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)

4.96 from 425 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




1,150 Comments

  1. This was amazing! I used almond flour, needed about 3x as much as the chickpea flour. Added some freshly toasted sesame seeds. We’re not big fans of cilantro, so I used a cup of flat leaf and made up the rest w/ some curly parsley and fresh dill. Incredible! Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  2. Hello! I haven’t made this recipe yet, and I would like to… however I am apprehensive about the cilantro, as I’m one of those unfortunate people who always finds that cilantro tastes like soap. Is there another herb which might be substituted, or should I increase the parsley, or just simply omit the cilantro?

  3. These falafel are better than our local Lebanese restaurant’s version, and theirs are good. Since I discovered you a month ago, I’ve made them 4 times and am about to make a double batch of them tomorrow for a get together on Sunday. I’ve been using them with your Tahini Sauce and Cauliflower Tabbouleh, both excellent as well.

    Having made them multiple times, I have some tips that might help others. I soak the beans a full 24 hours, then rinse and drain them. I then dry them VERY VERY well. After drying them, I wrap them in a towel and put them in a bowl in the fridge for a few hours to remove any remaining moisture. These steps help the falafel batter hold up to shaping and frying MUCH better.

    I also rinse the cilantro and parsley and put it through the salad spinner, then dry it really well with a towel as I’m processing them. We’re garlic and spice lovers here so I double up on garlic and serranos.

    We eat these in pita, but I’ve been adding three of them crumbled up in salads to work every day with a diluted version of your tahini sauce and it is just fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing this super tasty recipe!! :)5 stars

    1. I’m so thrilled you love the recipe, Sandy! And wow, what a compliment. :) Thanks so much for sharing your tips as well!

      1. My pleasure, Lisa. I just made your tzatziki sauce to go along with everything else tomorrow and it is just outstanding. I normally don’t like yogurt based dressings/dips but one of my guests wanted it, and WOW! So flavorful without anything being out of balance….it’s just perfect. I must admit, it’s the first time I’ve used fresh dill, and it really shines through so nicely without overwhelming the other tasty ingredients. I’ve never had it this good in ANY restaurant I’ve had it.

        Another perfect recipe. I will leave reviews for all the recipes I’ve tried separately in the near future as they have all been stellar so far.5 stars

  4. I just tried your falafel recipe and it was sensational. They had a slight sweetness to them and were beautifully crisp outside and so full of delicious flavor. I had to add quite a bit of chickpea flour and I added sesame seeds. Delicious, and I’m a meat eater. Thank you.

    1. Happy to hear your falafel balls turned out perfectly. Who said vegetarian items weren’t delicious, ha!

  5. This was so easy to follow and so delicious to eat. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes! I made them with my son, and they all finished in ten minutes5 stars

  6. I made this tonight, and it is the best falafel ever!! Thank you.
    It held together, got crispy, and was still light. Just delicious5 stars

  7. I haven’t made this yet but SERIOUS question. I hydrated my chick peas overnight and they only doubled.  Not tripled.  Should I use 3 cup or 2 cups hydrated?

    Hoping to get an answer before I prepare these for our wedding :)5 stars

    1. Hi Michelle – you should use 3 cups hydrated. But make sure to read the tips about adding more flour or water, should you need to tweak the recipe slightly. And congrats on your wedding! :)

  8. This is my go to recipe now for making falafal. I have used this recipe many times and they always turn out fantastic. Sometimes I use half cardamom and half cinnamon. I have only baked mine according to your directions on parchment paper at 425 degrees and used avocado oil for 25-30 minutes flipping halfway through. I use a round open top biscuit cutter to get the shape. I just fill the biscuit cutter with falafal mixer and move it around the cookie sheet.5 stars

  9. I’ve got a cooking club day after tomorrow, tested one and it’s da bomb! Can the dough be stored? Refrigerator or freezer?5 stars

    1. You can freeze the dough mixture. When you’re ready to cook, thaw the mixture in the fridge, stir it, then form in balls or patties and cook. Cooked falafel doesn’t store well as the outside becomes soft.

  10. I love this recipe so much! Especially the touch of cardamom *swoon*. I’ve only ever air-fried these and they always turn out great. Thank you!5 stars

  11. Tastes very good. I used Desi Chickpeas. Is there a difference between Desi and Regular Chickpeas?5 stars

    1. Yes, there is a difference between the two! Desi chick peas are typically brown in color and smaller than Kabuli (regular) chickpeas.

  12. We just made these for a cooking class. We shaped them into about 1/2″ patties and deep fried them. THEY ARE THE BEST!!!! Thank you so much for the recipe. It definitely makes a difference to use dried chick peas, soak them overnight, rather than use canned ones. We’ll definitely be making these again! Thank you!!!!5 stars

  13. I was so sad they totally fell apart when deep fried. After all that work. Now I’m trying to strain out oil from what’s left of them, and I can’t stand to throw it away. I’m trying to figure out how to use the oily mess. (I do have some leftover falafel mix I bake with today, Fingers crossed they stay together. Yes, I’ll add a little more chickpea flour)3 stars

  14. Hi there. I keep seeing all the comments about the chickpeas.. do I just use 1 cup dried and soak? Or am I using 3? I thought we just follow the recipe. 
    Also.. how many tbs per ball?

  15. Made this this morning. Baked them since I can’t do a lot of oil. Came out perfect. I am also a bariatric patient so these come in handy for a snack with protein. Made 22 patties for me.5 stars

  16. I’m just about to make these and debating on the cooking method. I am curious to know which cooking method you reference in the nutritional facts. Just wanting to know how naughty I can be in terms of shallow fry vs deep fry vs baking.

    My rating is based on the ingredient list so let’s hope I chose well ;)5 stars

  17. Delicious!  Followed the recipe exactly.  Air fryer for 12 minutes,  turning over after 6 minutes.
    I made them into balls, if made into patties I’d air fry for less time.5 stars

    1. Good to know these turned out perfectly in the air fryer Tina! I’ll have to give that a try next time :)

  18. Can regular all-purpose flour be substituted for the chickpea flour?? This recipe is really good as is……..¡!5 stars

  19. Already made it twice, it’s amazing!!
    I made a big batch and froze most of it, as it’s so easy to cook from frozen. For when we are hungry but lazy to cook, to make wraps takes 10min.
    I used to think that I don’t like falafels, as I never liked ones I tried from street shops or take out. I’m now converted, and I love falafels5 stars

  20. It’s been a long time since I had falafel. I know I liked them, but these are fantastic. I think I needed to pulse them more, but they were still really good. We had a busy day and it was late until I got around to putting all the ingredients together. I made 2 of them, couldn’t wait. Will make the rest tomorrow. Hopefully the dough will be okay.5 stars

  21. Thank you for the recipe. I have a lot of fresh fava beans from my garden. Can I just substitute them for the chickpeas? Or, are there adjustments that I would have to make?

  22. I’ve never made falafel before but I always loved them, so I decided to make them for my food tech assessment task at school. I just finished making these at home to make sure the recipe was doable in my 100 minute time slot (it is!), and omg it was so goodddd!!!!! Love these so much, saving the recipe, making it again! :)4 stars

  23. Hands down best falafel I’ve ever tried and so easy. I absolutely love your recipes Lisa. Much love and appreciation from downunder Australia 🇦🇺
    Cheers!5 stars

  24. I’ve been making these for a couple of years, and love the flavor. However, I’ve tried two food processors and in both of them I cannot get the ingredients to pulse fully without numerous redistributions. It just seems too dry.

    If anyone can suggest a food processor that will work better I would really appreciate it.

    Also interested in food processor size. My 8 cup seems too small so it is always a struggle.

    Thank you in advance!5 stars

    1. Have you tried putting the herbs in first? I find when the chickpeas are at the bottom it gets too dense and the lighter ingredients can’t reach the blades without some manual redistribution (as you mentioned). Try putting the parsley and cilantro first, then onion, garlic and pepper, and then chickpeas and spices. Cheers!5 stars

    2. I have a small processor as well. I tend to have everything chopped up (I cook 2x the amount so I can freeze some) and do it bit by bit (some greens, handful of chickpeas, some garlic, some onion). This tends to work. I give the processor a good shake and scrape it with a spatula and then go again. And then maybe repeat a third time. Takes a bit longer but the end result is perfect. Hope this helps!5 stars

    3. Absolute perfection. The only change I made was frying them in olive oil since that’s all I had on hand and they came out great. Perfect texture and super flavourful— even my mom who’s always hated falafel thought they were delicious. Thank you so much for posting this amazing recipe!5 stars

    4. I completely understand. I’ve read that a meat grinder works amazingly to make fluffy falafels5 stars

      1. Hello, it looks so delicious and I love falafel. I want to meal prep for the week. you may have answered this and I just missed it but how long will the mixture keep in the refrigerator? Thank you!5 stars

      2. These are so delicious! And I have made them multiple times since I came across the recipe earlier in the month.
        Can I refrigerate the mixture for longer than an hour? ( Possibly up to 6 hours) or will this impact the quality ? I want to have the mixture prepped in the am then form and cook them when I get home from work5 stars

  25. I should have read the whole thing first; mainly the part about one cup =3 cups of chickpeas. I didn’t know that and ended up with the recipe x9…good thing it is for a birthday party so hopefully people will eat them all. 

    1. Me too. I doubled all the other ingredients because I had two cups once soaked. When I realized that the recipe is using 3 cups after soaked…I added cooked chickpeas to make 6 cups of chickpeas total. I guess I should print and make notes.

  26. Invest in a falafel maker(Amazon sells them); more authentic. It produces thin discs that cook more evenly in hot oil i.e. The center of a ball will tend to be slightly undercooked. Also the maker does not compress the disc the way that the scoop does which makes for a lighter result. And the discs look like coins which is cool!5 stars

  27. Thank you very much. It was my first homemade falafel and pita. I tried three different ways to cook it to fry in oil, to air fry and to bake in the oven. The best falafel was fried in the oil eventually. The recipe is super easy to follow and all came out perfect!

  28. This recipe was absolute perfection. I love the kick the Serrano pepper gave it. Served with some pita, hummus and tzatziki and it was a huge hit! Adding this to our regular dinner rotation!5 stars

  29. Although I have a great hummus recipe based on chickpeas that we make all the time at home I have not been a big fan of falafel balls in the past as often been dry and bland when I have ordered them at restaurants or have tried a recipe. But this recipe is fantastic with so much flavor and beautiful color and also the dressing was a great compliment to dip them in. A big hit with my family. Congrats for nailing it and sharing with us .5 stars

  30. I love falafel, but my fav restaurant is 45 mins away. This recipe is great….good balance of flavors, the peppers add just the right amount of heat.5 stars

  31. I haven’t cooked them yet but only used 2 cups cooked chickpeas because I didn’t see at the end of the recipe notes that 1 cup dry = 3 cups cooked. Had read somewhere else that they double not triple when cooked.  Soooo will see how they bake and taste.  Also there’s no way I could get 3 cups of chickpeas with the rest of the ingredients into my 6” La machine old food processor.  I also notice that mine is not nearly as green.  May not have processed long enough but didn’t want it to be mush.  I used curly parsley and did not pack down the 1 cup cilantro so maybe could have used more?  🤷‍♀️ I skipped the pepper and added about 1/2 tsp Korean pepper flakes. 5 stars

  32. I love this falafel recipe as an alternative to meat. Extra cumin makes it perfect for me, and I love that green color 💚5 stars

  33. I made them the other night and baked them at a lower temp 375 as I had spinach & feta pies in the oven as well. They turned out amazing and were so easy and yummy. I’m not a fan of cilantro, but made them anyways. . What can I use next time instead of the cilantro?
    Definitely a keeper and will make again5 stars