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 398 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




1,083 Comments

  1. Hi, i tried this out and it turned amazing, i was afraid that it will fall apart, but it was Even better than the ones we buy from our local restaurants in Palestine And of course healthier ( i put it in the oven).
    And my mom is so proud of me :)
    Thank you so much5 stars

  2. My newly vegetarian daughter is home from school, and I have been trying to find falafel for her at the local grocery store, but they just don’t seem to have it.
    So I made your falafel recipe. Mine are not nearly as pretty as yours, but they taste amazing! My daughter is going to make them into sandwiches for dinner tonight. Thanks! I’ll keep an eye out for your recipes!5 stars

  3. I don’t usually leave comments, but everyone needs to know just how amazing this recipe is! Not only is the end product the best thing I have ever tasted, but the recipe is super easy to follow and offer alternative cooking methods. Super thankful I planned for left overs and tripled the batch to stick in the freezer.
    Side note, I subbed an alternate flour and it worked great, just had to add a little extra like the directions suggested. THANK YOU @downshiftology
    #falafel #downshiftology 5 stars

    1. Hi Megan – Thrilled to hear you’ve found a winning falafel recipe! Which alternative flour did you use by chance? Would love to know for future readers!

  4. Help. I know i know DON’T USE CANNED CHICKPEAS. Look the store is sold out and ya girl has a craving. ok. Since I have to use canned how many cans will i need? since 1 cup dried grows 2-3 times bigger. I was also going to let the canned chickpeas dry out on paper towels to help with the moisture.

    1. Hi Katrina – yes, dried chickpeas grow to approximately double their size once they’re soaked. So you’ll need two 15-ounce cans, and then use about 2 cups of those chickpeas (one can has about 1 1/2 cups of chickpeas). You might want to start with just one can though, as they will be softer, and then add more as needed. You could also try adding more flour.

    1. Hi there – If you scroll down the page, you will find the baking instructions listed, along with the other different methods :)

  5. Hi, I am going to try this for tonight but unfortunately I don’t have chick pea flour , can I substitute it for gram flour instead? As we are under lockdown atm..

    1. Hi Nandita- I haven’t tried this recipe using another flour yet, but you can definitely try. Also, note that using other flours might alter the taste just a smidge. Do let me know how it turns out though – would love to hear feedback!

  6. Hi, I’m doing this recipe for dinner tomorrow and I was wondering if it would still work well if I was to do it in an air fryer?
    I’m really looking forward to do this recipe as it looks amazing! 

    1. Hi Lara – I haven’t tried this in an air fryer, but I’m sure you can! Just might need to keep an eye on it in terms of how long to cook it.

  7. Thanks is  amazing Recipe. Mine was a little bit crumbling what can I add to put it together!?
    Thank you,

    Fio 

    1. Hi Fiorella – If it’s too dry and crumbly, you can add a teaspoon or two of water or lemon juice.

  8. Wish I had seen this recipe last night! Id like to make them tonight but is 8 hours enough of a soak? Would bringing them to a quick boil before soaking help? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kim – I would soak them for a few more hours before creating this! I wouldn’t boil as you don’t want your chickpeas to be cooked all the way :)

    2. I absolutely LOVE your channel, I am celiac and I have been following you for ever. Tonight I made falafels and followed your instructions to the teeth. The ones I cooked in the air fryer (360 for 15 minutes) turned out great. The ones I pan fried with avocado oil, they didn’t really hold together and they stickied to the pan. The flavor was amazing though! Any tips to what I might be doing wrong? My husband really enjoyed the pan fried ones though….5 stars

      1. Hi Lily – Thanks so much! I’m happy you love my recipes and videos! In order to get them to stick together better it could be a few things. You might have needed to pulse the mixture a little more. But next time you could also try adding a little more water (and sometimes flour). Hope that helps!

  9. I just used this recipe tonight along with the homemade tahini AND the tahini sauce- that’s 3 of your recipes in one day and for one meal! I’ve made falafel a handful of times in the past and could never get it just right whether it was the bits of chickpeas remaining too hard once cooked, or the raw balls falling apart when manipulating them. This recipe was perfect- I had always used an egg before to hold everything together but this recipe allowed me to discover the trick of refrigerating the mixture!! No idea why I never thought of that as I swear by refrigerating a lot of my cookie doughs etc. before cooking. Your recipes are wonderful- whether they’re staples revisited and remastered thus rendering them foolproof, or total innovations and amazing new ideas in the kitchen. Never disappointed!!5 stars

    1. Hi Kimberly – I’m so glad you finally found a winning falafel recipe! And yes, the refrigerator definitely helps with the molding of the balls. Thanks for all your support and I hope you continue to enjoy my recipes :)

  10. Hi! I made these the other day .. followed the recipe exactly … soaked dry chickpeas .. kept in fridge over an hour .. the mix was very wet … so I added 3-4 tbsps chickpea flour … made nice little patties, baked in oven, they turned out well. Were also very tasty. Wondering why the mix was so wet

    1. Hi Bernadette – Unfortunately, without being in your kitchen I don’t know why your mix may have been more wet, if you followed the recipe exactly. But it sounds like you were able to tweak the recipe and enjoy them, so yay for that!

  11. I Made this recipe and it came out perfect! I am making them again tonight along with tahini sauce to dip them in. I will not be adding the full measure of cilantro at my daughters request as she is not a fan of the ingredient, my husband and I didn’t mind the cilantro. I may also add a bit more of the pepper, as I like a bit more spice. Enjoy!5 stars

    1. Hi Kim – I’m so glad you all enjoyed this recipe! And yes, you can always adjust the ingredients for different taste profiles :)

  12. I normally wouldn’t comment, but this recipe is brilliant! We were sceptical about adding the chilli pepper but it wasn’t too spicy but added great flavour. We substituted chickpea flour for plain flour, and fried in sunflower oil and the results were still amazing. Also added more 1.5-2x the amount of salt but that comes down to preference. Apart from that we thought the ratio of the powdered spices is bang on.5 stars

    1. Hi Tamir- I’m so glad this recipe came together even with your minor adjustments :) The chili pepper isn’t too spicy when it gets blended in with the rest of the mixture!

  13. delish!!! had our 15 year old grand girl whip these up/double batch to freeze half for later. Pan fried in a wee bit of refined coconut oil. very nice recipe!! thanks :)5 stars

    1. Hi Suzi – Wow! Can’t believe she made these falafels :) I’m so glad you all enjoyed this recipe.

  14. super awesome recipe..I made them yesterday and they were instant hit..I want to make them again for a party..Can I fry them in afternoon for dinner party? how do I warm them without loosing the crunchiness?5 stars

    1. Hi Varsha – Yes, you can fry this in the afternoon even if you’re not eating it until lunch. But you will loose that slight crunch over time. It still tastes delicious though, so I wouldn’t worry :)

  15. I made this for supper tonight–my first attempt at making falafels, and they were no disappointment! In fact, they were as good as the ones we get at our favorite mid-eastern restaurant. This is really a wonderful recipe with accurate and easy directions. Thank you so much!5 stars

    1. Hi Jan – Amazing! Glad to hear your first time making falafels was a success! Now you can have restaurant quality ones at home.

  16. How many pieces is the nutrition information based on? I see this recipe makes 18 falafel balls but the nutrition info seems to refer to a few only.

      1. And how many serving is 18 balls meant for?  That 1 serving or more? Sorry for not getting this 😂5 stars

      2. There are 18 balls at 62 calories each. Most people eat about 3-4 balls per meal, but it’s up to you.

  17. Looking for healthier choices. Enjoyed the baked version of this recipe. My husband was reluctant to eat the falafels because he doesn’t like chickpeas. He really enjoyed them and will
    let me make them again, lol.5 stars

    1. Hi Jill – So glad your husband loved this recipe! And that it changed his mind about chickpeas :)

  18. I understand advertising is important for your website but I like to see the video for the recipe. where is the video for the falafel recipe? :(

    1. Hi Sandra – the video is about 1/3 of the way down the page, under the header that says “Falafel Recipe Video.” It’s a YouTube video. You can also find it on my YouTube channel.

  19. Made the recipe several times. Delicious! This is now my base for making falafel. The only thing I added was coriander. Also, add an extra sorrano pepper and a pinch of Cayenne for spiceyness.5 stars

    1. Hi Randy – Amazing! So glad you love this recipe along with your few additions. Stay tuned for tomorrow – as I will be revealing a special recipe that might have to do something with falafels in the mix :)

  20. I am looking forward to making these this week! I was wondering if it’s okay if I refrigerate the batch longer than 1 hour? 

    1. Hi Liraz – In my experience, it is better to make falafels in a food processor because it creates a better, thicker consistency which a falafel needs to hold together!

  21. The problem with this recipe is that too scrumptious! It takes enormous discipline not to gobble it all up in one go! The only change I made was adding two eggs, because the mixture just wasn’t sticking together. (I didn’t have chickpea flour, so I used almond flour – which may also be why it wasn’t sticking well.)

    Another amazing success from my new inspiration, Lisa!5 stars

  22. My son who goes to school in NYC was home and wanted some falafel. We found this recipe and made it exactly as written. It was fantastic! We were eating the mix out of the bowl before he formed it into the balls!! We also made some greek chicken for my husband for dinner because he hates chickpeas. Well guess what? He tried one then came back for three more!!!
    These are so wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.5 stars

  23. 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.5 stars

    1. These look so good!! Do you think there’s a way I could make these without a food processor? Honestly I’m on the verge of buying one just to try making these falafels… But there’s got to be an alternative way, right?

  24. 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 work5 stars

  25. 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 stars

  26. 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.. 5 stars

    1. 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 :)

  27. 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. 5 stars

  28. 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.   5 stars

    1. Hi Ashley – So glad you enjoyed these falafels with my tahini sauce! It really is a match made in heaven :)

  29. 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 ❤️5 stars

  30. 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!5 stars

  31. 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.5 stars

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

  32. 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 :D5 stars

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

  33. 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. 5 stars

  34. Made these exactly as recipe directed and shallow pan fried with grape seed oil. Delicious! They ARE the best falafel ever. 5 stars

  35. 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!! 5 stars

  36. I’ve never tried Falafel, but this recipe looks absolutely delicious! I love using Cilantro and Parsley together as well!5 stars

  37. Falafel are definitely a favorite and these look great! Love that you’ve shown how the different cooking methods compare too5 stars

    1. Thanks so much Caroline! Yes, there are several easy ways to make falafel, so it’s really up to you. No matter which method you choose, they’re all delicious!