How to Soak Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans Before Cooking

chick-pea on white wooden background
A wooden bowl filled with chickpeas. (Image: Amawasri/iStock/Getty Images)

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are lumpy, light tan beans that you can eat cold in salads, roasted as a crunchy snack or cooked in soups and stews. They are common in Indian, South American and Middle Eastern cuisine. You can buy them canned or dry, but if you buy them dry, you have to soak them before cooking as you would with other beans.

Step 1

Pick out any bad chickpeas, such as those with moldy spots or holes.

Step 2

Place the remaining chickpeas in a large bowl, and fill the bowl with water. Stir the beans around a bit and drain.

Step 3

Repeat rinsing at least a couple more times. Madhur Jaffrey, author of “World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking,” writes that you actually need to rinse these several times.

Step 4

Refill the bowl with water. There’s no exact amount; advice varies from Jaffrey’s recommendation of 5 cups of water per 1 cup of chickpeas to the University of Illinois Extension’s suggestion of 8 cups of water per 1 cup of chickpeas.

Step 5

Add a small amount of baking soda to the water if the chickpeas are old. Older chickpeas tend to be tougher, and baking soda can help tenderize them. Advice on the amount of baking soda, like the amount of water, varies, from 1/4 tsp. per 1 lb. of chickpeas, as suggested by the U.S. Dry Bean Council, to Jaffrey’s instruction to add 1/8 tsp. per 1 cup of chickpeas.

Step 6

Let the chickpeas soak in the water for at least 12 hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Large bowl

  • Water

  • Spoon

  • Baking soda, optional

Tip

When you're ready to cook the chickpeas, place them in fresh water and begin boiling them. Once the water boils, lower the heat so the water simmers. Cook for at least one hour, but note that much older, tougher chickpeas -- even after soaking in baking soda -- can take nearly three hours to fully cook.

Warning

Jaffrey suggests using the soaking water for cooking, but the baking soda you added to that soaking water could actually create problems during cooking. The U.S. Dry Bean Council warns that using baking soda in the water during cooking can deplete the beans of vitamin B1, also called thiamin or thiamine.

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