What Are Chickpeas and Are They the Same as Garbanzo Beans?

I went to college at a small school in the middle of Ohio where there weren’t a ton of amazing dining options. There was a really solid Mexican restaurant, a Ruby Tuesday’s, and a couple fast food options, but my favorite by far was a bit of an oddity. It was a Greek restaurant, by all accounts. One side of the menu offered typical Greek dishes such as moussaka and tzatziki, but the other side of the menu seemed to be for a completely different restaurant serving Indian food—it even had a different name. I don’t know who made the creative decision to give this restaurant a sort of split personality instead of just combining the menus into one, but it does make sense in some ways. 

Though Greek and Indian food seem like very separate cuisines, both have one ingredient in common: chickpeas. (In fact, this place served the best hummus I’ve ever had in my life.) But ubiquitous as they are, what are chickpeas? Are they the same thing as garbanzo beans? Let’s find out.

What are chickpeas?

Chickpeas, also sometimes styled as “chick peas,” are a member of the bean family. One of the most ancient cultivated legumes, they are used in celebrated dishes from around the globe such as hummus, falafel, socca, and chana masala.

What are garbanzo beans?

Garbanzo beans, also sometimes just called garbanzos, are part of the legume family. Cultivated since ancient times, they are ingredients in food items including chana masala, falafel, hummus, and socca.

Are garbanzo beans chickpeas?

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the descriptions for chickpeas and garbanzo beans are markedly similar. That is because garbanzo beans and chickpeas are the same thing. So, don’t be confused if a recipe calls for one or the other—they can be used interchangeably because they are, in fact, identical.

Why are garbanzo beans called chickpeas?

This is one of those quirks of the English language—with influences from so many other languages, we just have a lot of words that mean basically the same thing.

So it is with garbanzos and chickpeas. Chickpea comes from the Latin word cicer, referring to the plant family of the bean in question. Garbanzo, meanwhile, comes from a separate Spanish word for the bean that may have been taken from the Basque language. 

Are chickpeas beans, really?

Yes, chickpeas are legumes, AKA beans. Thus garbanzo bean is correct as well, not a misnomer like peanut. 

Are chickpeas vegetables?

The short answer to this is yes—chickpeas are vegetable matter. However, it really depends on how you define a “vegetable.” Technically speaking, chickpeas are pulses—seeds from a legume plant. But if you consider a green pea to be a vegetable, then you should also deem chickpeas to be vegetables. 

What do chickpeas taste like?

On their own, chickpeas have a very mild, maybe slightly seed-like flavor. To my mind, they essentially taste like nothing, but they have a thick, slightly pasty texture. 

How much protein is in garbanzo beans?

One tablespoon of chickpeas contains 2.4 grams of protein, meaning these little guys pack quite a punch. 

Are chickpeas keto?

While chickpeas are high in protein, which is appealing to those on the keto diet, unfortunately they are also fairly high in carbohydrates, placing them squarely outside of keto range. Sorry keto kids, no hummus for you!

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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