How to cook chickpeas

The vegetables should be slightly crispy

How to cook chickpeas

by GBC Kitchen 6 January 2023

Learn how to cook dried chickpeas properly, find out how to make the creamiest hummus, and get lots of inspiration from our recipe archive.

How to cook chickpeas


Learn how to cook dried chickpeas properly, find out how to make the creamiest hummus, and get lots of inspiration from our recipe archive.

Chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated legumes - there's evidence that they’ve been grown for around 7,500 years. Were our neolithic ancestors swapping hummus tips? Quite possibly; the Roman gourmet Apicius gives several recipes. Interestingly, the word hummus is the name of the chickpea itself in Arabic. What we call hummus is hummus bi tahina (chickpeas with tahini). Chickpeas are also used in Spanish, North African and Indian cuisines.

There are two main types: the desi, which are darker and smaller, and the kabuli, which are larger, smoother and lighter. The latter is grown in southern Europe and north Africa, and it’s the variety we come across more frequently, but they are also grown in the USA and Canada. Worldwide chickpea production totals no fewer than nine million tonnes per year.

What do chickpeas taste like?

Chickpeas have a slightly nutty, earthy flavour and a creamy texture when properly cooked. It's important to buy fresh dried beans, as those that are older will have an unpleasant grainy texture and will never become really soft. If you're buying jarred or tinned chickpeas, it's worth seeking out the best that you can, as the larger chickpeas found in specialist shops and delis will have a superior flavour and texture to the canned variety found in supermarkets. That said, a regular tin of chickpeas will still add bags of flavour and interest to a range of dishes such as soups, stews and even sandwiches

How to boil chickpeas

When cooking dried chickpeas, bear in mind that the cooked yield is around two and a half times the dried weight and volume, although this will vary slightly according to your chickpeas.

Pick over the chickpeas and remove any black ones then place in a large bowl
Add a generous spoon of bicarbonate of soda – about 1 tsp per 150g dried peas. This will help soften them and reduce the cooking time
Pour boiling water into the bowl, covering the chickpeas by a few inches and leave for 24 hours
Drain and rinse the beans several times
Place in a large saucepan, cover with boiling water and gently simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender
Cooking time will vary according to the soaking time, the age and variety of the peas
When done, drain, rinse and plunge into a large pan of cold water
How do you make hummus?

Hummus is one of the best known uses for cooked chickpeas, and it's hard to beat when it's freshly made, served with a pile of steaming pitta or flatbreads.

We have lots of hummus recipes, ranging from the super speedy, such as Bryan Webb's quick and simple hummus, to the unusual and striking, such as Victoria Glass’ beetroot hummus with squid ink flatbread

How to remove the skins from chickpeas

If you're making hummus, you may want to remove some of the tough skins from your chickpeas, for a super smooth result. To do this, submerge the chickpeas in water. Rub them between your hands and give them a good swirl, then skim off any loose skins that have floated to the top. Repeat several times, drain and rinse again.

You can also rub the cooked chickpeas gently between the folds of a clean tea towel, which will slough off some of the skins. 

'Mazin Mezze

While hummus is always welcome as part of a spread of dips and salads, why not bring chickpeas into your mezze in other ways? They make fantastic toppers for yoghurt, or try them cooked inside a parcel with feta and herbs, until warm and soft. 

How to deep fry chickpeas

Deep fried chickpeas are very moreish as a snack or as a garnish for dips and salads. While roasting chickpeas uses less oil, the chickpeas take a long time to cook and the insides dry out before the outsides have become sufficiently crispy. This can leave the chickpeas with a mealy, unpleasant texture. Frying them in oil means they cook quickly with consistent results. Tossing the chickpeas in a little cornflour before frying will further enhance the effect. 

How to make chickpea mash

Chickpea mash makes a fun and flavoursome alternative to mashed potatoes, and has its own unique creamy texture and nutty flavour. Try adding garlic to the cooking water, or sizzle some whole spices gently in olive oil and pour them over the chickpeas before serving. 

How do you cook chickpea pasta?

'Chickpea pasta' can mean two different things: the classic Italian dish pasta e ceci from the Lazio region, or gluten-free pasta made from chickpea flour. We can help you with both. For the hearty Italian classic, find our authentic recipe below, and for the chickpea pasta, simply cook it as regular pasta in boiling salted water, but be aware that it takes less time to cook than the wheat variety - seven minutes will give you an al dente result. 

Can you freeze cooked chickpeas?

To freeze, arrange a single layer of chickpeas on a piece of clingfilm or on a silicone baking mat on a tray and pop into the freezer. Once frozen, pack into bags or plastic boxes.

Which flavours work well with chickpeas?

Chickpeas are the main ingredient in falafel - crispy deep fried pucks of chickpea and herbs that are wildly popular across the Middle East and, now, the world. Freshly fried falafel are served inside warm pitta bread with a selection of pickles and sauces. Sally Abé stuffs hers with chunks of halloumi, while Victoria Glass adds sweet potato

Chickpeas are fantastic in salads, too, adding protein and flavour – try this roasted carrot and chickpea salad or Alfred Prasad’s chickpea, mango and edamame sundal

Or why not try chickpeas in a curry or stew? Tinned chickpeas are such a convenient way to bulk out full flavoured dishes containing tomatoes and chorizo, or myriad spices. 

Get in touch

Please sign in or register to send a comment to Great British Chefs.