This Vegetarian Chickpea Pot Pie Is So Good, You'll Be Like 'Chicken, Who?'

May  1, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham

It’s easy to assume that the best part about chicken pot pie is the chicken—but to me, it’s everything else. The creamy gravy. The tiny-diced vegetables. The flaky pastry top. If you ask me: No chicken, no problem.

And this recipe proves it.

Substituting the chicken itself is easy. Chickpeas are similar in color (beige), and flavor (mild, meaty), and sturdiness (hold up well in stew). Not to mention, they’re way easier to prep: Just open a can, drain, and add. No meat-chopping, no kitchen-sanitizing, no wondering, Is the chicken cooked through?

The trickier part is the gravy. Most chicken pot pie recipes turn to chicken broth, plus some cream, half-and-half, or milk. Some even add chicken bouillon for extra oomph. The obvious substitution is vegetable broth. But vegetable broths vary widely based on brand. Some are so concentrated, they’re practically soup, while others are watery.

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Top Comment:
“I'd suggest cooking the beans from scratch, instead of using canned, so you can use that broth (maybe with some bouillon added, or just herbs) to make the gravy. ”
— April D.

DIY vegetable broth solves this. And no, I don’t mean make vegetable broth from scratch (though, you could!). I mean Better Than Bouillon, which I always have in my fridge. This mix-yourself ingredient is not only more consistent, but gives you more control. If you want more intense flavor, just stir in a little more of the vegetable paste.

The rest of the recipe looks a lot like its chicken counterpart: onion, carrot, celery, green peas, garlic, milk. If you stuck to this template, you’d get a great dinner. But one more ingredient adds enough depth of flavor to be like, Chicken who?

White miso. This Japanese fermented soybean paste is less intense than darker varieties (like red), but still brings a funky, umami depth to the pot pie gravy. If you want to up the ante, feel free to use any type of miso you love; just adjust to taste.

Now, about the crust. Some pot pies are literal double-crusted pies (like this one). Others have you pour the filling into a ramekin, cover with pie dough, and bake. This crust takes the easy way out. I learned the method from chef Carla Hall, who has you ladle the pot pie filling into a bowl, just like soup, then top it with a crispy piece of pastry.

I use frozen puff pastry because it’s happy to always be on call and takes no trouble to turn into something wonderful—a lot, in fact, like a can of chickpeas.

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Tiffani B. September 24, 2019
I found this recipe for chickpea salad - chickpeas in the style of chicken salad. Was a lunchtime lifesaver when I'm eating primarily vegan. Chickpeas, vegan mayo, diced celery, black pepper and a little thyme. Yum!
MB May 5, 2019
Chicken curry is a favorite here. Sometimes if I don't have enough leftover rotisserie chicken I augment with chick peas. And sometimes I skip the chicken altogether and used just chick peas in the curry.
April D. May 2, 2019
I did something similar recently with navy beans, and that was really good too! I'd suggest cooking the beans from scratch, instead of using canned, so you can use that broth (maybe with some bouillon added, or just herbs) to make the gravy.
Emma L. May 2, 2019
Yum, that sounds delicious!
Rhonda35 May 1, 2019
I look forward to giving this a try!
Emma L. May 2, 2019
Thanks, Rhonda!
Kate R. May 5, 2019
I make vegetarian pot pie often with this Better Than Boullion No Chicken. It is truly a wonder product. Instead of potatoes which are almost always added, I use diced turnips and replace the carrots with parsnips to change things up. Never tried chickpeas though and I think that is simply brilliant! Thyme is a lovely and comforting herb to include too. Oh...I also love to serve it poured over puff pastry shells and then top it with their crispy “hats”;)