Can You Eat Chickpeas Raw? Uncovering the Truth

Can you eat chickpeas raw?

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a popular legume used in various cuisines around the world. They are usually consumed in cooked form, but can you eat chickpeas raw? This article explores this question and provides insight into the reasons why chickpeas should be cooked before consumption.

The importance of soaking chickpeas

Before looking at whether chickpeas can be eaten raw, it is important to understand the importance of soaking them. Soaking chickpeas in water allows them to hydrate and “loosen” toxic enzymes, which facilitates thorough cooking when cooked. When chickpeas are saturated with water, they require a certain amount of time to cook completely and safely. In contrast, dried chickpeas can overcook if not constantly monitored for doneness.

The nature of raw chickpeas

Raw chickpeas have a naturally hard texture and tough outer shell, making them difficult to chew and digest. However, they are porous and can absorb water very well. In fact, chickpeas can double in size within 5-8 hours of soaking. Once fully saturated, the outer skin of chickpeas becomes pliable. While it is possible to remove the skin, it is recommended to leave it on as it adds fiber, flavor, and texture to the whole chickpea.

The risks of eating raw chickpeas

Raw chickpeas, like other legumes, contain a significant amount of lectin, an enzyme that can cause serious stomach problems. Lectin serves as a chemical defense mechanism for plants, discouraging animals from consuming them. When consumed in large amounts, lectin can be toxic to both animals and humans, causing stomach upset, cramping, and diarrhea. Undercooked legumes may contain traces of lectin, causing less severe but uncomfortable symptoms.

The role of cooking in chickpea consumption

Cooking chickpeas is essential to break down the lectin and make them safe to eat. Boiling chickpeas in water is the best and most efficient way to cook them thoroughly. The cooking process helps remove lectin because it is water soluble and can be washed away and deactivated with high heat and moisture. Since chickpeas typically need at least 1-2 hours to cook, their safety can be assured. There are several methods of cooking chickpeas, each involving heat, steam, and water.

Methods for cooking chickpeas

Soaking and cooking method

The soak and cook method is a classic way to cook chickpeas for any recipe. To follow this method:

  1. Soak the desired amount of chickpeas in a large bowl with enough water to completely submerge them. Allow at least 2-3 inches of extra water on top, as the chickpeas will expand as they hydrate. Soak for 5-8 hours.
  2. After soaking, drain the chickpeas and let them dry for a while. Transfer to a large saucepan and add enough water to completely submerge the chickpeas.
  3. Add seasonings such as salt, garlic, bay leaf, or other spices and herbs to taste.
  4. Cook the chickpeas over high heat with the lid off for about 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.
  5. Remove any scum that collects on the surface of the pot during cooking.
  6. Check for doneness at the 1 hour mark to ensure the chickpeas are tender. When cooked, drain the chickpeas, reserving some of the cooking liquid for flavor, and drain completely on a strainer.
  7. Alternatively, spread the cooked chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and freeze for 2-3 hours before transferring to a freezer bag.

Quick Soak and Cook Method

The quick soak and cook method is a time-saving way to prepare chickpeas faster. Here are the steps:

  1. Instead of soaking the chickpeas overnight, soak them in warm water for about an hour. Be sure to use warm water, not hot or boiling water, to avoid uneven cooking.
  2. After an hour, check if the chickpeas are sufficiently hydrated by squeezing one between your fingers. There should be a thin layer of skin over the chickpeas.
  3. Follow the remaining steps of the soak and cook method above, including the cooking time.

Slow Cook Method

The slow cook method is convenient but takes more time. Here’s how to cook chickpeas using this method:

  1. Rinse the raw chickpeas to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Place the cleaned chickpeas in a slow cooker.
  3. Add enough water to cover the chickpeas by a few inches.
  4. Add any seasonings you like, such as salt, spices, or herbs.
  5. Cook chickpeas on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.
  6. Check for doneness by squeezing a chickpea between your fingers. It should be tender and easily mashable.
  7. Once cooked, drain the chickpeas and use them in various recipes or store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Enjoy cooked chickpeas

Cooked chickpeas have a creamy texture and a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. They are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, stews, curries, hummus, and more. They can also be pureed or blended into a smooth paste to make dips or spreads. Chickpeas can also be roasted for a crunchy and flavorful snack.


In conclusion, it is not recommended to eat chickpeas raw due to the presence of lectin, which can cause stomach problems. Cooking chickpeas is essential to break down the lectin and make them safe for consumption. Soaking chickpeas before cooking helps hydrate them and ensures more thorough cooking. There are several methods for cooking chickpeas, including the soak and cook method, the quick soak and cook method, and the slow cook method. Once cooked, chickpeas can be enjoyed in a variety of delicious dishes. So go ahead and explore the many culinary possibilities that cooked chickpeas have to offer!


Can I eat chickpeas straight from the can without cooking them?

It is generally recommended to cook chickpeas before eating them, even if they are canned. Canned chickpeas are usually precooked, but heating them further ensures that any remaining lectin or other potential contaminants are adequately neutralized.

Are there any health risks associated with eating raw chickpeas?

Yes, raw chickpeas contain lectin, an enzyme that can cause indigestion and other stomach problems. Cooking chickpeas breaks down the lectin, making them safe to eat and reducing the risk of adverse health effects.

Can I remove the skin from chickpeas before cooking?

While it is possible to remove the skin from chickpeas, it is generally recommended to leave the skin on. The skin adds fiber, flavor, and a bit of texture to the whole chickpea. However, if you prefer a smoother texture, you can remove the skin before or after cooking.

How long should I soak chickpeas before cooking?

Chickpeas should be soaked in water for at least 5-8 hours. This will hydrate and soften the chickpeas, reducing cooking time and ensuring even cooking. Alternatively, you can use the quick soak method and soak them in warm water for about an hour.

Can I eat undercooked chickpeas?

It is not recommended to eat undercooked chickpeas as they may still contain lectin, which can cause digestive problems. It is important to ensure that chickpeas are cooked thoroughly to break down the lectin and make them safe for consumption.

How do I store cooked chickpeas?

Cooked chickpeas can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you need to store them for longer, you can freeze them in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to three months. Be sure to label and date the container for easy reference.