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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!

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 50 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.
  • 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.
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153 comments on “Falafel”

  1. DO NOT USE CANNED CHICKPEAS.

    I have made this recipe many times and the falafel always comes out amazing ❤ even made them for the family at christmas for nibles.
    This time around I got a bit cocky and used canned chickpeas and nonono I learnt my lesson… fried them and they just dissolved.

  2. Super!!! Turned out great. Husband approved who is a very picky eater :)

  3. I love this recipe, and especially that you took the time to show different methods of cooking. I’d go for baked as I avoid too much oil. Thank you for that beautiful work

  4. Thanks for the recipe! I followed it exactly and they were perfect. Taste and texture was excellent. I cooked them in a cast iron pan with a little avocado oil. Flattened them a bit so both sides cooked evenly. 

  5. I have to admit, I will be trying all your recipes.
    Made falafel two days in a row, one time for lunch and the next day for high tea party. Everyone loved it. I served it with the Israeli salad and roasted red pepper hummus.. so good… My love for cooking is growing with each passing day and I can’t thank you enough.. 

    • Hi Shalini – So happy to hear everyone loved these falafels along with the red pepper hummus! Thanks so much for your support and I’m glad I can inspire you to cook healthy again :)

  6. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I have been making falafels for a long time, but they were never as good as these. 

  7. Third time, love it. easy peasy and I love your instruction. Thanks.

  8. Made this tonight and paired it with your tahini sauce and Israeli salad recipes. It was delicious and another successful Downshiftology meal! Thank you so much for your fresh recipes and all the hard work you put in to make sure they’re perfect every time.   

  9. Has by one attempted to make these with canned chickpeas? It’s all I have on hand… 

  10. I heard what you called zucchini sauce but I did not find a recipe on your site((

  11. Why are my chickpeas still taste raw after soaking for over 20 hours? 

  12. I’ve tried several falafel recipes but none of them were as good as this one. My friends who are not vegetarians tried it and loved it as well ❤️

  13. I loved this! I’ve made it a couple of times and I love how easy it is!

  14. I’ve tried making falafel several times with every attempt a failure. I’d all but given up until I tried this recipe. It was bloody delicious, relatively simple and now a keeper. 

    Thank you!

  15. I wish I could give this more than 5 stars!! I love to cook and constantly try new recipes, and this was one of my all time favorites to make. It was fun, fairly simply, and absolutely delicious. I felt like a true chef by following this recipe! My husband and I couldn’t get enough of them.

    • Hi Becca – Thrilled to hear you and your husband loved this recipe! Now you’re a master in one of my favorite Mediterranean dishes :)

  16. I never knew I could bake my Falafel in the oven! this is genius! Also I love your herb-packed version and the tahini sauce is our new favourite :D

    • Hi Katharina – That is definitely one way to do it! Happy to hear you enjoyed it, as well as the tahini sauce :)

  17. I loved this recipe! It was so easy to make and they turn out perfect! Thank you Lisa!

  18. Indeed the best falafel recipe ever! So tasty. I tried the oven and I pan fried them and the second method worked better for me. I actually froze some baked leftovers and reheated them in the oven covered with kitchen foil, even though you warned me not to. They were actually great. 

  19. Made these exactly as recipe directed and shallow pan fried with grape seed oil. Delicious! They ARE the best falafel ever. 

  20. Can I leave the chickpeas to soak overnight?

  21. Just made these! Loved it!! So easy to make them and so delicious!! I used oat flour and cake out good as well. 😋😋 thank you Lisa!! 

  22. I’ve never tried Falafel, but this recipe looks absolutely delicious! I love using Cilantro and Parsley together as well!

  23. Falafel are definitely a favorite and these look great! Love that you’ve shown how the different cooking methods compare too