Lebanese Crispy Falafel

4.95 from 89 votes

This authentic crispy Lebanese falafel recipe is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with chickpeas, herbs, onion & spices - vegan, gluten-free, protein-rich

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Falafel is an iconic popular street food in the Middle East that’s vegan, protein-rich and surprisingly easy to make! My authentic Lebanese recipe is one that I watched my mom make since I was a kid. You can make crispy falafel at home and have it taste just like it’s from the streets of Lebanon, and I’m going to show you how with only a handful of ingredients.

Falafel patties with falafel sauce, pita and tomatoes

What is falafel?

Falafel is a Middle Eastern recipe that is basically mashed chickpeas with herbs and seasonings formed into patties and fried. It’s a traditional food in Lebanon that’s made with only a few ingredients and served plain with tahini sauce, hummus, or garlic sauce for dipping, or as a falafel sandwich or falafel wrap. The patties have an irresistible crispy exterior and soft bright green interior.

While it originated in the Middle East, falafel is now a very popular street food recipe that’s made all over the world. There are loads of recipe variations, but at its core is soaked chickpeas, parsley and/or cilantro and Middle Eastern seasoning. In many regions, it’s also made with fava beans. Traditionally, falafel is fried, which is the way I would recommend making them, but below I share the baked falafel and fried falafel instructions.

Close up shot of falafel patties with sesame seeds sprinkled on top

What is falafal made of?

There are many variations of the falafel recipe. The one I’m sharing is one I learned from my Lebanese parents and enjoyed while growing up. I kept the recipe authentic the way it’s traditionally prepared in Lebanon. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Chickpeas: Use high quality dry chickpeas that come in a bag. Check the expiration date to make sure they are fresh. Do not substitute with canned chickpeas.
  • Fresh herbs: Parsley and cilantro are a must in any falafel recipe. You can do equal parts of both or add more of one kind if you prefer. Make sure the herbs are washed and thoroughly dried.
  • Onion: 1 small onion is all you need. Don’t substitute onion powder because the fresh onions add texture, a touch of moisture and extra flavor to the patties.
  • Garlic: Surprisingly, the garlic is not mandatory in this Lebanese recipe, but one garlic does help add flavor. You can substitute garlic powder here if you’d like, but I recommend fresh.
  • Flour: You only need two tablespoons for a cup and half of dry chickpeas. The flour helps to absorb the moisture from the herbs and onions and bind it together.
  • Baking powder: This is optional, but I recommend adding it right before baking or frying the falafel. It’s a raising agent that helps to give it a light and fluffy texture.
  • Seasonings: Salt and pepper, cumin and coriander.
Ingredients to make the recipe: chickpeas, cilantro, parsley, onions, spices

How to make falafel

Soak chickpeas

The first step of making this falafel recipe happens in advance of actually cooking the recipe. You need to soak dry chickpeas with enough water to cover them completely at room temperature. After a few hours (or ideally 12 hours overnight), the chickpeas will absorb most of the water and double in size. Don’t cook the chickpeas. They will stay raw, but soaking them will soften them enough to use in this recipe.

Collage showing dried chickpeas, then soaked chickpeas 24 hours later

Make falafel patties

Start by grinding the chickpeas until they’re powder-like. I prefer to do this step first before adding the other ingredients. It limits the amount of time you’ll need to blend everything else, which makes it less likely that the mixture will become too mushy.

Collage showing food processor grinding chickpeas

Next, add the herbs, onions, garlic, flour and seasoning. It works well if you can blend on low or pulse at this point. You want the mixture to get blended but not overly soft and mushy. You’re looking for a coarse paste, ideally.

Collage showing chickpeas with herbs, onions and spices before and after blending

Now the mixture is ready, but it’s best to refrigerate it for a couple hours to allow the chickpeas to properly absorb the flavors and set. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Alternatively, you can freeze the falafel mixture in a freezer-safe bag or container. It will keep well for up to 3 months.

Collage showing Falafel mixture in a bowl for refrigerate and also in freezer-safe bag ready to be frozen

When you’re ready to fry or bake the falafel, remove from the fridge, mix in some baking powder and form the patties. There is a special falafel scoop that I use to make the shapes perfectly round and even. This scoop makes about 36 patties, each 1.5 inches in diameter. You can also use a meat baller, ice cream scooper, two spoons or your hands. While you’re forming the patties, you can lay them on parchment paper or wax paper.

Falafel patties ready to be baked or fried

Then fry or bake the falafel depending on your preference. My preference? 100% fry!

Fried falafel instructions

You can do traditional deep frying or skillet shallow frying. I opt for the latter because it’s easier, uses less oil and still results in a wonderfully crispy falafel patty and deliciously soft interior. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat for a couple minutes until it’s hot. Then slowly fry the patties small batches at a time about 2-3 minutes per side.

The color will turn golden brown, and that’s how you’ll know they’re ready. Rest them on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil and then serve warm!

Fried falafel on paper towel

Baked falafel instructions

Alternatively, you can make baked falafel with the patties. Spray the falafel lightly with some cooking spray and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. This is a healthier option because you’ll use less oil in the process, but result is a more dense and dry patty. Instead of getting a crispy brown exterior, the falafel will brown in the middle mostly and form small cracks. It will still taste great, but the texture is just more appetizing when fried.

Baked falafel patties

How do you eat falafel?

Alone with falafel sauce

Because falafel basically is a chickpea patty that can be dry on its own, it’s always served with a falafel sauce, which is also known as tahini sauce. It’s simply made with tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and salt; and has a tangy nutty flavor that really complements the taste of the falafel. You can also serve it with hummus or garlic sauce.

Tahini sauce to serve with the recipe

In a sandwich or wrap

The most popular way is to eat it as a falafel sandwich or falafel wrap, generally stuffed in pita with vegetables like tomatoes, pickles, onions and parsley and of course the falafel sauce.

Falafel sandwich made with pickles, tomatoes, parsley and tahini sauce

In a salad

Because it’s an excellent source of plant-based protein, it’s also very common, especially in the U.S., to eat falafel on top of salads to make a complete meal. I would highly recommend it with these salads:

Tips for making homemade falafel

  1. Do not use canned chickpeas! Use dried chickpeas and soak them. This is the most important tip when making your own falafel. The problem with canned chickpeas is they are too soft and moist to yield a crispy exterior falafel texture. If you do use canned chickpeas, you’ll have to compensate for the moisture by adding more flour, which changes the essence of the recipe.
  2. Allow time for the mixture to set in the fridge. This time helps the ingredients bind well together and also helps the flavor develop in the mixture; so don’t skip the resting time in the fridge.
  3. Make sure the patties hold well together before frying. The mixture should feel moist and paste-like, but not too wet. It should feel compact before dropping it in the oil. If it’s not, you may need to pulse it more in the food processor or add an extra tablespoon of flour to the mixture.
  4. Use a high smoke point oil for frying. Some olive oils may work for this depending on their smoke point. But to be safe, use an oil meant for deep frying like grapeseed oil, sunflower oil or canola oil.

Frequently asked questions

Is falafel a healthy food?

Falafels are fried, so they aren’t healthy in that term, but, they are made from all natural ingredients, are high in protein and fiber, and one comes in at around 75 calories.They are perfect to enjoy as part of a well balanced diet, and homemade is for sure healthier than store bought!

Is falafel generally vegan?

My falafel recipe, like most recipes, is dairy-free and vegan.

Can I use dried herbs to make falafel?

Because there are minimal ingredients in this homemade falafel recipe, the herbs make up a big roll in the texture and flavor. I do not recommend substituting with dried herbs.

How long do falafels keep?

Once you have made the falafels, let them cool to room temperature, and you can store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. You can also freeze them and then reheat in the oven. Falafel can be eaten hot or cold.

Large platter of Lebanese falafel served with tahini sauce and lemons

Forget the powdered falafel mixes and store-bought greasy falafel, and try my homemade falafel recipe. My recipe makes a double batch of the mixture because it’s a great make-ahead recipe. Hope you try this authentic version I learned from my family, and share it with your family!

More Lebanese recipes

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Lebanese Falafel recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

Lebanese Crispy Falafel Recipe

This authentic crispy Lebanese falafel recipe is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with chickpeas, herbs, onion & spices – vegan, gluten-free, protein-rich
5 from 89 votes
Servings 18 servings
Course Entree
Calories 149
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound dry chickpeas
  • ¾ cup parsley stems removed
  • cup cilantro stems removed
  • 1 small onion quartered
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Oil for frying grapeseed, sunflower or canola work well
  • Sesame seeds optional, for sprinkling

Instructions

  • 24 hours in advance, soak chickpeas in enough water to cover them. The next day, they will double in size. Drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas thoroughly.
  • Place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and blend until they're powder-like. Add the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, flour, salt, cumin, coriander, and black pepper and blend until the mixture turns to paste, scraping down the sides as needed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour to set. When ready to make, sprinkle baking powder on the falafel mix, and fold in gently.
  • Scoop the falafel using a falafel scoop, an ice cream scoop, meat baller or your hands. Form a round ball with the falafel, each with about 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture. The balls may feel loose at first but they will bind once they fry. Makes roughly 36 falafel patties. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the patties, if desired

Frying Instructions

  • Heat 1 inch deep of cooking oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Gently place in the frying pan until the color turns brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan and fry in batches as needed.
  • Remove the falafel from the oil with a slotted spoon, and set on a plate lined with paper towel to dry out the excess oil.

Baking Instructions

  • Place the falafel balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Video

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 4-5 days in the fridge. To reheat, just place in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Freezing Instructions: You can also freeze the cooked falafel for up to 3 months. Place the cooled falafel on a baking sheet in the freezer until they are completely frozen. Then transfer them to freezer bags or an airtight container. To reheat the frozen falafel, bake in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes, or until until warmed through and crispy.
You can freeze the mixture as a whole. Transfer it to a freezer-safe bag or container. When ready to cook, allow the mixture to thaw in the fridge, then form into patties and follow the frying or baking instructions.
Sourcing: You can find dried chickpeas at Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or even in large supermarkets, often located with other Middle Eastern ingredients or other legumes.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
  • Instead of using only chickpeas, you can add some soaked fava beans as well to the mixture. I don’t recommend completely substituting with only fava beans though.
  • You can use only parsley or only cilantro if you prefer, but it’s best made with both types of fresh herbs.
  • To make this gluten-free, use an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. Do not substitute only almond flour or only coconut flour.
Equipment: I use the Kitchen Aid food processor to make the falafel mixture. The 11 cup bowl is large enough to fit half the recipe, and grinds the chickpeas very efficiently.
To shape the falafel patties, I use this falafel scoop.  It’s stainless steel and works not only for falafel but also meatballs, patties, etc. It makes each patty about 1.5 inches in diameter.
Nutritional Data: Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. It will vary based on the specific ingredients you use. The nutrition value assumes that the falafel makes 36 balls for 18 total servings, but this may vary based on the size of your patties

Nutrition

Calories: 149kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 594mg, Potassium: 405mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 386IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 63mg, Iron: 3mg

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Large platter of Lebanese falafel served with tahini sauce and lemons

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Comments

  1. In the video, you measure salt by the teaspoon, but in the printed recipe by the tablespoon. This is my first time watching the video, but I’ve made the recipe (and loved it!) from the printed version. I don’t mind my food salty, but I’m curious which unit of measure you actually would recommend.

    Later in the video, you say to use baking soda, but in the printed version you say baking powder. Or does using soda with less salt result in something similar to using baking powder and more salt?

    Also, many thanks for teaching the correct way to pronounce “falafel”!

    1. I would stick to the printed recipe, but you can adjust as needed! The baking powder is optional, but I recommend adding it right before baking or frying the falafel. It’s a raising agent that helps to give it a light and fluffy texture.

  2. Ive made this recipe twice already and my Lebanese family loves it! Others will use powdered boxed falafel, but you can truly taste the difference. Making it again this week!! Thanks Yumna! Love all your recipes ❤️

  3. I made this recipe recently for my wife and I. We enjoyed the end result. The fried falafel patties were crispy and tasty. However, the recipe was much more challenging that I expected. I used a KitchenAid food processor (a “standard” size), and discovered that it was much too small to grind up all the chickpeas at once. I had to dump them out and put back half of them.
    I found that one fourth of the resulting paste was enough to make a dozen patties–plenty for two. I froze the rest of the paste in three portions.
    It would be helpful if the recipe cautioned users not to try to grind all the chickpeas at once.

    1. I’m glad you both enjoyed it! I didn’t run into that issue, but I will take that into consideration for those who are using that method/ equipment!

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