A staple in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, chickpea flour goes by many names. Depending on where you shop, you may see it labeled as gram flour, garbanzo flour, or besan flour. If you have ever wondered why falafels are so good, chickpea flour is part of the answer.
It’s high in protein, fiber, and other essential minerals and vitamins, making it a great addition to any dish. Unfortunately, not all of us have easy access to chickpea flour or may be looking for other alternatives. Whatever the case, plenty of substitutes are available that can provide similar results! Let’s take a look at them.
- Lentil/dal flour
- Soy flour
- White bean flour
- Lupin flour
- Fava bean flour
- Pea flour
Best All-Around Chickpea Flour Substitute: Lentil/Dal Flour
The humble chickpea is a legume, and chickpea flour is made by grinding dried chickpeas into a fine powder. Lentil or dal flour is also made from legumes (like chickpeas) ground into a fine powder.
They have a similar nutritional profile to chickpeas and, depending on the lentil, a similar but slightly milder flavor. Both work the same way when baking.
Dal can be derived from various lentils like urad dal (black lentils), moong dal (split mung beans), and more. Each variety of dal flour offers a variance in taste and texture.
Best Budget-Friendly Chickpea Flour Substitute: None!
Chickpea flour is actually one of the cheaper legume flours, at around $3 to $5 per pound. Lentil is quite a bit more expensive than that! Soy flour is probably the closest in terms of price, around $4 to $6 per pound or $3 to $5 per pound at Asian supermarkets.
Best Easy-to-Bake-With Chickpea Flour Substitute: Lentil/Dal Flour
Lentil/dal flour yields very similar baking results to chickpea flour. It has a nutty flavor and grainy texture and is usually much coarser than all-purpose flour.
It also absorbs more moisture than all-purpose and absorbs that moisture at a slower pace. Often, you have to let your mixture sit for a little while as the liquid ingredients absorb.
Like most non-gluten flours, It may need extra binding agents to hold it together!
Flour Closest in Flavor to Chickpea Flour: Lentil Flour
The characteristic flavor of many legume flours is a mild, nutty, and slightly earthy taste. Chickpeas and lentils are pretty similar. I find red lentils to be milder and black lentils to be a bit earthier. My preferred choice is usually the red lentils to make flour with, as they are easier to find where I am!
Best Neutral Flavored Substitute For Chickpea Flour: White Bean Flour
If the flavor of chickpea flour is too much for you, try white bean flour! It is made from dried, ground white beans and is similarly high in protein and fiber to chickpeas. If you have ever had the joy of eating a white bean dip, you will know that the flavor is very neutral and creamy, and the white bean flour is even more neutral.
It is great for thickening sauces and gravy, as it will not impart too much flavor into them while giving them a significant boost of nutrients. It even goes well in pancakes!
Best Healthy Substitute for Chickpea Flour: Lentil/Dal Flour
Lentil/dal flour is a nutrient-packed ingredient with plenty of health benefits. Not only is it a great source of plant-based protein for vegetarians and vegans, but its high fiber content helps you to stay fuller for longer and has numerous benefits for your digestive health.
Lentil flour is also low GI and can help lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels! What’s not to love?
Best High-Fiber Substitute for Chickpea Flour: Lupin Flour
Chickpea flour has a pretty impressive 5g of fiber per ¼ cup, but lupin flour almost doubles that at 9 grams per ¼ cup. This flour is made from sweet lupin beans, a legume related to the peanut. It also is relatively low in carbohydrates compared to other legume flours!
The flavor is nutty, and sometimes people describe it as slightly bitter. It is also quite absorbent! Great for making pasta noodles or in stews and sauces to thicken or bind.
Best Gluten-Free Alternative to Chickpea Flour: Lentil Flour
Lentil flour is the best choice if you want to stick to a gluten-free legume flour that is not chickpea flour. Lentil and chickpea flour are both often used in gluten-free products. Check the labels next time you purchase gluten-free crackers or pasta at the supermarket!
Of course, lentil flour does not have the binding capacity of a flour that contains gluten, so it is best to use it in recipes designed for legume flours rather than for recipes designed with gluten-containing flours in mind.
Best Lower Calorie Substitute for Chickpea Flour: Fava Bean Flour
Chickpea flour contains around 120 calories per ¼ cup. Fava bean flour has only 100 calories per ¼ cup and no fat! Fava beans, also known as broad beans, also promote heart health and aid digestion. The flour has an earthy and nutty flavor similar to many legume flours and is excellent in falafels!
Best High Protein Substitute for Chickpea Flour: Soy Flour
Chickpea flour is pretty high in protein, at 5 grams per ¼ cup, but soy flour takes the cake at 12 grams per ¼ cup, making it one of the highest protein flours out there.
It is often used in gluten-free baking but also to boost the protein content of non-gluten-free bakes. As well as being high in protein, it is rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B6
Best Keto Substitute for Chickpea Flour: Lupin Flour
Lupin flour is an up-and-coming star in the keto-baking world. 1/4 cup of this flour provides just 11 grams of carbs vs. 2 grams of chickpea flour! As mentioned, it’s also super low in calories, so it’s great for those on a weight-loss diet.
A quick online search for lupin flour keto recipes brings up plenty of things to experiment with!
Best Paleo/Whole30 Substitute for Chickpea Flour: Pea Flour
Paleo and Whole30 dieters cannot have legumes, so legume-based flours, like most of the ones we have in this article, are off the table. In fact, the most suitable alternative for these diets would be pea flour. There are two different kinds:
- Green Pea – has a mild, smokey pea flavor and is great in both savory and sweet dishes such as pancakes. It is super high in protein, too!
- Yellow Pea – has a very well-balanced amino acid profile. It is sweet and nutty and delicious in cookies and scones.
Both flours are strong in flavor and much more fiddly to work with than regular flour, so you definitely need to find recipes designed with pea flour explicitly in mind.
The answer to this is going to vary depending on the individual. I do not find it heavy to digest. In fact, I find it relatively light. However, some people have trouble digesting legumes like chickpeas or have difficulty digesting high-fiber foods if they are not used to them. If you have trouble digesting chickpea flour, we recommend discussing it with your healthcare provider.
I always use it for falafels. Other legume flours are good in falafel, but chickpea really is the OG. You can also use it in hummus, flatbreads, veggie burgers, and even sweets like cookies or cakes.
Both gram flour and chickpea flour come from chickpeas, but gram is usually made from split brown chickpeas, while chickpea flour is from white chickpeas.
Yes, you can, but it will not work the same way in baking due to the difference in texture, absorbency and lack of gluten. Try using ¾ of a cup of chickpea flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose. You also should add extra binding ingredients and allow the liquid ingredients to sit in the flour for some time, as chickpea flour can be slow to absorb liquid.