Downshiftology
subscribe to new posts: via email via rss

Falafel

Falafel are delicious balls of chickpea and herb goodness that you find in Middle Eastern cooking. Naturally vegan and vegetarian, falafel are great in wraps, pitas, sandwiches and salads. Today, I’ll share how to make both fried falafel and baked falafel. You choose your favorite!

Plate of falafel drizzled in tahini sauce.

Are you ready for the best falafel you’ve ever tasted? I’ve had my fair share of falafel on travels through Egypt, Israel and Jordan. I’ve had them in restaurants and on street corners (about as authentic as they come). I’ve had them stuffed in gluten-free pita and on salads. And I’ve had them with slight variations and tweaks, though the recipe itself is fairly simple.

But after eating my way through Tel Aviv last year, I realized what makes the best falafel. And here’s the answer: tons of herbs (double the normal amount) and a small amount of green pepper. This makes for an addictive flavor that’s “a little something extra” but not spicy. Just insanely delicious.

What is Falafel?

Traditional falafel is made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, herbs and spices. The mixture is then formed into balls or patties and deep fried for a texture that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, sort of like a fritter. It’s a classic Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipe that’s enjoyed as street food and often served up as part of mezze (a group of small meals).

Several falafel on a plate with tahini sauce.

Falafel Recipe Video

While it’s easy to make falafel once you get the hang of it, make sure to watch my tutorial video to ensure success. I’ll walk you through the process of forming the falafel and show you three different cooking methods. Give it a watch!

Falafel Ingredients

Falafel are naturally gluten-free and made from a few simple ingredients. Here’s what’s in my recipe:

  • Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans): Only use dried and soaked chickpeas, not canned chickpeas in this recipe. Canned chickpeas will be too soft and wet and your falafel will not form properly.
  • Onion: I use yellow onion for a slightly stronger flavor, but you could use white or red onion as well.
  • Parsley and Cilantro: These two delicious herbs inject heaps of flavor into your falafel and turn the inside a beautiful, vibrant green.
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves rather than garlic powder for the most robust flavor.
  • Green Chile Pepper (Serrano Pepper): A small pepper adds a kick of flavor and spice without over-powering the falafel. You can adjust this to more or less, but don’t omit it without trying it first – trust me.
  • Cumin, Cardamom, Salt and Black Pepper: These aromatic spices are used often in Middle Eastern cooking and have an earthy, spicy, assertive flavor you’ll love.
  • Chickpea Flour: This helps to bind the mixture together and retain the shape while frying. I prefer chickpea flour, but you could also use a gluten-free flour blend.
  • Baking Soda: A key ingredient for helping to provide the fluffy inside texture of the falafel.
  • Oil for Frying: I use avocado oil as it’s high-heat stable and my preferred cooking oil. But you could use vegetable oil as well.

*Note: While this recipe is gluten-free and all falafel I’ve had overseas have been made with gluten-free ingredients, always double check the flour used and if there’s cross-contamination with the oil. 

How to make falafel in a food processor.

Making the falafel recipe and scooping balls of falafel dough.

How to Make the Best Falafel (at Home!)

Are you ready to make homemade falafel? Great! Let’s break this into two parts – making the dough and then cooking (so you can choose your preferred cooking method).

How to Make the Falafel Dough Mixture

  1. Soak your dried chickpeas. Overnight or for at least 8-12 hours. Note that the chickpeas will triple in size, so cover them with plenty of water. Then drain and rinse them.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Add the chickpeas, onion, parsley, cilantro, garlic, green pepper and spices to a food processor. I recommend roughly chopping up the onion, herbs and pepper before adding. Pulse the food processor but do not blend completely. The final mixture should resemble coarse sand.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Then add the chickpea flour and baking soda, stir it together until it’s fully combined and cover with plastic wrap or a lid.
  4. Place the bowl in the fridge. Chill the falafel mixture for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Shape your falafel. You can do this by hand, with a cookie scoop (which is what I use) or a falafel scoop. Decide if you’d like round balls or flatter patty shapes. The flatter shapes are better if you plan to pan fry or bake. Any shape can be used for deep frying. Form all your falafel and place on a plate.

A plate of falafel balls.

How to Cook Falafel – 3 Different Ways

How to Deep Fry Falafel: Heat about 3 inches of oil (I use avocado oil) in a pot on medium heat to 350F. Once the oil has reached temperature, gently drop 6-8 balls into the oil at a time. Let them cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden on the outside. Use a skimmer to the remove the falafel to a paper towel-lined plate.

How to Pan Fry Falafel: Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan (I prefer cast iron) on medium-high heat. Gently place the falafel in the pan and cook each side for 2-3 minutes or until golden, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

How to Bake Falafel: Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Lightly spray or brush a baking sheet with oil. Place the falafel on the baking sheet, lightly spray or brush the top side with oil and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. You can also bake them on parchment paper or a silicone mat without any oil. They’ll just be slightly less crispy and golden.

You’ll notice in the photo below that no matter which method you choose, they look pretty similar once cooked. A perfectly golden outside and bright green inside!

Want to know the method I use most often? If it’s just for me, I’ll pan fry. It uses less oil but is still super crispy on the outside. If it’s for a party or guests, I love the balls. They’re the perfect finger food!

How to cook falafel three different ways, deep fried, pan fried and baked.

How to Serve Falafel

Falafel are best served immediately after cooking, so they’re warm and crispy. They’re delicious served in gluten-free pita, wrapped in lettuce or collard greens or topped on a simple green salad (my preferred method). But however you serve them, don’t forget to drizzle them with Tahini Sauce. It’s a creamy and flavorful requirement!

A plate of falafel served up with tahini sauce, hummus and tabbouleh.

More Middle Eastern Recipes You’ll Love

5 from 17 votes

Most Delicious Falafel Recipe (Fried and Baked)

Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Servings: 18 falafel balls
Author: Lisa Bryan
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
The best authentic falafel recipe you can make at home! A simple combination of chickpeas, herbs and spices that's blended together and fried (or baked). They're crispy, soft and delicious! Watch the video above to see how I make them!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (don't use canned chickpeas)
  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped (about a one large bunch)
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (about a one large bunch)
  • 1 small green chile pepper, serrano or jalapeno pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • avocado oil for frying

Instructions

  • The night before, soak the dried chickpeas in water. Make sure the water covers the chickpeas by 2-3 inches, as they'll triple in size.
  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to your food processor. 
  • Add the onion, parsley, cilantro, pepper, garlic, cumin, salt, cardamom and black pepper to the food processor and pulse several times until it resembles the texture of coarse sand.
  • Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl and add the chickpea flour and baking soda. Stir together, then cover or add a lid.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to one hour.
  • Use your hands, an ice cream scoop or falafel scoop to form the falafel into balls or patties. If you find the mixture is too wet, you can add another tablespoon of chickpea flour. If it's too dry and crumbly, you can add a teaspoon or two of water or lemon juice.
  • Once the falafel are formed, you can cook them by your preferred method mentioned above.
  • To deep fry the falafel, add about 3 inches of oil to a pot on medium heat. Heat the oil to 350F.
  • Cook the falafel in batches (about 6-8 at a time) for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Use a skimmer to check the color of the falafel and make sure they don't over cook. Then remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Serve the falafel immediately, while warm and crispy on the outside.

Lisa's Tips

  • Falafel are best golden on the outside, not charred. Make sure your oil doesn't get too hot. If it does, the outside will cook too fast before the inside can warm up. 
  • The falafel should not break apart while cooking. They're slightly fragile, but should certainly hold together and retain their shape. If they don't, see my tip above about adding more flour or water. 
  • Can you meal prep falafel? YES! Make the dough mixture and then freeze it for up to 2-3 months. Thaw the mixture in the fridge, stir it, then form in balls or patties and cook. Cooked falafel don't store well as the outside becomes soft. 

Nutrition

Calories: 62kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 170mg, Potassium: 138mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 350IU, Vitamin C: 5.6mg, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Keyword: Falafel, Falafel Recipe, How to Make Falafel
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag @downshiftology and hashtag it #downshiftology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

72 comments on “Falafel”

  1. Thank you for the wonderful recipe and thorough directions. This was my first time making falafel from scratch and with your instructions, they turned out delicious! The recommended oil temp was spot on. Oil at 350 degrees really made the difference in getting the falafel cook time right. The serrano pepper added just the right amount of heat without overpowering any of the flavors. I made a slight variation, adding a pinch of coriander to accompany the cumin and cardamon. The falafel was a huge hit with my family, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike! Thank you!

    • Hi Dan – Congrats making your first batch of falafels! I’m so happy to hear that you and your family loved this recipe :)

  2. Hi, Lisa – 

    Do you think I could grind some dried chickpeas in my spice grinder to get the two tablespoons of chickpea flour, or will I need to buy a bag of besan or chickpea flour?  I’m trying to avoid having a pantry of items I rarely use (unless you have more chickpea flour recipes!)

    Thanks, 

    Denise

  3. These are the best falafels I have made ever, so yummy. I have made them twice now.  I fried some and put some in my air fryer and we preferred how they came out in the air fryer, very crunchy and quick to cook. Great for a snack too. These will be a regular in our house. Thankyou 😊

    • Wonderful! I’m so happy you loved the falafel recipe Sian! And that’s great that you used your air fryer to make them. I’m sure other readers will be pleased to hear that they work in the air fryer. :)

  4. Question: the soaked chickpeas don’t need to be cooked prior to using in this recipe?

  5. Nice, but metric conversion is not working :/

  6.  Oh my gosh, this is the most amazing falafel I’ve ever had! Note to self, wear gloves when handling Serano peppers…
    I will definitely be making these again!

    • Hi Jenny – I’m so excited that you loved the falafel recipe! It is probably one of my favorites also :)

  7. Hi!

    Is there some other herb i can use instead of the cilantro?
    My boyfriend really can not stand the taste of cilantro so I can not put it in, but i don’t want to miss out on a lot of flavour! I want to replace it with something else!

    • Hi Anouk – because there is so much parsley in this recipe, I would just leave the cilantro out :)

  8. These are delicious! Recipe is easy to follow and I’m delighted with the results. Crunchy exterior and fluffy interior. Perfection in every bite. 

  9. I cant believe I had not discovered your blog!! Subscribed to your mail list and followed you on Instagram right away. Love making falafel at home. This looks so yummy.

    • Hi Sheenam – I’m so glad you discovered my blog and excited for you to follow along my journey! Hope you enjoy all my recipes :)

  10. I’ll definitely try making them! Can I use my Vitamix? I don’t have a food processor.

    • I know some have made it in their Vitamix. It’s not quite as easy as a food processor as you have to stop it more frequently and scrape down the sides, but it’s doable!

  11. This recipe is great, especially because they’ll still taste good even if your dough does is not the right consistency! My dough came out really wet due to not allowing the herbs to dry after rinsing and I used chick peas I had frozen after cooking in the pressure cooker. I was able to soak up a lot of the moisture with paper towels. I pan fried, served immediately with your tahini sauce, and the family approved.

  12. Hi! Do you take out the seeds of the pepper? Is it spicy with it?

  13. Delicious!  I have tried making falafel so many times. It just didn’t satisfy. This recipe is soooo good. I’ve opted for frying and do not regret! 

  14. Excited to try this tomorrow night! For how many days can you refrigerate the cooked falafels? Thanks :)

    • Hi Mary – the falafels are best eaten right away while they’re crispy. You could certainly save and re-heat them, just be aware that they won’t be crispy the next day.

  15. I made falafel for supper tonight – delicious!! I served them with your recipe for tahini sauce (I could eat this with a spoon!), tossed salad and your lentil salad with cucumber and lemon vinaigrette. Everything was easy to make and very tasty. Thanks for sharing these wonderful recipes!

    PS – I cooked my falafel in a toaster oven.

    • Yay, I’m happy you loved the falafel Sue (along with the lentil salad and vinaigrette) – sounds like a perfect dinner! And thanks for sharing that you cooked the falafel in the toaster oven. Another great option!

  16. I have done it! Really nice, thank you!!!

  17. I made this falafel last night and had them on a salad with romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion & a tahini salad dressing. It was amazing. First falafel that my husband has actually liked! It took a bit of time to make, but it wasn’t hard. Totally worth it. I froze half the mix to cook and eat later. 

    • Yay! I’m happy you both loved the recipe Theresa. And that sounds delish on top of a salad (how I prefer to eat falafel as well). Smart move to freeze half the mixture. Now you’ve got falafel nearly ready to go when the craving strikes. :) Enjoy!

  18. I made this recipe for launch today and really like it. It is truely  Authentic recipe. Easy to make and delicious. The only thing I would left out when I make it  next time is Baking soda. I tasted the strong baking soda flavor in every bite. This is of course my personal choice. It didn’t stop me from eating this deliciousness of course.  Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe with us. 

  19. Made them yesterday and even my picky eaters ate a couple! Another great one Lisa!

  20. Your Falafel recipe is too good……
    Mouth watering…..often i eat….
    If can offer me in 2 time meal or in the breakfast even…
    Yummy.

  21. Falafel are so healthy and so delicious. I absolutely love this easy recipe. Love the addition of cardamom. Need to give it a try.

  22. Dear Lisa,
    Wonderful recipe!
    Q: Can I substitute chickpea flour with another flour, e.g., buckwheat, coconut?
    Thank you as always for high quality content, the effort you make is admirable!

  23. Could you give specifics on the serving size and prep method relating to the nutrition facts? How many falafel balls, and deep fried, pan fried, or baked?

  24. I love that I can make these at home and not have to go out to get them. You have really hit upon the wonderful flavors I enjoy in falafel.

  25. These are gorgeous and love how you provided different cooking options! Think I’d try them baked.

  26. This Recipe is a keeper, I last had A falafel back in the early 70’s had them in a pita pocket a fresh fine chopped veggies and Cuke sauce, I love this sandwich yours look great,
    Chef Ernie

  27. The chickpeas are soaking. I have everything I need to make these except one. But I don’t have a serrano pepper but I do have a jalapeno. Would that be an OK substitute? If not, would a pinch of dried peppers do?

    • Hi Ann – yes, the jalapeno is a perfect substitute. It’s a little less spicy than a serrano, but certainly fine for this recipe. Let me know how they turn out!

  28. I love falafels! I admit I have never attempted to make them from scratch. You’ve made it look so do-able. I can’t wait to try your recipe!

    • I hadn’t until recently either. Though I always love to order them in restaurants when I’m traveling in the Middle East. You should definitely try making them at home, they’re easier than you think! :)

  29. So vibrant and crispy. MMM, I love meals like this that make me not even miss meat being on my plate.

  30. Can i substitute dried green or pigeon pea lentils for the chickpeas?

  31. Can they be cooked in an air fryer?

  32. I am so looking forward to making this delish recipe!

  33. I can’t WAIT to try this! I looks delicious. I love your clean recipes(and the Weck jars).

  34. I can’t wait to try! Have you ever tried freezing them? If so, would you freeze them cooked or raw?