Let’s talk legumes—chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) specifically. They're loved around the globe, with a permanent spot in practically everyone’s pantry, but chickpeas somehow still get relegated to side-dish territory, unceremoniously puréed into yet another bowl of hummus. But we’ve bean there and done that (couldn’t resist). It’s now time for garbanzos to take center stage.

Chock full of protein, fiber, folic acid, and manganese, these beans are nutritional overachievers. And healthiness aside, you’ll be amazed at the culinary brilliance of the low-glycemic, gluten-free gems. We’ve come up with 32 utterly original dishes to dig you out of your hummus hole and open your eyes to the greatness of the garbanzo.

Snacks and Appetizers

Photo: Natural Chow

1. Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Whoever coined the phrase “simplicity at its finest” must've had chickpeas in mind, and this recipe proves how right they were. Using just a touch of heart-healthy olive oil and a sprinkling of spices, this dish showcases the natural goodness of chickpeas. Turning a glorious golden brown as they roast up in the oven, these beans make a great crunchy swap for potato chips. Fair warning, you may end up finishing the whole batch in one sitting—not that it’s a bad thing.

2. Chickpea and Edamame Salad With Lemon and Mint

Sub out that tired pasta salad for this garbanzo standout. This salad may not have any leaves in it, but the vibrant green hue will tip you off that there’s some serious nutritional benefits to all this deliciousness. While cholesterol-fighting edamame, mint leaves, and scallions provide an herby and crunchy vibrance, their flavors complement rather than overshadow the chickpeas. In fact, they highlight the buttery garbanzos even more, making the bean the true star of the dish.

3. Confetti Quinoa and Chickpea Lettuce Wraps

We can’t think of a more fitting name for this recipe; the smattering of diced veggies, quinoa, and chickpeas really do resemble festive confetti. With fibrous, amino acid-rich and digestion-aiding ingredients wrapped up in tender lettuce leaves, this colorfully nutritious wrap is tasty and fun. All in all, it’s a party on a plate, which makes it perfect to serve at your next one.

Photo: Naturally Ella

4. Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup

You’d never believe that a soup so silky is vegan—but that’s the magic of garbanzos! In this decked-out version of the quintessential cold-weather dish, fiber-filled beans provide the velvety texture usually created by cholesterol-laden heavy cream. If you’re looking for a more rustic finish, stop just short of puréeing the tomato/chickpea mixture completely. It’s perfectly slurpable either way!

5. Minty Yogurt Parfaits

Who could ever say no to a dish that includes the word ”parfait” in the title? In this savory take, cooked chickpeas are layered with brainpower-boosting walnuts; minted Greek yogurt; crunchy cucumbers, and fiber-filled raisins for a sweet and savory explosion of colors and flavors. Follow the recipe’s fine example by serving it up in Mason jars.

Photo: Running to the Kitchen

6. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Roasted Chickpeas

We covered savory roasted chickpeas above, but if it’s a sweet craving you’re looking to satisfy, this lightly sugared, cinnamon-dusted substitute for popcorn can’t be beat. Sesame-based tahini paste helps to coat the chickpeas with seasonings while upping the protein count per serving. Pouring a cup of milk over these chickpeas may be a bit much, but they’re just as addictive as their namesake breakfast cereal eaten, even leaving that similar spicy sweet residue on your fingers—isn’t that everyone’s favorite part, anyway?

7. Deconstructed Falafel Salad

One of the most popular chickpea dishes out there is crispy falafel, but really, who’s got a deep-fryer in their kitchen? Avoid the hassle and the potential heartburn with this much easier, “deconstructed” salad. Full of chickpeas and veggies and tossed with a sesame tahini-based dressing full of B-complex vitamins, it may even be better than the original. Falafel purists may call it bending the rules. We call it genius.

Main Dishes

Photo: What Would Cathy Eat?

8. Pasta With Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Gremolata Breadcrumbs

Lemony pasta topped with herbed breadcrumbs sounds like a carb-lover’s dream, but this vegan spaghetti dish doesn’t forget about the protein, either, packing in a 15-ounce can of chickpeas along with the noodles. Three zucchinis add in a burst of color, some vitamin C, and more than a full serving of vegetables.

9. Thai Chickpea Almond Curry

Take your taste buds to Southeast Asia with this incredibly rich, but still super-healthy curry. Two cans of chickpeas, plus a heaping spoonful of almond butter with good-for-you monounsaturated fat, provide the base of the dish. A combo of curry paste, red pepper flakes, coconut milk, ginger, and lime lend it a distinctly Thai flavor. Delicious, and waaaay easier on your wallet than a one-way ticket to Bangkok.

Photo: Fake Ginger

10. Risotto With Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Chickpeas

Searching for a way to catapult the humble chickpea into gourmet territory? Look no further than this luxurious but simple risotto. A mix of immunity-boosting mushrooms and heart-healthy caramelized onions, al dente Arborio rice, and chickpeas, this dish looks like a laborious production. But unsuspecting dinner guests, will never know the truth: literally all it needs is a bit of stirring. Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with us!

11. Channa Masala

If you’ve always been intimidated by Indian food, this channa masala is a great

gateway recipe. Obscure ingredients are kept to a minimum without compromising the zippy tang of its traditional sauce. This easy recipe isn’t overpowering on the spices, but it keeps the metabolism-pumping with cinnamon and chili powder. Tomatoes and seasonings are all that are necessary to elevate garbanzos to restaurant-standards (while adding a dose of beta-carotene [1]). (Tip: This recipe uses fresh, pressure-cooked beans, but don’t hesitate to use canned ones to save some time.)

Photo: The Bite Sized Blog

12. Shiitake Green Garbanzo Patties

We’re big fans of recipes that just involved dumping a bunch of ingredients in a blender and whirring them—bonus points if those ingredients provide a slew of  healthy benefits. These patties totally fit the bill, with the garbanzo beans and brown rice providing energy-rich, complex carbohydrates and shiitake mushrooms taking the credit for that meaty, umami bite. This blogger uses green garbanzo beans for a gorgeous hue, but don’t fret if you can’t find them; regular tan ones will be just as tasty.

13. In a Jiffy Curry Chickpea Burgers

Need a burger STAT but looking to sub out that hunk o' beef for something more plant-based? This is the reason chickpeas are a pantry staple—they’re lifesavers when you need something substantial and healthy. Here, they’re combined with oats for extra ammunition against heart disease. Blend them up with veggies, seeds, and spices, then bake ‘em in the oven. Just 20 minutes later, you’ll have deliciously wholesome, vegan patties that’ll put their fast-food counterparts to shame.

14. Smashed Chickpea Avocado Sandwich

Sick of the same old PB&J? Make your lunchtime menu more than an afterthought with this seriously satisfying sandwich. Avocado, spinach, cucumber, and celery don’t just add a shot of Instagram-ready color, but they keep you pleasantly full for hours, thanks to healthy fat and fiber. If you remove the cheese to make it vegan, the beans will still provide a full serving of protein. Your midday meal just got a major taste (and health) makeover.

15. Crispy Crunchy Roasted Radish and Chickpea Tacos

No need to resort to scary, processed substitutes for meatless Mexican dishes—

give the all-natural chickpea a chance! Here, the street food fave goes clean: beans are lightly seasoned and roasted along with radishes (highly underrated veggies overflowing with detoxifying properties). Top it with a zesty yogurt sauce and cooling avocado slices, and friends will be begging you to open your own taco truck.

Photo: Kitchen Treaty

16. Lemony Egg in a Spinach-Chickpea Nest

If chickpeas never struck you as breakfast food, this recipe will be a game-changer. Picture a soft-cooked egg nestled in the middle of a ring of lightly sautéed chickpeas and spinach. (Did we mention this is an easy way to get two servings of veggies before you’ve even walked out the front door?)  A dash of lemon brightens up the dish while its vitamin C helps you absorb iron from the greens. Anticipating all this healthy deliciousness could have you skipping the snooze button and the ho-hum bowl of cereal.

17. Quinoa Loaf

Vegans always get asked about their go-to protein sources, and here’s a simple and delicious answer: A slice of this savory loaf, loaded with a protein-packed duo of chickpeas and quinoa. Everyone will happily chow down on it without asking, “Where’s the beef?” Still, the best part of this easy-to-bake dish is that it’s suitable for any time of day. Enjoy it as a mid-morning snack, lunchtime sandwich, or dinnertime entrée ladled with gravy.

18. Vegan Spanakopita

Phyllo can be finicky, but don’t let that keep you from trying this show-stopping, savory Greek pie that looks deceptively complicated. Digestion-aiding flaxseed meal helps the dough adhere to the antioxidant-rich, garlicky veggie-and-chickpea filling. The mixture is then nestled between the paper-thin pastry sheets in a simple layering job and baked to flaky, crunchy, and creamy perfection.

19. Green Goddess Enchiladas

You’ll rarely find “Mexican food” and “detox” in the same sentence, but that’s how this blogger describes her vegetarian recipe, and for good reason. Jammed with antioxidant-rich chickpeas and superfood poster-child kale, these enchiladas could qualify for “clean eats” status—even with a cup of grated cheddar on top. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a detoxifying dinner or a straight up comfort food; this dish delivers on both levels.

Bars, Cakes, and Sweets

Photo: Keepin' It Kind

20. Chocolate Chickpea Truffles

Regulate blood sugar with dessert? Yes way. The fiber and protein from the chickpeas in these creamy, bite-sized treats makes it possible. They’re blended up with cashew butter for a nutty base. And the addition of maple syrup to the filling and the dark chocolate for the coating give it the proper candy-shop look plus some added antioxidants. We think these treats could give Godiva a little competition.

21. Chickpea Granola Bars
Granola bars are marketed as the ultimate “healthy food,” but commercial versions are often just sugar bombs loaded with preservatives. These chickpea-based bars aren’t just straightforward to whip but, but they’re genuinely all-natural. Chock-full of soluble fiber from oats, insoluble fiber from chickpeas, and healthy fat from peanut butter, they’re a great grab-n-go snack. Use equal amounts of maple syrup or honey if you don’t have agave syrup, and sub in your favorite dried fruit and spices to make the most of this customizable recipe.

22. Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookie Bars

So far, we’ve seen peanut butter playing a supporting role in these recipes as the binding agent or the texture booster. But in this cookie-bar take on the classic sandwich, peanuts costar with chickpeas. To make your bars look as stunning as the photos illustrate, simply drop spoonfuls of jam onto the batter and drag a spoon through them to create a marbled look. This recipe uses a homemade strawberry chia seed jam to maximize the bars’ fatty acid and antioxidant levels, but any all-fruit sweetened jam will work.

23. Pumpkin Pie Dessert Bars

There’s always room for one more in our ever-expanding list of pumpkin-laced treats. A spiced purée of pumpkin and chickpeas is layered between a graham cracker bottom and swirled, cheesecake-like topping. The protein powder is entirely optional, and if you omit it, the beans will give each serving a filling three grams of protein. It also doesn’t hurt that you’re getting a ton of beta carotene, vitamin K, and fiber from everyone’s favorite orange squash. It doesn’t matter if Thanksgiving is around the corner or months away, these low-cal pie-inspired goodies are irresistible year-round.

24. Chickpea and Orange Cake

By now you know the secret to stress-free, gluten-free baking: garbanzos. This beautiful loaf cake calls for merely seven ingredients, letting the subtle but distinctive nuttiness of the beans and the zest from the fresh orange shine through. You’ll have to spend a few extra minutes skinning the chickpeas, but it’s well worth it for the end result: a gleaming caramel-colored loaf. Garnish with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and serve with a piping hot cuppa for a lovely and light teatime snack.

25. Flourless Chickpea Blondies With Sea Salt

Blondies are frequently brushed off as the less desirable sibling of brownies, but

maybe that’s because nobody ever tried this gluten-free, lower fat rendition of the traditionally butter-laden bars. The joint efforts of chickpeas, honey, and nut butter give each square a pleasant chewiness and sweetness that’s offset by flakes of sea salt sprinkled on top (let’s hear it for bonus minerals!) Looks like brownies will have to share the spotlight—these blondies are ready for their close-up.

Photo: A Tasty Love Story

26. Strawberry Muffins With White Chocolate and Chickpeas

White chocolate may be notorious for its less-than-stellar nutritional profile, but the

vitamin C from the strawberries and the antioxidants from an entire can of chickpeas more than make up for that. (If you don’t love white chocolate, go ahead and sub in the dark stuff.) The beans are folded in with three eggs and a banana to provide most of the substance here, making flour totally unnecessary and—you guessed it—gluten-free.  It’s all wrapped up in a 100-calorie package, which you can enjoy as breakfast or with a scoop of ice cream as dessert.

27. Dark Chocolate Chickpea Brownies

One look at this fudgy goodness and you’ll want to race off to your pantry to collect up the ingredients. Before we lose you to the kitchen, let us make your indulgence even sweeter by telling you that these treats are vegan and gluten-free without requiring obscure, funky ingredients. On top of that, each piece touts cardioprotective flavanols from the cocoa powder, omega-3’s from the walnuts, and four grams of protein from the beans. OK, on your mark, get set, bake!

Cookies and Cookie Dough

Photo: Chocolate Covered Katie

28. Healthy Cookie Dough Dip

OK, so maybe this is just another way to say “dessert hummus,” but what’s in a name when you’re talking about one of the most famous chickpea-based sweets in the blogosphere? No discussion of bean-based desserts would be complete without spotlighting this dip. Processed with your favorite all-natural nut butter and studded with dark chocolate chips, it’s a vegan, salmonella risk-free bowl of yum just waiting to be slathered onto a graham cracker or dunked with unpeeled apple slices.

29. Skinny Chocolate Chip Pizookie and Vegan Fudge Sauce

If oversized, novelty cookies are your weakness, meet your new go-to chickpea recipe. It’s a crispy-on-the-edges, chewy-on-the-inside, oozing-with-chocolate, deep-dish pizookie (pizza-cookie) that you will not believe contains three cups of chickpeas. The addition of oats gives cholesterol-reducing benefits, while the fudge sauce can be eaten by the spoonful, thanks to being made with vitamin-crammed dates [2]. Make it even more epic by topping a warm slice with a scoop of frozen yogurt or non-dairy ice cream.

Photo: The Lucky Penny

30. Gooey Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies

Cookie dough is well and good, but nothing beats a warm cookie fresh from the oven. And these bronzed, slightly crispy but still soft nuggets are no exception. Make the recipe as written using peanut butter and chocolate chips, or experiment by subbing in peanut butter chips or other nut butters for a range of healthy benefits. Since you’re just throwing  ingredients in a blender (or food processor), you’re that much closer to cookie time.

31. Cookie Dough Ice Pops

Nope, not sick of cookie dough yet! (Is that even possible?) This time, chickpeas are getting the opposite treatment from baking—they’re being frozen! The base is made with peanut butter and coconut milk (go for full-fat here for optimal creamy consistency, plus antiviral and metabolic benefits). And flaxseeds help bind the whole thing without eggs. Chilled in muffin trays, these creamy popsicles will undoubtedly be a favorite among kids and adults. After all, who doesn’t love food served on a stick?

Photo: The Colorful Kitchen

32. Vegan, Gluten-Free Chickpea Thumbprint Cookies

The ingredients for these thumbprints (also called birds’ nests) are similar to the other cookies on our list, but it’s amazing how much more adorable they look when they’re dressed up with dollops of your favorite jam (keep it 100% fruit-sweetened to avoid any added sugars). The recipe makes only 12 at a time, so these party-worthy treats are perfect for when you’re baking for a small group. (Or go ahead and double it for larger crowds.)

Works Cited +

Tomatoes and cardiovascular health. Willcox JK, Catignani GL, Lazarus S. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2003;43(1):1-18. ⤴

The fruit of the date palm: its possible use as the best food for the future? Al-Shahib W, Marshall RJ. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. 2003 Jul;54(4):247-59. ⤴

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