Photo of bowl of ground chickpea flour beside a bowl of whole dried chickpeas, with a spoon full of dried chickpeas resting atop the bowl of chickpea flour

What Is Chickpea Flour? Everything You Need to Know About Buying, Making, and Using this Gluten-Free Wonder

Finely ground, flavorful, and extremely versatile, chickpea flour is a gluten-free flour that should be in every kitchen. Read on for everything you need to know about the pale golden powder, from the different names it goes by, what to look for when shopping, best ways to store it, and delicious ways to use it.

What Is Chickpea Flour?

Chickpea flour is just what it sounds like: a flour made by grinding dried chickpeas into a fine, pale golden powder. It is naturally high in protein and fiber—just like chickpeas.

Is Chickpea Flour Gluten-Free?

Yes. Because chickpea flour is made from legumes, not wheat, it is gluten-free.

Are Besan Flour and Gram Flour the Same as Chickpea Flour?

Besan flour, gram flour, and garbanzo bean flour are all chickpea flours; they’re just made from different varieties of chickpeas. Chickpea flour or garbanzo bean flour is milled using whole white chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Besan or gram flour is made by grinding split brown chickpeas (chana dal) into a fine powder. All types have similar tastes and textures. They can be used interchangeably in most recipes, though besan/gram flour is more finely ground.

How to Toast Chickpea Flour

Some cooks prefer to toast the flour before using it to enhance its nutty flavor. Toasting chickpea flour is easy; simply spread the desired amount in the bottom of a skillet, then heat over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, stirring regularly. Once all the flour has turned a pale brown, transfer it to a bowl to prevent burning, then allow it to cool completely before using.

Can You Make Your Own Chickpea Flour?

To grind your own chickpea flour, you’ll need a high-speed blender like a Vitamix. Place 1 to 3 cups dried chickpeas in the high-speed blender, then start blending on low speed. (This is going to make a lot of noise, but don’t worry!) Gradually increase the speed to high as the chickpeas begin to break down, then blend 45 seconds to 1 minute or until all the chickpeas have been pulverized into a powder. Store in an airtight container with other flours. Note: Home-ground chickpea flour resembles cornmeal and has a coarser texture than store-bought.

Shopping and Storage Tips

When buying chickpea, garbanzo bean, besan, or gram flour, check the “best before” date for freshness. Some stores with low turnover may have packets that have been sitting on the shelf for months, with short sell-by dates.

Store the flour in an airtight container for up to six months at room temperature and up to two years in the refrigerator or freezer.

How to Cook with Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour is used throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa to make sweet and savory flatbreads, thicken soups and stews, and add richness to dumplings and cakes. It is the main ingredient in shiro wat, a hearty, spicy Ethiopian stew laced with tomatoes and onions. But chickpea flour’s tasty possibilities aren’t limited to traditional recipes. Here are a few other ways to use it.

Baked Goods

Add it to gluten-free flour blends and include it in recipes like our Vegan Cheesy Crackers to give them nutty, buttery flavor. Try using it to replace up to one-quarter of the flour in a baked good recipe.

No-Egg Dishes and Omelets

You can use a chickpea flour batter to make a Chickpea Omelet or a veggie-laden scramble to top Breakfast Tostadas.

Pizza Crusts

Chickpea flour’s high protein content gives pizza crusts a crispy outside and a tender, chewy inside. Try it in our Chickpea Flour Pizza Crust.

Veggie Fritters

Chickpea flour’s binding power makes it an excellent gluten-free alternative for holding together oven-fried cakes, croquettes, and fritters, including our Zucchini Fritters.

Sauces and Gravies

Substitute equal amounts of chickpea flour for the flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder called for to thicken sauces and gravies.

More Recipes that Use Chickpea Flour

With its binding properties, chickpea flour is a boon to the plant-based chef looking to whip up all manner of eggy-without-the-egg creations. Here are a few more favorite Forks Over Knives recipes that feature the gluten-free flour.

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About the Author

Headshot of Mary Margaret Chappell

About the Author

Mary Margaret Chappell

When Mary Margaret Chappell first started out in the plant-based food world as a writer, editor, and recipe developer, she was a bacon-loving former pastry chef who didn’t think she could ever cook without butter. Fourteen years, four cookbooks, dozens of cooking classes, and hundreds of recipes later, her favorite thing in the world is sharing the tips, techniques, and recipes that show just how easy and delicious whole-food, plant-based cooking can be. The former food editor of Vegetarian Times magazine has done away with her dependency on butter and is honing her skills at baking with natural sweeteners. Chappell lives in France, where plant-based eating can often be a challenge, but the fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes available are simply amazing. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.
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