Enjoy Falafel at home with this quick, easy, gluten-free, and vegan recipe. You can either lightly fry these balls of chickpeas and herbs in a skillet or bake them in the oven until lightly golden brown. Serve them with some homemade Tzatziki sauce for an authentic Mediterranean dish that’s as good as your favorite Greek restaurant’s!
Easy Falafel Recipe
Initially making these delightful balls of fried chickpea and herbal goodness seemed extremely intimidating.
After all, it wasn’t until recently that I even knew what ingredients are in falafel, much less how to make them!
But after scouring the internet, and trying out a few different variations, I realized it’s actually a super simple Mediterranean dish to make at home.
And the recipe you see here is hands down the BEST and EASIEST way to make falafel at home. And yup, no crazy or obscure ingredients needed.
Not only is it easy to make, but it tastes as authentic as the kind found at your favorite Greek restaurant while also being quite a bit healthier for you.
Instead of deep-frying them in a bunch of unhealthy fats and oil, you can either lightly pan-sear them in a skillet or bake them in the oven until perfectly crisp!
They’re also naturally vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free so EVERYONE gets to enjoy them at the dinner table.
What is falafel?
Falafel is a dish typically served in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is a fried ball or patty made up of ground chickpeas, or fava beans, fresh herbs, garlic, and spices.
While parsley and cilantro are the most commonly used herbs, sometimes thyme and even mint are thrown into the mix.
And unless otherwise noted, traditional falafel recipes are always completely vegan and most can easily be made gluten-free, too.
What’s in it?
The ingredients found in a traditional falafel recipe are relatively easy to find in your local grocery store and include:
- Chickpeas – Canned chickpeas or dried beans can both be used in this recipe. Read below for more information.
- Herbs – Both fresh parsley and cilantro are finely chopped and are the ingredients that give falafel that distinctive green color. Curly leaf parsley is the most traditional type to use in Mediterranean cooking, but feel free to substitute with flat-leaf parsley if that’s what you have available.
- Spices – A mixture of ground cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper make up the bulk of the spices. If you like your food to have a bit of a kick, add in a pinch of cayenne pepper to make them spicy.
- Flour – All purpose flour, or a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend, acts as a binder to hold the chickpeas together.
- Baking Powder – Just a touch of this leavening agent will help your falafel balls puff up beautifully.
- Garlic – Crushed garlic cloves are added into for a bit of pungent flavor. Feel free to decrease the amount to 1-2 cloves if you don’t like too much garlic flavor.
- Onion – Red onion is the most common type to use in Greek cooking, but you can also substitute with a white, yellow, or sweet onion if that’s what you have.
Types of Chickpeas
Canned chickpeas are used in this recipe because they are incredibly quick and easy to use, and there’s no forethought needed.
If using canned beans, make sure you rinse and drain them in a colander. Dry them thoroughly before adding to the processor.
You can also learn how to cook chickpeas if you would prefer to use dried beans instead. These will definitely have the best taste and texture but do take a bit of planning ahead.
How to Make Falafel
Now that you’ve got all of your ingredients prepped and gathered together, it’s time to make the falafel “dough.”
The best and easiest way to do this is by using a large food processor fitted with an S-shaped blade. A blender can also be used, but you will not have nearly as much control over the texture of the dough.
- Add all of the falafel ingredients to a large food processor. (step 1 above)
- Pulse ingredients 30-40 times, or until the mixture just starts to clump together.* (step 2 and 3 above)
- Refrigerate mixture for 30-60 minutes to help the dough stick together.
*Cook’s Tip:Make sure you do not over mix the dough. Doing this will result in mushy falafel instead of slightly crumbly and fluffy patties!
Cooking or Baking
Lightly or deep-frying falafel is the most traditional and authentic way to cook this recipe.
However, I’ll also give you the instructions for baking them in the oven if you’d like to make them even healthier.
For both methods of cooking you’ll want to follow these steps to shape the dough:
- Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough and shape into a patty about ½-inch thick. (steps 4 and 5above)
- Repeat with the remaining falafel dough. You should end up with about 12 patties.
- You can also form them into round balls, but these take quite a bit longer to evenly cook through!
- To Cook in Skillet: (step 6 above)
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large stainless steel or non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Place 6 of the falafel into the skillet once the oil begins to sizzle and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining oil and patties.
- To Bake in Oven:
- Preheat oven to 350 °F.
- Place falafel patties evenly spaced on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Falafel is best when served immediately with some homemade tzatziki sauce.
Add it to pita bread with sliced cucumber and tomatoes.
Make a wrap with flatbread.
Or serve it as a sandwich.
Storing and Reheating
Leftover falafel will store well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
When you’re ready to reheat them, it’s best if you either warm them up in a skillet or pop them in the oven.
While you can microwave them, they will come out soggy and lose quite a bit of their crispy exterior.
Is falafel vegan?
Most falafel recipes are completely vegan and free of animal products. However, you will want to double-check that an egg was not added in as a binder.
Is falafel gluten-free?
Not all falafel is completely gluten-free since flour is often an ingredient. If ordering this dish at a restaurant, make sure to double check with the waiter to see what type of flour they use.
The recipe you’ll find below can easily be made gluten-free by using a 1-to-1 all purpose blend.
Is falafel healthy?
Since falafel is full of fiber-rich chickpeas and fresh herbs it’s a pretty healthy vegan and vegetarian dish to eat.
If you’re on a low-carb or keto diet, you’ll want to avoid this dish since it’s pretty high in carbohydrates.
Easy Falafel Recipe
Enjoy Falafel at home with this quick, easy, gluten-free, and vegan recipe. You can either lightly fry these balls of chickpeas and herbs in a skillet or bake them in the oven until lightly golden brown. Serve them with some homemade Tzatziki sauce for an authentic Mediterranean dish that's as good as your favorite Greek restaurant's!
- 15 oz. can chickpeas rinsed and drained
- ½ cup cilantro finely chopped
- ½ cup parsley finely chopped
- ½ cup red onion finely chopped
- ¼ cup flour gluten-free 1-to-1 blend
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. coriander
- Pinch of cayenne pepper optional
- ½ - ¾ tsp. salt to taste
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. avocado oil or olive oil
Add all of the ingredients, except for the oil, to a large food processor with an S-shaped blade.
Cover the processor with a lid and pulse ingredients for 30-40 times, or until the mixture just starts to clump together.
Refrigerate mixture for 30-60 minutes to help the dough stick together.
Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough and shape into a patty about ½-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining falafel dough. You should end up with about 12 patties.
To Cook in Skillet:
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large stainless steel or non-stick skillet over medium heat.
Place 6 of the falafel into the skillet once the oil begins to sizzle and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining oil and patties.
To Bake in Oven:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place falafel patties evenly spaced on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Serve falafel with Greek Tzatziki sauce and homemade pita bread. Enjoy!