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Chickpeas, otherwise known as garbanzo beans, are the main ingredient in hummus and are part of the legume family. They are versatile and nutritious which can be super helpful in a lot of meals. However, if you run out of them you will want to have an alternative to fall back on. Thankfully, there are a lot of substitutes for chickpeas and all of them are equally delicious.

chickpeas close up

What are Chickpeas?

Chickpeas are part of the legume family and are called garbanzo beans in Spanish-speaking areas. Thanks to their nutritional value being high in protein and fiber, chickpeas can be great for anyone on a vegan/vegetarian diet. They have an earthy flavor and can also be quite nutty. This mild flavor makes them very versatile and usable in any recipe, which is helpful if you want to add extra protein to your diet. The taste of chickpeas is somewhat hard to describe but it is a nutty flavor with a similarly nutty texture. They have a similar taste to a lot of other legumes.

Nutritional Value of Chickpeas

As mentioned, chickpeas have a good amount of protein in them. In fact, a single cup of chickpeas contains an entire third of the average adult’s daily protein needs. Anyone cutting down on meat for dietary or personal reasons can easily maintain their protein intake with chickpeas and various other protein sources such as nuts.

Chickpeas can also be very healthy for you if you are keeping an eye on blood pressure. Most health professionals recommend that anyone who is struggling with blood pressure should reduce their sodium intake and increase their potassium intake. Chickpeas are very rich in potassium and, unless you buy canned chickpeas submerged in brine, are really low in sodium. Chickpeas are also low in cholesterol which is healthy for the heart and blood vessels. Chickpeas are also a good source of fiber and can help you maintain a lower blood sugar level.

There are a lot of micronutrients found in chickpeas such as iron and calcium, and all of these play a very crucial role in keeping your bones healthy. Good bone health can help reduce bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis.

Types of Chickpeas

Chickpeas come in different variations depending on where you buy them, Supermarkets will normally have the three main types of chickpeas on hand and ready to sell.

Dried Chickpeas

The word ‘dried’ may give you the assumption that you can eat them as a snack but this is wrong. After buying dried chickpeas, you will need to hydrate them before use. They should be safe to store for up to a year, and once you are ready to use them just simply leave them in a bowl full of water and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda for around 8-12 hours. After this, you will want to drain them into a saucepan and cover them again with water and bring it to a boil. After 45 mins – an hour the chickpeas will be ready to use in any dish you want.

Canned Chickpeas

Canned chickpeas come pre-cooked and ready to use, which means you can throw them right into any dish as soon as you open the can. However, the brine that they were left in may leave them with a bit too much of a salty taste so it is advised to rinse them first.

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas can be eaten as a vegan-friendly snack and are also sold relatively cheaply at any store. They can come in the form of roasted or double roasted, and may also vary in flavorings depending on the brand. Roasted chickpeas have been cooked properly and then dry roasted similar to peanuts. They are cooked chickpeas so they are safe for consumption and make a very tasty high protein and high fiber snack. For flavoring, they may have been drizzled with olive oil before roasting.

Chickpea Substitutes

Despite any reasons you may have, whether they be dietary or not, there may be a call for a reliable chickpea substitute. There are many options available and all of them are quite great. Choosing the best one will most likely depend on your preferred flavors and what meals you intend to use them in.

Cannellini beans

A highly popular substitute for chickpeas, cannellini beans are subtle in flavor but high in nutrition. They have almost as much protein in them as chickpeas, and also contain potassium, magnesium, calcium, and many other micronutrients that are essential for the normal function of the heart. Beans also help regulate blood pressure and contain iron which is helpful for supplying oxygen to the cells in your body. Cannellini beans can also be known as white kidney beans.

Cannellini beans have a neutral flavor which makes them perfect for bulking out meals and adding some extra protein to them. Their taste can be slightly nutty but ultimately it is not strong enough to overwhelm or overpower a dish. They pair well with meats, fish, and vegetables and work in just about any way you would expect them to. Compared to chickpeas, cannellini beans have a smooth texture and are less crunchy than chickpeas and alternatives, which can work in their favor if you prefer smoother food. They also help with stews or broths as they add a creamy texture to the dish.

Lentils

Lentils consist of a lot of different types, all varying in color. The main types are green lentils, red lentils, yellow-brown lentils, and yellow lentils. Each type has its own uses and flavors.

Red lentils are very rich in iron and folic acid, this makes them great for lowering blood sugar and cholesterol while supporting heart and digestive health. The taste of red lentils is subtle and gentle but still pleasant. Some varieties of lentils can be spicy, which can help add depth to a dish, although for people who are not a fan of spice, this may want to be avoided. Red lentils especially cook very quickly and do not need to be soaked beforehand like chickpeas.

Lentils are fine to use and eat after being boiled. Depending on the type of lentil, their cooking time can vary from 15 minutes to 40 minutes. Lentils are really important ingredients and can be used to make soups more nutritious and add texture to salads. They can also be pureed and used in baking.

Green lentils are very high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber cleanses the intestines and also creates favorable microflora which is good for gut health. They are also good for supplying the body with a high amount of your recommended amino acids.

Roasted Edamame

Roasted edamame is a Japanese bean that is very similar to the Vietnamese soybean. It is famed for being tasty as well as healthy due to its high nutritional value. There are a lot of micronutrients, minerals, vitamins, fats, and fiber in the beans. The edamame bean also provides a good source of protein.

The minerals and nutrients found in the edamame bean are good for the intestines, as well as being known to smoothen the skin on your face. There are also studies that link the consumption of these beans to the decrease in some cancers.

Roasted edamame beans need to be harvested early on in their life as they are best while still relatively young. They are also picked in the morning to ensure that they stay green. Because of this, a lot of people will freeze the beans and preserve them for later use. They can be eaten raw or boiled, and are quite easy to cook with.

Mung Beans

Mung beans are another favorite among the chickpeas substitutes and for good reason. They are high in iron, slow carbohydrates, and B vitamins. They also have a high amount of fiber. Mung beans are one of the only beans that undergo germination as it makes them vastly more nutritious.

A lot of cuisines pair mung beans with rice as they pair so well together. This can be a simple yet delicious meal as most of the flavor comes from any spices and seasoning you may add. As well as being great with rice, mung beans are also good for vegetable soups as they are easily digested.

Green Peas

Green peas, also known as garden peas, maybe a surprising addition to this list. However, they are the perfect replacement for chickpeas. Green peas pair well with meat and fish and can be used when they are fresh, canned, or frozen. They can be added to salads without seeming out of place, and you can even make porridge out of them if you choose to.

Green peas are especially good in soup and have a lot of useful dietary properties. The taste of green peas is quite different when compared to chickpeas, which is something to keep in mind when swapping the two.

Black Beans

Black beans, which are also known as turtle beans, are very common in Mexican and Caribbean cooking. Despite this, they can be found widely available in a lot of grocery stores. They have a mild, earthy flavor that has a subtle sweet note in them. They are perfect for chilies, salsas, soups, and dips.

Unlike a lot of the other chickpea substitutes, black beans are often seasoned before sale with spices and seasonings such as cumin, chili peppers, cilantro, oregano, and garlic.

Lima Beans

Lima beans are difficult to distinguish from Great Northern beans, but their texture is creamier and more buttery. This texture is why they are also known as butter beans in several areas. They have a sweet and nutty flavor that can easily be used to replace chickpeas in stews, soups, and salads.

Lima beans turn bitter when they are overcooked so it is important to keep an eye on them while cooking.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are a family of beans that are native to Central America and Mexico. The taste of kidney beans is similar to that of chickpeas, although it is fattier and more subtle.

The role of kidney beans is crucial to a lot of traditional cuisines as they are so popular. When raw and uncooked, kidney beans contain toxins, these disappear after being cooked so it is essential to cook them. The color and pattern of kidney beans can change a lot and be very unpredictable. They come in different colors and can have stripes, be dotted, or blank.

Great Northern Beans

Northern beans are comparable to navy beans but are significantly larger and have a nuttier flavor. Alongside this, northern beans have a lighter flavor than chickpeas, which is great for anyone who doesn’t like how strong chickpeas can be.

Because of their nutty flavor, northern beans are usually used to make soups, stews, and broths. The nutritional value of northern beans is very similar to chickpeas as they are both high in protein and fiber.

Soybeans

Soybeans, also called soya beans, are South-Eastern Asian bean which is grown in China and Japan. When ripe, soybeans will have an ivory yellow color. The taste of soybeans is not favored by many as it is quite bitter and holds a rough texture. Instead of being eaten alone, they are used as the main ingredient to make sauces and noodles.

Nutritionally soybeans are similar to chickpeas as they both have essential micronutrients, protein, fiber, and no cholesterol. Soybeans are integral to a lot of vegetarian or vegan diets as they can be turned into oil, flour, milk, and tofu. All of these are used in vegan cooking and help vegetarian people intake more protein.

Noteworthy alternatives

  • Pinto beans
  • Split peas
  • Dried beans

FAQs on Chickpeas and Substitutes

Is There a Substitute for Chickpeas in Hummus?

The majority of the beans listed in this article can be used for making hummus. It is best to use creamy and buttery beans such as butter beans or cannellini beans.