Falafel

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Falafel are delicious balls of chickpea and herb goodness 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!

Falafel on a plate 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 pita and on salads. And I’ve had them with slight variations and tweaks, though the recipe itself is fairly simple.

So after eating my way through Tel Aviv several years ago, 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).

Falafel ingredients in a food processor.

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 (as it’s more authentic), but you could use almost any flour you prefer.
  • Baking Soda: This is a key ingredient for helping to provide the fluffy inside texture of the falafel.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

*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. 

Pulsing falafel dough in a food processor.

How to Make the Best Falafel

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 to 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.
Rolling balls of falafel.

How to Cook Falafel – 3 Different Ways

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!

How to Deep Fry Falafel: Heat about 3 inches of oil (I use avocado oil) in a pot on medium heat to 350°F (175°C). Once the oil has reached temperature, gently drop 6 to 8 balls into the oil at a time. Let them cook for 1 to 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 to 3 minutes or until golden, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

How to Bake Falafel: Pre-heat your oven to 425°F (220°C). 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.

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’ll deep fry a batch or two and make falafel balls. They’re the perfect finger food!

Showing how to cook falafel three ways.

How to Serve Falafel

Falafel are best served immediately after cooking, so they’re warm and crispy. They’re delicious served in 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 my lemony garlic tahini sauce (made from homemade tahini). It’s a creamy and flavorful requirement!

Falafel on a plate with tahini drizzled on top.

STORAGE TIPS

  • To store for the week: Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
  • Freeze for later: You can freeze raw balls of falafel for up to 3 months, then cook individual portions on demand using the methods listed above. No need to thaw beforehand!
  • To reheat: While you can easily reheat cooked falafel in the microwave, they’ll be crispier on the outside if you reheat them in a 400° (200°C) oven for about 10 minutes.

More Middle Eastern Recipes You’ll Love

  • Hummus – The original and best hummus recipe!
  • Baba Ganoush – This roasted eggplant dip is smoky delicious.
  • Israeli Salad – A simple vegetable salad is always a welcome addition.
  • Shakshuka – The #1 breakfast recipe on this website – it’s a reader favorite.
  • Lentil Salad – A delicious mix of lentils, cucumber, red onion, dates, and parsley.
  • Cauliflower Rice Tabbouleh – My veggie-heavy spin on tabbouleh.
  • Falafel Flatbread – Want to turn this falafel recipe into a slice of bread? Try this flatbread – it’s incredibly unique and so versatile. You’ll love it!

I hope you enjoy this falafel recipe as much as I do! If you make it, I’d love to hear how it turned out in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers!

Falafel on a plate.

Most Delicious Falafel Recipe (Fried or Baked)

4.97 from 393 votes
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 18 falafel balls
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

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 below to see how I make them in my kitchen!

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (don't use canned chickpeas)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped onion
  • 1 cup roughly chopped parsley, about a one large bunch
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro, about a one large bunch
  • 1 small green chile pepper, serrano or jalapeno pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (or other flour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • oil for frying

Instructions 

  • The night before, soak the dried chickpeas in water. Make sure the water covers the chickpeas by 2 to 3 inches, as they'll triple in size.
    Chickpeas 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.
    Falafel ingredients in a food processor.
  • Pulse the food processor several times until the mixture resembles the texture of coarse sand.
    Pulsing falafel dough in food processor.
  • 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.
    Mixing falafel dough in a 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.
    Rolling balls of falafel.
  • 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 350°F (175°C). Cook the falafel in batches (about 6 to 8 at a time) for 1 to 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.
    Falafel on a plate with tahini drizzled on top.

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 3 months. Thaw the mixture in the fridge, stir it, then form in balls or patties and cook. Alternatively, you can freeze pre-shaped raw falafel and fry or bake straight from frozen! 
  • 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
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Originally published July 2019, but updated to include new information for your benefit!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




1,079 Comments

  1. Thank you for this recipe and as a Palestinian I can attest to its authenticity and accuracy.
    We use a falafel scoop that you can find online too, that makes the process a lot easier and gives you the full authentic feel of even making falafel like they do in Palestine.

  2. Another home run recipe! This site is my “go to” for my new retirement hobby of preparing and sharing great food.5 stars

  3. Made this twice. First time with out chilli and made today with chilli and tasted so much nicer with. Still struggling to get the moisture balance right and I’m either adding more chick flour and water, but crumbing and breaking in pan. When rolling it’s sticking to fingers, so I add flour and still crumbles. Would like to perfect as good tasty mixture3 stars

    1. I think the chili is definitely needed as well! As for texture, if they’re crumbling apart, try pulsing the mixture so it’s a bit finer next time as well. If the granules are thicker, it’s more likely to break apart.

  4. The flavor in these was amazing!! I baked them in the oven and they came out great! I have had falafel at restaurants before and didn’t quite care for it, but I’m trying to cook more meatless options so figured I’d give it a try and I’m very glad I did!
    Recommendation: if you’re going to make more than one batch I’d mix all the ingredients first then blend in the food processor in batches. It didn’t all fit in mine so I had to keep removing and adding stuff.
    Thanks again Lisa for this super flavorful recipe!!5 stars

    1. Hi Robin – I haven’t tried yet, but others have success air frying these at around 400°F for 5 to 6 minutes!

      1. Is this from frozen or fresh? I’m looking forward to making these and want to use my air fryer!

  5. I make these almost once a week! I love them so much! I cook them up eat them nice and hot save the rest for salads the next few days.5 stars

  6. I NEVER usually comment or review anything online–whether it’s a product or a recipe–but this is one of my favorite recipes ever! I make it when I have the time on the weekends, and it’s always amazing! I never liked falafel before I found this recipe. I shallow pan fry the falafels in vegetable oil and serve on pita with diced red onion, lettuce, and tomato with homemade tzatziki sauce. Thank you for posting and sharing this recipe! I am currently cataloguing all my favorite recipes I’ve found online and this was literally the first recipe I chose to save. It’s THAT good.5 stars

  7. We really loved this recipe, however, it was really lacking salt for us. The herbs just really didn’t shine without some more salt and a touch of acid. I loved how these turned out though! They got perfectly crispy even in the oven! The addition of salt and lemon really made these amazing! Thank you!4 stars

    1. Hi Savannah – You can always tweak the recipe to your liking and add a bit more salt next time. But, I’m glad you enjoyed these falafels overall!

  8. 10/10 recommend! I started doing some meatless dinners to save money. I made these yesterday and they were fantastic! My husband said they were restaurant quality! Thank you!5 stars

  9. Our family doesn’t like Cilantro (apparently it’s a Gene thing…), what can I substitute for it? My husband loves Falafel (he ate a lot of it when we were in Israel too) and have been looking for a good/healthy recipe.

  10. Hi Lisa, Thank you for this delicious recipe. I made a batch and froze them in balls. Fried some today from frozen and they were amazing! One of the best falafel recipes i’ve tried and excellent for meal prep.
    Thanks again :)
    Amina5 stars

  11. Hi! So yummy. Does the dough mixture need to be frozen right away or can I keep it in the fridge to make it a few nights in a row if I make a big batch?5 stars

    1. Hi Jan – happy you love the falafels! You can keep it in the fridge for a few days and then fry or bake them up. Enjoy!

  12. This is recipe is amazing! I made this for my family and they all said that it was the best Falafel they have eaten and we have eaten all kinds of Med foods. You must try this recipe – it truly is the best and we are foodies!5 stars

  13. I didn’t have full confidence in my ability to make these, but they turned out great! I doubled the recipe and got about 40. I went the deep frying method and it worked well, they’re super crispy on the outside and still nice and soft in the middle. Had some immediately for lunch, and I’ll reheat the rest later as part of a mezze platter for some friends (couldn’t face the stress of deep frying while they’re here!). Hoping they leave me some leftovers…5 stars

    1. Yay, congrats on your falafels, Lucianne! So happy you loved them. And hopefully you’ll have a few leftovers to enjoy again. ;)

  14. I didn’t know I was a fan of falafels until I made THIS recipe. I followed it exactly and they turned out beautiful! They are now a staple in our house hold! I often make the batch and freeze half for later use. And full disclosure … listen to Lisa and soak the chickpeas overnight! I of course tried the short cut canned way and it’s just NOT the same!5 stars

  15. This is the best falafel recipe I have ever tried. It became my favorite dish. I really love your recipes and I have tried the most of them. Thank you for your work!5 stars

  16. When I made these they were really dry and dense. I soaked the chickpeas in the fridge for 24 hours. So going to try again but leave the chickpeas out the fridge.

    1. Yes, I soak my chickpeas on the counter as well. But you can also add a little bit more liquid or onion next time as well (the onion adds moisture), if you feel they’re a bit dry.

  17. I’ve made these a few times and they are lovely! Very flavourful! I just made them again and for some reason they fell apart completely half way through frying. What am I doing wrong? Too wet? Not rested long enough? Gluten free flour?
    Becky5 stars

    1. Hi Becky – I see that usually happen when the dough mixture is not ground fine enough in the food processor. If the texture is too large, it breaks apart easier. Hope your next batch is perfect!

  18. Have cooked these countless times and they never fail to greatly impress. Thank you soooooo much for sharing this recipe :))))))))5 stars

  19. Forgot to soak overnight! How many hours do they need to soak? Bag says 6-8? Can I do the quick soak method?
    Also, what is the size of the serving that the nutrition information is based on?
    Thanks so much! I made these a couple of weeks ago and they are so good!!! Best I’ve had!5 stars

  20. Wow, that’s an Amazing recipe! These came out just as described, crispy outside and soft and fluffy inside.
    This is my first time making Falafels, and they will be on a weekly rotation.

    Thanks!!5 stars

  21. I have had this in my to-try list for a while. I finally did it last night and It was delicius!! The flavour was just like the ones I have tried before, but mine turned out to be to wet. I read on other comments to freeze before cooking, so I might try that next. Im already looking forward to eating them again!! :-)5 stars

    1. So happy you loved the falafel recipe, Lara! In terms of wetness, you can always add a little bit more flour next time as well. :)

      1. That can happen sometimes if you haven’t processed the mixture fine enough. Next time, try pulsing the mixture to a slightly finer texture.

    1. You can find the full instructions in the section “How To Cook Falafel – 3 Different Ways”. But here is how to do it: 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.

      1. As usual can’t go wrong with your recipes Lisa! Had my girlfriends over last night (one eat gluten free, the other is vegetarian) so I went directly to your website ;-) falafels, baba ganoush, hummus, green lentil salad and for desert the little biscuits with lemon curd from your book! Everything wa delicious! Thanks for all those “merveilles” (as we say in French ;-))5 stars

      2. Sounds like you had a fabulous dinner party! So happy you and your friends enjoyed all those recipes. :)

  22. I thought it was too wet at the end, so I added more flour (mine have fallen apart upon frying before). I thought it was still too wet, but I went with it anyway, and they turned out great. I fried mine since I was short on time. The cardamom really puts them over the top. I think that might be what my previous attempts have been missing. I would add a little more salt than what it calls for. I also formed mine then froze them for 45. I look forward to using this recipe again!5 stars

  23. Very delicious! And easy to make. I made the recipe as stated, but formed patties instead of balls. I lined a small cookie sheet with parchment and put the raw patties on it and froze them. Once frozen I carefully transferred to a freezer bag. When I was ready to eat one, I put on on a plate, microwaved for 1 minute then cooked on a pan with a tiny bit of oil until both sides browned. These are perfect with your tzatziki. Thank you for sharing!!!!5 stars