One of the most versatile pulses out there, chickpeas are one of our favorite ways to bulk up dips, salads, and soups, even pasta. While in most cases canned chickpeas will do the trick, we prefer to cook them from scratch as beans cooked this way have a better texture and flavor, and are more economical. Outlined below are three ways to cook chickpeas, depending on how much time you have and what equipment you have on hand. Do note that as with any dried bean, the cooking times are approximate and wide-ranging, as it'll vary from batch to batch, depending on how fresh your dried beans are.
- In a slow cooker: This low and slow method is our preferred way to cook chickpeas and other beans as it's pretty much foolproof and yields tender beans without risk of blowouts. Rinse and pick over 1 pound of dried chickpeas before adding them to the slow cooker with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, a couple cloves of peeled garlic, and a bay leaf. Cover with 1-2 inches of water (err on the side of more if you won't be able to check on the beans as they cook) and cook on low for 6-8 hours. (If the water level gets low, add more.) When the beans are nearly, but not completely, cooked through (after 5-7 hours of simmering), add 2 more teaspoons of kosher salt and cook until tender.
- In a pressure cooker: Chickpeas cook particularly well in a pressure cooker as they are near-spherical and cook evenly even when heated rapidly. That is, with one caveat: it's best to soak chickpeas before cooking them this way, as the short time won't otherwise allow for even absorption of liquid. To cook chickpeas in a pressure cooker, rinse and pick over the beans, add them to a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and cover with 2 inches of water; soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Once soaked, drain the beans and add them to a pressure cooker with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 4 quarts water. (Do not skip the oil; it prevents the liquid from foaming up from the beans' starches.) Cook on your pressure cooker's low setting for 3 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for about 15 minutes, or until your pressure cooker signals that it's done. Carefully remove the lid and test a few chickpeas for doneness. If they still need to cook further, simmer on the stove until tender. However, if you forget or don't have time to soak the beans, try Alton Brown's method.
- In a dutch oven or stockpot: If you don't have a slow cooker or pressure cooker, rinse and pick over the beans, add them to a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and cover with 2 inches of water and soak for at least 2 hours, though 8-10 is better. Once soaked, drain the beans and add them to a dutch oven or stockpot with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, a few peeled garlic cloves, a bay leaf, and enough water to cover the beans by an inch. Bring to a boil, boil for 5 minutes, and then reduce to a bare simmer; simmer for 1-3 hours, or until tender.