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)

5 from 188 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: 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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Originally published July 2019, but updated to include new information. 

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585 comments on “Falafel”

  1. I just made your falafel recipe and am so excited. So much yummm!!!  Better than I’ve had an any restaurant. Ever. Maybe reminiscent of my memory of street vender falafel in Egypt, but since my memory is foggy, I’m going to say your recipe is even better. These are going to be a staple in my family. So good!!!5 stars

  2. My paste was wet and could not stick together even after adding flour .

    Maybe the herbs need to be dried?

  3. Does anyone know if the 62 calories is per 1/18 ball? Tia x

    • Hi Rebecca – The nutritional information will always be per serving. In this case, yes, it’s for each ball!

  4. Dear Lisa,
    I’am from Germany and occasionally tripped over your videos on YouTube. 
    I already prepared your falafel recipe twice. I put some guacamole on tortillas, added lettuce, the falafel and some yogurt mint sauce. Delicious!!!

    And I nearly can’t believe it: Even my husband said it was delicious. Normally he is not so much into healthy food.

    Thank you for your recipe!

    Jessica 5 stars

  5. I’ve made this three times (so far) and it has come out perfect every time. Thank you for the perfect falafel recipe!5 stars

  6. This is truly the worlds best falafel recipe. I made them last night and can’t stop thinking about them! They are insane when freshly cooked and almost as delicious cold from the fridge. Please make these!!!5 stars

  7. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I am a really big Falafel fan but could never been bothered to make them myself.
    This recipe is the best. Easy and super delicious. Tastes as good as the ones I had in Beirut.

    Thank you so much for sharing it with us.5 stars

  8. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I was able to make the most delicious falafels I have ever tasted, thanks to you!

    I followed all the instructions, and the falafels turned out wonderfully. I added about an extra 1-2 tsps of chickpea flour to the mixture after letting it sit in the fridge since the mixture was not forming into a ball, and this worked well.

    I used the pan frying method which was fast, efficient, and the resulting falafels had a yummy crunch and a soft centre. It was honestly the perfect falafel.

    I highly recommend anyone who is contemplating whether they should make this recipe.. to go on and make this recipe!! I made some homemade hummus and used dollops of it while eating each falafel bite and it was heavenly :D.

    <35 stars

  9. Wish someone would come up with a quick recipe using chickpea flour instead of the soaking method and dry herbs. Would make a nice gift to family members hou will not bother with fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley. Then all they need do is add the wet ingredients.

  10. Want to try this because of all the good reviews but uncooked chickpeas… is that really ok to eat? My mum gets gassy even with cooked chickpeas, so would these be worse or the same? Would you recommend I prepare them differently? 

    • I thought the same thing at first and then realized that baking or frying them IS cooking them, right?

    • The chickpeas are cooked after you process the ingredients into a batter. You are not eating the raw batter.

      If chickpeas are precooked then you would be over cooking.

    • The chickpeas get cooked when the whole mixture is made into balls or patties and cooked

  11. Delicious flavor! I did have some trouble with the consistency of the dough and as a result frying became quite a challenge. I did follow the tips but I really had trouble trying to figure out if it needed more liquid or chickpea flour. Next time I think I need to go beyond the “coarse sand” I texture. Thoughts?4 stars

    • Hi Rory – when you say you had trouble with the consistency, I’m not sure if you meant it was too dry or too wet? But yes, sometimes pulsing to a finer texture helps it all stay together better. Glad you enjoyed the flavor!

  12. Made these yesterday and my daughter is still raving about then. Said they were better than any she had out.
    We had the leftovers for lunch today and they were just as good.
    Thanks a mil!5 stars

  13. Looks amazing! I’ve never tried making falafel myself, but this looks so appetizing and easy I just might! – Gustavo Woltmann5 stars

  14. I never had falafel, but after watching the tempting video of the recipe, I will definitely give this recipe a try. 5 Star to this.5 stars

  15. Could I let mixture sit for more than an hour? 

  16. I don’t have parsley. Can I just do 1 cup of cilantro?

  17. Most delicious and so easy to prepare.
    I used the measurements according to the recipe and it was so good!
    Thank you5 stars

  18. Have you seen if anyone has tried this with sprouting the chickpeas, rather than just soaking them? I love falafel, and chickpeas too, but uncooked chickpeas I fear would totally tear up my stomach, so I’m trying to think how I could make this recipe gentler without cooking the peas. TIA!

  19. Thank you for this recipe! I’ve never made falafel before. You mentioned we could freeze this mixture, but is it ok if I just store it in the fridge for about a week and bake it in portions throughout the week?

  20. i have just made this recipe but I had to add one extra cup of chickpea flour in order to make the little patties firm. Otherwise they would become all crumps. Do you have any other suggetion to make the mixture glue together?

  21. OMG ! This recipe is awesome. I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfect! I made the isreali salad also, and it was so good with the falafel.5 stars

  22. Can I sub the parsley for something else? 

  23. I made this recipe last night and they turned out very well! Super tasty and I was pleased with the crunch/crust that formed when pan frying them. I’m glad to learn the mixture freezes well as I likely will not use the entire batch this week. 5 stars

  24. Even though I didn’t have peppers or the cumin, this recipe was perfect.  It went over so well with the family so I just did a double batch for the freezer!  Thank you!  5 stars

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