Chickpeas are a popular legume with a mild, nutty taste. Some of their uses include being used as an ingredient in soups and curries or being blended into dips. They are also a great source of protein for people who don’t eat meat. When you find yourself needing chickpeas but don’t have time to run to the store, this article provides some great alternatives.
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What are Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a type of legume, which are fruits or seeds from plants in the Fabaceae family. They are also known as garbanzo beans, chana, Egyptian peas, and gram.
People eat chickpeas all over the world, from South Asia to the Mediterranean. Many people consider chickpeas to be superfoods thanks to their amazing health benefits. They are high in protein, fiber, and other important nutrients. Studies link chickpeas to lower risks of diabetes and cancer.
How are Chickpeas Most Commonly Used?
Another reason why chickpeas are so popular is that they are very versatile. You can add them to soups, stews, pasta sauces, and curries to create a filling, tasty meal. Roasted and seasoned, chickpeas also make a delicious snack on their own.
There are also some unconventional uses for chickpeas. You can blend them into dips such as hummus or mash them into a gluten-free flour. Chickpeas can even be used to make aquafaba, which is then used by bakers to make vegan whipped cream and other dessert dishes.
Substitutes for Chickpeas
If you don’t have chickpeas in your pantry, here are a few food staples that you might use instead:
1. Cannellini Beans
In my opinion, cannellini beans are the best chickpea substitute thanks to their similar taste, texture, and size. Cannellini beans, sometimes called white kidney beans, are large, oval-shaped beans. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. They are popular in Italian cuisine where they are used in soups and stews, such as minestrone.
You can use cannellini beans in savory dishes such as soups, stews, and curries. They also mash up well to form a dip that resembles hummus if you add olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.
2. Green Peas
Like chickpeas, green peas belong to the legume family and are the seeds of the pea plant. They have a softer texture and a sweeter flavor than chickpeas. This is a convenient option because they are a fairly common pantry or freezer item.
You can use green peas as a substitute for chickpeas in soups, stews, and curries. However, green peas are not great replacements for chickpeas in baking or for dips because they have a much softer texture.
3. Black Beans
Black beans are common in Latin American and Mexican cuisine. They have a soft, creamy texture and a mild flavor that is similar to that of chickpeas.
Black beans work best as a chickpea replacement in dips because they have a similar texture when you blend them up. Just remember that your dip will look very different if you use black beans due to the difference in color.
4. Lentils (green, yellow, brown or red)
Lentils, or pulses, are types of legumes that are small and oval, or lens-shaped (that is where the name comes from). They come in several varieties that often differ by color. Lentils have similar health benefits to chickpeas, including high levels of protein and fiber. They also have a similar earthy taste.
Lentils work best as a chickpea replacement in stews and curries. However, they do not work well for baking and do not blend up well into dips.
5. Split Peas
Split peas come from the pea plant, just like green peas, but they are processed differently. After harvesting, the peas are dried, the outer skin removed, and then the seed kernel is split. You can get green or yellow split peas. Yellow split peas are so similar to chickpeas that they are sometimes mistaken for each other.
Split peas have a similar earthy flavor to chickpeas. They work well as a chickpea replacement in soups, stews, and curries.
6. Mung Beans
Mung beans are small green beans that are common in Southeast Asian cuisines. They share similar health benefits to chickpeas and are high in protein. They have a nutty flavor, just like chickpeas, but are slightly sweeter.
Mung beans work well as a chickpea replacement in almost all dishes. You can cook them in curries, mash them into dips, or pulse them to make batter for sweet dishes. However, mung beans are sometimes hard to find outside of the countries where they are cultivated, so they are not the most convenient option.
7. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are medium-sized, oval beans with a distinctive striped appearance (that is where the name comes from – “pinto” means painted in Spanish). They are popular in Spanish and Latin American cuisine, where they are used in soups, stewed as a side dish, or mashed to form dips. Pinto beans have a mild, earthy flavor that is similar to that of chickpeas, making them a good chickpea replacement.
If you don’t have chickpeas to make hummus, mashing up pinto beans to make a dip is a great alternative. These beans have a soft texture, making them a good replacement for chickpeas when it comes to dips. You can also add pinto beans to stews and casseroles that normally call for chickpeas.
Soybeans come from the soy plant and are light brown in color with a small, round appearance. Like chickpeas, they have a wide range of uses from being mashed to make tofu or fermented to make different condiments, such as soy sauce. However, you can also eat soybeans by themselves.
Because of their similar texture, soybeans work well as a chickpea substitute in stews, soups, and curries. However, they have a very neutral flavor, so you will have to season your food more than you would when cooking with chickpeas. Make sure that nobody you are cooking for has a soy allergy before using this as a substitute.
9. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are another member of the legume family. These deep red beans get their name because of their kidney shape. Like chickpeas, they have a rich, thick texture but a slightly sweeter flavor.
Kidney beans are the best when you substitute them for chickpeas in stews, curries, and other savory dishes. They help thicken the dish and add robust flavors to whatever you are cooking.
Peanuts are legumes as well and not actually nuts. They have a hard texture and a salty, slightly sweet flavor and usually come in crispy shells. Seasoned peanuts are a popular snack.
Roasted, seasoned chickpeas are a popular snack in some parts of the world, but if you don’t have chickpeas on hand, you can achieve a similar flavor with peanuts. You can buy roasted peanuts from the store. However, I would encourage you to roast and season your own peanuts as they have a much fresher taste.
Cashews are kidney shaped nuts that have a rich texture and a savory, almost sweet flavor. They are popular snacks, but are also the backbone of many vegan replacements for ingredients. Like chickpeas, cashews have several health benefits and are high in protein.
Like peanuts, cashews work well as a chickpea replacement for snacks thanks to their salty flavor and rich, crunchy texture. They are also great substitutes for chickpeas in some baking recipes thanks to their sweet flavor. You can also make a dip or a creamy base by soaking cashews, then pulsing them in a food processor.
However, even though they can form the base of some curries, cashews don’t work as well in many soups and stews due to their hard texture.
Hazelnuts, like cashews, belong to the nut family. They are brown and round in appearance with a rich, sweet flavor (much sweeter than chickpeas). While hazelnuts may seem like an unlikely chickpea replacement, they work thanks to their rich flavor and versatility.
Hazelnuts are a great chickpea replacement when baking. You can even grind hazelnuts to
make gluten-free flour, just like you would with chickpeas. When roasted, hazelnuts make a
great addition to salads or pan-fried fish instead of chickpeas.
13. Lima Beans
Lima beans, also known as butter beans or wax beans, are another member of the legume family. They have a large, oval shape and can be creamy white or light green. Similar to chickpeas, they have a starchy, mild flavor that tastes a little sweet.
Like chickpeas, lima beans absorb other flavors when you simmer them. They are a great chickpea substitute in savory dishes that you cook for a long time to develop the flavors, such as stews.
Quinoa is a seed in the amaranth family that has a nutty, earthy taste. Like chickpeas, quinoa is popular in vegetarian and vegan dishes thanks to its high protein content and nutritional benefits. Quinoa grains are small and come in three different colors: white, red, and black.
You can use quinoa to replace chickpeas in vegetarian or vegan dishes such as vegan burger patties.
15. Fava Beans
Fava beans, sometimes called broad beans, are another type of legume that are flat and wide in appearance. They have a nutty, earthy, sometimes bitter flavor and are very soft when cooked. Dried fava beans are the better choice when you are looking for a chickpea substitute because they have a milder flavor.
You can substitute fava beans for chickpeas in soups, stews, and curries. Fava beans also mash up well, so you can use them in place of chickpeas in dips and falafel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What beans are similar to chickpeas?
A great place to look for chickpea substitutes is in the bean aisle, since beans are legumes just like chickpeas. Beans that are very similar to chickpeas include cannellini beans, fava beans, and lima beans. These beans are similar in taste, texture, and appearance to chickpeas.
What is the best substitute for chickpeas?
In my opinion, cannellini beans, also called white kidney beans, is the best chickpea substitute because it has the closest size, texture and taste. Cannellini beans can be used as a substitute in most dishes where chickpeas are used.
Final Thoughts on Chickpea Substitutes
Chickpeas have a wide range of uses including being used as an ingredient in soups, stews, dips, soups and curries or being roasted and eaten as a snack. Hopefully you have found some good alternatives that will fit whatever your need. Happy cooking!
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