Looking for a substitute for chickpeas? Perhaps that can of chickpeas you swore was in your pantry has disappeared? Or maybe you are just burnt out on chickpeas and are looking for another source of plant-based protein? Either way, this list of the best chickpea substitutes has you covered!
What are Chickpeas?
To choose the best chickpea alternative, it is helpful to first understand what chickpeas are and what they bring to the table in terms of flavor, texture, and nutrient composition.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a member of the legume family. They share legume status with other beans, lentils, and peas. There are two common types of chickpeas: Kabuli-type, which is common in the United States and larger as well as lighter in color, and Desi-type, which is smaller, slightly darker in color, and often found in India and the Middle East.
Chickpeas have mild earthy and nutty flavors. They share a similar texture to other beans, which is slightly grainy. However, they are easily blended or smashed to create a creamy texture.
Chickpeas are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. Specifically, they meet over 50% of the Daily Values for manganese, the B vitamin folate, and copper. As such, they may be associated with a variety of health benefits, from blood sugar regulation to digestive tract health.
Common Uses for Chickpeas
Chickpeas are believed to have been domesticated in Turkey. They are popular in cultural dishes from East and South Asia, Africa, Southern Europe, and Central and South America. Whole chickpeas have traditionally been used in curries and stews, whereas ground chickpeas have been incorporated into dips, bread, and more. Hummus, socca, and falafel are examples of traditional dishes using ground or smashed chickpeas.
Chickpeas have also gained popularity in Western dishes, especially as a plant-based protein choice. Chickpeas make a great replacement for eggs, meat, or even flour in many traditional Western dishes.
It's no secret I'm a bit chickpea-crazy (have you seen the name of my blog?). I have developed many recipes using chickpeas as a plant-based protein source, from fresh chickpea grain bowls to cozy chickpea noodle soup.
Many types of beans can be substituted for chickpeas in a variety of circumstances. Beans and lentils can provide a similar nutrient profile to chickpeas since they all belong to the legume family. These substitutions will continue to provide a great source of protein and fiber to your dishes.
Beans and lentils can vary slightly in size and shape from chickpeas, so measuring by weight will be your best option for a similar result no matter the bean or lentil replacement. That being said, replacing cup-for-cup should work in most situations.
1. White Beans
Perhaps the best substitute for chickpeas across the board is white beans. They have both a similar taste and look to chickpeas. Any white bean will do, including cannellini beans (white kidney beans), lima beans (butter beans), great northern beans, and navy beans. While not typically considered white beans, black-eyed peas also make an excellent substitute for chickpeas.
2. Black Beans
Also known as turtle beans, black beans also share the mildly earthy flavor of chickpeas. Additionally, they can be blended or mashed into a smooth texture. As such, they can make delicious hummus, though it will be darker in color than traditional hummus, of course.
3. Pinto Beans
Of refried bean fame, pinto beans make a great substitute for chickpeas, especially as they both tend to be pantry staples. They do, however, have a slightly earthier taste.
4. Kidney Beans
While cannellini beans may be more visually similar, red kidney beans are also a great option to use in place of chickpeas. As kidney beans are a toothsome addition to chilis and stews, they can certainly pull their own as a chickpea substitute in these types of dishes.
5. Green lentils
As green lentils retain a firmer texture even after cooking, they are the best chickpea replacement among the different types of lentils. Lentils tend to have a more peppery and nutty taste compared to chickpeas. However, they still make a great alternative as they are a good source of protein and are similar enough in flavor and texture to easily fit into a variety of dishes.
6. Yellow, Brown, or Red Lentils
Other color lentils aside from green can also make a good alternative to chickpeas thanks to their pretty mild yet nutty flavor. Because these lentils break down with cooking more than chickpeas, they are best for recipes that call for smashed or blended chickpeas. They can also be ground into flour to replace chickpea flour one-for-one.
7. Edamame, Mung Beans, or Soybeans
More common in East and Southeast Asia, these beans can all make great substitutions for chickpeas, though they may be a bit more difficult to find in the United States. Edamame (young soybeans) and mung beans both have a slight vegetal flavor that makes them a good chickpea substitute in salads.
Soybeans make a great replacement anywhere a similar texture to chickpeas would be needed, though they are not particularly flavorful. They are great for absorbing the flavor of soups, curries, or stews, however.
Green peas have a similar starchy texture to chickpeas, though they have more of a vegetal and sweet taste. They can make a great substitute for chickpeas in fresh preparations, such as salads. They may be the best thing to replace green chickpeas, though, as they are more visually similar than most bean choices. Substitute one-for-one.
Peanuts, Almonds, or Cashews
It may be odd, but nuts can make a great chickpea substitute in some preparations! Peanut butter can replace ground chickpeas in baked goods, though it will have more fat. To balance this, decreasing the oil in the recipe can help to produce a similar result.
Containing all essential amino acids, quinoa can be a nutritionally similar replacement for chickpeas. Its texture resembles ground chickpeas, making it an easy chickpea substitute in falafel. Quinoa flour can also replace chickpea flour in baking recipes, and even offer a similar nutty flavor, especially if you toast it!
Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is a delicious and nutritious substitute for chickpeas. It has a bit more protein than chickpeas and is an excellent source of B vitamins niacin and riboflavin.
Tempeh can make a good substitute if you are trying to get more protein into your meals. Its texture lends well to replacing roasted chickpeas, or chickpeas in pasta or salads. Dice it to replace whole chickpeas or crumble it to replace ground chickpeas.
The beloved veggie of the keto community, this versatile vegetable can replace chickpeas in some circumstances thanks to its mild flavor. Roast it to remove some water and use it as a replacement in salads, curries, and dips. While a good source of dietary fiber, cauliflower provides much less protein than chickpeas measure-for-measure, so keep this in mind when planning your meals.
Replace one-to-one by volume, though if you are using larger cauliflower florets you can substitute up to twice as much cauliflower as chickpeas since there will be more empty space in your measuring cup.
Best Chickpea Substitutes by Common Use
Hummus and Dips
White beans are likely your best choice for replacing chickpeas in this staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. Using butter beans and carefully removing the skin of each bean before blending will result in a delectably smooth hummus. Other types of beans or lentils will also make a yummy dip or hummus, though the color will vary more from the traditional version.
Green lentils may be the best replacement for chickpeas in falafel as they maintain a great firm texture. Mung beans, quinoa, and almond flour also have textures that can lend well to the soft-but-not-soggy texture of the inside of falafel.
Soup, Stew, or Curry
Diced tempeh, roasted cauliflower, lentils, and firmer white beans (such as cannellini) can all work great in a soup or curry depending on the other flavors and textures. I recommend you consider the texture, flavor, and nutrition you are looking for in your soup, stew, or curry to help make the choice.
To replace blended chickpeas, I'd recommend the same amount of blended white beans. For a non-bean option, you can use nut butter and decrease the amount of oil you add by a tablespoon or so. To replace chickpea flour, try quinoa or lentil flour measure-for-measure.
In cold preparations, black-eyed peas, green peas, roasted cauliflower, or edamame can make delicious salads. For warm toppings, roasted white beans, tempeh, or quinoa can add great texture and nutty flavor.
If you are replacing chickpeas in a sauce, like in my lemon broccoli chickpea pasta, another white bean will work perfectly. If you are replacing chickpea pasta itself, pasta made from lentils will offer a similar nutrition profile.
The short answer: there is none! The name differences come from English "translations" (or rather, loose interpretations) of different languages for the same bean.
The best keto substitute for chickpeas, depending on the preparation, is likely cauliflower or nuts. Nut butter or flour (such as almond flour) are great lower carbohydrate choices for baking whereas cauliflower can be used to make delicious dips, curries, salads, and more.
Peanuts, tempeh, quinoa, canned lentils, and edamame are all low fodmap substitutes for chickpeas. Be sure to check the amounts you plan to eat, as low-fodmap foods can become moderate or high-fodmap depending on the amount you are eating.
Chickpeas contain both carbohydrates and protein. According to the USDA, cooked chickpeas contain 45 grams of carbohydrates (12 grams of which are fiber) and 15 grams of protein.
Wow, you made it all the way to the end?! Thanks so much for reading and I hope you found this summary of chickpea substitutes helpful! Please let me know in the comments below how the substitute you chose worked out in your recipe. I'd be happy to help with any troubleshooting. Thank you!