How to cook dried chickpeas along with tips, and troubleshooting ideas for beans that won’t cook.
Slow soak + slow cook + slow cooling = best chickpeas. Just consider this a trip to the spa for beans, to bring out the best in them. Just like how it works for us.
General Tips for Cooking Dried Beans:
- I use this method of cooking chickpeas for other legumes, including cannellini and other kidney beans.
- 1 cup of dried chickpeas yields about 4 cups of cooked chickpeas
- To salt or not to salt: There are two different camps of opinions on when to add salt – before cooking or after. As a result of hundreds of batches of beans, I favor salting before cooking.
- Minimize foaming during cooking, as this often leads to the formation of air pockets in the beans. This translates into a dry texture when cooked. If you see any foaming, skim the surface of the water with a metal spoon to remove the foam, and reduce your heat a bit. Keep a bowl of water nearby to dip the spoon into, in between skimmings. This easily removes the foam from the spoon.
- The following steps assume you’re cooking the beans on the stovetop. Click on the link if you are cooking them in a slow cooker.
How to Cook Dried Chickpeas and Other Legumes
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic, or more, peeled and smashed
- 1 dried chipotle pepper
Inspect the Beans
- Spread one cup dried chickpeas on a baking sheet and remove any stones, damaged beans, or other grit. Place the beans in a colander and rinse.
Pre-Soak the Beans: There are a few ways to do this, and they all work well.
- Pile the dried beans into a Le Creuset or other heavy-bottomed pot, cover them with 2 inches of water, and soak overnight, OR
- The day you plan to cook them, spill them into a heavy-bottomed pot, cover with 2 inches of water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Cook for two minutes, and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for four hours before cooking, OR
- Skip the Pre-Soak step altogether. Pre-soaking isn't a crucial step, but there are a few advantages in the finished beans to consider. Pre-soaked beans are 1) easier to digest; 2) promote a faster cook time; 3) improve the cooked bean texture - mostly due to a shortened cook time; 4) support more even cooking of the bean.
Prepare the Cooking Broth
- Drain the water from the pre-soaked beans. Rinse the beans, return them to the pot, and cover them with at least two inches of fresh water. Note: If the beans weren't pre-soaked, cover the beans with at least three inches of water. This is a case of "more is better", to ensure the pot doesn't run out of liquid. I’ve done this, and it’s not pretty. Use any liquid remaining at the end of cooking for a base for making vegetable broth.
- Beans are generally bland, and benefit greatly from adding salt and vegetables to the cooking broth. Add the salt, onion, garlic, and dried chipotle pepper. Note: The dried pepper doesn’t add any spiciness, just a little smokiness.
Simmer the Beans
- Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer, and cook until the beans are tender. As mentioned above, keep an eye out for foaming. This is more typically seen in the first 20 minutes than later. Skim the foam from the surface, and reduce the heat. If necessary, keep reducing the heat until foaming ceases.
- Cook time varies according to several factors: 1) the type of legume you cooking; 2) the age of the chickpeas or other legume, 2) the dryness of where you live, 3) your water, and 4) your altitude. A good rule-of-thumb is 1 ¼ - 1 ½ hours for pre-soaked chickpeas, with some legumes taking up to 2 1/2 hours. Non-presoaked chickpeas can take 4 hours or longer to cook, with some legumes taking longer.
- Cut a bean in half to test for doneness. It should be soft while maintaining its shape.
- Troubleshooting Tip #1: Sometimes, even pre-soaking and a long cook time still yields a hard bean. There can be several reason, as I list above. Some people have had success by adding a little baking soda to the broth. Baking soda contains sodium and in addition is alkaline, which facilitates the dissolving of the cell-walls of the beans. This can dramatically speed cooking by reducing cook times by as much as 75%, and can result in a bean that's mushy, so be careful not to cook them too long.
- Troubleshooting Tip #2: If your water is hard, I recommend using store-bought vegetable broth for your cooking liquid. Hard water promotes a longer cook time, and in some cases, results in beans that won't soften even after pre-soaking and extending the cook time.
Alternate Methods of Simmering the Beans
- Once the beans come to a rapid simmer, cover and place in a 350° F oven. This promotes a more even cooking. The cooking time should be approximately the same, but could be a bit longer, OR
- Use a slow cooker! This is a wonderful way to cook chickpeas or any other bean. Click on the link for instruction, tips, and troubleshooting guide for cooking dried beans in a slow cooker, OR
- Use a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot. This is a very successful method, and much faster.
- When the chickpeas are cooked, turn the stove off, keep the pot covered, and allow the chickpeas to completely cool in the leftover broth. This last soak adds flavor and promotes a creamy texture.
Storage of Cooked Chickpeas
- Once cooled, whatever you don’t think you’ll use quickly – throw in a freezer-safe container and freeze. It’s great having a stash in the freezer, as they thaw quickly and can be used for a quick, healthy week-night dinner, or added to a soup. I don’t recommend keeping cooked chickpeas in the refrigerator for longer than 4 days.
Interested in finding some new chickpea recipes? Here you go!