Bean Queens: We Ranked the 6 Best Canned Chickpeas

Chickpeas are the main component in two of my absolute favorite foods: hummus and falafel. Both foods excel when the texture is decadent and creamy, and that creaminess comes from good quality, well-cooked beans. I also love using chickpeas as a quick meal—drained, rinsed, and tossed with oil, red onions, oregano, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Bean salads are an underrated side dish, in my humble opinion. 

To conduct this taste test, I opened up a bunch of cans of beans, drained them slightly, and ate them with a spoon. I made sure to keep some of that liquid in the can so I could also taste the flavor of the brine itself. I judged each bean based on texture first and foremost; I want beans that have a firm outside, but a creamy texture on the inside. Chickpeas shouldn’t be too grainy and coarse; they should feel quite luxurious. Texture and quality were the most important factors, but any additional salt or sugar did help score some extra points. I was genuinely surprised by how different all these beans were. Here are the best six we tried.

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Best of the Best

Cento Ceci Beans

These chickpeas are rather big—maybe the largest garbanzo of the whole bunch. I love the size because it makes the bean itself feel more creamy; there’s just more bean to savor. Plus, the texture here is perfect—not too soft, and not too firm. I had to try a lot of bad beans to figure out why Cento’s chickpeas are so good, and what I came up with is this: A lot of canned chickpeas are just too grainy, dry, and coarse. Beans should feel kind of buttery; they should melt in your mouth, which is exactly what Cento chickpeas do. There’s a decent amount of sodium here, too, which adds good flavor. Use these for hummus, salad, stews, or to make my favorite: A delightful summery bean salad.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best Grocery Store Brand

Trader Joe’s Garbanzo Beans

These taste noticeably sweeter than the other beans on the list due to the extra four grams of sugar listed in the ingredients. The sweetness is subtle, but nice, and I think it enhances the overall savoriness of the garbanzo bean itself. These chickpeas also have a delightful texture; it’s not grainy or sandy. These are just nice, buttery beans with a hint of extra flavor.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Trader Joe’s

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Organic

Green Valley Organics Garbanzo Beans

Green Valley’s garbanzo beans contain much less sodium than the other brands (140mg per serving), but also an added gram of sugar. This gives them a clean, unadorned flavor. I think these beans taste wonderfully earthy and grassy. The beans themselves are a little bit on the smaller side, too, especially compared to Cento. As far as texture goes, they’re not grainy, but they’re not deliciously creamy either. Green Valley excels because of the beans’ natural flavor. 

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Salty

Bush’s Best Garbanzos

Bush’s Best Chickpeas are cooked perfectly and feature a great deal of flavor. The brine they come in is quite salty, and when you check the ingredients you’ll know why: 480 mg of sodium per serving. For comparison, Cento has 350 mg of sodium per serving. Personally, I love the salinity here. It only adds to the savoriness of the beans themselves. Overall, the texture is fine, but lacking in the creamy department compared to the top three.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Target

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Budget

Great Value Chick Peas

These are budget beans for budget kings and queens. They are really firm, and a bit grainy, and kind of almost undercooked, but pleasantly salty at least. This can of beans comes with microwave instructions, which definitely implies what these are best for: A good struggle meal. I have eaten many cans of beans while living on a budget, so there is something rather nostalgic about these for me. Personally, I like cold beans with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of vinegar if I’m feeling like a quick and cheap meal, but microwaving them isn’t a bad idea either. I just asked staff writer Jordan Myrick what she would do with microwaved beans, and she said, “A grain bowl maybe?” Look man, it costs 78 cents.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best Plain

Eden Organic Garbanzo Beans

These are, and take this how you will, a total blank slate. There’s no salt added, so they’ve got a low, low amount of sodium per serving (30 mg), and there’s relatively no taste beyond the bean itself. They don’t have that wonderfully earthy flavor that Green Valley does, either. However, these are big honkin’ beans, on par with Cento in terms of size, and they have that amazingly buttery and creamy texture that I look for in a perfectly done bean. I cook a lot of dried beans at home so that I can achieve this wonderful texture, and Eden did a good job of getting close to that aesthetic. The only problem is the flavor, but you can take care of that on your own, right? 

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Other products we tried: S&W Garbanzos, Goya Garbanzos, Good & Gather Chickpeas, Progresso Chick Peas, Dakota’s Pride Garbanzo Beans. 

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About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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