Soak the chickpeas with water overnight or for at least 8 hours. You want to cover the beans with about 2 inches of water. The chickpeas expand as it soaks, so be sure to use a large enough bowl for soaking. Before cooking the chickpeas, drain the water and rinse the beans.
STOVETOP METHOD: Transfer the soaked chickpeas to a large saucepan or a small pot. Cover the chickpeas with water by 2 inches. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and salt. Bring the water to boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes for firmer beans, 40 to 50 minutes for softer beans.
SLOW COOKER METHOD: Transfer the soaked beans and cover with 6 cups of water, garlic, bay leaves, and salt to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
INSTANT POT METHOD: Transfer the soaked beans, 4 cups of water, garlic, bay leaves, and salt to an Instant Pot. Set the Instant Pot to manual mode, and cook on high pressure for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on whether you like them slightly more al dente or softer. If you cook them for 12 minutes, they'll have a slight crisp; 15 minutes is close to the texture of canned chickpeas. Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Then, release any residual pressure and open the lid. If you are using unsoaked beans, you will need to cook the chickpeas for about 25 to 30 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
The beans will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. You can also freeze chickpeas for a few months.