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Za’atar Roasted Chickpeas

June 27, 2013

Za'atar Roasted ChickpeasPin it!

I’m home visiting my parents in Madison, Wisconsin, and I can tell you one thing for certain about the weather: I would not want to turn on the oven right now.

It’s been a humid swamp of a week, with the air outside as warm and thick as a sauna, punctuated only by nightly thunderstorms. Miraculously, a slight breeze has been keeping the mosquitoes at bay… otherwise it’d remind me even more of my childhood.

My parents’ occasionally air conditioned house is a temperate refuge from the heat and humidity; I see no reason to meddle with that by turning on the oven (although my sister made her spinach cheese mini quiches, among other things, in preparation for my family’s solstice party over the weekend.)

Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas with homemade hummus and pita chipsPin it!

These roasted chickpeas happen to be the last reason I turned on the oven before I left California, and they’ll be the first reason I turn it on again when I get back.

Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

Just as Paula has always done with pinto beans, we have been soaking and boiling our own dried chickpeas for a while now—only falling back on the canned ones when a true Hummus Emergency strikes.

Making Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

Each time we soak a pot of the tiny dried garbanzos we end up with a temporary wealth of chickpeas (and a freezer-space-worthy chickpea broth, rich with olive oil, onion, and cilantro).

Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

So what to do with too many chickpeas? Hummus or chana masala might be the obvious answers—or there’s always homemade baked falafel (for the ambitious) or tossing them onto salads along with tomatoes and feta (for the unambitious)—but I thought it was time I joined the ranks of the roasted-chickpea obsessed and tried my hand at crunchy roasted chickpeas.

paprika and za'atar: thyme, sumac, sesame, and salt

Most of the recipes out there for roasted chickpeas seem to use Indian combinations of spices—which also sound completely awesome, of course; I thought I’d attempt something a little different. Also, my za’atar obsession seems to be sticking around.

Fresh thyme for Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of thyme, sumac, sesame, and salt. It’s a perfect way of perking up pita chips, popcorn, yogurt, or hummus, but it’s good for so many other things, too. (Paula recently made some za’atar crusted salmon that significantly upped my willingness to eat cooked fish for dinner—we kept exclaiming how delicious it was between bites!)

Making Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

I took it as given that the flavors of za’atar would go well with chickpeas, but this recipe doesn’t exactly call for za’atar since I left out the sesame… The first time I made it, I had all of the ingredients at home (including fresh thyme!), but I worried that sesame seeds wouldn’t stick to the chickpeas and would simply create more of a mess without adding much flavor. (I’m curious about incorporating tahini actually, but I’ve still never tried it; let me know how it turns out if you do.)

Paprika, thyme, sumac, and salt for Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

I also added a little paprika and cayenne to the mix, but I think the lemony sumac and aromatic thyme—accompanied by just a hint of salt—were the keys to the addictive flavor.

Za'atar Roasted ChickpeasPin it!

And guess what? The chickpeas were so good that now I’ve made them several times with the EXACT SAME SEASONINGS. Way to branch out and be original and creative in the kitchen, I know…

Making Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

I didn’t get them quite crunchy enough the first time, but it turns out that first drying out your cooked chickpeas as thoroughly as possible (using a dish towel + air-drying them on a baking sheet if time allows) will help them crisp up nicely. I ended up increasing the cooking time to a total of up to 45 minutes, too.

Za'atar Roasted ChickpeasPin it!

You might be boycotting your oven this summer, but I’d say ready your sumac supply and go out in search of fresh thyme: be prepared for that one afternoon it just happens to cool off a little outside, because these are worth turning on your oven for.

Making Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

(Paula’s genius addition to all this the last time we made it: scrape up the leftover chickpea seasonings—from the medium bowl or baking sheet—to swirl into some hummus, and/or sprinkle some of the za’atar roasted chickpeas on top of a bowl of homemade hummus to garnish. I might just have to serve them like that every time…)

Za'atar Roasted ChickpeasPin it!

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Za’atar Roasted Chickpeas

~ 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1¾ cup from a can of chickpeas), as dry as possible
~ 2½ Tbsp. olive oil
~ 2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
~ 1½ tsp. sumac
~ ¾ tsp. paprika
~ ¼ tsp. fine grain sea salt
~ dash of cayenne pepper

How to make it:

1. Make sure the chickpeas are as dry as possible. (Pat them dry with a clean dish towel, then spread the chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet and let them air-dry for 1-2 hours.)

2. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet and bake near the top of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until they start to crisp up, stopping to shake the pan and move them around halfway through.

Fresh thyme for Za'atar Roasted ChickpeasMaking Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

3. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, mix together the olive oil, thyme, sumac, paprika, and sea salt. Remove the chickpeas from the oven, carefully transfer them to the bowl, then toss to coat them in the seasonings.

Making Za'atar Roasted Chickpeas

4. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Return the chickpeas to the baking sheet and to the oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm (great with beer or on top of hummus!).

Store leftover cooled chickpeas in an airtight container for another day or two.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Za'atar Roasted ChickpeasPin it!

Za'atar Roasted ChickpeasPin it!

Related recipe posts:

Homemade Pita and Hummus Chana Masala Pita Chips with Labne Olive Oil Dip Baked Falafel with Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce
Homemade Pita Bread & Greek Yogurt Hummus Chana Masala Homemade Pita Chips & Labne Olive Oil Dip Baked Falafel and Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce
48 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2013 9:00 am

    These look so delicious! The color is beautiful and the seasonings sound fabulous.

  2. June 27, 2013 9:02 am

    Oh! I love roasted chickpeas and zaatar! Why did I never think of putting the two together? Thank you for the inspiration!

    • June 27, 2013 9:18 am

      Yay– just the kind of comment I love to get! I am constantly in awe of / inspired by other people’s blogs (including yours!) so it’s nice to hear that I can provide a little kitchen combination inspiration sometimes, too. :)

  3. June 27, 2013 9:25 am

    Oh my goodness, I came across a recipe for roasted chickpeas in a Cooking Light magazine and I absolutely love them!! I like the idea of adding sumac though, I’ve never cooked with it. What type of taste does it add?

    • June 27, 2013 9:30 am

      Sumac is lovely! It’s a little bit tangy, like lemon or lime, but in an herby way that pairs really well with thyme. I think it’s worth buying for other things besides za’atar, too– you can add it to salad dressings, etc., and I’ve seen some amazing-looking recipes for sumac-rubbed chicken, but haven’t tried those yet (even though I definitely have enough sumac in the house!).

      • June 27, 2013 2:14 pm

        Oh wow, it sounds totally versatile! Wonderful ideas for other uses also, thank you! I always like to have a couple ideas when I try something new so it doesn’t just sit in my cupboard unused!

  4. bitsofnice permalink
    June 27, 2013 10:08 am

    This looks so good! I have some chickpeas and now I know what I am going to do with them. I think it would be perfect as an alternative to popcorn for movie night! Thank you for sharing :)

    • June 28, 2013 12:59 pm

      Nice! I was also thinking of these as an alternative to popcorn, since we frequently sprinkle za’atar on popcorn at my house! :)

      • bitsofnice permalink
        June 29, 2013 5:04 am

        Awesome, that’s such a good idea and nice flavour for popcorn :) will have to try too!

  5. June 27, 2013 2:08 pm

    This is a match made in heaven Allison, didn’t know you were a zahtar fan, me too!:) In southern part of Turkey; we make a delicious zahtar blend of wild zahtar, crushed chickpeas, crushed pistachios, sesame and nigella seeds, cumin,, salt and pepper; really a delicious blend if you want to try sometime. Traditionally, we would dip our bread to this blend and then to olive oil – heavenly! Loved your chickpeas with zahtar, what a delicious snack!:) Ozlem

    • June 28, 2013 1:01 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Ozlem! Is that blend kind of like dukkah? It sounds wonderful! :)

      (And do you know if the wild za’atar is different from the fresh thyme that is sold in the U.S.? I’m curious…)

  6. June 27, 2013 2:22 pm

    This looks like such a flavoursome idea my friend :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. June 27, 2013 3:10 pm

    I buy roasted chickpeas all the time. So crisp and delicious. Would never have thought they take less than an hour in the oven. Can’t wait to try them with za’atar. Such a beautiful spice seasoning.

    • June 28, 2013 1:03 pm

      Yes, they are easy to make! …and in under an hour of roasting time. But it does take me longer than that to make them, since I like to let them air-dry for an hour or two first to get them crispier.

  8. elamb permalink
    June 27, 2013 5:29 pm

    I have just discovered za’atar and it’s going on pretty much everything at the moment! I had similar roasted chickpeas in San Francisco and have been making them every couple of weeks with all sorts of different flavourings. They’re quite addictive for tiny little things… Thanks for sharing!

    • June 28, 2013 1:07 pm

      Nice! I love za’atar on everything, too. But I’d also be interested to hear any other good flavor combinations you’ve come up with. Roasted chickpeas are such a simple, tasty snack!

  9. June 27, 2013 8:28 pm

    Happy solstice! These sound great, I’m going to stray from my curry rut next time I roast chickpeas. :)

    • June 28, 2013 1:08 pm

      Thanks, Emmy, and happy solstice to you, too! (We had a summer solstice party this year– instead of our usual winter solstice party in December– because of my mom’s health.)

      Curry roasted chickpeas sound super tasty, too… perhaps I will cross over from my za’atar rut into your curry one!

  10. June 27, 2013 10:45 pm

    Ugh – these sound completely addictive! Anything with sumac on it already has that mouthwatering flavour, add some crispy crunchy salty goodness, and I’m sold.

    • June 28, 2013 1:10 pm

      Yes, I agree completely! I’m a sucker for the acidity that sumac seems to add, especially balanced with a little salt, which makes them all the more addictive! Hope you get a chance to try making these. :)

  11. Elizabeth @ permalink
    June 27, 2013 11:44 pm

    These sound delicious! There’s a food truck I visit that sells the most amazing za’atar-crusted pita chips. I totally justify making a meal out of them with some hummus. Obviously I need to try my hand at these chickpeas!

    • June 28, 2013 1:12 pm

      Thanks! Those pita chips sound so good… we used to make pita chips and sprinkle on za’atar all the time at my house, back before Paula took up baking fresh pita bread, but ironically now that we bake our own pita, we turn the bread into chips way less often! Za’atar pita chips + hummus are totally a meal on their own, though! (Especially if you sprinkle these chickpeas on top! :)

  12. June 28, 2013 5:24 am

    They look fabulous, I’m definitely going to try your recipe, many thanks.

  13. June 28, 2013 6:53 am

    So do the chickpeas have to be uncooked? I only ever buy canned, but I guess I could be persuaded?

    • June 28, 2013 1:16 pm

      Nope, the chickpeas should definitely be *cooked* before you start roasting them.

      This means that you can either use dried chickpeas that you soak (overnight), then simmer (2 hours), then drain OR you can definitely use chickpeas from a can!

      Either way, just make sure that you rinse, then towel- (or air-) dry the cooked chickpeas really well before you roast them (otherwise they won’t get as crispy).

  14. June 28, 2013 6:04 pm

    I love the use of sumac! I went to Istanbul last year and have been incorporating it into all sorts of dishes (current love- scrambled eggs). I adore fried chickpeas and this is definitely going to be one for the recipe list!

    • June 29, 2013 3:06 pm

      Oooh, that’s awesome; I would love love love to visit Turkey someday soon.

      I love sumac, too! I should definitely really revisit sumac + eggs… but actually I tried making a za’atar-flavored frittata once (not too long before Paula and I struck upon our perfect Mediterranean Frittata recipe…) and it really *didn’t* work. I thought the sumac would turn the eggs a bit reddish in spots– but that it’d still be colorful and appealing– but instead it turned the entire frittata an unappetizing grey! I think if I tried that again, I might mix the thyme, etc., into the eggs, but save the sumac for sprinkling only over the top at the end. I assume you sprinkle sumac over the top of already-cooked scrambled eggs, so you’ve never had that problem? :)

      • June 30, 2013 2:51 pm

        Haha, yes, it’s funny that it doesn’t turn it a bright red, but I love the flavor so it doesn’t bother me. I suppose if you’re writing a post about it, you should sprinkle over the top as it would be more visually appealing, but flavor wise it’s lovely. If you ever go to Istanbul, I have a list of places I visited that I would definitely recommend-

      • July 1, 2013 8:23 am

        Awesome, thank you!

  15. June 30, 2013 3:01 am

    These look heavenly! I’ve only had experience with poison sumac and my experience was none too pretty. JK of course but sumac is not easily found where I am. Can you suggest a substitute?

    • June 30, 2013 7:10 am

      Sure! I’ve used lemon juice (+ optional salt) as a substitute for the flavor of sumac before, though obviously it’s not the same in color or texture… you could also add some lemon/lime zest for more bulk of flavorings. (The lemon that gets ground up into lemon pepper would be ideal– without too much of the pepper, that is…) Amchoor powder (mango powder) might also work as a substitute if you have it.

  16. June 30, 2013 7:00 am

    Yummy! I LOVE spiced chickpeas – can’t wait to try this combo.

  17. July 3, 2013 9:22 am

    I just ordered some organic, dry chick peas. Can’t wait to try your recipe!!

  18. July 6, 2013 6:45 am

    What a clever recipe! Are these really crunchy when finished or just crisp on the outside? They look like a great party snack and I have a party coming up….

    • July 6, 2013 4:31 pm

      They really are crunchy! (Some more than others.) Some of them kind of crack open and get drier in the middle, and those get crunchier than others; others are mostly just crisp on the outside—and they’re all crisper on the first day compared to the second.

      They’re definitely a good party snack, although they’re a little messy (so they might need mini-paper cones or napkins to go along with them—I like to eat them with a spoon at home to keep my fingers clean!—or serving them over hummus with pita chips is a good way to avoid the mess, too).

  19. July 29, 2013 12:18 am

    Wow so delicious and healthy! I think I’ll try making some of that today. Still have a can of garbanzo beans I don’t know what to do with. Lately I’ve been inspired to live healthfully (thanks in part to this blog Some of your recipes on here are really encouraging me to go on. :)


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