All About Chickpeas

chickpeas, chickpea salad, garbanzo beans

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are beige-coloured, pea-shaped legumes. Popular in the Mediterranean, Middle East and South Asia, they have a mild nutty taste and can be a substitute for meat. Find out why these legumes are good for you and how you can enjoy them more often!  

Nutrition in Chickpeas

Buying local chickpeas

Chickpeas are grown in the southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In fact, Canada is one of the top exporters of chickpeas worldwide. Look for Product of Canada on packaging to find out if chickpeas are locally produced. Buying Canadian foods supports the Canadian economy and our farming families.

How to buy chickpeas

  • Chickpeas can be bought dried or canned.
  • Dried and canned chickpeas can be found in grocery stores, organic food stores and bulk food stores. 
  • For canned chickpeas, buy cans that are not dented, leaking, cracked or have bulging lids. Read more about canned food safety here

Tips for storing chickpeas

  • It is best to use dried chickpeas within a year of buying it. The longer it is stored, the drier it becomes, which increases the cooking time.
  • Canned chickpeas are very convenient as they are ready-to-use. Store canned chickpeas in a cool, dry place. Make sure to rinse canned chickpeas well to lower the sodium (salt) content. You can also find canned chickpeas with less or no sodium added. Compare food labels

Using chickpeas 

When cooking chickpeas, add ingredients such as tomatoes and vinegar after the chickpeas are tender. These acidic ingredients slow the cooking process if they are added too early.

Canned chickpeas

If you are using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them with water to cut the sodium (salt) content by almost a half. Rinse well in cold water to make them easier to digest and less gas-producing.  

Dried chickpeas

  • Check dried chickpeas before cooking. Throw out any chickpeas that are shriveled or have broken skin. You might find some pebbles or twigs.
  • For every 1 cup (250 mL) of chickpeas, soak with 3 cups (750 mL) water. Chickpeas need to be soaked for at least four hours or preferably for 8 hours. To keep things easy, soak them overnight.
  • Throw out the soaking water by putting chickpeas into a strainer and rinsing them well. This washes away the carbohydrates and sugars that may cause gas.

5 things to do with chickpeas

Cook up chickpeas in a slow cooker

  • Soak 2 cups (500 mL) dried chickpeas overnight.
  • Rinse and drain chickpeas in cold water.
  • Put drained chickpeas into slow cooker pot. Add 6 cups of water.
  • Add one sliced onion, 2 sliced cloves of garlic, one tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch of salt.
  • Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or until soft.
  • Use in your favourite recipe, like in soups, stews and salads

Toss up a fast chickpea salad

  • Chop up red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots.
  • Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas.
  • Toss together with a dressing made with olive oil and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Make a quick curried stew with chickpeas

  • Cut up one head of cauliflower, and one butternut squash into cubes.
  • Sauté one chopped onion in 1 tbsp (15 mL) of canola oil until tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Add 2 tbsp each (30 mL) Indian curry paste, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.
  • Add one 680 mL can of tomato sauce, cauliflower and butternut squash.
  • Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Add 1 can of chickpeas (rinsed, drained). Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Serve over brown rice or quinoa. Top with cilantro and plain yogurt (optional)

Heat up a simple kale and chickpea soup

  • In large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil over medium heat.
  • Sauté 1 chopped onion, and 2 cloves garlic (minced), stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add 3 cups (750 mL) sodium-reduced chicken broth, 3 cups (750 mL) of water, 2 cups of sweet potato cubes, and 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) chickpeas; bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, 15 minutes.
  • Add 3 cups (750 mL) chopped kale. Heat until the kale wilts.

Make your own hummus

  • Place the following in a blender or food processor: 1 can of chickpeas (398 mL/14 fl oz), tahini paste (1/3 cup/75 mL), 1 clove of garlic, lemon juice (1/4 cup/ 60 mL), vegetable oil (3tbsp/45 mL), ground cumin (1/2 tsp/2 mL) and salt (1/2 tsp/2 mL).
  • Puree ingredients adding water (1/3 cup/75 mL) to make the mixture creamy and smooth. Add more water until the desired consistency is achieved.


Beet Hummus

Chickpea and Vegetable Salad

Wili's Chilli

How can a dietitian help?

dietitian can work with you to come up with an eating plan that meets your goals and specific nutrition needs. They can show you how to read labels and how to incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet. Most employee health benefit plans cover dietitian services. Connect with a dietitian today!

Bottom line

Chickpeas are a nutritious and versatile plant-based protein. They are high in fibre, protein, folate and other important nutrients. You can buy them either dried or canned. Experiment adding chickpeas to salads, stews or soups – the options are endless!

You may also be interested in:

All About Beans
All About Lentils
What is a Dietitian?

This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. 

Last Update – May 6, 2022

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