Chickpeas vs. Lentils: Unveiling the Key Differences

Chickpeas vs. Lentils: Understanding the differences and similarities

Plant-based foods have gained significant popularity in recent years, and chickpeas and lentils have emerged as versatile and nutritious options for incorporating into various recipes. While both belong to the legume family and offer numerous health benefits, there are distinct differences between chickpeas and lentils. This article aims to provide an overview of these differences, the best ways to prepare and use them, and their nutritional profiles.

The difference between chickpeas and lentils

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are heartier and larger than lentils. They require a longer cooking time and have a neutral flavor, making them ideal for absorbing the flavors of sauces and broths in soups. Chickpeas are usually round and beige with a slight split in the middle, although they can also be found in black, green, or red varieties, each with its own unique texture and flavor.
Lentils, on the other hand, are generally smaller and come in a variety of colors, including green, brown, and red. They offer a mild earthy and peppery flavor and can be categorized into different types based on their texture. Lentils are softer and smaller than chickpeas, but retain a similar fluffy and soft texture when cooked.

Nutritional Comparison: Chickpeas vs. Lentils

In terms of nutritional composition, both chickpeas and lentils provide essential macronutrients and contribute to a balanced diet. While there may be slight variations between different varieties of lentils, the overall nutritional breakdown is relatively similar.
One cup of lentils contains about 230 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 15.6 grams of fiber, 17.9 grams of protein, and 0.8 grams of fat. Lentils are particularly rich in B vitamins, especially folate, and contain trace minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.
On the other hand, one cup of chickpeas provides about 267 calories, 44.7 grams of carbohydrates, 12.5 grams of fiber, 14.4 grams of protein, and 4.2 grams of fat. Chickpeas offer similar nutritional benefits to lentils, including B vitamins and trace minerals such as potassium and phosphorus. They are also an excellent source of fiber and protein.

Preparing Chickpeas

Because of their larger size and heartier texture, chickpeas require some preparation before cooking. Here is a step-by-step guide to preparing chickpeas:

  1. Soak the dried chickpeas in a bowl of water overnight or for at least six hours. This soaking process helps the chickpeas cook faster and improves their digestibility.
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas thoroughly.
  3. To cook the chickpeas on the stovetop, place the soaked and rinsed chickpeas in a large saucepan. Cover with about 3 inches of water and add half a teaspoon of salt.
  4. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the chickpeas to cook for 1.5-2 hours, depending on the texture you prefer. Add more water as needed during cooking.
  5. Once cooked, strain the chickpeas, rinse with cold water and they are ready to be used in various recipes.

Alternatively, you can cook chickpeas in a slow cooker or an Instant Pot, following the specific instructions for each cooking method.

Prepare lentils

Compared to chickpeas, lentils are more delicate and require less preparation and cooking time. Here’s an easy guide to cooking lentils:

  1. Rinse the lentils and remove any debris or small stones.
  2. For black, brown, or green lentils, place one cup of lentils in a saucepan with three cups of water and a half teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the desired consistency is reached.
  3. For red lentils, place one cup of lentils in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. When cooked, strain the lentils and rinse with cold water before using in your favorite recipes.

Using Chickpeas and Lentils

Both chickpeas and lentils offer a wide range of culinary possibilities. Here are some ideas for incorporating them into your meals:
Savory Chickpeas:

  • Roast and season for a crunchy and nutritious snack.
  • Add to soups, stews and salads for added texture and protein.
  • Use as a base for homemade hummus or falafel.

Savory lentils:

  • Add cooked lentils to salads or grain bowls for a protein-packed meal.
  • Add them to vegetarian or vegan chili for a hearty and nutritious option.
  • Make lentil burgers or meatballs for a delicious alternative to traditional meat-based dishes.

Both chickpeas and lentils can be used in sweet recipes:
Sweet Chickpeas:

  • Blend them with cocoa powder, nut butter, and sweetener to make a healthy chocolate hummus dip.
  • Make chickpea flour and use it as a gluten-free alternative in baking recipes like cookies and brownies.

Sweet lentils:

  • Cook red lentils with coconut milk and sweet spices for a creamy and naturally sweet dessert.
  • Combine lentils with fruit and spices for a nutritious fruit compote or jam.


In summary, chickpeas and lentils are nutritious legumes that offer different characteristics and flavors. Chickpeas are larger, heartier, and take longer to cook than lentils. Lentils, on the other hand, are smaller, softer, and cook relatively quickly. Both options provide essential macronutrients, including protein and fiber, making them excellent choices for those seeking plant-based protein sources.
Whether you choose chickpeas or lentils, incorporating these legumes into your diet can contribute to a healthy and well-rounded eating plan. Experiment with different cooking methods and recipes to explore the versatility of chickpeas and lentils and enjoy the benefits they offer to your overall health and well-being.


What are the main differences between chickpeas and lentils?

Chickpeas are larger and heartier and require a longer cooking time, while lentils are smaller and cook relatively quickly. Chickpeas have a neutral flavor and fluffy texture, while lentils have a mild, earthy, peppery flavor.

Are there differences in texture and flavor between different types of chickpeas and lentils?

Yes, there are variations between different types of chickpeas and lentils. Chickpeas can come in black, green, or red varieties, each with slightly different textures and flavors. Lentils also come in a variety of colors, such as green, brown, and red, each with its own unique flavor and texture.

Which legume has more protein and fiber per serving: chickpeas or lentils?

Lentils have slightly more protein and fiber per serving than chickpeas. They are a great source of plant protein and fiber, which are essential for a healthy diet.

How do I prepare chickpeas and lentils for cooking?

To prepare chickpeas, soak the dried beans overnight or for at least six hours, then cook on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. For lentils, rinse thoroughly and cook in boiling water until the desired consistency is achieved.

What are some popular ways to use chickpeas and lentils in cooking?

Chickpeas and lentils can be used in a variety of dishes. Chickpeas are often used in soups, stews, salads, and as a base for hummus and falafel. Lentils are a great addition to salads, grain bowls, vegetarian chili, and can be made into lentil burgers or meatballs.

Can chickpeas and lentils be used in sweet recipes?

Yes, both chickpeas and lentils can be used in sweet dishes. Chickpeas can be mixed with cocoa powder, nut butter and sweetener to make a healthy chocolate hummus dip. Lentils can be cooked with coconut milk and sweet spices for a creamy and naturally sweet dessert, or combined with fruit and spices for a nutritious fruit compote or jam.