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Recipes

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

To turn a can of chickpeas into a crunchy, salty snack, start with a burst of heat.
By Published Dec. 5, 2018

My Goals and Discoveries

Light, crisp texture

Before roasting the chickpeas, we microwave them for 10 minutes to open up their structure and allow excess moisture to escape.  

Even, thorough cooking

Roast at a moderate temperature—350 degrees—and crowd the chickpeas in the center of the pan to protect them from the heat of the oven.

Robust spice flavor

We add a mix of spices at the end to let residual heat bloom their flavors.

Roasted, salted chickpeas have long been popular in the Middle East. In 1875 they were so well-liked that Armenian composer Dikran Tchouhadjian named his operetta after a peddler of the snack: Leblebici Horhor Ağa (“Master Hor-Hor, the Chickpea Vendor”). Roasted chickpeas have become trendy in the United States, too. It's easy to see why: They boast the crunch and saltiness of chips and pretzels, but they're protein-packed and lighter on oil.

Recipes are straightforward: Just drain canned chickpeas and oven-roast (temperatures and times vary widely) until crisp. Some add oil from the get-go, others wait. Ditto for spices, salt, and sugar.

I found that the oil (1½ tablespoons per can of beans) needed to go on early to help crisp the chickpeas, lest they simply dry out. Spices, on the other hand, burned and turned bitter when added at the start. Fortunately, residual heat in the chickpeas was sufficient to bloom the spices.

We add the oil early to help create a "fried" texture.

Choosing an oven temperature was more challenging. At high temperatures, the chickpeas split slightly at their seams, creating tiny pathways for oil to enter. As the beans “fried,” they expanded like popcorn, turning from creamy and dense to light and crisp. But by the time they were crisp, many had burned. A low-and-slow approach had the opposite effect: The chickpeas simply shrank and turned hard, becoming more like unpopped popcorn kernels.

If the beans needed a burst of heat to turn crisp and airy but were prone to burning, the solution was obvious: Start high and finish low. Indeed, 30 minutes at 500 degrees followed by 30 minutes at 400 degrees produced a light, crunchy snack. But the results varied depending on the oven I used. Highly insulated ovens held on to lots of heat even after the temperature was reduced, scorching the beans, whereas poorly insulated ovens required longer cooking times.

Could I transfer the high-heat stage to the microwave? Yes. After a 10-minute zap, most of the beans had split. Tossed with oil and roasted for an hour at 350 degrees, they were as good as any I'd made using just the oven. The beans at the edges of the pan still sometimes burned, so I pushed them all toward the center after a midpoint stir. Now every last chickpea was perfect.

We briefly microwave the chickpeas before roasting them. This causes them to split slightly at their seams, creating tiny pathways for oil to enter so that they can "fry" in the oven.

Finally, the spices. Chickpeas are used throughout India, so a version with curry spices seemed appropriate. Another, seasoned with smoked paprika and cayenne, was reminiscent of the Spanish bar snacks I love. I also came up with a chickpea version of barbecue potato chips, just to show that the sky's the limit with this delicious—and virtuous—recipe.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.