Crispy chickpeas? Sure, that sounds like a good idea. If you’re used to tossing raw chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, on top of a salad or stirring them into a soup for extra heft, frying chickpeas probably sounds like an appealing notion.
But how good could they be, really? I’m going to go ahead and say they’re life-changing—and that’s not a superlative I throw around lightly. But trust me: try this technique and you’ll be eating crispy chickpeas by the handful while you plan to make a double batch next time.
Forget the Oven and Bring on the Skillet
Many recipes call for making crispy chickpeas in the oven, and there are advantages to that method— namely, it requires less oil and makes less mess. For a super crunchy exterior, however, the only way around using a certain amount of oil is if you use an air-fryer, in which case you can and most definitely should make these Crispy Air Fryer Chickpeas.
But if you don’t have an air fryer, we like using a smoking hot skillet with a series of simple rules for a snack that’s ready in a lot less time than the oven method requires.
Bonus: This extra-crunchy, utterly addictive snack is infinitely versatile thanks to chickpeas’ neutral flavor profile. Depending on what you’re cooking, you can create your own spice blend to match or contrast flavors: think cumin and chili powder, turmeric and curry powder, Old Bay and lemon, or za’atar.
Whatever flavor path you follow, there are three simple tips that will mean the difference between a snack that will inspire you to invite people over, to one that’s as forgettable as, well, a raw chickpea.
Must-Know Tips for Super Crispy Chickpeas on the Stove
1. Dry the chickpeas thoroughly.
Do not put freshly drained and rinsed chickpeas directly into the pan. Spread them out onto a dish towel, roll them lightly with another towel, and let them air dry for as long as you can. You can also spread them onto a baking sheet and stick them uncovered in the refrigerator, which will also help dry them out.
The goal is to remove as much surface moisture as possible, so that they’re dry when they hit the hot pan. This makes a huge difference.
2. Toss the chickpeas in cornstarch.
After they’ve dried, coat the chickpeas in cornstarch. Use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for one 15-ounce can of chickpeas. As Jenny Park of food blog Spoon, Fork Bacon says, “Cornstarch absorbs less oil when frying, which really helps to create a thin and extra crispy—or glass shattering— coating on the chickpeas. I love doing this for chickpeas, since cooked chickpeas are soft and creamy, so the texture contrast is really nice.”
In the Curry Fried Chickpeas on their blog, Park and her partner, Teri Lyn Fisher, call for letting the cornstarch-tossed chickpeas rest for about 10 minutes before frying them. “I like having the cornstarch sit on the food for a short while because it helps the coating adhere to the chickpeas, which prevents the coating from slipping on once fried,” Park explains.
3. Don’t overcrowd the chickpeas!
Your pan should not be too packed. We know you want to cook up a large volume, but resist the urge to overcrowd and fry in batches. Too many chickpeas in the pan means there won’t be enough space for moisture to evaporate, and they’ll end up steaming instead of crisping up.
Pro tip: When you place the chickpeas in the pan, don’t touch them for a while. Let them sit undisturbed for a full four to five minutes in all their roomy glory. This will help them brown, developing flavor and texture.
How to Make Crispy Chickpeas on the Stove (Step-by-Step Instructions)
Now that you’ve got these three crucial steps down, here’s your game plan:
1. Drain, rinse, and dry the chickpeas: Drain and rinse one 15-ounce can of chickpeas, pat dry between two dish towels, and leave to dry for 10 minutes or up to an hour.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet: Heat a large skillet over high heat and add a quarter cup of oil.
3. Toss the chickpeas in cornstarch: Coat the dried chickpeas in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and if you can wait, let them sit for up to 10 minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas to the hot skillet, let sit, then stir and turn off heat: Pour the chickpeas into the hot pan and let them sit for 4 to 5 minutes. Once they’ve browned, stir them once and turn off the heat. Add your spice blend and salt, tossing to coat. Using a slotted spoon, remove chickpeas from pan, and try to resist eating the whole batch right away.
For spice blend inspiration, see the combinations in this recipe for Crispy Air Fryer Chickpeas.
5. Serve and eat: Eat them straight out of the bowl, as a snack, or swap them in for the raw chickpeas in one of the following recipes, adding them in just before serving:
- Mediterranean Chickpea Bowls with Tahini Sauce
- Chickpea and Tomato Salad
- Spicy Lamb Stew with Chickpeas
- Radicchio Salad with Green Olives, Chickpeas, and Parmesan
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