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.

Most Delicious Falafel Recipe (Fried or Baked)

4.99 from 277 votes
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Servings: 18 falafel balls
Author: Lisa Bryan
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: 48kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 166mg, Potassium: 141mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 359IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 21mg, 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.
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Originally published July 2019, but updated to include new information. 

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859 comments on “Falafel”

  1. Made per recipe. Hands down best felafels I’ve made and eaten! When balling I was convinced (professional chef) they would fall apart when they hit the oil. Nope. My five year old boy had four over two wraps!! Glad I made 1.5 times recipe – lunches this week! Aus.5 stars

  2. these turned out superb. i used green onion instead of white and no cilantro because 2 family members don’t like it. it made 8 patties which were surprisingly filling for the four of us. i baked mine – will add to the list of things we like – thanks so much!5 stars

  3. My oldest son, now 26, became vegetarian at 4 and vegan at 12. We were not a vegan family. My youngest, now 18, followed in his brother’s footsteps, and became vegetarian at 16, and vegan at 17. My daughter, age 22, myself and my fiancé eat vegan frequently, as I have always supported my children’s decision, even if at first I was frustrated by the culinary demands on me and concerned abut them getting adequate nutrition. At this point, I consider myself fairly good at making delicious vegan food. I have ventured into alternative meats and cheese making, and can pull off a fully vegan holiday meal that even non-vegans enjoy. For some reason, I kept using falafel mix, instead of making the real thing, because it seemed that like with so much vegan cooking, there’s just so many more steps and things to do, and I thought falafel would be annoying, mostly because of the need to use dried beans. I tried canned ones, and that was one of my few royal failures. Well, I am glad your recipe pushed me to the final frontier, because these falafel balls are among the best I have ever had, and possibly better. I feel silly that I didn’t make them myself earlier, as it really is no big deal at all to soak the beans overnight. I’m not going to bother looking at other falafel recipes, because yours hit all the right notes, in terms of flavors and texture. Thanks so much for this perfect recipe. I wouldn’t change a thing.5 stars

    • A shift to vegetarian and vegan is a big change, but kudos to you for doing it for your family! Amazing to hear you can now cook up a vegan holiday dinner as well. But, I’m glad you found a winning falafel recipe (instead of the pre-made mixes). Hope you and your family continue to enjoy this recipe to come!

  4. Can the cilantro be omitted or is there an alternative? My fiancé hates cilantro :(

  5. Hi Lisa!

    Can I sub all purpose flour for chickpea flour?

  6. How many falafel balls are considered a serving for your nutrition chart?  Thank you!

  7. Lovely! Gets me a lot op appraisal in the kitchen! :D5 stars

  8. So delicious, and easy to make.5 stars

  9. Absolutely incredible!! Definitely suggest trying these as a first time falafel maker! They held their shape, came out crisp yet light and fluffy on the inside. Thanks!5 stars

  10. Thank you Lisa, this is SO GOOD. …didn’t have to adjust a thing. Sorry no photos b/c usually never bother to post..I shall be making again next week and looking at your other offers…😊5 stars

  11. Hi Lisa!

    For how long and at what temperature should I bake the falafels?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Cecilia – I mention it in the post, but here’s the instructions! 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.

      • Thank you for your time answering this. The baking directions don’t appear on the print version. I’ll admit I was one who did not read the post, just jumped to the recipe and printed it instead. I came to the comments looking for the baking directions too :)

  12. AMAZING! We used the air fryer and they were so delicious. I was sceptical about trying this but this is a MUST-try recipe.5 stars

  13. What are the instructions  for baking these?

    • Hi Margie – you can find that written in the post :)

      • i dont see them in the post either?
        I guess i should look in the video for baking instructions.

      • Hi Nadia – there’s a section called “How To Cook Falafel – 3 Different Ways!”. You’ll find the baked instructions there. But for convenience, here’s what it says:

        Pre-heat your oven to 425°F. 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 to 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!

  14. Perfection5 stars

  15. I’m so glad I found your website!! I’m making some lifestyle changes and have been looking for delicious, healthy recipes. Just made this recipe with tahini sauce, yum!5 stars

  16. I have tried making falafel countless times over the last 20 years. Results are usually dry and boring, or fall apart when cooking so you end up with a chickpea/cooking oil swamp…
    These are fabulous. Everyone loved them, and three different people want the recipe. They were crispy and light, juicy, tasty… and even delicious cold the next day, although the crispiness was lost, no-one minded at all. The only thing I’d say is it’s worth making 1.5 or 2x the recipe because everyone hoovers them up. And if they don’t, leftovers are NOT a problem, believe me!
    Thanks so much5 stars

  17. I’ve made this recipe 2 times before and it was delicious! I love all the parsley & cilantro used in the recipe. I cooked the Falafel in an air fryer. Just sprayed with oil. Making it again as part of a Middle Eastern, Mediterranean Mezze. 5 stars

  18. Has anybody tried to fry these in an air fryer?
    If so, at what temperature and for how long?
    Thanks

  19. This recipe was very tasty, BUT my falafel needed something to bind it as some fell apart while frying.  LOVED the flavors, but next time I’ll add an egg and maybe some shredded cheese to help bind the falafel.4 stars

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