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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!

A plate of falafel drizzled with 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 balls on a plate garnished with parsley and tahini sauce.

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.

Scooped falafel mixture ready to be cooked.

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 with one cut open in half.

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 next to hummus, tahini sauce, and salad.

Falafel Recipe Video

I’ll walk you through the process of forming the falafel and show you three different cooking methods. Give it a watch below!

More Middle Eastern Recipes You’ll Love

Want to turn this falafel recipe into a slice of bread? Try my Falafel Flatbread recipe – it’s incredibly unique and so versatile. You’ll love it!

Several falafel on a serving plate.
5 from 155 votes

Most Delicious Falafel Recipe (Fried or 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.
    Dried chickpeas soaking in a bowl of water.
  • Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to your food processor, along with the onion, parsley, cilantro, pepper, garlic, cumin, salt, cardamom and black pepper.
  • Pulse the food processor several times until the mixture 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 and refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to one hour.
    Falafel ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • 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.
    Scooping balls of falafel from the raw mixture.
  • 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.
    Cooking the falafel in a pan of oil on the stove.
  • 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.
    Removing the falafel from the pan once they're cooked and golden.
  • Serve the falafel immediately, while warm and crispy on the outside. They're delicious served with tahini sauce as well.
    A plate of falafel drizzled with tahini sauce.

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. 
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas = 3 cups of soaked chickpeas

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.

Originally published July 2019, but updated to include new information. 

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459 comments on “Falafel”

  1. The best Falafel recipe that I have found! I definitely will keep this recipe.

  2. I am eating falafel and tahini sauce made from your recipes and DAMN IS THIS GOOD! I added a little lettuce and tomato and wrapped it up in a lavash and I am one happy camper.

  3. This is our go to falafel recipe. Wondering if anyone has tried them in an air frier. What temp? How long?

  4. This falafel recipe is so easy to follow and everytime I make it its delicious! My favorite way is stuffed in pita pockets wjth garlic tahini and chopped Cucumbers, feta, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. So so good, as every other recipe I have tried from Downshiftology! Great job Lisa!

  5. Don’t you cook your chickpeas?

  6. Turned out very good, thanks for sharing 😊

  7. This recipe is in line with what I saw on a travel video.  So I made it and shared it with meat eating spouse and he loved it!  The only change I made was that I was able to successfully cook it in my air fryer.  This is a first rate recipe and the love and care that it was made is evident in the video.  From a fellow autoimmune disease person, a genuine thanks to Lisa, for making this recipe and this website.  It is much needed. 

    • Thrilled to hear this recipe was a success in your air fryer! I hope you continue to enjoy my recipes Cheryl :)

    • OH! I am SO happy to hear that when my NEW air fryer arrives in the mail I can MAKE these. Any details you can share about HOW LONG, HOW HOT… etc I would really appreciate it!!! I am a NEWBIE with an air fryer! Thanks! :)

  8. I just made this recipe yesterday and loved it so much. I made a whole batch and froze half of the falafel mix to use later.
    I love your blog and all the recipes you post. I used your recipe for regular hummus and modified it to make a Roasted red pepper hummus. It would be nice if you could post some other hummus recipes as well.

    • Thanks so much Sunita and I’m glad you enjoyed this falafel recipe! I will be sure to keep in mind to create more hummus flavors soon :)

  9. Hi, I want to bake these but I don’t see where the baking instructions are. How long at what temp?

  10. My first time making falafel and they were delicious.  Also made the tahini sauce and cauliflower tabouleh, what a fest! Thanks you

  11. Wonderful recipe but I ended up making a modification that I love and want to share. The first time I followed this recipe, I had also seen a recipe using collard greens instead of the herbs and since that is what I had on hand, I made it that way (but followed this recipe in every other way). They came out amazingly delicious! Never imagined that collard greens could be so tasty! Next, I tried it with the herbs but found that the spices did not come through as well as they did with the collard greens (full disclosure: I am not a fan of cilantro. but can tolerate it when it is cooked). My husband, however, loves cilantro but liked it either way. Therefore, I’ve used collard greens from that point forward and make it often.
    I’ve been a lover of felafel for over 35 years but shied away from trying to make them thinking it would be difficult and time consuming -but I was wrong! They’re so quick and easy! Thank you for the recipe!

    • Thanks for sharing your variation Kristin! Great substitution idea as well. Might have to try that sometime!

  12. Ive always been intimidated by felafels, so never made them. Now we are in lockdown, our fave middle eastern joint is closed so I had to try. THESE ARE THE BEST!!!! So easy and just as good as the traditional ones. No changes needed. PERFECT!
    Thankyou so much for sharing this recipe. I’m making it every week now!

  13. Please tell me how can i fix wet falafel? 

  14. I make your recipe regularly over the past few months during this COVID lockdown. My SO and I have stomach issues, and these baked in the oven with a dab of olive oil spread on top and fresh pita and hummus is divine! It has never upset our stomachs which is soooo rare!! Thank you for this recipe, we love it and I’m making it for my Mom and Grandparents this evening.

  15. I made this today and it was disappointing- it was too dry and i just couldn’t make a ball Shape, and what I could get to stick together just disintegrated in the oil. I’ve checked the ingredients, all correct. Not sure if I should have blitzed it in the food processor for a bit longer. Can anyone help. Can u clarify how much chickpeas you use once they have been soaked. One cup or the three cups. 

    • Hi Lillian – sorry this recipe didn’t work out for you. If your texture was too thick, that would definitely prevent the falafel from sticking together. Next time time processing it for a little bit longer. And it’s one cup of dried chickpeas which equals three cups once soaked, as they expand.