Find out if chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are gluten-free. Plus if both canned and dry chickpeas are gluten-free.
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If you have ever been through a salad bar, eaten falafel, or dipped some veggie sticks in hummus, you’ve had the pleasure of knowing what chickpeas are. This type of bean or legume is one of the more popular beans sold at grocery stores – and for good reason.
Chickpeas are an extremely versatile ingredient, being used in salads, soups, fried bean patties (falafel), and dips and spreads like hummus. You can buy chickpeas in both canned and dried varieties, and even in pouches with flavored chickpeas, like curries and other quick microwave meals.
I enjoy adding chickpeas to my diet, because they’re a great source of protein without having to add more animal products to my diet. They’re low in fat and the fiber in chickpeas is said to help lower cholesterol and keep high blood pressure at bay.
If you follow a gluten-free diet, you may be wondering if this type of bean is safe to continue eating. Find out in this post what chickpeas are, if beans are gluten-free, and of course, if chickpeas are safe for a gluten-free diet.
We’ll also talk about if both canned and dried chickpeas are gluten-free, some brands of chickpeas that are gluten-free to look for at the store, and some of my favorite uses for this ingredient.
What are chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a type of bean or legume. They are almost spherical in shape, with a somewhat creamy texture when cooked. They are light brown in color and an extremely versatile ingredient.
You can find chickpeas under this name or under the name “garbanzo beans.” These two terms are the same type of legume, but can be called both names, so don’t get too confused when you see these two terms on canned or dried beans at the store.
Chickpeas can be used in salads, soups, and pureed into hummus or other dips. Another great way to use chickpeas is in place of meat in curries or roast them for a crunchy snack. You can even puree them with seasonings and bake or fry them to turn into falafel or other bean patties for a meat replacement for a burger.
They are high in fiber and protein, and are a great addition to your pantry for quick meals and plant-based protein. If you haven’t added chickpeas to your diet, they truly are an inexpensive and healthy ingredient to keep on hand.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most wheat products, and acts as the “glue” that helps to hold wheat, barley, kamut, spelt, farro, durum, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Gluten is naturally occurring, and therefore is impossible to strip away from the grain. If a grain naturally has gluten in it, there’s no way to make that food gluten-free.
These are also in the form of flavorings, binders to keep ingredients together, or other additives.
Are beans gluten-free?
Plain beans and legumes are a naturally gluten-free food. If you’re avoiding gluten, you can safely enjoy beans in your diet, as long as you keep a few things in mind.
While beans themselves are gluten-free, there are opportunities throughout the manufacturing process for them to come into contact with gluten.
For example, if canned beans have more than just beans and water in their ingredients lists, you may want to think twice about if they contain gluten. Look at ingredients lists for “wheat starch,” “wheat flour,” or other gluten-containing ingredients.
Dry beans may contain gluten after being processed on the same machinery as grains that contain gluten. This is actually fairly common, so if you are sensitive to gluten at even the trace level amount, be sure to check for a gluten-free label or a note stating that the beans you’re buying are processed on a gluten-free line.
Beans from bulk bins in grocery stores may also contain gluten. The scoops used in this area of the store are not always cleaned properly and can be moved from one bin to another.
The best way to know for sure if the beans you’re buying contain gluten is to review ingredients lists and look for a gluten-free label on the packaging.
One of my little secrets is that I carry around a copy of my GFDF Take Along Cards so that I always have a point of reference when I can sneak a peek at the ingredient list of a food.
Read on: Are beans gluten-free?
Are chickpeas gluten-free?
Chickpeas are naturally gluten-free, including both the canned and dry varieties. That said, if you know you are extremely sensitive to gluten, you’ll want to be sure to look for a brand that has a gluten-free label on the packaging.
A gluten-free label will help you know which brands have no potential for cross contamination and the amount of gluten has been tested to be less than 20ppm in that product.
Also keep in mind that just because chickpeas are gluten-free that doesn’t mean that every recipe that uses chickpeas is. For example, if you have a salad with chickpeas as a main ingredient, be sure that all the other salad ingredients are also gluten-free.
Sneaking in croutons could make that salad not safe for a gluten-free diet. Just be aware of all ingredients used alongside the chickpeas if you’re trying to avoid gluten.
Read on: Are black beans gluten-free?
Are dry chickpeas gluten-free?
Dry chickpeas or garbanzo beans are generally gluten-free as they are not a grain product. That said, if you are concerned about gluten cross contamination, you’ll want to look for a product that has a gluten-free label.
Sometimes beans are produced on the same machinery as grains or wheat products, so if you’re concerned about trace amounts of gluten, look for that gluten-free label which will ensure there is less than 20ppm of gluten in the product, as regulated by the FDA.
Are canned chickpeas gluten-free?
Plain canned chickpeas are considered safe for a gluten-free diet. That said, since these beans are processed, it’s never a bad idea to review ingredients lists and labels for any ingredients that may have been added that contain gluten.
This is especially true of canned chickpeas where seasonings have been added to flavor the beans. Ingredients like wheat starch or wheat flour may be present in some canned bean products.
Sometimes beans are produced in a facility and on machinery that also processes wheat or other gluten grains. You can look at packages as sometimes this is listed near the ingredients list on packaging, while other times this information is omitted completely.
To know for certain the chickpeas you’re buying are gluten-free, look for a gluten-free label to help you make a quick and easy decision about which brand to buy.
Brands of gluten-free chickpeas
There are a number of brands of chickpeas available, but if you’re looking for a brand that has a very clear gluten-free label, here are a few to choose from and look for next time you’re at the store. Remember that these beans are often under the name “garbanzo beans” as well. They go by two names, but they’re the same food.
- A Dozen Cousins
- Among Friends
- Eden Foods
- Edison Grainery
How to use chickpeas in your cooking
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are an extremely versatile ingredient. Here are a few ways you might want to incorporate them into your gluten-free diet:
- Added to salads
- Added to soup or stew
- In falafel
- In hummus
- In aquafaba whipped cream
- In bean dip
- As an appetizer
- Added to a pasta dish
- Stir into curry
- Packed as a hiking snack
- As an addition to your picnic basket
- In sandwiches
- As a snack for kids
- Roast them
- Spread them on toast
If you enjoy chickpeas or garbanzo beans or are just looking for ways to add fiber and protein to your diet without adding more meat, I hope this post has helped you determine when this type of bean is good for you to enjoy on a gluten-free diet.
You can definitely eat chickpeas while gluten-free, but you may want to look for a brand with packaging with a clear gluten-free label.