The Best Chickpea Substitutes
Chickpeas are such a versatile ingredient — they’re super healthy, too! They have healthy carbs and a bit of protein, helping keep you energized. You can eat them alone, or mixed into other foods.
What happens if you don’t have chickpeas, though? This tasty little legume is usually easy to find because it stores so well in cans, but sometimes you just don’t want to make an extra trip to the store.
What are the best chickpea substitutes? For hummus, try beans or squash. For soup, use lentils. For aquafaba, mix potato starch with water! For uses with chickpeas as a protein source, substitute cannellini beans, lima beans, great northern beans, peas, black-eyed peas, and black beans — plus more!
Read on for our ideas of the best chickpeas substitutes, each one great in its own way to replace a specific use of chickpeas.
Why We Love Chickpeas
There are lots of recipes that traditionally use chickpeas. Think of foods like hummus or falafel, where chickpeas are the traditional (and delicious) star of the dish.
In some countries, chickpea flour is also used for cooking, especially during religious holidays where grain flours cannot be used to make food.
Chickpeas are even good for the environment!
When farmers plant chickpeas, it can help rebalance the nutrients in the soil. There are also crop diseases that affect grains but not chickpeas, so switching to chickpeas is an easy way to avoid pesticides.
If you don’t tend to eat chickpeas as part of your regular diet but are interested in trying them out, here are some of the most popular ways to eat them:
- Roasted with spices (like chips or popcorn)
- Smashed up and added to foods like chicken salad
- As a replacement for meat in mixed dishes
- Hot and simmered in a tasty sauce
- Cold on top of salads
- Ground and made into a chickpea-centric dish like falafel or hummus
Best Substitute For Chickpeas In Hummus
Hummus is a simple, delicious dish that has been around since the 13th century. That’s a long time!
Whether you’re eating it as a snack with crackers or vegetable slices, or serving it alongside some other Mediterranean favorites, the mild flavor of chickpeas is a great base for hummus.
There’s certainly something to be said for not messing with tradition, especially when that tradition dates back hundreds of years, but sometimes switching things up can have surprisingly delicious results!
One of the easiest substitutes for chickpeas in hummus is just about any other bean. Depending on what other flavors you’re using and what you plan to serve it with, just about any bean can work.
The most commonly used bean substitutes for hummus are black beans, edamame, broad beans, and lima beans. Something like black beans will take you in a more southwestern direction in terms of flavor, but it’s really up to you.
If you really enjoy the subtle nature of traditional chickpea hummus and don’t want to stray too far away from that flavor profile, the absolute best chickpea substitute in hummus is squash — specifically, a variety called delicata squash.
If you roast it first, this squash takes on a slightly nuttier flavor, which helps it resemble the flavor of chickpeas.
The flesh of delicata squash is firmer than plain yellow squash and has less water, so you can also get a great consistency using this as a substitute.
To see squash in action, check out this video of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay making squash hummus out of another great option, butternut squash:
Best Substitute For Chickpeas In Soup
Chickpeas are often added to soups as they soften up quite nicely in warm broth, and can add some body and extra protein to the meal.
Because chickpeas also have a relatively mild flavor, they can be added to most types of soups with a variety of spices and flavors.
Chickpeas are most commonly utilized whole in soups, particularly soups with strong spices. This is because most soup recipes that call for chickpeas have Moroccan origins. A fantastic substitute for chickpeas in these types of recipes is lentils.
Lentils come in multiple colors, but there isn’t a whole lot of difference between them in terms of flavor.
Lentils are sold dry, so either they need to be either cooked separately before adding to soups or the soup needs to be left on the stove long enough to soften the lentils.
Lentils are a lot smaller than chickpeas and this will make the texture of your soups different. However, they are similar to chickpeas with a mild flavor.
They also have a body that’s sturdy enough to stand up to the spice-heavy broths and sauces prevalent in Moroccan cuisine.
While not strictly a soup, chickpeas are often added to curries and eaten that way. Lentils make a fabulous substitution here as well. They provide body, texture, and tons of nutrients.
Best Substitute For Chickpeas In Aquafaba
Ever heard of something called aquafaba? It’s a miracle food for vegans, and also for anybody who suffers from an egg allergy.
Basically, aquafaba is the thickened liquid leftover in a can of chickpeas, or in the pot after cooking. It’s water, plus all of the excess starches shed by the chickpea!
This unique mixture is excellent as a replacement for egg whites in recipes ranging from whipped cream to mayonnaise.
Still not making sense? Check out this video from Minimalist Baker on YouTube that goes over aquafaba basics:
However, if you’re vegan or allergic to eggs and you run out of aquafaba while cooking, it’s important to know what your options are in terms of substitutes!
Far and away the best eggless substitute for chickpeas/aquafaba is potato starch mixed with water.
You can often buy potato starch in health food stores, or you can make it at home similar to aquafaba. You would simply need to cook some potatoes and reserve the water left over.
If you’re making it at home and the mixture is too thin, leave it on the stove until some of the water boils off. This method allows you to thicken the starchy liquid to your desired consistency.
Make sure to stir often though, as starch settles in the water and you may accidentally make it too thick!
Here’s a video from Global Food Book on YouTube if you want to give it a try:
Best Substitutes For Chickpeas As Protein
Because many legumes (chickpeas in particular) are often added to dishes both for their texture and as a vegetarian protein, this section will focus on the best general substitutes for chickpeas as vegetarian protein.
For each substitute, we’ll list the nutrition facts. Protein is important, but when eating beans you can sometimes accidentally consume more carbs than intended.
Some chickpea substitutes have less carbs, so they can be great options for maintaining a balanced diet.
1. Cannellini Beans
Due to their distinctive kidney shape, cannellini beans are sometimes also called white kidney beans. They are firmer than some types of beans and keep their shape very well even with harsher cooking techniques.
If you’ve ever had minestrone soup, you’ve had cannellini beans.
In terms of flavor, cannellini beans have a creamy, slightly nutty flavor and texture. This makes them a great substitute for chickpeas in most dishes where the flavor of the chickpeas would be prominent.
They also have nearly one-third of the carbs and less than one-tenth of the fat as chickpeas.
If you eat a lot of beans but are concerned about your carbohydrate intake this could be a great option for you. Cannellini beans are by no means a low-carb food, though.
Individuals following the Keto diet would certainly not be able to eat a full cup of these. If you want baby steps in a lower-carb direction, cannellini beans are a delicious way to get there.
2. Lima Beans
Lima beans are best recognized as a part of your standard “mixed vegetables.”
Lima beans are also often called butter beans because of their signature smooth and buttery texture.
Lima beans have less carbs, fat, and protein than both cannellini and chickpeas. Depending on how much of them you plan to use, you may find this good or bad.
Part of the reason why chickpeas are so popular is the very high level of protein they offer. Sure, chickpeas have a ton of carbs, but sometimes that concern takes a backseat when you need protein.
However, if you are using beans as a side dish or complement to a larger meal, lima beans are a delicious way to add some protein to your meal without adding a large amount of carbs or too many extra calories.
3. Great Northern Beans
Smaller than cannellini and lima beans, great northern beans are a delicious creamy option that’s easy to cook with.
Like most beans, they have a nutty flavor, but it is subtle. For the most part, great northern beans will take on the flavor of whatever you cook them in.
This is especially true if you buy dry beans. When you soak them, if you season the water (or soak them in vegetable broth for extra richness) you’ll end up will a very full-flavored product.
Their smaller size and creamy texture also make them a good option for mashed preparations like hummus or vegetarian “chicken” salad.
Peas are an excellent option for anyone who wants a choice that isn’t calorically dense.
The term “caloric density” refers to foods that have many or few calories in a set measurement.
For example, chickpeas are the most calorically dense in the above chart, which uses 1-cup measurements of every item listed. Peas are the least calorically dense.
If you want to keep your belly full without growing it any bigger, peas are your best choice. They do offer some protein, along with a moderate amount of carbs and fiber.
Peas hold their shape fairly well when cooking, and don’t take on the flavor of other items you may cook them with. This makes them great for dishes where the peas are simmered in a spicy sauce.
5. Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas (also called cowpeas in some parts of the United States) are not peas at all — they’re beans in disguise!
Their nutritional profile is fairly similar to peas, with a bit more carbs and protein.
This is also an incredibly environmentally friendly option, as black-eyed peas are part of a group of plants known as “nitrogen fixers.”
Nitrogen is necessary for many plants and is a component of healthy soils. With heavy farming, soil can become depleted of nitrogen because the plants leach it from the soil to help them grow.
Nitrogen fixers do the opposite — they’re able to take nitrogen from the air and push it back into the soil in a form that makes great food for other plants.
6. Black Beans
Black beans have a fun nickname too — they’re often called “turtle beans.” This is because in their dry form, the bean has a uniform shine that makes it appear hard and shell-like!
Luckily, these beans are not turtles and are completely edible and delicious!
Black beans also have some minerals that other legumes don’t have. Namely, quercetin and selenium. Both of these are regarded as anti-inflammatory with heart-protecting properties.
It can be very difficult to find selenium in particular in a diet consisting only of fruits and vegetables. So if you’re a vegetarian, choosing black beans as a substitute for chickpeas can help get some much-needed selenium into your diet.
Can you substitute lentils for chickpeas?
Absolutely! Lentils have a very mild flavor and make an excellent substitute for most recipes where chickpeas are used. One exception to this would be hummus.
With hummus (or anywhere you want a creamy texture), don’t substitute lentils as they have a paper-like skin that often sloughs off while cooking. It’s perfectly edible, but it would not be a desirable texture in mashed or creamy dishes.
What is a good substitute for roasted chickpeas?
If roasted chickpeas are your go-to for a crunchy afternoon snack but you can’t get your hands on them, a great substitute is edamame.
Similar to nuts or sunflower seeds, both chickpeas and edamame can be roasted with added spices to make a delicious, nutritious, crunchy snack.
Can you substitute chickpeas in falafel?
The best substitute for chickpeas in falafel is a mixture of hemp hearts and almonds. Blitzed into the other ingredients with your food processor (if you don’t have one, check out this amazing one on Amazon) you probably won’t be able to tell the difference.
If you substitute chickpeas for hemp hearts and almonds, you should bake the falafel rather than fry them to help ensure they keep their shape.
Can you substitute kidney beans for chickpeas?
It depends on what you’re making! Red and pink kidney beans both have a stronger flavor than chickpeas. White kidney beans (also called cannellini) have a milder flavor and tend to make a better substitute.
Can you use chickpeas in chili as a substitute?
You sure can! Chickpeas have a mild flavor that will support spicy chili well, and they won’t fall apart during longer cooking time. We prefer canned chickpeas for chili rather than dried, as they will have a slightly softer texture.
If you use dried chickpeas, you may notice in the finished chili that the chickpeas have a firmer texture than the other beans, and it may be a bit off-putting.
Because chickpeas also have more protein than the beans typically used in chili, it’s a great way to boost the protein in a meatless chili!