Make Ahead

Mexican Chickpea Taco Bowls

March 29, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep time 24 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Here, chickpeas stand in for ground meat in my favorite taco recipe. These bowls are so satisfying with all the fixin's: finely shredded lettuce, grated cheese, a spoonful of sour cream, and a sprinkling of quick-pickled onions, which offers the same bite/sharp counterpoint as a salsa.

This is how I like to make the simple pickle/onion salsa: Finely dice a small red onion and a jalapeño if you like heat. Place them in a small bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or more of vinegar. Let sit for 15 minutes, then toss.

Chickpeas: If you cook the pound of dried chickpeas as suggested below, you will have leftovers. Feel free to cook 1/2 or 3/4 of a pound if you don't wish to have leftover chickpeas on hand. Canned chickpeas can be used in place of cooked-from-scratch ones. You need about two cans, drained and rinsed.

For the crushed tomatoes, I like Pomi brand or I like to empty a can of San Marzano plum tomatoes into a food processor and purée it until smooth.

Chile powders vary in degree of spiciness, so start with a tablespoon (or less) and add more to taste. —Alexandra Stafford

What You'll Need
  • For cooking the chickpeas
  • 1 pound dried chickpeas, see notes above
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the chickpea taco bowls
  • 2 tablespoons oil, grapeseed or olive
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1 Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, see notes above
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes, see notes above
  • 1 tablespoon cider (or other) vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 lime, for juicing, plus more for serving
  • 1 pinch For serving: grated cheese, sour cream, finely shredded romaine lettuce, quick-pickled onions (see notes above)
  1. If using dried chickpeas: Dissolve the 3 tablespoons of salt into a large bowl of water (your largest mixing bowl, or about 4 quarts water). Add the chickpeas and soak for 8 to 24 hours. Drain, and place in a pot with the remaining teaspoon of salt. Cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook at the gentlest simmer for about an hour or until the chickpeas are cooked through. Let chickpeas cool in their cooking liquid. Store chickpeas in their cooking liquid.
  2. Set a large, wide skillet over high heat. Add the oil. When it shimmers, add the onions, stir to distribute evenly, season with a pinch of salt, cover the pan, and turn heat to low. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, letting the water from the lid drip down into the pan. Add the garlic, 1 tablespoon (or less, see notes above) chili powder, and cumin, and cook for 1 minute, stirring until the onions are coated in the spices. Taste. If you want a little more heat, add the additional tablespoon of chile powder, and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, 1 cup water, vinegar, sugar, and 4 cups of the cooked chickpeas (not the liquid). Adjust heat so the mixture simmers. Season with a pinch of salt. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (the longer the better) stirring occasionally to ensure chickpeas are not sticking to bottom of pan. Taste. Squeeze half a lime over top if desired along with more salt to taste—chickpeas can handle/need salt, so don't be afraid here.
  4. To serve: Spoon chickpeas into bowls. Top with grated cheese, sour cream, quick-pickled onions, lettuce, and lime wedges.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Patricia Roth Piattelli
    Patricia Roth Piattelli
  • Suma Chandrasekaran
    Suma Chandrasekaran
  • Michelle Herrold
    Michelle Herrold
  • Jennie
  • tupperbear
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

59 Reviews

Patricia R. May 12, 2020
What is the serving size in grams? and the nutritional value per serving size? Thanks.
Suma C. November 22, 2019
This is great! Make sure you don't skimp on the fixin's, as suggested! I added guacamole, salsa, cheese, cilantro and some tortilla chips to bulk it up a bit.
SarahVCullen November 4, 2019
Just finished making/eating this! What a great recipe. My boyfriend and I are transitioning to a plant based diet. This was delicious with vegan sour cream, lettuce, and salsa in a whole wheat tortilla bowl.
Michelle H. April 4, 2018
This was amazingly delicious. Thank you! It made my boyfriend think that maybe I don’t suck at cooking after all! I added the suggested cayenne but felt that the heat from the quick-pickled onion & jalapeño would’ve been substantial had I not. Scrumptious!
Alexandra S. April 4, 2018
:) :) :) I love it
Claudia January 6, 2018
This recipe is absolutely fantastic! It instantly earned a spot on our regular dinner menu.
Melissa April 28, 2017
I am making this now, and added the 2 tablespoons of chili powder as directed. However, this is insanely spicy! Is that a typo - should it be teaspoons? I think I've ruined it.
Alexandra S. April 29, 2017
Oh no! I'll make a note. No, it isn't a typo, but I think chili powders vary a lot in their degree of spiciness. I bought a different brand recently and was surprised by how spicy it was. I'm so sorry about this. Going to edit the recipe now.
Melissa April 30, 2017
No problem! I saved it by removing some of the liquid and adding veggie stock. Thanks!
Alexandra S. April 30, 2017
Nice fix! So happy it wasn't ruined.
Russel S. May 12, 2020
Maybe it was a typo, the recipe now reads 1 Tbs
JS April 22, 2017
I'm late to the party, but I have to agree that this is delicious! Even my meat-loving husband enjoyed it greatly. I, too, added cayenne. I served it in an actual taco bowl and added cilantro and sliced avocados as toppings, and it was a big hit with all.
Alexandra S. April 29, 2017
Love the idea of serving this in a taco bowl — fun!
Juli April 12, 2017
This was delicious- I added some cayenne pepper for some spice to the chickpeas, and some cilantro to the bowls. Otherwise this recipe is perfect!
Alexandra S. April 12, 2017
JS April 20, 2017
Cilantro - great idea!
Jennie April 9, 2017
How long will the chickpeas keep in their cooking liquid once they are cooled? I am trying to figure out if I can soak, cook, cool chickpeas a day before I put the whole recipe together.
Alexandra S. April 9, 2017
At least a week! I store cooked chickpeas in their cooking liquid in the fridge for days, and I've definitely stored them longer than a week, though they usually don't last that long :)
Jennie April 10, 2017
Great! I am looking forward to trying out this recipe this week.
hj April 9, 2017
Love the recipe, definitely a keeper, making them now for a second time. Just one question; why do i have to cover them in 3 inches of water?
Alexandra S. April 9, 2017
Hi hj, so happy to hear this!

You just want to make sure the chickpeas have enough water as they simmer so that they're sufficiently covered with liquid the entire time they are cooking, which will ensure they will cook properly. Chickpeas absorb a lot of liquid as they cook — I often have to add more water to the pot while they're cooking to ensure they're submerged.
hj April 10, 2017
Aha, rhanks for your answer. Maybe because i soak them for almost a day, they absorb less? With me, after cooking maybe max half an inch is evaporated / absorbed.
Alexandra S. April 10, 2017
Nice — yeah, just do what works for you. There's no right way here! I bet the longer soaking does help.
Sandra B. April 7, 2017
Very good and also a keeper for me. I never realized how much better chickpeas taste when cooked from scratch rather than canned! Thank you Alexandra!
Alexandra S. April 7, 2017
There really is a difference, right? Glad you liked this one!
tupperbear April 5, 2017
This is a keeper! I started cooking and realized I didn't have chili powder, so subbed ras el hanout (hey, go with what you have on hand sometimes) - and still was tasty as a taco bowl with a North African twist.
Alexandra S. April 5, 2017
Oh, fantastic, love it!
From T. April 5, 2017
Maybe my family of five have an incredible appetite, but there was maybe one serving leftover after the first dish. I wouldn't make it through the recipe as is for so many meals. Was I supposed to double it to that end? A little clarity on serving portions would be useful. Even my ten month old loved the chickpeas, so great job on flavor!
Alexandra S. April 5, 2017
Glad to hear the flavor was good! Did you use canned chickpeas or cooked-from-scratch? And how many cups? You were not supposed to double it. Next time I make these, I'll take a note about the portions.
From T. April 5, 2017
I used two cups of dried Pedrosinallo (sp?) chickpeas, cooked them and got about six cups cooked total. So I have unflavored leftovers aplenty.
Alexandra S. April 5, 2017
interesting! I don't know those chickpeas—they sound good. As I said, I'll reassess next time I made them — maybe I got carried away with all the fixin's :)
akaals March 29, 2017
Since I was out of chili powder, I added curry powder instead. Delicious! Thanks for a simple, tasty, and hearty recipe!
bhilz March 29, 2017
I've been munching on this for lunch all week!
I used canned chickpeas and also threw in some chipotle and adobo puree (1 ice cube's worth; I freeze whatever I don't use from the can in an ice tray) and it was delish!! Also added some hot smoked paprika. Served with brown rice for extra protein and have been throwing cilantro, minced red onion, avocado, and sour cream on top. Very hearty and satisfying.
Alexandra S. March 29, 2017
Yay!! So happy to hear this.
Jayme P. March 28, 2017
Would this work if I threw everything in the crock pot with some chicken? I'd obviously cook the chickpeas first, just wondering if anyone has tried this in a slow cooker!
Alexandra S. March 29, 2017
Hi Jayme, I think this all sounds great! I feel like crock pots are pretty forgiving, and these ingredients/proportions seem about right. The only thing I'm wondering is if you'll need to add more liquid if it's going to simmer for a bit?
Jayme P. March 28, 2017
Would this work if I threw everything in the crock pot with some chicken? I'd obviously cook the chickpeas first, just wondering if anyone has tried this in a slow cooker!
Scott C. March 28, 2017
Fantastic recipe! Made it last night. Used about a tablespoon of chipotle in adobo sauce for added depth. Topped with fresh cilantro and a touch of lime zest. Absolutely delicious. Thanks!
Alexandra S. March 29, 2017
Blork March 27, 2017
Confused! The recipe begins by asking for a pound of dried chickpeas, reconstituted and cooked. Then in step 3 it calls for "4 cups of the cooked chickpeas." Four cups? A pound of dried chickpeas makes WAY more than four cups! Why did I prepare a whole pound if I only need four cups?

Also, the ingredients list says "1 cup crushed tomatoes, see notes above" but there are NO NOTES about the crushed tomatoes. Where are the notes?
Alexandra S. March 27, 2017
Hey! Sorry you're confused. Yes, a pound of dried chickpeas will yield more like 6 or 7 cups of cooked chickpeas. I always cook a pound, just habit. I'll make a note re using less for people who don't like having cooked chickpeas on hand. The note about the crushed tomatoes is in the "Author Notes" part, just below the photo — do you see it? You have to click on "more" to expand the notes. Let me know if there is anything else!
Blork March 27, 2017
Uhhh, yes, OK, now I see the tomato note. Thanks. I encourage you to correct the chickpeas thing. It's not a matter of not liking to have cooked chickpeas on hand, it's a matter of the recipe being reasonably accurate.
Alexandra S. March 27, 2017
Edited the notes to reflect the excess chickpea issue. Thanks for writing in!
Molly J. February 17, 2017
This was just great. I love a recipe that allows plenty of room for an "oops". I sliced the onions and threw them in, and then noticed it said dice. I had diced tomatoes, not crushed. It didn't matter. I'm looking forward to the leftovers and making it again.
Alexandra S. February 17, 2017
Yay, so happy to hear this, Molly! Also hieee xoxo