How to Soak and Cook Chickpeas

I absolutely love chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. These protein-packed legumes have a mild, nutty flavor that goes well in a variety of dishes, including hummus, falafel, soups and stews. Most recipes call for cooked chickpeas– this mean, chickpeas that have been soaked and boiled till tender (falafel is one notable exception– chickpeas should only be soaked for falafel, not cooked). Because of the time involved in preparing dried chickpeas, most people resort to canned varieties when cooking. The trouble with canned chickpeas is that many contain additives for preservation, as well as high sodium content from added salt. Making the chickpeas from scratch is a much more natural and healthy way to go, if you can find the time to do it.

Here is a simple method for quick-soaking and preparing chickpeas for recipes. Chickpeas are soaked before boiling for two reasons – one, they need to be softened before they boil, and two, pre-soaking helps to make the beans more digestible. You can soak them quickly, as described below, or overnight if you prefer. My friend Gila Ronel, a doula and holistic nutritionist in Israel, soaks the beans for a couple of days until they begin to sprout. She says that the nutritional value improves when the chickpeas are sprouted. If you try this, you’ll need to use cold water, not the quick soak method. Make sure you change the water they are soaking in twice daily to keep bacteria at bay. When shopping for your chickpeas, make sure you use a bulk bin with a high turnover rate. The older the chickpeas are, the less tender they will cook. Beans that have been sitting in a pantry for a year or longer tend to go stale and will not cook up as nicely.

I often make a large batch of cooked chickpeas, then refrigerate or even freeze for future use. I’ll go over the instructions for storing and freezing below. You’ll notice that home-prepared chickpeas taste much better than the canned variety, and you’ll have more control over the salt content. Preparing the beans this way is also more affordable… you’ll save over 50% by preparing them yourself. Frugality rocks!

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How to Soak, Cook, Freeze and Store Chickpeas

You will need

  • Dried chickpeas
  • Salt (optional)
  • Large pot
Total Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: Varies
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Before cooking, you will need to soak the beans. You can soak them overnight, if you have the time. Place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water. The chickpeas will expand to over double their size, so make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for expansion. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let them soak overnight. Drain the water and rinse the beans before cooking.
  • To quick soak the beans, you will need 1 hour. Place the chickpeas into the bottom of a large pot and cover with water. The chickpeas will expand to over double their size, so make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for expansion.
  • Bring the chickpeas to a boil. Let them boil for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Let the beans soak in the hot water for 1 hour.
  • Drain the water and rinse the beans before cooking.
  • When you are ready to cook your soaked beans, place them in a large pot and cover with several inches of water (I use about 1 quart of water per 1 cup of soaked beans). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add salt, if desired-- I use about 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 2 quarts of water/2 cups of soaked beans. You may like more salt to taste, or none at all to keep them "au naturale."
  • Let the beans cook for 60-90 minutes till desired tenderness. Certain dishes require very tender beans (like hummus), while other dishes call for firmer beans (like stews and soups that need to be cooked over long periods of time). Adjust cooking time to achieve the desired tenderness for your purposes. If you are freezing the beans, keep in mind that they will freeze best if they are on the firmer side, rather than completely soft. As you cook them, the beans will continue to expand a bit. Keep an eye on the water level and add additional water as needed to keep the beans covered.
  • When the beans are fully cooked, drain in a colander and allow to cool.
  • To store cooked beans in the refrigerator, place them in a covered airtight container or a plastic zipper bag without any additional liquid. Cooked beans will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  • To store the beans longer for future use, freeze them. Remove as much moisture as possible from the beans by patting them dry with paper towels. Place the beans in Ziploc bags spread out in single layers; you don't want to pile the beans on top of each other or they will stick to each other. Freeze, laying the flat single layer down to keep the beans from freezing together. You can freeze several bags this way, one laying flat on top of another.
  • Alternatively, you can spread out the beans in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze the beans for 30 minutes.
  • Once they are firm, pour them into a plastic zipper bag or airtight container, seal, and put immediately back into the freezer. Using this method, you don't need to put the chickpeas in a single layer-- because they are already half frozen, they will not stick together.
  • Frozen beans will keep for up to 1 year.

Comments (126)Post a Comment

  1. Thanks for this pic tutorial, I used to avoid cooking these at all costs but they are my favorite bean (especially in hummus…OMG) Hope all is well Tori! Can’t wait to see what you’ll be cooking up around the holidays!
    xxo em

  2. How do you prepare dried chickpeas to eat as a snack? They sell them in the market but I’ve always wanted to know how to make them at home.

  3. I use a similar method. I boil and soak the garbanzos, then cook in a pressure cooker to save time. This works with beans in general (pintos, white, &c).

  4. Shabbat Shalom Tori. I always love your blog. What time would you recommend for using a slow cooker? I have 3 of them + their just sitting, waiting for good low cost recipes.

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    i can’t believe how timely your post is, it has been in the back of mind to do some searching on how to prepare garbanzo beans, so I wouldn’t have to use the canned variety! Great post. Thanks so much!

  6. LOVE your blog!!! The part I really think is best is that you show pictures step by step – I never have to think “Hmmm, wonder if I am doing this right?!” You make it so easy to be a healthy cook! THANK YOU!!!

    1. Hi RV, it depends on what you’re making. Foods like falafel can and should be made directly after soaking, whereas hummus needs to be cooked. It really depends on the recipe, however more dishes require them to be cooked in addition to soaking.

  7. I love chickpeas! I soak them over night. Cook them for 15 minutes in pressure cooker. Then peel the skin off or else I am in agony with colic. Spice them up with a tin of tomatoes, cook them for another 15 minutes in the pressure cooker. I’m allergic to milk and soya so use chickpeas as a bread replacement.

  8. I have cooked and frozen beans a few times however when I use them in stews I find them quite dry. Is there anything I can do to prevent them from being dry?

    1. I find that freezing chickpeas the way I do raw fish not only keeps them from being dry, but also preserves the fresh-cooked flavor better. In freezing raw fish, it’s best to put some water in the zip-lock bag with the fish. That preserves the fresh flavor and texture. It’s the same with chickpeas. Not a lot of water is necessary, just enough to cover them. Use the water that they were cooked in to preserve the nutritional value as well as the flavor. Don’t leave any “head” (air) space in the bag, either. The air space can cause freezer burn in spite of the plastic.

  9. Do you know what the weight substitution would be if I wanted to replace a 300g can of chickpeas with beans I will soak and cook myself? What weight of dried beans would I need? thanks

  10. Hi! If i freeze these in batches and then defrost in the fridge how quickly to i have to use them? Still 3-4 days? And if i make into hummus still 3-4 days? Thanks so much!

  11. Thanks for the instructions! I make chickpea patties for my baby son, as part of our Baby-Led Weaning, and discovered, to my horror, that the canned variety had too much salt!!! I’ve just followed your instructions and now have half a kilo of chickpeas ready to be frozen. :)

  12. Hi! This post is so helpful and I check it every time I make a new batch of chickpeas. Today I am freezing some of my batch for the first time (I got a little over zealous with how many I soaked) and I am not sure how to defrost them for later use. Any tips?

    1. Hi Mollie! It depends on what you’re making with them. If you’re adding them to a soup or stew, you can go ahead and add them frozen, they’ll defrost quickly in the hot liquid. If you’re using them for hummus or salads, just keep them in a cold water bath in the sink till they’re thawed. It shouldn’t take too long to thaw them.

  13. Oh dear, chick peas, so simple and straight forward and only a little common sense needed,which clearly some of the people above seem to lack.

    1. Was it necessary for you to be nasty? I don’t believe “chickpea preparation” is a gauge for common sense. Not everyone was raised in an environment that taught all their children garbanzo bean technique. So no, I don’t agree the sense is all that common.

    2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      “Only fools don’t decide the path before them.” I read 10+ comments and have 4 great ideas: let them sprout before cooking, chick pea patties (will be looking for the recipe) and as a flour substitute or chopped and added to bread. Roasted chick peas, I forgot how much I loved them as a kid.
      Stephi, I got your back – share on!

  14. Sorry meant to sat that I have always been told not to salt them while boiling them as it makes them tough. But the toughest thing is remembering to soak them the day before you need them. Therefore cook too many and freeze some.

    1. Re: your previous comment – I don’t think it’s a matter of common sense; it’s just that some people (me included) never learned this kind of thing growing up. Luckily I was able to learn later in life, and now I can share the information with others. I’m glad people feel comfortable asking for advice here. My mom always said there are no stupid questions. :) As for the salt, I’ve never heard that it makes them tough but that’s interesting. I’ll try it without salting next time to see if it makes a difference. I do agree that remembering to soak is important, and so many times I don’t have the foresight to do that. That’s where the quick soak method outlined above can come in handy, as well as freezing several batches ahead of time.

  15. New to chickpeas. If a recipe calls for 2 cups of chickpeas, soaked – Is that 2 cups of dry peas or 2 cups of the soaked peas which would generate larger chickpeas since they swell.

    1. Marsha, it sounds like the recipe wants you to first measure out 2 cups of chickpeas and then to soak them. If it said something like “2 cups of soaked chickpeas”, then it’d be asking for you to soak some chickpeas and then to measure out 2 cups of them. It’s all about word order. :) Hope this helps!

  16. I want to use a portion of previously cooked (to firm) and frozen chickpeas for hummus. Can I defrost them, and then cook them a little longer until they are softer?

    Or when I originally cooked them, should I have cooked some firm and some softer, depending on the usage?

  17. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thanks for the tips. Just learned a great chef’s trick if you want really smooth hummus. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to your soak water. Cover peas and leave in fridge for 18 or more hours. Rinse and continue as described above. I tried it and it made a bigger difference than I thought it would.
    As far as salt, I use salt in my recipes so I don’t use it in preparing my chickpeas.
    Thanks again.

  18. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thanks so much for this great tutorial! When searching ‘how to cook chick peas’ your site came up second but because I recognized your site and you had a photo I clicked and came here. I’m glad I did. Now I know I’ve got another 45 minutes or so before I’ll be ready to make my garlic scape hummus.

    Appreciate it!

  19. Thank you for posting this information. I love homemade hummus but hate to cook up a whole bag. This was tremendously helpful and will be used today.

  20. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Thank you for this terrific tutorial. I used to make beans from scratch eons ago but got into the habit of using cans and sort of forgot how to cook them (apart from in a pressure cooker, which I no longer own). So, my husband, bless his heart, went to three different stores to get the best deal on dry chickpeas and bought a ton. I got out my huge soup pot and soaked and am in the process of cooking 3/4 of them now that I know I can freeze them… they look sooo great, I feel so virtuous. I am using a hunk of kombu as a softener when I cook (vs. salt) as I remember doing that in a long-ago macobiotic phase in my life. Thank you for this post! And I will be back– I love Middle Eastern food!

  21. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    What a great site! I advise my young aspiring family cooks to go to “the shiksa” for their Jewish recipes… As for chickpeas…I love hummus and learned while I was in Israel that the reason their hummus is so smooth is because they remove the outer membrane on the beans before preparing (and after cooking the beans, obviously). It’s a little time consuming, but they come off easily and it makes all the difference in the world…

  22. Agree with the other posters about how helpful this is. I’ve read in a few other places (most notably Madhur Jaffrey) that when soaking the chick peas, one should add baking soda. Any thoughts on this? In the past, I’ve done them without. Just wondering what you think.

    1. I have heard this too Maria, but I haven’t noticed a big difference personally between using baking soda and not. I’d be interested to hear if other readers have noticed a difference, since I haven’t experimented with it in a few years and would be willing to revisit it if people say it’s really worthwhile.

  23. Hi Tori, So I made my chick peas with the baking soda and all went well. Next time I’ll do it without; can’t imagine much difference, as you said. I ended up using them all in 2 different recipes but next time hope to get to the freezing stage. Love your blog! Thanks.

  24. I learned from my Grandmother to add a tsp of baking soda to any bean recipe, ie chili, navy beans, butter beans etc. The reason is it cuts down the gas one experiences commonly after bean dishes. It works, could this be the reason for chick peas as well. Hmm, have to wonder.

  25. I have been cooking chickpeas for years. However, I generally buy the tinned variety for convenience and I always thought that the time taken to cook them outweighed the lower price of the chick peas. Having said that, I think the method used here adds some sophistication to my ‘boil’em for as long as I can method’. Thanks for the tips.

  26. Hummus tastes better without the skin of the chick pea, but it’s quite a process to remove it by hand. Do you have any tricks for taking the skin off?

    1. I wish! I’ve been on the hunt for a tip like this. I asked at my favorite hummus bar recently (which has the smoothest creamiest hummus ever), and was told that when you cook the chickpeas for a long time, a lot of the skins float to the top of the water. I’m going to try cooking my chickpeas longer next time and hope that they’re right. I agree that the skinning process is a pain in the booty! :)

    2. Hi Tori, Love the recipe, and I cook for 100 minutes (for hummus) and the skins fall off in the rinsing process!

    3. Robert, yes, after talking with my local hummus guy I have learned that longer cooking = easy removal of skins! I should do a post about this. Glad this was helpful!

  27. I’m hoping to prepare chana masala, a South Asian chickpea stew and other recipes which involve other veggies and sauces, etc. Will the flavour or texture of the cooked chickpeas be affected?

    1. Hi Sharon- I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question. Do you mean after adding the cooked chickpeas to the recipe, will the flavor or texture change? Of course the flavor would change if you put them in a sauce… and the longer you cook them the softer they become. Sorry if I’m not getting what you mean!

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