Top Pick: Goya.
The pleasantly nutty flavor and creamy texture of chickpeas—also called garbanzo beans—makes them a delightful addition to salads, soups, and stews. And, of course, they're the starring ingredient in hummus. But since soaking and cooking dried chickpeas isn't always practical, we often reach for canned chickpeas as a handy alternative. Together with most beans, chickpeas are among the few foods whose flavor doesn't seem to be dramatically altered by the canning process. We like them to be firm but also smooth and buttery (never gritty or mealy), to have a clean, bean-like flavor, and to hold together well.
When we conducted a blind tasting of six widely available canned chickpea brands, we found that there was considerable variety in flavor, texture, and appearance. The clear winner was Goya, but panelists also enjoyed Pastene and Bush's.
89¢ (15-1/2 oz.)
A smooth, creamy texture, a nicely balanced salt level, and a sweet, nutty bean flavor made these chickpeas our hands-down favorite. "By far the most attractive peas in the whole bunch," said one taster. Large and firm, with no split skins, their handsome appearance would easily hold up in soups, stews, and salads.
Chickpeas numbered in order of preference; prices will vary.
$1.19 (15 oz.)
These warm, sunny-colored chickpeas had a satisfyingly earthy, beany flavor and a well-balanced saltiness. Despite some unevenness in individual beans, their overall texture was smooth with a pleasant, soft, and giving chew.