shriveled chickpeas. Then rinse the dried chickpeas until the water runs clear and place them in the slow cooker with water. Stir in the salt, cover, and cook on high for approximately four hours or on low for eight hours.
Depending on the age of your chickpeas, whether or not you soaked them, and whether you soaked them with baking soda, you may need to cook them for less or more time until they reach your desired texture.
I actually did my own experiment and had my husband blindly taste test a whole lot of chickpeas just so I can be 100% sure about the method I am recommending to you!
For starters, I soaked four batches of chickpeas. One with water only, one with salt, one with baking soda, and one with salt AND baking soda. To keep things consistent, I used the same volume of chickpeas, water, salt, and baking soda. I let them all soak for 15 hours (from 8:30 pm to 11:30 am).
Then I rinsed each batch of chickpeas very well, drained them, and placed each batch in a pot (stovetop and Instant Pot) with three times their volume in water. I also seasoned ALL the batches with salt for cooking.
Cooking times differed, with the batch that was soaked with both salt and baking soda taking significantly less time to reach the creamy texture I was going for - about half the time it took to cook the batch that was soaked only in water (1 hr 45 mins vs 3 hrs 10 mins).
The batches that were soaked in baking soda OR salt fell somewhere in between, at around 2 hours for creamy chickpeas.
As for the Instant Pot, since I only have two of them and I wanted to cook them at the same time so that all the chickpeas are soaked for the same length of time, here is what I did:
I combined the chickpeas soaked in water only with the chickpeas soaked in salt and cooked them together in one Instant Pot, and I combined the chickpeas soaked with baking soda along with the chickpeas soaked with baking soda and salt, and I cooked them together in my second Instant Pot.
So technically for the IP experiment, it was more of a baking soda vs no baking soda experiment, since half of each batch was soaked with and without salt.
Of course, the batch that was soaked with baking soda cooked faster and resulted in creamier chickpeas. At 15 minutes, they were firmer but still creamy. At 20 minutes they were very soft and creamy (but not mushy and without structure).
The batch soaked without baking soda took 20 minutes to cook firmer chickpeas, and 25 minutes for creamier chickpeas. They weren't quite as silky as the batch soaked with baking soda, but similar softness.
Now for the most important part: the overall flavor and texture. I tasted too many chickpeas from each batch, and for me there was a clear winner. I asked my husband to do a blind taste test (poor guy doesn't even care for chickpeas), and to my surprise (and relief), he chose the same batch I did as the winner for flavor and texture. Drum roll...
The batch of chickpeas that was soaked with salt AND baking soda, then cooked on the stovetop, was the clear winner for both of us. The chickpeas were the silkiest, butteriest, and the most flavorful out of all the batches I tested.
A close winner was the batch of chickpeas that was soaked with baking soda and cooked in the Instant Pot. It was super tender and creamy and had great flavor, though not as good as the stovetop. I would think it has to do with the liquid evaporating and concentrating in flavor as it cooks on the stovetop.
My Favorite Methods for Flavor and Texture
In conclusion, here are my methods of choice for soaking and cooking chickpeas:
For soaking, long soak the dried chickpeas with salt AND baking soda for 12 hours. If you prefer not to use baking soda for nutritional reasons, skip it but don't skip the salt!
This is the ratio for soaking: For every cup of dried chickpeas, you'll need 3 cups of water. Stir in 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every 4 cups of water.
As for cooking, if you have the time and the ability to babysit, cook the soaked, rinsed, and drained chickpeas on the stovetop with salt for 1.5 to 2 hours. However, if you can't be bothered with that method, my other favorite and low-effort method is to cook them in the Instant Pot for 15 to 20 minutes followed by a 20 minute natural release.
I do realize that I did not test the slow cooker method in this experiment so it's not a perfect experiment. (But also each pot was a different size, you might have a different pressure cooker, etc, so what is a perfect experiment really?)
To be perfectly honest, I don't care for slow cookers. They are huge and take up a lot of space for just one task. I like to limit my kitchen tools and appliances to things that have multiple uses because I hate clutter. (No, I don't have an onion chopper, apple slicer, avocado scooper, and what not - just my beautiful, trusty knife.)
Therefore, I don't cook my chickpeas in the slow cooker, though many people have reported great success online using the respective settings and cooking times I mentioned earlier.
And there you have it! Now you can make a giant batch of delicious, buttery chickpeas and save them for all your future chickpea needs!
How To Store and Freeze Cooked Chickpeas
Since cooking dried chickpeas is not as convenient as picking up a can at the store, I like to cook large batches at a time and freeze them. That way I have healthier and tastier chickpeas in my freezer ready to be used for any of my recipes.
Allow the chickpeas to fully cool in their liquid, then portion them out for fridge or freezer storage. If you plan on using some of them within 5 days, store the chickpeas with some of their broth in an airtight container and place in the fridge.
Transfer the rest of the chickpeas with some of their broth into freezer-safe containers. I like to use quart sized freezer-safe resealable bags and measure the amount I'm filling them with, that way I can write it on the bag and know how much I have when I look in the freezer. And don't forget to write the date on the bag (do as I say, not as I do haha!)
If you frequently follow recipes that call for canned chickpeas, I highly recommend freezing 1.5 cups of chickpeas with broth per resealable bag or container, that way you have one can's worth of chickpeas ready to go whenever you need them in a recipe.
If using resealable bags, make sure to seal them well. I like to place them in the freezer on a flat surface or a baking sheet until they freeze, then move them to any available spot in the freezer. Otherwise you'll have a very wonky frozen bag of chickpeas that's difficult to stuff in the freezer.
You can store the cooked chickpeas in the freezer for up to six months. To use them, take out the bag and place it on a plate in the fridge and let it thaw overnight. Use it in your favorite chickpea recipes and enjoy!
I also recommend saving any excess chickpea broth, also known as aquafaba, and storing it in the fridge or freezer rather than discarding it. For one, most Lebanese chickpea recipes call for the chickpea broth. And two, aquafaba is very nutritious and flavorful, so it is the perfect liquid to use in a lot of recipes that call for water or broth. Think soups, stews, pan sauces, etc... Plus it makes for a great vegan egg replacement!
To store leftover aquafaba, strain it and pour it into a jar and place it in the fridge. It will thicken up and gelatinize as it cools. Use it within 5 days or place it in the freezer in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months.
You could even pour the aquafaba into an ice cube tray to freeze small portions of it, then once frozen, pop them out and store them in a bag in the freezer. Whenever needed, use a couple aquafaba cubes to add some liquid and flavor when cooking.
I personally like to cook my chickpeas without additional flavors, because that makes them more versatile and ready to use for any recipe. But if you'd like to infuse your chickpeas with more flavor while cooking them, here are some great additions you can throw in the pot to cook with the chickpeas:
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Whole spices such as peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom pods
- Fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary sprigs
- Bay leaves
- Dried or fresh hot peppers
Tips To Make Perfectly Cooked Chickpeas
- Avoid using old and stale chickpeas.
- Don't skip soaking the chickpeas.
- Salt the soaking liquid AND the cooking liquid.
- Add baking soda to the soaking liquid for extra creamy chickpeas.
- Cook the chickpeas until they mash easily between your fingers.
Frequently Asked Questions
I don't recommend it, but you can. If you choose not to soak the chickpeas, your best options would be either in the Instant Pot or slow cooker. You will have to add extra cooking time and they may not cook as evenly as if you had soaked them.
Unfortunately, this happens when you use very old chickpeas. The longer they sit in your pantry, the longer they will take to cook. You can either continue cooking them until they soften, or throw them out and buy a fresh batch from the grocery store to cook.
I once had to pressure cook a batch of soaked chickpeas on high for an hour and a half! And even though they ended up cooking, they never got as creamy as usual.
Adjust the cooking time as needed because this is simply a guide!
Store the cooked chickpeas with some of their liquid in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use them within 5 days. If you made a big batch, store them in freezer-safe bags or containers for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Aquafaba is the liquid that the chickpeas cooked in, in other words chickpea broth. It is very nutritious and flavorful, so you can use it anytime a recipe calls for vegetable or chicken broth.
Aquafaba also makes for an excellent vegan egg white replacement in vegan baked goods or even cocktails that call for egg whites. For a thicker aquafaba that resembles egg whites, you can strain out the chickpeas and simmer the broth to reduce and thicken it. Once it cools, it gelatinizes and can be whipped for use as egg replacement. For more details on using aquafaba in vegan baked goods, check out this blog post by Lazy Cat Kitchen.
Try These Recipes With Your Batch of Cooked Chickpeas
How To Cook Garbanzo Beans (3 Ways!)
- 2 cups dried chickpeas, approximately 1 pound or 450 grams
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- Sort through the dried chickpeas and discard any stones as well as discolored or shriveled chickpeas. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with at least 6 cups of water. Stir in 1.5 tablespoons of kosher salt and the baking soda. Let them soak for 8 to 24 hours.
- STOVETOP: Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then place them in a large pot and cover with several inches of water. Stir in half a tablespoon of kosher salt and place over high heat, covered, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and keep the lid slightly ajar. Skim off any white foam that develops on top. Cook for about 1.5 hours for firmer chickpeas or 2 hours for softer, creamier chickpeas.
- INSTANT POT: Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then place them in the Instant Pot and cover with about 6 cups of water. Stir in half a tablespoon of kosher salt. Close the lid and seal the valve. Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes for firmer chickpeas and 20 minutes for extra creamy chickpeas. Natural release for 20 minutes before opening the lid.
- SLOW COOKER: Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then place them in the slow cooker and cover with about 8 cups of water. Stir in half a tablespoon of kosher salt. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, or until cooked to your desired consistency.
- Let the chickpeas cool in their liquid, then transfer the chickpeas with some of the broth into airtight containers and store in the fridge up to 5 days or in the freezer up to 6 months.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and may vary.
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