Chickpeas are NOT peas made of chicks if this is the first time you’ve heard of it!
This is actually a healthy, versatile ingredient many vegans and vegetarians use as a meat replacement.
It’s such a small pea but rich in protein and nutrients we need for good health, cooked with various dishes.
That said, we know we can’t always find chickpeas readily available in our local grocery stores.
So, what can I substitute for chickpeas?
Check out our complete list of chickpeas substitutes that you can use to achieve authentic flavor and consistency!
What Are Chickpeas?
Chickpeas are legumes, making them under the same category as peas, peanuts, beans, lupins, and lentils. This ingredient came from the Middle East, where it grew for a few thousand years. (*)
Today, people use chickpeas as a meat replacement because they are a good source of protein. They have 14.4 grams of protein in one cup.
We’re all familiar with beige-colored chickpeas, but there are also other types and colors to cook with.
Let’s talk about the two major types of chickpeas:
- Desi seeds are dark-colored, small, and rough. They are grown in Mexico and Ethiopia.
- Kabuli is lighter with a larger grain and thinner kernel crust. They are cultivated in North America, Europe, Pakistan, Chile, and Afghanistan.
All types would have a rich and earthy flavor that enhances the dish’s taste.
They also taste slightly grainy and nutty, which gives more of a yummy contrast when you mix them with ingredients.
How To Choose The Best Substitute For Chickpea
Here are the factors to consider when selecting the best substitute for chickpea based on our list below:
- Cannellini beans have the closest flavor and texture to chickpeas, making them great for any recipe requiring chickpeas
- Soybeans, lima beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and great northern beans have similar creamy and nutty flavors. They are great to use in chilis and stews that require chickpeas because of the velvety consistency it brings.
- Black or pinto beans are great if you want a more robust flavor. You can use these beans for spreads, stews, and chili for richer-tasting dishes.
- Brown, red, and green lentils have a slightly peppery and nutty taste if this is what you want in your dishes.
- Mung beans, split peas, and green peas are a good alternative if you want a fresher, greener taste. They’re also great when you want to replace green chickpeas.
- Hazelnuts and peanuts are suitable for stuffing and salads if you want a crunchier texture for your chickpea replacement. If you or anyone eating your dish is allergic to legumes, you can use hazelnut instead.
The 12 Best Chickpeas Substitutes
No chickpeas in the grocery store or your kitchen?
No worries, there are a lot of alternatives to choose from, many of which have the same nutrients you can get from them.
Try any of these chickpeas substitutes when your recipe calls for it:
1. Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans contain higher amounts of carbs and fiber, but cannellini beans still have the same amount of protein as chickpeas. One cup of cannellini beans contains 15 grams of protein, making it the richest source of protein among all plant-based sources.
Cannellini beans have the similar sweet taste chickpea has and is more suitable in vegetable-based soups.
Learn more: Top 10 Best Cannellini Beans Replacements for Your Recipes
2. Northern Beans
These beans are larger than navy beans but a bit smaller and with nuttier flavors than cannellini beans.
Northern beans also taste lighter than chickpeas, which is excellent for those who dislike the strong taste.
Because of the nutty flavor, we recommend using northern beans in soups, stews, salads, or ragouts. You will still get to enjoy the host of health benefits northern beans offer, as you would with chickpeas.
Learn more: A Complete List of Northern Beans Alternatives For You!
3. Mung Beans
Mung beans are also famous among vegetarians as they have a high amount of protein, fats, slow carbs, fiber, and B vitamins. Many people incorporate mung beans in their dishes because it is also high in iron.
Mung beans are added best in curries, salads, or soups, tasting crisp and fresh. They have a mildly sweet flavor you can use as a paste in desserts, too.
You can use mung beans as a chickpea alternative in rice dishes and vegetarian soups. Add some more spices to make your dish have more of a unique and original flavor!
Lentils are commonly part of Asian dishes, particularly in India.
Lentils are some of the oldest food sources and have been around for at least 9,000 years.
Like chickpeas, these are from the legume family with a lenticular shape.
There are different types of lentils depending on the color, such as black, yellow, green lentils, yellow-brown, and red lentils. They taste just like chickpea but with a slightly more pleasant aroma.
What makes lentils a great choice is how they have a lot of protein, like chickpeas. They also contain vitamin B1, fiber, and various minerals to help keep you healthy.
They taste fleshy and can be prepared in various ways, best for salads and soups that call for chickpeas.
5. Kidney Beans
This type of bean comes from Mexico and Central America, with different patterns and colors to choose from. They have a similar fatty taste to the chickpea does, but it isn’t as strong.
Kidney beans are vital in traditional cuisines and must be cooked before eating, as they contain toxins when raw. After cooking it, you can reap the health benefits it offers.
6. Roasted Edamame
Edamame is a bean native to Japan, with a delicious flavor and lots of nutrients. The edamame plant is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat, which can help the intestines, smoothen the skin, and even prevent certain cancers.
They taste a bit like Vietnamese soybeans and chickpeas, which makes them a good substitute. You can eat these uncooked, boiled, or roasted.
7. Split Peas
You can find split peas in semi-tropical regions, with the seeds soft and sweet. They have a lot of vitamins and minerals, along with nutrients vital for your eye health. While low in fat, split peas contain ‘good’ fats, your body can benefit from.
8. Black Beans
These are also known as turtle beans because of the black and complex shells with a white center. While grown in America, black beans became popular worldwide.
When cooking black beans, they become soft with a smooth texture and sweet flavor. Because of this, they are excellent in soup and salsas.
While black beans are slightly different from chickpeas in terms of their colors, textures, and flavors, you can use them as a chickpea alternative and vice versa. One can use chickpeas in stews and casseroles that call for black beans!
When you use black beans instead of chickpeas, we recommend adjusting the seasonings based on how the black beans taste.
9. Green Peas
Green peas are very popular and easy to find in the grocery stores when you can’t find the chickpea substitutes above.
Green peas are very nutritious and filled with antioxidants, containing most of what we need in a day.
Like chickpeas, green peas are high in potassium and dietary fiber. However, green peas do have slightly different flavors. Green peas have a more neutral taste, while chickpeas have a bean-ier flavor. (*)
You can still use green peas as a chickpea replacement, though, and it’s best used in soup or dishes with meat or fish.
Soybeans are from Southeast Asia, also grown in Japan and China. These beans have green skin and then turn ivory yellow as they ripen.
While a suitable substitute for chickpeas note that they don’t have the most outstanding flavor, as they taste more bitter with a rough texture. This is what makes them a significant ingredient in noodles or sauces.
That said, they have slightly similar appearances and flavors, having a yellow-beige color and somewhat nutty taste. One can use soybeans as a chickpea alternative in most dishes, particularly in salads and soups.
Another thing chickpeas and soybeans have in common is their nutritional value. Both contain essential nutrients, isoflavones, and phenolic compounds without any cholesterol.
You can eat peanuts directly or use processed peanuts to incorporate into other dishes. There are salted, roasted, or chocolate-coated peanuts, or even peanut butter, which work as a substitute for chickpea, depending on the dish.
Peanuts taste a bit greasy and are very addicting! Since peanuts are high in protein, fiber, and other vitamins, they make an excellent substitute for chickpea. In fact, they contain a bit more vitamin E, phosphorous, and niacin than chickpeas. (*)
Another huge plus is that peanuts might be easier to find in grocery stores. However, peanut allergies are common, so be wary before serving them to others.
This might sound odd, but you CAN replace chickpeas with hazelnuts. They both have exceptional nutritional benefits and the same appearance.
That said, they have different flavors, so you may want to use hazelnuts more as a last resort or for sweeter-tasting dishes.
Learn more: Top 16 Hazelnut Alternatives You Might Not Know!
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know what chickpeas are and the best substitutes you can use, what more should you learn about?
Here are frequently asked questions about chickpeas, so you get to diversify your cooking skills!
Interesting Facts About Chickpeas
What can I do with chickpeas?
The question should be: What can you NOT do with chickpeas?
You can stuff chickpeas in your sandwiches, add them to pasta and salads, create hummus, roast them for a snack, add to curries, mix with veggies, fry falafel, and much more. You can use the chickpea substitutes mentioned above for any of these dishes.
They are delicious in Middle Eastern cuisine, but they also work well with other dishes, especially when you need more protein.
What are the benefits of chickpeas?
No matter what color chickpeas are, they offer a host of fantastic health benefits.
These are filled with helpful vitamins and minerals that can prevent diseases. Besides, chickpeas are a high source of protein for vegans, vegetarians, or those who can’t eat much meat or fish.
Plus, it has a high fiber content to reduce inflammation and help those with high blood pressure and diabetes. The fiber in chickpeas may also help lower cholesterol levels.
Chickpeas have calcium and iron, which help maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis. There is also potassium to maintain healthy blood pressure and iron required, especially in anemia
Chickpeas also have antioxidants that eliminate any free radicals in the body that can cause cancer
Furthermore, chickpeas include choline, which assists the brain with our mood levels, muscle control, and how we learn things.
Wrapping It Up
Chickpeas are a unique ingredient, but it’s still possible to find something to replace them with.
Whether you don’t like them or have none available in grocery stores, some beans and peas taste and look similar to chickpeas.
We hope you found the optimum substitute for chickpeas from our comprehensive list!
Let us know what you think about any of these alternatives, and share your experiences with others in the comments section below.
Up Next: The Most Common Spices and Seasoning Substitutes