Crispy Falafel

4.98 from 324 votes

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

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My falafel recipe is more than just a list of ingredients and how-to steps; it’s a century-old legacy wrapped in the warmth of Middle Eastern hospitality and the love of Lebanese tradition. This authentic falafel recipe has been passed down through my family over several generations; it embodies the core of family and the rich flavors that define my culture.

Plate of homemade falafel with one piece cut in half to show bright green bready insides. Small bowl of tahini sauce on plate for dipping.
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Making these falafels is like taking a journey back in time. The process, from soaking the chickpeas to blending them into a thick paste with herbs and spices, is done with patience and care. As I fry each batch of falafel, turning them until they’re just the right shade of brown and listening to them sizzle, I’m reminded of the power of food to connect us to our past, to each other, and to the simple pleasures that life has to offer. This falafel recipe isn’t just a meal; it’s a celebration of heritage and the enduring bonds of family.

This recipe is part of our monthly Cooking Challenge for April 2024! Join us in making this delicious Chocolate Olive Oil Cake for a chance to win a prize!

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 falafel 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.

Recipe At A Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: Middle Eastern
Primary Cooking Method: Stovetop
Dietary Info: Dairy Free, Vegan
Key Flavor: Herby with a hint of spice
Skill Level: Intermediate

Recipe Video Tutorial

Please note that this recipe video for falafel is from the original recipe, and has only slightly changed to use more garlic.

Ingredients to Make Authentic Falafel

Ingredients for recipe: fresh cilantro and parsley, dry chickpeas, spices, baking powder, garlic clove, onion.
  • 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, garlic is not mandatory in this falafel recipe, but garlic does help add flavor. You can substitute garlic powder here if you’d like, but I recommend fresh.
  • 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. Make sure to use aluminium-free baking powder!
  • Seasonings: Salt and pepper, cumin, and coriander.

How to Make the Falafel Batter

Step 1: Place the soaked chickpeas and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
Step 2: Pulse to fine, pebble-sized pieces.
Step 3: Add the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, and black pepper.
Step 4: Blend until the mixture turns into a thick paste, scraping down the sides as needed. Remove the blade from the bowl, cover the bowl of the food processor, and refrigerate.
Step 5: Sprinkle the baking powder over the top.
Step 6: Gently fold it throughout.

How to Make the Crispy Falafel Balls

Step 7: Using a cookie scoop, falafel scoop (or your hands), firmly pack, and roll about 1 ½ tablespoons of batter into a round ball.
Step 8: Add the falafel ball to a spoon before transferring to the hot oil.
Step 9: Carefully add a few more of the balls – 4-6 is usually good, so that you don’t overcrowd the pan or decrease the temperature of the oil too much.
Step 10: Flip and fry until golden brown and crispy.

Other Methods of Cooking Falafel

  • Air Fryer: I’ve got a whole recipe post with how to instructions for making falafel in the air fryer! It’s super simple and does cut down on the oil.
  • Baking in the oven: If you really want crispy falafel pan frying, or the air fryer is going to be your best option, but you can still make falafel in the oven if you want. Follow the recipe below for making the falafel balls; place each ball on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 1/2in of space between them. Spray them with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F and bake for about 25-30 minutes, turning them halfway through the baking time to ensure they get crispy on all sides. The falafels are done when they are golden brown and crispy on the outside. If you prefer them extra crispy, you can leave them in for a few additional minutes, watching closely to ensure they don’t burn.

Tips for Making the Best Middle Eastern 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 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 until it comes together.
  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.
Fried falafel on a paper towel lined sheet pan after frying.

What to Serve With Falafel

Two falafels torn in half and added to a pita with tomatoes, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of tahini sauce with plate of more falafel nearby.

Freezing Falafel Mix

Freezing your falafel mix is a great way to have a quick meal prep solution on hand. It’s simple and you’ll thank yourself on those busy days when you need a meal quickly. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare the Falafel Mix: Follow the falafel recipe up until the point where you would add the baking powder. Make sure your mix is well combined and ready to go.
  2. Portion the Mix: If you have a specific meal size in mind, portion your mix accordingly. This could be the amount you’d need for one family dinner or single servings, depending on your needs.
  3. Packaging: Lay out a freezer-safe zip-top bag and spoon the falafel mix into it. Flatten the mix in the bag, pushing out as much air as possible before sealing. This not only saves space but also makes it easier to break off just what you need later.
  4. Labeling: Don’t forget to label the bag with the date and contents. Falafel mix can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  5. Freezing: Place the bag flat in the freezer. If you’ve divided the mix into portions, you can freeze them separately, or you can freeze the mix as one flat block and break off pieces as needed.
  6. Cooking from Frozen: When you’re ready to cook, you can thaw the mix in the fridge overnight, or if you’ve frozen it flat and thin enough, you might be able to thaw at room temp in just a couple of hours. Just add the baking powder, mix, shape and fry per the recipe’s instructions below.

By freezing your falafel mix, you’re setting yourself up for an easy and delicious meal that can be cooked up with no fuss. Plus, it’s a great way to keep the mix fresh and reduce food waste.

Frequently asked questions

How do I store and reheat falafel?

Once cooled, place your falafel in an airtight container. You can layer them between sheets of parchment paper to prevent sticking. They’ll stay fresh in the fridge like this for up to 5 days. Keeping them in a tightly sealed container helps maintain their texture and flavor.

Reheating Falafel: To bring back that fresh, crispy texture, reheat your falafel in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 10 minutes, or until they’re heated through and crispy on the outside. You can also reheat them in an air fryer at 375°F for 3-5 minutes.

To Freeze Falafel: Place cooled falafel on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid. Transfer them to a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, bake frozen falafel in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes or until hot and crispy. No need to thaw!

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 do I know when the oil is the right temperature for frying falafel?

You can use a thermometer to check that the oil is around 350°F/175°C. Without a thermometer, drop a small piece of the mixture into the oil. If it sizzles immediately without burning, the oil is ready.

Can I make falafel without a food processor?

Yes, you can use a potato masher or a fork, but it will require more effort to achieve the fine texture needed. The mixture should not have large chunks, or it will not hold together well.

Why is my falafel falling apart when frying?

Falafel can fall apart if the mixture is too wet or hasn’t been processed enough to create the right consistency. Ensure that your chickpeas are well ground and that the mixture holds together when pressed. It’s important to dry the chickpeas really well after soaking.

Crispy falafels piled on a plate with a small bowl of tahini sauce and fresh herbs, quartered tomatoes, and pita nearby.

There we have it, a plate of falafel that’s as close to my family’s Lebanese kitchen as you can get without a plane ticket. Making them always takes me back to my roots, and there’s nothing quite like seeing that same enjoyment in the eyes of my family and friends. Whether you’re trying these out for the first time or you’re a seasoned falafel maker, I hope this recipe adds a bit of warmth and flavor to your gatherings.

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!

This falafel recipe was originally published July 30, 2019 and has recently been updated with new photography and step-by-step collage to better help make the recipe.

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Crispy Falafel Recipe

This authentic crispy falafel recipe is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with chickpeas, herbs, onion & spices – vegan, gluten-free, protein-rich
5 from 324 votes
Servings 18 servings
Course Entree
Calories 186
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Video

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound dry uncooked chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¾ cup parsley
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Neutral oil for frying
  • Tahini sauce

Instructions

  • Cover the chickpeas with water in a medium bowl. Set aside at room temperature to soak for at least 12 or up to 24 hours. They will end up doubling in size.
  • Drain the chickpeas. Rinse and dry them as thoroughly as possible — I like to use a salad spinner for this.
  • Place the chickpeas and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to fine, pebble-sized pieces. Add the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, and black pepper. Blend until the mixture turns into a thick paste, scraping down the sides as needed. Remove the blade from the bowl, then cover the bowl of the food processor and refrigerate for 1 hour (this lets allows the batter to set).
  • Remove the falafel batter from the fridge. Sprinkle the baking powder over the top, then gently fold it throughout.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and another baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Set aside.
  • Using a medium spring-loaded cookie scoop (or your hands), scoop, firmly pack, and roll about 1 ½ tablespoons of batter into a round ball and add it to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter. Don’t worry if the balls feel a little loose at first — they will bind once they fry.
  • Heat 1 inch of oil in a large, high-sided frying pan over medium heat. When a small piece of batter dropped into the oil begins to sizzle, carefully add 10 to 12 of the balls, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry until golden-brown and crispy, 3 to 3 ½ minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked falafel to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining uncooked falafel.
  • Transfer the falafel to a serving platter alongside the tahini sauce for dipping. Serve warm.

Notes

Nutrition information accounts for about ½ cup oil absorption for the full batch. This may be more or less.
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.
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.
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.

Nutrition

Calories: 186kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 507mg, Potassium: 373mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 480IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 253mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Course: Entree

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Comments

  1. Unfortunately I lost 5 falafels to the oil, I followed every instruction but they just fell completely apart the moment they touched the oil. I tested with a small piece and everything. Luckily I didn’t put too many in and was able to air fry the rest, but weren’t as crispy as I wanted. I’m not sure what I did wrong 🙁

    1. So sorry to hear. Did you make sure the chickpeas were very dry after soaking? If not, they can make the mixture too wet to hold together when fried.

  2. This falafel turned out absolutely delicious! Perfectly crispy and flavorful! It was such a great lunch option and a refreshing change since I was getting tired of having chicken, beef, and other meats. I will definitely be making it again! I had never made falafel before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this came out great!

  3. My first time making falafel, it was very easy to follow and turned out great. This recipe inspired me to buy a food processor and it was so good I doubled the recipe and shared it with family who also thought it was delicious! Love the option for baking or frying

  4. I have just tried this recipe and i wanna thank you for making falafel remind me of home and so easy and convenient to make! Highly recommend for a nice healthy lunch or even a cozy vegetarian dinner!!

  5. hi just to clarify
    is baking soda or baking powder used in the recipe
    the written recipe says baking powder and the video mention
    baking soda
    please confirm

    thanks

  6. I absolutely loved cooking these falafel. I’ve long loved falafel but never have made them before. Easy to follow directions and they came out perfect. I was so proud to feed my family this meal!

  7. I saw the recipe yesterday and I knew I have to make it ASAP, so I soaked the chickpeas overnight and made the falafel for lunch today. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – so good 😊

    1. I’ve had falafel before but always felt too intimidated to try it. Soaked the chickpeas yesterday and made it for supper tonight. Huge hit with hubby, my toddler and nearly one year old. Will definitely be making again!!

  8. Hi Yumna,

    Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my favorite cuisines of all time. Growing up, my mom used to fry up a whole bunch of falafel and we just ate with the usual toppings and either homemade or store-bought hummus. The way my mom makes her falafel is almost like yours. Thank you for the amazing recipe! 

  9. We make this dish in Iran, and also add mango powder as a seasoning to have special flavor 😋 and sometimes use sesame seeds on top of it, befor frying.

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