Chickpea Panini

Coming up short on lunchbox inspiration? This chickpea panini is for kids and grown-ups alike—a one-bowl affair of chickpeas, lemon juice, shredded carrot, and goat cheese, tucked into a crusty baguette.

Chickpea Panini on Parchment Paper over Wooden Board with a Lemon Wedge Next to It

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

When anyone asks me for tips on packing school lunch, I often suggest they choose something that’s as appealing to them as it is to their children. After all, you’re going through the trouble of making lunch for your kid—might as well make some for yourself, too. The trick is finding recipes that suit everyone’s taste. This chickpea panini qualifies. 

If you think a sandwich built with chickpeas is a no-go for pint-sized eaters, I don’t blame you. But chickpea hummus is so popular among kids—this sandwich isn’t much of a stretch. It was such a favorite among all three of my kids that I included it in my first cookbook, Best Lunch Box Ever

Chickpea Panini on a Plate with a Lemon Wedge

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

How to Build a Chickpea Panini

The filling for this sandwich is a combination of chickpeas, shredded carrots, lots of lemon juice, and soft goat cheese. It’s satisfying and flavorful and lasts several days in the fridge. It’s all done in a single bowl and no more complicated than making tuna or chicken salad

Here are a few pointers: 

  • The first step is to smash the chickpeas, which simply requires a fork to get the job done. 
  • Use pre-shredded carrots to save time.
  • This makes a hearty lunch. Half of a sandwich will likely suffice for kids and folks with lighter appetites.

Swaps and Substitutions

Any good lunchbox recipe is flexible, which this panini definitely is. Feel free to riff on the recipe using any of the ideas below:

  • Use another crunchy vegetable instead of the carrots, such as diced celery or fennel.
  • Replace the arugula with a couple of lettuce leaves or thinly sliced cucumber.
  • If you aren’t fond of goat cheese, use whipped cream cheese. 
  • A baguette sandwich can be a mouthful for younger kids, so feel free to use sliced sourdough or whole-wheat bread. The spread is also tasty spooned onto whole-grain crackers for a snack. 
  • Use cannellini beans in lieu of chickpeas. 
Chickpea Paninis on Parchment Paper over a Circular Wooden Board Surrounded by Lemon Wedges and a Bowl of Arugula

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Make It Ahead

You can make the filling ahead of time. Put it in a covered container and store it in the fridge, where it will stay tasty for about 4 days. I recommend assembling sandwiches the same day you plan to eat them so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

What Else to Pack

While this sandwich makes a nourishing lunch all on its own, it’s always fun to toss a few other goodies into a lunchbox, such as:

  • A piece of whole fruit, small bunch of grapes, or DIY Fruit Leather
  • Jicama, cherry tomatoes, or carrot sticks with dip, such as this Edamame Avocado or Homemade Ranch
  • Something crunchy, such as pretzels or toasted pumpkin seeds
  • A small container of dark chocolate chips or a granola bar
  • A water bottle (Tip! Freeze the bottle overnight so it’s nice and cold at lunch time.)
Closeup of a Chickpea Panini

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

More Vegetarian Sandwiches to Try

Chickpea Panini

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 3 servings
Yield 3 sandwiches

Not all panini are grilled. "Panini" is simply a name for a sandwich usually served on an Italian-style bread. They're often served warm or grilled, but not always, as with the following recipe, which is loaded onto a baguette and lunchbox-ready.


  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more for assembling

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for assembling

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 3 ounces soft goat cheese (chèvre)

  • 1 loosely packed cup grated carrot (from 1 medium carrot)

  • 1 (18-inch) baguette

  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed arugula

  • Salt to taste


  1. Make the chickpea filling:

    Drain the chickpeas in a colander or sieve, and rinse under cold running water. Drain well. Transfer into a medium bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and ground cumin. Use the back of a fork to press the chickpeas into a thick, chunky mash.

    Bowl of Mashed Chickpeas for Chickpea Panini Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  2. Add the cheese and carrots: 

    Crumble the goat cheese into the bowl, add the carrots, and stir well.

    Bowl of Mashed Chickpeas with Grated Carrots and Goat Cheese for Panini Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

  3. Fill the baguettes:

    Cut the baguette into 3 5- to 6-inch pieces. If you have leftover bread, save it for another use.

    Cut each piece in half lengthwise, but not all the way through—you want it connected along one edge so you can open the baguette like a book. Divide the chickpea mash among the 3 pieces, spreading it evenly. 

    Top with the arugula. Squeeze a little lemon juice, a light drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt to the top. Serve. 

    Leftovers don’t keep well. I recommend assembling sandwiches the same day you plan to eat them so the bread doesn’t get soggy. 

    Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below! 

    Chickpea Paninis on Parchment Paper over a Circular Wooden Board Surrounded by Lemon Wedges and a Bowl of Arugula

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
603 Calories
20g Fat
83g Carbs
25g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3
Amount per serving
Calories 603
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 13mg 4%
Sodium 1356mg 59%
Total Carbohydrate 83g 30%
Dietary Fiber 11g 38%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 9mg 44%
Calcium 169mg 13%
Iron 8mg 42%
Potassium 569mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.