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Can I Substitute Chickpeas for Black Beans?

by Susan Lundman, studioD

Both chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, and black beans give you a wealth of options for vegetarian meals, from casseroles to salads to burritos. They also provide lots of fiber in your diet, with chickpeas containing 6.2 grams in a 1/2-cup serving and black beans 7.5 grams. Although the beans, differ in color, size and texture, they are close enough to be interchangeable in any recipe on a 1-to-1 basis with just a few changes to your recipes.

Dried Beans

While you can use dried or canned beans interchangeably, substituting on for another in equal quantities, you may want to treat dried beans differently. Because chickpeas are typically larger than black beans, they take longer to cook and an overnight soaking allows them to cook as quickly, in about 40 minutes. Soak the beans in a large bowl of water with a few pinches of baking soda to help soften the skins.


The obvious color difference between chickpeas and black beans means that you need to add color when you substitute muted, beige chickpeas for dark, shiny black beans. You can overcome chickpeas bland color by combining them with more colorful beans, such as kidney beans or pinto beans, or by adding additional colorful ingredients to your dish. Add handfuls of chopped parsley or cilantro to chickpeas soups and stews, add chunks of sweet red pepper to salads and add chopped black olives to tacos.


Because chickpeas have a firmer texture than black beans, which have flesh that breaks apart easily when mashed with a fork or spoon, you'll need to use a food processor or blender for the chickpeas when you make soup, veggie burgers or refried beans. For recipes where you use black beans whole, such as chili or enchiladas, mash some of the chickpeas with a potato masher while leaving some beans whole to give the dish the soft texture it would have had with black beans.


Chickpeas are one of the world's oldest legumes, grown in Palestine by 8000 BC and cultivated in India by 2000 BC. They feature prominently in the cuisine of India and the Middle East. Black beans originated in southern Mexico and Central American over 7,000 years ago and appear in modern Latin American and Caribbean cuisine. Although you can substitute chickpeas for black beans, you'll lose intangible links to the history and culture of both beans when you do so.


About the Author

Susan Lundman began writing about her passions of cooking, gardening, entertaining and recreation after working for a nonprofit agency, writing grants and researching child development issues. She has written professionally for six years since then. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.

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