Best tips on how to cook dried chickpeas for perfectly cooked beans every time, plus some recipes for using the beans.
This post is continuously updated as I learn more tips, and the most recent update was made February 27, 2021.
Slow soak + slow cook + slow cooling = best way to cook dried chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Just consider this a trip to the spa for beans, to bring out the best in them. Just like how it works for us.
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, originated in the Mediterranean / Middle East, but are now found in cuisines around the world.
I think of them as the chicken of beans because they can be used so many ways in recipes, and marry well with so many flavors. So it's good to know how to cook dried chickpeas, and how to quickly solve common problems.
First of all, why eat chickpeas at all?
Health Benefits of Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Chickpeas are high in protein making them an excellent meat substitute for vegetarian and vegan diets. Chickpeas are a good source of fiber. This means they can keep your appetite sated longer. These above benefits + their low Glycemic Index means chickpeas support steady blood glucose levels. The combination of nutrients means chickpeas may protect you agains chronic health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. They're good for your financial health, as they can fit into most any budget.
Ways to Cook Dried Chickpeas
There are several ways to cook dried chickpeas (or garbonzo beans):
- Simmer on the stove top in a Dutch Oven or other heavy bottomed pot:
- Great if you don't have a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker
- Can be difficult to keep the pot at a constant low simmer
- Risk of the water boiling off, ending up with chickpeas cooked to the bottom of the pot
- Slide the Dutch oven into the oven, and bake the beans instead of cooking on the Stove Top
- Infuses flavors into the beans far better than stove-top cooking due to 360˚ cooking process
- Improved texture over stove top due to 360˚ cooking process vs only heating on the bottom
- Cook them in a Slow cooker such as this one that I use from All-Clad:
- Great if you want to do this while you're at work
- No risk of boiling over, no risk of water boiling off
- Produces a great consistent chickpea texture
- Not a workable option if you're in a hurry
- Use an Electric Pressure Cooker, such as an Instant Pot or the MultiPot (I use both!)
- Perfect option when you're in a hurry
- No risk of boiling over, no risk of water boiling off
- Produced a great consistent chickpea texture
- Doesn't allow for varying degrees of chickpea dryness, so if they're super dry, you'll have to cook longer
5 Tips for Cooking Perfect Chickpeas Every Time:
You can do everything according to the book, and sometimes you still end up with beans that didn't cook. Or they cooked, but they're a hot mess with the beans splitting out of their skins. Here are some tips so that hopefully it never ever happens again.
Tip #1: Pre-soak the beans in a brine
Pre-soaking is one of the most important steps when cooking dried chickpeas. And using a brining liquid for this step is by far best of all. The beans don't absorb much saltiness, nor does a brine translate into a tougher cooked bean. Instead, it promotes a consistent cooked bean texture surpassing either pre-soaking without salt or skipping the pre-soak step.
Additionally, pre-soaking typically makes the beans easier to digest and promotes a faster cook time, so it's worth taking a little extra planning for this step.
Here's what always works for me: Cover the beans with 2 inches of water (about 1 quart), add 1 tablespoon salt and either (1) cover and soak over night, or (2) cover and simmer for 2 minutes, remove from the heat, cool for 1 hour and rinse well.
Tip #2: Salt the water before final cooking
After soaking the beans in a salty brine solution (see Tip #1), thoroughly rinse them with fresh water. Place them in a pot with water for cooking, and add 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 3/4 teaspoon regular salt) for every 1 cup dried chickpeas.
Salting improves the flavor, and helps prevent beans from splitting open and slipping from their skins. Adding salt during cooking of beans is controversial, with many experts believing this toughens their skins. In my experience, it promotes a much improved texture and appearance of the the cooked bean. There are now a number of studies out explaining the chemistry around why salting during soaking and cooking is the best approach.
Tip #3: Keep the water at a low simmer to minimize foaming
When cooking dried beans on the stovetop, foaming is very common in the early cooking stages. Unfortunately, this often leads to the formation of air pockets in the beans, which translates into a dry texture when cooked. If you see any foaming, skim the surface of the water with a metal spoon, 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.
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Tip #4: Add a pinch of baking soda
If you're having consistent problems with dried beans not softening enough during the cooking process, it may be because you live in a very dry climate, in high altitudes, or have water that has a heavier metal content.
In these cases, you may benefit from adding a pinch of baking soda to the pre-soaking water. Baking soda promotes a tender bean by helping to dissolve their cellular walls. Use only 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per pound of dried beans, and be sure to thoroughly rinse the beans before cooking in fresh water.
If you don't presoak, consider adding 1/4 teaspoon to the cooking water. But be careful, the cooking times can then be reduce by as much as half.
Note: Some people notice an unappealing chemical taste added to the cooked bean when using baking soda in the water. However, I use this method when I make hummus so the beans disintegrate a bit before hitting the blender. I've personally never tasted the chemical flavor residue. However, I typically add other flavors to the hummus which may hide it.
Tip #5: Use store-bought vegetable broth for the cooking liquid.
If you have hard water, it's possible that the minerals in the water are leaving deposits on the beans preventing them from cooking. If the baking soda approach doesn't work, use store-bought vegetable broth for the liquid instead of tap water.
Where to Purchase Dried Beans
These days, I always purchase heirloom dried beans. This post explains the important benefits of heirloom dried beans over standard dried beans you might find at your local market.
Now let's cook up a batch.
How to Cook Dried Chickpeas
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 couple ways to do this, and they both work well.
- (1) Pile the dried beans into a Le Creuset or other heavy-bottomed pot, cover them with 2 inches of water (roughly 1 quart). Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and soak overnight, OR
- (2) The day you plan to cook them, pour the beans into a heavy-bottomed pot, cover with 2 inches of water, add 1 tablespoon kosher salt, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 1 hour before cooking,
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 three inches of fresh water. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and the remaining ingredients.
- Pro-Tip: Use the liquid remaining at the end of cooking for a base for making vegetable broth.
Simmer the Beans
- Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer, and cook until the beans are tender. As mentioned above in the post, 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, a consistent color and texture through the thickness of the bean, while maintaining its shape.
Alternative Oven Method of Cooking Dried Beans (Instead of Stovetop)
- Once the beans come to a rapid simmer on the stovetop, cover the pot and slide it into a 350° F pre-heated oven. This method promotes a more even cooking since the heat evenly all around the pot. The cooking time should be approximately the same, but could be a bit longer.
- When the chickpeas are done, 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. But be sure the beans are completely cooled and dry. You can dry them using a towel, leaving out to dry naturally, or placing in a warm oven.
- Note: Drying with a towel will remove some of the skins. If you don't want to deal with that, use one of the other 2 above methods.
- I don’t recommend keeping cooked chickpeas in the refrigerator for longer than 4 days.
Recipes Using Chickpeas
Now that you have a batch of perfectly cooked chickpeas, here are some ways to use them.