Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a versatile legume used in cuisines throughout the world. They are available dried, canned, and ground into flour. Unlike dried beans which need soaking and boiling, canned chickpeas are ready to eat and add convenience to your food preparation. There is no shortage of creative and mouthwatering ways to use canned chickpeas, especially because, with their mild flavor, they go well with many vegetables and other ingredients.
Using chickpeas in hummus, salads, and stews are well-known ways to eat them, but there are other creative ways to use chickpeas that may be quite surprising, such as being an excellent plant-based substitute for meat and cream. In fact, one cup of drained and rinsed chickpeas contains 13 grams of fiber as well as 14.5 grams of protein. These ideas for using canned chickpeas will help you discover the delightful possibilities of this humble legume.
Roast chickpeas for a crunchy snack
Craving pretzels and potato chips? Try swapping chickpeas instead and roasting them to crunchy, satisfying perfection. They’re a delicious, flavorful snack with a boost of protein and fiber to boot. Drain and rinse canned chickpeas and then dress them according to your flavor preferences. This crispy chickpea recipe calls for Italian spices such as garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and the chickpeas are cooked until crispy in a skillet.
Another idea is to toss chickpeas with olive oil, salt, and robust spices like paprika, cumin, or curry powder and roast them in the oven until golden. You can even try sweet roasted chickpeas with maple syrup and za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture. Serve sprinkled over salads or in sandwiches, or pop them on their own for an irresistible snack.
Blend chickpeas into a classic hummus
If you’ve always bought store-bought hummus before, never fear — making homemade hummus is pretty simple. You’ll just need a food processor, and you can save time by using canned chickpeas. There are some complicated recipes, but simplicity often yields the best result. For a classic hummus, just blend your drained and rinsed chickpeas with tahini paste, a little garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
This simple creamy hummus recipe includes olive oil as well. Drizzle olive oil on top before serving, or sprinkle paprika and garnish with chopped parsley for a pop of color and flavor. Here’s a tip: It may be tedious, but popping the chickpeas out of their skins before blending will give you an unbelievably smooth result.
Make barbeque chickpea pizza
Chicken, what chicken? As a vegetarian alternative, top pizza with barbecued chickpeas for a smoky, sweet, filling dish full of moist barbecue flavor. Instead of tomato sauce, spread barbecue sauce on your pizza crust. Top with shredded mozzarella and any toppings you enjoy. Sliced bell peppers and red onions or halved cherry tomatoes work well.
Toss chickpeas in a little barbecue sauce before adding to the pizza. Add a little cayenne pepper or garlic powder if you like extra spice. For a vegan version, hold the cheese and finish with a drizzle or dairy-free ranch dressing after baking.
Use chickpeas as a thickener
Sauces, gravies, and soups are often thickened with flour, cream, or butter, but for a low-fat or gluten or dairy-free alternative, pureed chickpeas work well to add body. Blended chickpeas can be used in most savory soups or stews (or just add whole canned chickpeas, which will soften even more while cooking and can be broken up and stirred with a spoon to the same effect). These will add delightful creamy thickness to any soup that is overly watery. You can use this trick to thicken any dish and even use it to substitute creamy ingredients like the mayonnaise in this creamy coleslaw dressing.
Make a Moroccan couscous salad
Canned chickpeas are a perfect addition to a Moroccan-inspired couscous salad. Moroccan salads are often cooked, unlike cold American salads, and include a variety of veggies and grains. For this recipe, sauté red onion and bell pepper before mixing in canned chickpeas and cooked couscous (simmered in chicken or vegetable broth), olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Chop fresh mint and dried apricots and mix those in at the end to add brightness and sweetness. If you like them, add traditional Moroccan spices like dried ginger, cloves, paprika, or nutmeg for a deeper flavor.
Use chickpeas in plant-based meatloaf
Beans or legumes are often used to make plant-based meatloaf, and chickpeas are no exception. Chickpeas are sturdy and hold up well when mashed and mixed with cooked veggies. This loaf doesn’t taste like meat, but even carnivores will be surprised by the hearty texture and flavor. Mash the chickpeas and mix with sautéed aromatics like onion, garlic, celery, veggies like sautéed carrots, herbs such as thyme, and nuts for more body if desired.
You can bind this with an egg and breadcrumbs, or for a vegan or gluten-free version, stir in a flax egg and oat flour instead. Top with a sweet and smoky maple tomato glaze made with tomato paste or ketchup, balsamic or apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup.
Add to soups and stews
Using canned chickpeas as part of soups and stews makes for a hearty addition full of protein. Chickpea orzo soup takes a classic vegetable soup and adds chickpeas, orzo pasta, lemon juice, and white miso. It’s topped with colorful, vitamin-rich baby kale and parsley. Other soup ideas include a chickpea noodle soup for a comforting vegetarian take on the classic chicken version and a Mediterranean chickpea soup with sweet potatoes, ginger, coriander, and lime.
For a heartier stew, this Moroccan chickpea stew includes spices like ginger, cumin, and cinnamon for a fragrant and satisfying meal. A similar version inspired by the tastes of India could flavor the chickpeas with coconut milk, mint, and turmeric.
Make a Buddha bowl with chickpeas
Buddha bowls are healthy, colorful, and delicious meals that arrange legumes, grains, vegetables, and dressing in a single bowl. The possibilities are endless with this versatile meal, and canned chickpeas work well for the protein section of the bowl. Try a warm and comforting winter version with roasted vegetables and roasted chickpeas or a summer bowl with carrots, green beans, and zucchini.
Avocado is a great healthy fat. Choose a grain like couscous, rice, or quinoa, and don’t forget the dressing. Get creative with dressing choices like honey mustard with yogurt, tahini and lemon with garlic, avocado and lime, or a classic vinaigrette.
Replace ground beef with chickpeas in meatballs
If you can’t imagine your spaghetti without a meatball on top but you’re looking for a plant-based version, chickpeas save the day. They are a good base because they’re filling, packed with protein, and hold together well, not to mention they taste great with pasta sauce. A basic recipe blends together canned chickpeas with brown rice or another cooked grain.
Sautéed aromatics like minced garlic and onion add flavor along with herbs like basil, oregano, or parsley. Bind the mixture together with an egg, or use a flax egg for a vegan version. Sprinkle in breadcrumbs for texture and firmness if it looks too soft. You can even replace the egg with aquafaba, the liquid from canned chickpeas.
Use chickpeas as a base for savory pancakes
The French street food socca and farinata, an Italian version, are savory flatbreads made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pancakes inspired by these foods can be made at home with canned chickpeas instead of flour. For a savory version, blend the chickpeas first and add water, olive oil, and salt to make a batter. Add sliced veggies like zucchini or bell pepper or herbs like rosemary or mint if desired.
Cook in a skillet like regular pancakes or pour the batter into an oven-safe dish and bake. For a more traditional breakfast pancake, blend chickpeas with milk, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda, and top with maple syrup after cooking in a skillet.
Bake a chickpea frittata
A chickpea-based frittata is a creative take on a classic frittata and mixes mashed chickpeas with the traditional base of eggs. Whether your goal is to add plant protein to your meal, find a substitute for cream or milk, or just enjoy the flavor of this legume, you’ll be surprised at how chickpeas work in this dish. Just like with a traditional frittata, there are many possibilities.
Choose vegetables like leeks, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, broccoli rabe, bell pepper, spinach, artichokes, mushrooms, and red onion. Remember that the color of fresh veggies will make your dish even more beautiful. These cooking tips for the best frittata apply here too.
Include chickpeas in curry
Chickpeas and curry are a delightful combination, and many people are familiar with the Indian chickpea curry called chana masala. This instant pot chana masala recipe has all the goodness of warm, aromatic Indian spices and nutritious, filling chickpeas while saving you time in the kitchen.
To make it, first sauté onion and garlic with cumin and mustard seeds. Then add a spice mixture of coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne pepper before adding rinsed and drained chickpeas, broth, and canned tomatoes and covering the pot. Cook under pressure for just eight minutes and let it sit for fifteen minutes before uncovering, stirring in lemon juice and cilantro, and serving with naan, pita bread, or rice for a complete meal.
Try a chickpea salad sandwich
You may not know that you can mash chickpeas and mix them with mayonnaise and other ingredients to make a plant-based version of tuna or chicken salad. While it doesn’t taste like fish or meat, the texture is just as moist and satisfying, and the flavors are delicious. You can easily whip up a basic version by adding regular or vegan mayonnaise, diced celery and onion, and salt and pepper and serving on sliced bread with lettuce and tomato.
Play around with ingredients like avocado, lemon juice, and mustard, and if you miss the fish flavor, add some dried seaweed. Some tips to improve vegan chicken salad are to mix in tahini, add herbs like dill, and include raisins for sweetness.
Transform aquafaba into whipped desserts
It turns out that the humble liquid in canned chickpeas, which most people pour down the drain, can be transformed into vegan meringue to use in recipes such as pies and cakes. This liquid is called aquafaba (which means "bean water" in Latin), and it’s basically free.
Whipped aquafaba creates a foam that traps air and, especially when combined with cream of tartar, forms the same stiff peaks egg whites do, making baked goods fluffier while also giving them more structure. You can use aquafaba to substitute whole eggs as well since it works to bind ingredients together (with the added bonus of reducing waste at the same time).
Chickpeas are an important ingredient in falafel, an irresistible food that’s warm and crispy on the outside and moist and flavorful on the inside. Dried chickpeas are usually used and mixed with onion, garlic, and lots of herbs and spices like parsley, cilantro, cumin, and coriander before the mixture is shaped into small balls and fried.
While the traditional method uses dried chickpeas, if you don’t want to soak and cook them, you can make falafel with canned chickpeas by keeping in mind a few considerations. Make sure your chickpeas are completely dry before using them, and add some flour like chickpea flour or an East Asian cooked flour and water mixture known as tangzhong.
Use in Mediterranean dishes
Canned chickpeas lend themselves well to healthy and colorful Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Make a Mediterranean chickpea salad with chickpeas, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, red onions, olives, and feta cheese, and top with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. A light vinaigrette or citrus dressing also works well, or try this lemony dressing with Dijon mustard and herbs to complement the chickpeas.
Finish by sprinkling some fresh herbs like mint or parsley on top for flavor. You can add a grain like couscous, rice, or quinoa for a complete meal. The same ingredients can be assembled inside a tortilla for a Mediterranean version of a wrap.
Make chickpea tacos
Mashed chickpeas turn into a protein-rich, healthy, and satisfying filling for meatless tacos that even carnivores can enjoy. There are many ingredients that add flavor to this unconventional filling. Combine mashed chickpeas with chopped onion and an abundance of spices like garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, coriander, or chili pepper. Add salt to taste and freshly squeezed lime juice.
Opt for a flavorful topping like avocado cream (made with mashed avocado, lemon juice, water, and salt) or lime and coriander cream (made with lime juice, coriander, and sour cream), or top with fresh ingredients like radishes, mango, or cilantro.
Use chickpeas in pasta
Chickpeas and pasta are a match made in heaven, especially when there’s tomato sauce involved. When eaten with vegetables, the protein-rich chickpeas contribute to a balanced meal. Pasta e ceci, a classic Italian favorite, originates in Central and Southern Italy and is made with short pasta shapes like casarecce, ruote, tubetti, and lagane. In this version of pasta e ceci, chickpeas are simmered with garlic, onion, rosemary, crushed red pepper, and plum tomatoes and served with al dente pasta and Parmigiano.
Try making an American pasta salad with chickpeas, olives, cubed mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil, or create a Greek-inspired warm pasta dish with cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and olive oil.
Make chickpea veggie burgers
Veggie burgers can be made with different protein sources like black beans, lentils, and tofu. Chickpeas are another excellent choice for delicious homemade burgers. Mash the chickpeas and combine them with cooked vegetables like carrots, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, or bell peppers. Use your favorite herbs and spices and add a cooked grain like brown rice. Mix in an egg or a flax egg for vegans, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle on a small quantity of breadcrumbs or oat flour if it looks too wet.
Shape into patties, drizzle olive oil on top, bake, and enjoy. This black bean burger recipe spices things up with smoked paprika, chili powder, and soy sauce. Just sub chickpeas for the black beans.
Use chickpeas in salad
Chickpeas can be a beneficial addition to many kinds of salads, from a simple garden salad to a Mediterranean salad to a couscous or quinoa bowl topped with chickpeas, fresh veggies, and a zesty dressing. They add protein and fiber and help make the dish more filling. Try a Southwestern salad by combining chickpeas with black beans, corn, red onions, and a creamy avocado lime dressing.
A refreshing summer salad could contain chickpeas with sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, fresh green beans, radishes, and bright, fresh herbs like basil or mint. This aromatic Moroccan chickpea salad includes garlic, Dijon mustard, marjoram, oregano, and paprika for a flavor punch. Kalamata olives, dried apricots, and pistachios are stirred in for even more flavor.
Bake delicious chickpea brownies
When it comes to sweet, rich, moist, and decadent brownies, chickpeas as an ingredient don’t usually come to mind. Using chickpeas for a healthier version of traditional brownies is an unexpected win. They can be used as a flour substitute and add protein and a fudgy texture to this dessert. Chickpeas can be combined with ingredients such as cocoa powder, flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, and oil.
You can substitute almond butter for the oil for a richer result or even peanut butter if you like the taste. Fold in dark chocolate chips if you like extra bits of chocolate in the final bite, and top with chocolate frosting for even more gooey decadence.
Make sweet or savory waffles
Canned chickpeas can even be used in waffle batter. Chickpea waffles can be made as a more traditional sweet version eaten for breakfast or as a savory version to enjoy at any time of day. These savory falafel waffles with Armenian cucumber slaw are a unique take on the classic dish. Chickpeas, flour, milk, veggies and a variety of herbs and spices are combined to make the batter.
After cooking, the waffles are topped with a slaw featuring Armenian cucumber, carrots, and parsley, and a harissa yogurt sauce made from Greek yogurt, harissa paste, lemon juice, and salt is drizzled on top for a final mouth-watering result. Please pass the seconds.
Roll some chickpea energy balls
Energy balls are tasty little round snacks that can give you a quick burst of energy, provide a dose of healthy fats, and satisfy a sweet tooth all at the same time. Canned chickpeas can be used in these too. Blend mashed chickpeas with a variety of add-ins like cocoa powder, coconut flakes, and crushed nuts. Mix in pureed dates for sweetness and to help the mixture hold together well. Roll the final balls in crushed pistachios, cocoa powder, or cinnamon for a fun surface look.
Have fun with flavors by making a version with peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla, or make a cookie dough version by folding in chocolate chips. Refrigerate and enjoy whenever you need a boost.
Believe it or not, you can even make vegan mayonnaise with aquafaba, the liquid inside cans of chickpeas. Mayonnaise is traditionally made with oil and eggs, and the same qualities that make aquafaba a whipped and foamy egg replacement for baked goods help it transform into a unique mayonnaise too. You’ll need a blender running on high for this process.
Blend aquafaba with vinegar, mustard, and salt. You can even add honey or maple syrup for a touch of sweetness. Then, very slowly, over the course of a couple of minutes, pour in oil like sunflower, canola, or olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Amaze your guests.
Create dairy-free ice cream with chickpeas
Believe it or not, chickpeas can be used to create creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, dairy-free ice cream. You can’t taste the chickpeas, and they actually make the ice cream creamier, just like a custard-based ice cream made with eggs. The secret is to add cornstarch, which is used in Sicilian custard ice creams. The cornstarch is mixed with some non-dairy milk and whisked until it thickens. The cornstarch is mixed with some non-dairy milk and whisked until it thickens. The result is decadent creaminess.
For a chocolate chickpea ice cream, ingredients like cocoa powder, sugar, and nut butter are added to the chickpeas, milk, and cornstarch. Of course, chickpeas also lend themselves to other ice cream flavors, like pistachio, lemon, and butter pecan.