How To Cook Chickpeas in the Slow Cooker

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Instructions on how to cook chickpeas in the slow cooker – my new favorite way of cooking any legume.

slow-cooker chickpeas

Have you seen the commercials for direcTV? I’m talking about the ones with far-fetched hypothetical scenarios that lead to misfortunes as a result of cable TV service outage. How we decided to remodel our kitchen is like one of those stories. Here’s how it goes:

“When your husband can’t get ice out of the freezer for a cold drink in the 100-year-old house that you just bought, he decides to get a new refrigerator.

When the refrigerator arrives in the delivery truck, we learn the counter it must get past to get into the kitchen isn’t code compliant, as it’s too long.

When the risk of turning the refrigerator on it’s side to pass over the non-compliant counter to get it into the kitchen is to lose all warranties, the delivery men leave with the refrigerator.

When all hope for ice cubes is driven away, the husband begins to plan to take out the non-compliant counter.

When he begins drawing ideas for taking out the non-compliant counter, suddenly you’re designing a counter-height dining table with cabinets underneath it to replace the non-compliant counter, which eliminates the need (and space) for the dining room set the wife loves.

So, if you don’t want to ending up selling a dining room table you love, make sure you buy a house that has a freezer that makes ice for cold drinks.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited over the new kitchen, really really excited, and I can’t wait to see the new table island, but it does seem silly at times to realize we’re doing all this to get ice cubes.

So the remodel starts next Tuesday, and my slow cooker is about to become my new best friend. It will take a few weeks to get the new floor, countertop, cabinets, appliances, sink, lighting and counter-height table in. Someday I’ll use the calculator function on my iPhone to see what the payback is as measured by bags of ice.

In anticipation of a month of slow cooker dinners, I started experimenting with cooking beans. And I’ve gotta tell you, it’s now the ONLY way I cook dried beans. As a note: chickpeas are loaded with protein, and are generally my “go-to” bean, so these directions are specific to them.

Do you have problems getting your beans to soften?

One of the most common complaints I hear from readers about cooking beans from a dried form is that sometimes they stay firm, or at least never completely soften. There are a number of things that can cause this:

1. The beans were improperly stored, or are too old. Beans stored for longer than 12 months may never soften.

2. The beans hardened during an unusually hot humid growing season.

3. Acids were added during the cooking process, like tomatoes or citrus. Acids harden the skin of beans.

4. I’ve read that hard water (mineral-rich water) may make it very difficult to soften beans.

Things you can do to get tough beans to completely cook:

1. Add 1/4 tsp – 1/2 tsp baking soda per 1 gallon water, although you risk mushy beans if they’re normal. This will also shorten the cook time.

2. Add 3 Tbsp salt per 1 gallon water, but don’t do this in addition to the baking soda.

3. Use a pressure cooker and add 10 minutes to the cook time.

4. Pre-soak the beans overnight. This should be done in conjunction with the other recommendations.

5. Use vegetable broth if your water is unusually hard.

Cook’s Tips

  • Cook time is dependent on the type, size, and age of bean, and slow-cookers vary. I cut a couple of beans in half to check for doneness.
  • I never, ever remember to pre-soak my beans. If you have a better memory, and want to shorten the cook time, cover the beans with a couple of inches of water in a heavy pot for an overnight pre-soak.
  • If you forget to do a pre-soak, but still want to shorten the cook time, simmer the beans for 10 minutes, drain, and add to the slow cooker with fresh broth. I recommend pre-heating the broth.
  • I used to be in the no salting until they’re cooked camp. I’ve since changed my opinion. I add 1 tsp salt for every 1 cup dried beans in the beginning before the water heats up.
  • For other ways of cooking chickpeas, go here.

Important Note: 

A toxin called phytohaemagglutinin, also known as kidney bean lectin, is found in many beans – and is particularly high in kidney beans. In fact, ingesting just a few raw, or improperly cooked, kidney beans can make you very sick. Slow cookers don’t heat the beans to a high enough temperature to rid them of the toxin, and in fact can make it worse. Other beans, including white kidney beans, broad beans and lima beans, contain the same toxin in smaller but still dangerous amounts. This is easily solved by boiling them for 10 minutes, draining, and then cook in fresh broth or water in the slow cooker. This risk does not apply to chickpeas.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Slow-Cooker Chickpeas
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A great way to cook chickpeas is in the slow-cooker. No worries about water boiling away, and the beans are much less inclined to split apart. You'll get beautiful cooked chickpeas every time.
Serves: about 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 32 ounces vegetable broth or water
  • ½ onion, peeled but otherwise left whole
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 dried pepper (optional)
  1. If you haven't pre-soaked the chickpeas overnight, spread the dried beans on a baking sheet and throw out any stones. Rinse well.
  2. Place the beans in the slow cooker with the vegetable broth (or water), onion, salt, and dried pepper if using. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or until tender. Drain.
  3. Reserve any leftover liquid to use as a vegetable broth substitute in other recipes. Discard the onion and dried pepper.

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  1. Myles says

    I am so looking forward to a month of slow-cooked pork and beans, provided of course that Susan will allow pork to sneak into her slow cooker. Oh, well, good for the heart, I guess, and the more you eat….

    • Matthias says

      you write that garbanzo beans do not contain the dangerous toxin called phytohaemagglutinin. Have you found any background info on that? I can only find that everybody mentions kidney beans whenever they bring this topic up, but nobody explicitly mentions that lentils and garbanzo beans are safe for slow cooking.


  2. says

    I’ve always been a bit put off by cooking times for dried legumes.. I have to admit that I’ve bought canned chickpeas for convenience on many occasions! I do always feel that it’s worth cooking legumes from scratch though. They’re so much tastier :) This slow cooking method sounds fantastic! And when preparing chickpeas ahead… slow cooking them whilst doing other things… there’s not a whole lot of frustration whilst waiting for them to cook! Yay. Love this recipe Susan. Yum! x
    laurasmess recently posted..Freekeh and Herb Salad with Hot-Smoked Salmon, Pomegranate and FetaMy Profile

    • Kathy says

      Yup, that was a Very humorous story! I laughed pretty hard! Thank You for that very good laugh, which i don’t have enough of… From one Vegetarian to another Wimpy Vegetarian! And the ideas about Beans!

  3. says

    Good luck with the re model, hope to see some before and after posts.
    I have to admit I usually buy my beans canned, I don’t have a slow cooker but have been meaning to buy one for the longest, I love your recipe, it’s simple and healthful and one thing I love about chickpeas is how they are not just versatile but they hold their shape and texture when cooked, Love using them in salads as well as hummus!
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..Genoise Or Sponge Cake- Another recipeMy Profile

  4. carol says

    Don’t know if good or bad, but middle eastern families add bi-cardonate soda to the water when soaking overnight, rinse well the next day and the boiling process is shortened dramatically. worth trying

  5. matt says

    you may have worked it out already, but the trick to dealing with the foam that comes off beans is too add half or a whole onion chopped, something in the onion stops the foam from boiling over and messing up the oven top.

    p.s i always soak my beans

    share it round



    • says

      You’re right, Matthew! I’ll add that warning. I’ve cooked navy beans like this, and black beans and pintos. But kidney beans harbor the highest levels of the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, also called kidney bean lectin. A slow cooker just can’t get them hot enough, and in fact can make it worse. I’ll add that note – thanks so much for drawing it to my attention!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Lemon Roasted Fennel with Olives and BreadcrumbsMy Profile

  6. Barbara Swinney says

    I just cooked a pot of white beans in the crock pot on high. We have eaten quite a few of them. Now I read that they may have the toxin in them. We always heat them in the microwave before eating them. Will re-boiling the crock pot beans on the stove top get rid of the toxin? What are the symptoms of having the toxin in your system? How will you know if it is present.

    • says

      My understanding is that the white beans that can cause a problem are white kidney beans. If they aren’t kidney beans, you should be fine. According to the FDA, onset of symptoms can take a few hours. Nausea and vomiting are the first symptoms, and can be followed by diarrhea a few hours later. If you did cook white kidney beans, they harbor 1/3 the amount of toxin that is harbored by red kidney beans. All symptoms tend to resolve themselves within a few hours of onset. Everything I’ve read indicates that other white beans should not cause any distress. I hope this helps!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..19 Ways to Eat Cherries All Day, Every DayMy Profile

      • Dee says

        In reference to the red kidney bean toxin I can state from experience that boiling/cooking the beans in chili after they were cooked in a crock pot did not cause any illness or digestive problems . I did this unintentionally a few times till I found out about the toxin. I make navy and black eye beans in a crock once a week for use in morning smoothies. I rinse the cooked beans well then freeze. We have eaten them cooked that way for over two years for 90% of the mornings with no problem.

        • says

          Great information, Dee! Thanks so much for sharing. I cook navy beans and cannelini in the slow cooker all the time with a pre boil for toxins, but haven’t done that with kidney beans. Thanks for your comment!
          The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Tomato PieMy Profile

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