These crispy, hot sauce-soaked chickpeas are a genius taco filling

Bonus: The chickpeas stay crisp after cooking, making them an ideal lunch to pack for work

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published April 18, 2022 6:00PM (EDT)

Chickpea tacos  (Ashlie Stevens )
Chickpea tacos (Ashlie Stevens )

Weekday Plants is a weekly recipe column from Salon Food that centers on easy-to-make and adaptable vegan meals.

Since transitioning to "weekday veganism," canned chickpeas have become the real workhorse of my kitchen pantry. They're the perfect base for curries, pastas, soups and stews.

I was in the mood for tacos the other day, but I was running low on soyrizo and mushrooms. So, I grabbed a can of chickpeas to see what could be done to turn them into a taco filling. 

Related: I committed to cooking one meal a day using my new air fryer — here's what worked (and what didn't)

Turns out, they don't require much. After soaking them in a quick marinade made from some additional pantry staples — including hot sauce, olive oil and a medley of spices — I let them cook up in the air fryer until they were perfectly crisp on the outside and just a little creamy on the inside. 

What's great about these chickpeas is that they stay crispy for a few days after air frying or oven-baking on a sheet pan, which makes them ideal to pack for lunches. Simply place them in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag to transport them separately from your taco toppings and tortillas. 


Recipe: Spiced Chickpea Street Tacos 

2 servings
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes



  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3 teaspoons hot sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Fresh juice of 1 lime 
  • Generous sprinkle of salt 


  • 6 street taco flour tortillas 
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and patted dry 

Toppings (suggested)

  • Sliced avocado 
  • Pico de gallo 
  • Shaved radish 
  • Dairy-free sour cream 
  • Vegan cheese 
  • Chopped lettuce or greens 
  • Scallions 


  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients, making sure to do so thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasonings according to your preferences. 
  2. Add the drained and dried chickpeas to the marinade and stir, ensuring they're fully coated. 
  3. If you're air-frying the chickpeas, preheat the air fryer to 400 and add them to the basket once it comes to temperature. Air fry for 8 to 10 minutes, shaking the basket regularly, until they're crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. Alternatively, you can spread the chickpeas on a prepared baking sheet and bake them at 400 for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Either way, keep a close eye on the chickpeas so they don't burn (because a few minutes can make a difference).
  4. Remove the chickpeas from the air fryer or oven. At this point, it's time to prepare your tacos. Stack them with some of the suggested plant-based toppings — including sliced avocado, pico de gallo, shaved radish, vegan cheese and sour cream, chopped lettuce or greens and scallions. 



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By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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Chickpeas Food Recipe Tacos Vegan Weekday Plants