Chickpea breadcrumbs are a single ingredient gluten-free and grain-free breadcrumb alternative. You can use them in place of breadcrumbs in any recipe to add flavor, protein, and fiber while keeping the same crunchy breadcrumb texture.
I am a huge fan of all things chickpeas – hummus, falafel, chickpea pizza crust, chickpea croutons, and now chickpea breadcrumbs. (I am not sure if I should call them chickpea breadcrumbs or chickpea crumbs…?)
Anyway, lately, I have seen quite a few recipes calling for chickpea crumbs by Watusee. I think it’s the only company that currently sells chickpea breadcrumbs. To be honest, I have never tried their chickpea crumbs because when I looked at the ingredient list (“chickpeas”), I figured I could make the “breadcrumbs” at home at a much lower price. For the price of one package (which is $10!), you can buy enough chickpeas to make 5 times that amount.
As you might suspect, chickpea crumbs do have a slight chickpea flavor, but the flavor is not overpowering. If you add these breadcrumbs to a recipe with stronger flavors, you can’t taste them at all. The texture is very similar to a panko breadcrumb. It has the course little pieces of the crumbs and the ‘crispy’ texture due to its flaky nature.
Tips for Making Chickpea Breadcrumbs (Chickpea Crumbs)
The only ingredient in these grain-free breadcrumbs are chickpeas. You can use either dried or canned chickpeas. The advantage of using canned chickpeas is that there’s no prep involved. No soaking, no cooking. Just rinsing. However, dried chickpeas excel in flavor. Dried, soaked chickpeas (either in their raw form or cooked in fresh water) have a more subtle flavor with nutty undertones. Canned chickpeas that have a more metallic, bean-y taste.
You can keep the chickpea crumbs plain or add seasoning. With parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, and a little bit of salt, the chickpea crumbs perfectly mimic those savory breadcrumbs you can get in the store.
Making chickpea crumbs is a two-step process.
The first step is to pulse the chickpeas (ideally in a food processor). If you’re using canned chickpeas (which are very soft), be careful not to puree the chickpeas. The chickpeas should retain some of their texture. Spread the pulsed chickpeas into a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast the chickpeas until dry. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the chickpeas won’t dry out properly.
The second step is similar. Add the baked chickpeas into the food processor (the chickpeas will be somewhat clumped together at this point) and pulse until you get a breadcrumb-like texture. The texture will depend on what you’re using the chickpea crumbs for. If the purpose is coating or binding, do a finer pulse (I usually use my Vitamix to do the final pulse). If you’re using them to top pasta, you can do a coarser pulse.
Tips for Using Chickpea Breadcrumbs
By now, you’re probably wondering how these crumbs perform in different recipes.
Chickpea breadcrumbs are drier than regular breadcrumbs. This can be a good thing, because they don’t really get soggy. The downside is that they stay quite dry. So, if you’re using them for coating, bread very lightly.
Chickpeas are a very good binder. So, you if you need grain-free breadcrumbs for binding – such as in this lentil loaf – the chickpea crumbs are a great alternative to regular breadcrumbs.
Of course, you can add these crumbs to pasta dishes, which is a widespread preparation in Southern Italy. The story goes that poor Italians began grate stale bread over pasta when they couldn’t afford Parmesan. Though breadcrumbs might have been poor man’s cheese at one point, that’s no longer the case. The texture of the breadcrumbs offers another flavor carrier in a pasta dish. The key is to saute the chickpea crumbs with a little bit of olive oil, minced garlic, freshly chopped herbs, and some lemon zest until fragrant and golden brown.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix 5200) | 2. Food Processor (Breville Sous Chef) | 3. Cookware Set (Calphalon, Stainless Steel) | 4. Square Pan (12-Inch, Lodge, Cast Iron) | 5. Mixing Bowls (Pyrex, Glass) | 6. Mesh Strainers (Set of 3, Cuisinart, Stainless Steel) | 7. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) | 8. Measuring Spoons (Set of 6, 1Easylife, Stainless Steel)
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- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked*
- 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
- Add the soaked chickpeas into the food processor. Pulse until the chickpeas are finely minced. Do not over-pulse - the mixture should be coarse, not smooth/paste-y,
- Add the pulsed chickpeas onto a baking sheet and spread them out with a spatula into an even layer.
- Roast the chickpeas for 15-20 minutes, until dry to the touch.
- Transfer the roasted chickpeas back into the food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. If you're seasoning the crumbs, add the salt and seasonings now.
- Add the chickpea crumbs back onto the baking sheet and roast for 15-20 more minutes, until completely dry. (If the chickpea crumbs are still moist at this point, turn the oven off, and leave the baking sheet in the hot oven for additional 30 minutes, until completely dry.)
- Store the chickpea crumbs in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. For longer term storage, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
*Soak the chickpeas in water for 24 hours so they soften up. When the chickpeas are soaked, drain the water, rinse the chickpeas thoroughly, and use as instructed.
*1 cup dried chickpeas yields about 2.5 cups soaked chickpeas.
**Prep time does not include soaking the chickpeas (24 hours).