Cooked chickpeas offer a creamy texture and a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, while uncooked chickpeas are very hard and can be difficult to chew and digest. This is why they are always cooked before they are eaten!
Can you eat chickpeas raw? Chickpeas should always first be cooked before they are consumed because, like other beans, they contain large amounts of lectin, an enzyme that can cause severe stomach issues. Cooking the chickpeas breaks down the lectin and makes them safe to eat.
Read below to learn more about the various types of chickpeas, how to cook them, how to eat them, and more!
Why Soaking Chickpeas Is Important
Chickpeas are required to be soaked in water before they are cooked. This allows them to hydrate, “loosen” toxic enzymes, and cook more thoroughly when boiled in water.
In other words, when the chickpeas are saturated with water, they only require a fixed amount of time before they are fully and safely cooked.
Whereas in the case of dried chickpeas, you will have to constantly check for doneness after the halfway mark to make sure that they don’t overcook.
Don’t worry, we’ll discuss the exact cooking time and instructions in a bit. First, let’s talk a little about the anatomy and types of chickpeas.
Chickpeas come from an Asiatic herb that produces short pods with one or two seeds. There are several sub-varieties of chickpeas but the small white variety is usually the preferred choice around the world.
Raw chickpeas are naturally hard and it can be quite difficult to chew and digest them because of their tough texture and exterior shell. However, they are also porous and can take up water very well.
They do this so well that chickpeas can double in size within 5-8 hours of being soaked!
Once they are fully saturated with water, the outer skin of the chickpeas will become pliable. While you can remove the skin, we recommend keeping it on as it adds fiber, flavor, and just a bit of texture to the overall chickpea.
How Do You Cook Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are primarily cooked by boiling them in water. This is the best and most efficient way to thoroughly cook chickpeas without spending a lot of time getting them right.
However, as discussed above, a prerequisite for properly cooking chickpeas is to first soak them in water.
But why all this fuss about cooking them properly?
The reason why you can’t eat raw or undercooked chickpeas is that these legumes contain A LOT of lectin.
Lectin can be thought of as a chemical defense mechanism for plants. Plants have evolved to produce this special enzyme in varying quantities.
Its purpose is to deter animals from eating the plants, thereby guaranteeing the survival of the particular plant species.
In high quantities, lectin can be very toxic to both animals and humans. It is known to cause severe stomach problems and can also lead to intense stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Traces of lectin can be found in undercooked legumes which can cause less severe but uncomfortable symptoms.
Luckily, most of the lectin in chickpeas is around the outer layer which means that to remove it, all you need to do is to boil it in water.
Lectin is water-soluble and can be washed away and even deactivated with the help of high heat and moisture.
Since chickpeas usually require at least 1 -2 hours to cook, you can be sure of their safety. Also, there are several different ways to cook them too!
How Do You Cook Chickpeas?
When it comes to cooking chickpeas, there are several methods that you can choose from. However, all of them involve heat, steam, and water.
Remember, chickpeas are required to be cooked properly so that they don’t cause any adverse health effects, so please do not skip on the cooking time and instructions mentioned below!
Here are some easy methods for cooking chickpeas:
Soak And Cook Method
This is a classic method for cooking chickpeas for any type of recipe. Here is what you need to do:
- Soak the required quantity of chickpeas in a large bowl by adding enough water to completely submerge the chickpeas. Make sure that there is at least 2-3 inches of extra water on top because the chickpeas will expand as they hydrate. Soak for 5-8 hours for the best results.
- After the chickpeas have been soaked, drain them and put them aside to dry for a bit. Now add the chickpeas to a large pot and add several inches of water or until the chickpeas are fully submerged.
- Add flavorings as required. We recommend going with salt, garlic, bay leaf, or other whole spices and herbs. This step is completely up to your personal preference. For general cooking purposes, you can also boil the chickpeas with just salt (or even without salt).
- Put the flame on high and boil the chickpeas with the lid off for about 30 minutes then turn down the flame to medium and let the chickpeas boil for about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.
- As the chickpeas cook, you might see some scum accumulate over the top of the pot. Gently scoop off as much of it as possible. Scum is produced as the enzymes in the chickpeas break down and removing it may even help with digestion.
- Check for doneness after the 1-hour mark to make sure that the chickpeas are tender. Once the chickpeas are firm but tender enough to easily bite, remove the pot and then drain the chickpeas.
- Optionally, you can also reserve some of the chickpea water as it will contain a lot of its flavor! Discard the rest and leave the chickpeas in the sieve until fully drained.
- Now lay out the chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Spread out the cooked chickpeas evenly and then put the tray in the freezer. Once frozen (about 2-3 hours), store the chickpeas in a freezer-safe bag. This step will keep the chickpeas from sticking to each other!
Quick Soak And Cook Method
The quick soak method follows the same steps as mentioned above with one big difference: instead of soaking the chickpeas overnight, they will be soaked for about one hour.
This method is a huge time saver and can potentially help you with making a quick chickpea dinner dish within 2-3 hours.
When opting for the quick soak method, we recommend that you take a few extra steps to make sure that the chickpeas hydrate properly.
First, use tepid or warm water to soak the chickpeas. Remember, the requirement is for warm water only! Please do not use hot or boiling water to soak the chickpeas or they might cook unevenly.
Using warm water will help the chickpeas hydrate without you having to spend 6-8 hours on them.
After one hour, confirm that the chickpeas have been hydrated by squeezing one between your fingers. You should be able to feel a thin layer of skin over the chickpeas.
Once they are adequately soaked, continue with the rest of the steps mentioned above (including the cooking time.)
Slow Cook Method
This method is the easiest and most convenient of them all; however, it requires more time.
Using the slow cook method, you can cook the chickpeas without soaking them.
All you need to do is to rinse the raw chickpeas to remove any dirt or debris, add them to the slow cooker, and then pour in a few inches of water to completely submerge them.
Throw in some flavorings as required and then set the slow cooker to high. Cook the chickpeas for 3-4 hours or until they are fully cooked.
Alternatively, you can also cook them on low for 6-8 hours. This method is best when you don’t want to spend time around the chickpeas as they cook. It is completely hands-off and requires the least amount of input.
Once the timer is up, you should have perfectly cooked and tender chickpeas that are free of lectin and are ready to be used!
Pressure Cooker Method
This method is similarly convenient but can cook chickpeas faster! Pressure cookers can cook the chickpeas faster by driving up the internal temperature within the pressurized chamber.
Higher pressure will increase the boiling point of water, which means that more energy will be required to boil it, thereby increasing the overall heat within the chamber. In simple terms, more heat equals a quicker cooking time!
All you need to cook chickpeas with a pressure cooker is to soak them for about 1-2 hours (preferably overnight) and then boil them in the pressure cooker along with some flavoring ingredients until they are done.
We recommend turning the heat off around the 12–15-minute mark and then letting the chickpeas sit in the pressurized cooker until all of the pressure has been naturally released. This will allow the chickpeas to be fully rendered.
Once done, release the remaining pressure (if any) by referring to the user manual of your specific pressure cooker model and then check for doneness.
If the chickpeas are completely tender then you can drain them and store them as advised above.
If they are still a bit raw then we recommend cooking them again for another 5 minutes under pressure. Once done, remove the chickpeas and then store them as required.
Don’t have the time to cook chickpeas? Then you can also try canned chickpeas that are precooked and soaked in a solution to keep them from going bad.
These chickpeas are convenient but can vary in quality and taste, especially when compared to home-cooked chickpeas.
Storing chickpeas may seem like a difficult task but it really is quite simple.
Chickpeas can be stored in the fridge for about 2-3 days. We recommend using them the day they are cooked or within 48 hours for the best flavor and texture.
Please keep in mind, that once the chickpeas are cooled down, they will release a lot of moisture which will result in them drying. So, even if you consume them after 4-5 days in the fridge, they may become overly dry and unappealing.
The best way to store chickpeas for longer is to freeze them. We have already gone through a basic method for individually freezing chickpeas by laying them out on a baking sheet to prevent them from clumping.
However, this method takes some extra time and effort.
If you are short on time, then we recommend just storing the cooked chickpeas in a freezer-safe bag.
Make sure that you gently flatten out the bag once it is full and store it as it is in the freezer. This step will minimize clumping and will keep the chickpeas separate.
Signs Of Spoilage For Raw And Cooked Chickpeas
Fortunately, spoiled chickpeas are easy to detect. Here are some warning signs to look out for:
Raw chickpeas can last several months in a cool and dry place and can also be frozen for up to a year! Frozen chickpeas are resilient to rot due to their low moisture content. However, they are not impervious to insects.
The most common reason why raw chickpeas go bad is due to an insect infestation.
Insects can eat through the top layer of the chickpea and make their way into it. Once inside, they will continue to lay eggs and feed on the chickpeas until they become crumbly.
An easy way to spot them is to look for small holes around the chickpeas. If you see a lot of chickpeas with the same features then it would be reasonable to believe that all of the chickpeas have been compromised.
Apart from an insect infestation, if you see any molding or discoloration on the chickpeas (which happens due to excess exposure to moisture), then you should immediately throw out the batch.
Cooked chickpeas require the same care and attention as raw chickpeas. Cooked chickpeas need to be either refrigerated or frozen.
They will last about 2-3 days in the fridge while they can be stored for up to 3-4 months in the freezer.
The easiest way to tell if cooked chickpeas have gone bad is to check them for any foul odors, slime, discoloration, and mold.
If you see any of these signs on the chickpeas then it’s best to just discard them. Recooked or reheated chickpeas follow the same indications.
Cooking chickpeas is an extremely important step as it rids them of lectin which can cause severe stomach problems. Now that you know how to properly cook them and how to store them, here are some related questions:
Are canned chickpeas cooked?
Yes. Canned chickpeas are always pre-cooked. All you need to do is to drain them and then cook them as indicated.
Please always check the back of the packaging for cooking and storage indications and keep an eye on the expiry date so that you avoid consuming stale chickpeas which can taste powdery and will have a distinct bland flavor.
Can you make hummus from raw chickpeas?
No. Hummus is made from cooked chickpeas and you can not make a paste from dried raw chickpeas.
Even if you soak them for 8 hours, the chickpeas will be too hard to turn into a paste. Also, cooking the chickpeas will ensure that they are free of lectin too.
Can chickpeas be baked?
Chickpeas are exclusively cooked by boiling them in hot water but once cooked, they can be baked too. Several tasty snack and dinner recipes call for cooked and baked chickpeas so you can experiment with them in different ways!
Baking the chickpeas reduces the moisture content in them and makes them crispy. Add flavorings and turn them into a healthy snack!
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