A lot of snack foods that deliver satisfying crunch are not the most nutritious options. Potato chips, Chex Mix, flavored tortilla chips — these are the kinds of things I’d rather not have in the house than be tempted by them. Among the many options that have flooded the market in recent years in an effort to appeal to more health-conscious eaters are crispy chickpeas.
Naturally, this convenience comes at a price, especially when you consider how easy it is to plow through a bag in just a few handfuls. The good news is that it’s fairly simple to make roasted chickpeas at home, where your own batches may rival, or surpass, the store-bought brands in terms of flavor and audible crunch. Food editor Joe Yonan’s recipe from his 2020 book, “Cool Beans,” which I’m sharing below, delivers on that promise. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you get roasting.
Canned or home-cooked? The Voraciously team tested this recipe with canned and home-cooked chickpeas, and both worked very well. You may prefer the low-effort option of grabbing a can at the store, which is fine. I am more likely to have dried on hand than a can, and throwing them into the Instant Pot to cook — which means I can make extra for other dishes — is no sweat. Do whatever works best for you, though if you buy canned, make sure they’re no-salt-added (and rinsed).
Get them dry. Moisture is the enemy of crispy chickpeas. It’s worth taking a few extra steps to get rid of it. I like Joe’s multipronged approach of using a salad spinner followed by patting dry on towels and then air-drying. If you don’t have a salad spinner, it’s okay. You may just want to do a few rounds of towel drying (this is where I’m thankful for having dozens of cheap, clean kitchen towels on hand) and then a longer period of air-drying. Not only will eliminating moisture ensure the crispiest chickpeas, it also “prevents them from flying all over your oven,” Jess Damuck says in “Salad Freak: Recipes to Feed a Healthy Obsession.”
Season any way you want. Another benefit of making roasted chickpeas at home is the ability to come up with more flavors than you’ll find at the store. Raid your pantry and experiment with your favorite spices or spice blends. Go sweet, savory or spicy. Certain options will add textural interest, such as za’atar or everything spice. If you want to try multiple flavors, it’s easy to scale up this recipe to fill two rimmed baking sheets, or just divide the regular batch a few ways, especially easy with handy quarter-sheet pans. Of course, the DIY method also allows you to limit and control the amount of salt, which is often a sticking point when it comes to store-bought snack foods.
Be patient — up to a point. As Joe points out, he likes to do a low, slow roast for one hour at 300 degrees to generate the ultimate crunch. A further two-hour rest in the turned-off oven is key, as well. After that, just let the chickpeas finish cooling at room temperature — it won’t take long, I promise — and you’ll be good to go. The chickpeas can be enjoyed right away or stored in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature, though frankly I doubt they will last that long. If for some reason they go soft on you, Elena Silcock says in “Salads Are More Than Leaves: Salads to Get Excited About,” you can pop them back in a hot oven to crisp up.
Use them up. If you don’t inhale them all as a snack, there’s plenty more you can do with crispy chickpeas. Scatter them on top of creamy, speedy homemade hummus for a double dose of beans and contrasting texture. Damuck describes them as “like croutons, only full of protein and packed with nutty flavor,” so they’re a natural on top of salads and rice and grain bowls.