Weeknight Cooking

Olive Oil–Braised Chickpeas From Joy the Baker

May 19, 2021
75 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

My canned chickpea dinner once followed a predictable path: Open can, drain and rinse chickpeas, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, add the beans, stir around till warm, eat. (Then look around the kitchen for something else.)

But Joy the Baker figured out how to take a similar route and end up at a much, much better destination. Canned chickpeas don't want a quick stir-around: All they need for a bit of rejuvenation is a warm bath in olive oil, herbs, and spices.

Forty-five minutes in a covered pan in the oven and they're fattened up and flavored to the core, without any of the original chalky-hardness. The briny ingredients (capers in Joy's original recipe, with the addition of cured olives here) soften into the oil before whole baking dish is topped with cheese and smoked paprika, tying all of the salty-spiciness together.

I want to eat these chickpeas for dinner every night and, since there are one zillion ways they could go (I've counted!), it's tremendously hard to get bored of them.

First Consider The Making:

Once you've got the basics down—chickpeas + oil + things salty, fresh, and acidic—there's plenty of room to wiggle within that formula:

- Skip the capers and go solely with olives, trying the milder Castelvetrano in place of the black and oil-cured.
- Throw in half a lemon instead of the dainty slices, then squeeze its juices over the warm beans.
- Add a splash of vinegar—red, sherry, white, Champagne, apple cider, or Datu Puti, even!—and a couple of tablespoons of chopped preserved lemon.
- Replace the thyme with rosemary or sage; the feta with goat or ricotta; the smoked paprika with cumin.

Or pick a region of the world to provide some guidance:

- Add mustard and cumin seeds, crushed coriander, a pinch of curry powder, crumbled dried red chile, and forgo the thyme for curry leaves, fresh or dried (Indian-ish).
- Or go with cinnamon, ground ginger, cumin, chile flakes, golden raisins, and a spoonful of harissa (Moroccan-ish).
- Or lean more heavily towards the Mediterranean: Melt down an anchovy with olive oil before you sauté the onion; supplement the thyme with marjoram and oregano and the capers with sun-dried tomatoes.

Then add any vegetable you'd braise in oil: coarsely chopped broccoli rabe, cauliflower or broccoli florets, strips of red bell pepper, carrots sliced on the bias.

As much as you play, stick with chickpeas if you're looking for a forkable texture: White beans and black beans, already spineless from the can, might turn into a mushy stew.

....And Then Address The Eating:

It's natural that you'll want to spoon the chickpeas and their warm oil over absorbent bread—or hummus, or baba ghanoush, or a mound of Greek yogurt. But you can also mix the chickpeas with cubes of that bread, then add bitter greens for a salad of sorts. Or add in shredded roasted chicken and spoonfuls of yogurt.

Or stir the chickpeas into a pot of couscous, or quinoa, or wild rice—there's no extra dressing needed, and you can add volume with hearty greens, fresh herbs, vegetables you roasted while the chickpeas cooked, and toasted nuts. A nearly instant grain salad! Ali Slagle has been known to mix Joy the Baker's chickpeas with Joan's on Third's Curried Chickpeas—a meeting of two chickpeas.

Add them into a shakshuka before you crack in the eggs, or to any tomato sauce, for that matter. Mash the oven-soft chickpeas slightly and eat with pita as a warm dip.

Or collect the extra oil to marinate fish, to start a vinaigrette, to dress a salad, to be the base of a mayonnaise, to coat vegetables pre-roast. Or, you know, just make the recipe as written, spoon it into a bowl, and do the whole thing again tomorrow night...

This recipe comes by way of blogger extraordinaire and cookbook author Joy the Baker. We made a few small tweaks, like adding lemon wheels and chile flakes. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion (red is good, too!)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • Big pinches sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (rosemary is good, too! same with sage)
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1/4 cup cured black olives, pitted and torn (and/or another olive you love, like Castelvetrano)
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced into thin wheels
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (ricotta cheese is also highly recommended)
  • Smoky paprika, for serving
  • Crusty bread, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 375° F.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, add a splash of the olive oil. When it's hot, add the onions and sauté until softening and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and scrape into a baking dish: Use an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 if you want softer chickpeas and a 9 x 13 if you'd prefer some get a tad bit crispy on the bottom.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil, chickpeas, capers, salt, pepper, thyme, chile flakes, olives, and lemon slices to the dish, then stir to combine. Cover tightly with foil and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and the chickpeas are soft.
  4. Remove the foil, add the crumbled feta and paprika, and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with (or on top of) bread.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • naivemelody
  • goodTasha
  • JoyceB
  • Donna B
    Donna B
  • Jo Anne
    Jo Anne

81 Reviews

SJhapamama January 21, 2024
This looks yummy! I'll bet sumac (in place of paprika) would make a tasty variation.
naivemelody April 25, 2023
Just wanted to add to the chorus singing this recipe's praises. So delicious! I've made it several times. Made it for lunch today, and scooped over arugula while still hot to make the greens a little wilty. Divine.
goodTasha March 7, 2023
Genius. So delicious and healthy with so little effort. Subbed dried thyme for fresh. And squeezed a bit of fresh lemon juice on each serving, as desired.
[email protected] March 5, 2023
I finally gave this meal a try last night. I regret waiting. It’s really great. I had just picked up a fresh rosemary sourdough loaf that worked so well with this recipe. I just finished the leftovers and like most things it was even better. I will double the onions next time I make this. My Sister is visiting next month, I can’t wait to make it for her.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This could stand as a main dish on its own.
mgab0r February 28, 2023
So delicious!!! I did reduce the oil to serve this over couscous but it would be amazing with the written amount with some nice bread. Also, used a whole lemon and may use more lemon next time! And will add more olives as well. May add some fresh chopped tomatoes on top after pulling out of the oven for a nice spin too. The possibilities are endless with this recipe as the base.
Debbi February 20, 2023
Definitely lives up to the hype! If the 5 star rating hasn’t convinced you, read the comments. I can’t wait to try mentioned variations. First time making this, but like others, it will be a frequent meal. I added garlic, sun dried tomatoes and served with quinoa.
mayfrates February 19, 2023
Highly recommend. I put the onions in the roasting pan by themselves for about 5 mins, then added all the other ingredients. I halved the recipe and baked for about 25 mins. It’s so good though, I wish I would have made the full recipe!
Jennifer February 18, 2023
Could you recommend how I could do part of this ahead? Would like to serve as an app upon arrival at a friend’s (with bread) but don’t want to take the 45 min to bake and let sit. Could I bake night before and then just reheat and add the cheese?
JoyceB February 19, 2023
It does keep well even with the cheese added. I would say allow to cool and move to a new ovenproof dish and refrigerate, then heat for 15 minutes in an oven. That’s what I have done with leftovers.
JoyceB January 28, 2023
I suppose this would be good to serve to friends, if I hadn't shovelled the whole lot into my mouth. I like to add more olives, and several cloves of garlic. Today's onions were scallions, and I used rosemary because that's what I had, but I don't think I liked it with thyme. Any way, your mileage may vary with individual flavours but this is very easy to make and pays off really well. Love it, and will make again and again.
Donna B. March 22, 2022
Perfect for Meatless Monday…we loved it! I served homemade Naan for dipping it the warmed spiced olive oil and was in foodie paradise.
Isa December 8, 2021
I have made this about a million times (and I NEVER exaggerate). We use white beans as chick peas don’t completely agree with some members of the family. All of us love this. I generally omit the feta as only two out of three kids like it. Less oil. More onions, olives (castelvaltrano or kalamata or a combo!), and lemon(s). I don’t add any salt; there is enough with the capers and olives. We serve it with Israeli cous cous or thick toast with salted butter. A fried egg makes a complete meal as does some sautéed spinach. Today we tried it with drained marinated artichoke hearts. Amazing. I have shared this recipe again and again. It is a simple and perfect dish. Thank you Joy the Baker!!! (Also, I make it one pot in a cast iron skillet, as several others have mentioned).
Jo A. August 14, 2021
One of the easiest and most delicious recipes I’ve ever been lucky enough to stumble upon. I make these about once a week and never tire of them. The combination of flavors is sheer genius! Between thyme and rosemary, rosemary is my favorite; and between feta and ricotta, nothing beats the sharpness and saltiness of the feta. Do NOT be afraid of the olive oil! Half of the joy of this dish is dipping a hunk of crusty bread into that heavenly flavored oil at the bottom of the dish. My grandmother was from Sicily and she would have given this dish two thumbs up!!
bmorecharmer August 1, 2021
I love these. They have quickly become a staple in our house as a substitute for a starch side. I omit the salt since the capers, olives, and feta are salty enough on their own.
Sandy M. May 6, 2021
Absolutely one of my favorites! I use diced/pitted kalamata olives in place of black olives, up the amount of capers and use a bit less than 1/4 cup oil just out of personal preference. Also one whole thinly sliced lemon to top before covering and baking. This is a really great versatile recipe that can be slightly tweaked to one’s preference and/or additional ingredients added as you please.
Kelly April 26, 2021
Love this! Over time I’ve upped the lemon and onion to one whole each and olives to 1/3 cup. We like to have with a fried egg and crusty bread. Excellent dinner and the kind of leftovers that make you look forward to lunchtime (opposite of sad desk lunch)!
Rachel February 19, 2021
How long does this dish last in the fridge?
eluu February 19, 2021
I'm ashamed to admit that I made a nice, chunky batch of these and had them as leftovers for up to a week.....!
Rachel February 19, 2021
Ahhh I threw them away this morning. I really didn’t want to....but they were a week old.
Galleta January 23, 2021
Made this the other day and it was gone by dinner time. All my favorite things!!
Eileenmac January 18, 2021
I wanted to love this dish. But 3/4 cup oil didn’t add value to the canned chickpeas. Seems like a lot of oil and time for something I could’ve tossed in 1/4 c oil and beans for quick dish where braising wasn’t needed. What am I missing? It tasted good but not could’ve arrived there quicker and leaner.
Jacque January 18, 2021
I've never used the full 3/4 cup of oil - less if I'm eating it as is, a bit more if I'm mixing it with veg or grain. I took the advise of another commenter and make mine in a cast iron skillet, which makes this one-pot and helps the chickpeas crisp around the edges of the pan. One of my winter staples!
Barbara L. January 17, 2021
So, so good - great with simple roasted chicken and vegetables - fantastic flavor but also very comforting.
eluu August 30, 2020
What a great, adaptable recipe! I made this alongside my roast chicken which really makes for a simple, hearty, healthy, and especially tasty dinner (with leftovers!). I can imagine that throwing a fried egg on top of this for a lunch would make leftovers that much more exciting.