Homemade falafel are golden brown and crispy on the outside, yet fluffy, tender and soft inside, bringing satisfaction and nourishment with every bite. These delicious Middle Eastern vegan fritters are loaded with chickpeas, garlic, fresh herbs, and seasoning, shaped into balls, and fried to crisp perfection. Serve them on their own with tahini sauce, wrapped in pita bread, in vegetarian sandwiches, or on salads, to add more plant-based protein into your diet.
Why You’ll Love Homemade Falafel
- They are deep-fried but still healthy. Fried foods live in a special place in my heart between satisfaction and guilt. But with falafel, you get all the good and none of the bad. Falafel features a deliciously crisp exterior that contains fluffy, tasty insides that satisfy and nourish. And although deep-frying raises their fat and calorie content, they are still healthy and a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant-based protein.
- It's perfect for Meatless Mondays. Falafel is naturally vegan and vegetarian, and high in plant-based protein. They make an excellent meat substitution for vegan and vegetarian diets. Plus, leave out the flour, and they can be gluten-free too.
- You can serve it in endless ways. Falafel is good on almost anything. Eat these versatile bites in between pita bread, dip it in tahini sauce, have it with basmati rice, add it to salads, or make a shawarma wrap or sandwich with it. The ways to eat falafel are truly endless.
Ingredients and Substitutions
To make delicious homemade falafel, you will need the following ingredients (full quantities in recipe card below):
- chickpeas - you need to soak raw dried chickpeas overnight (not canned chickpeas), so you will need to plan ahead if making these and start the process at least the night before.
- herbs - use a combination of fresh parsley, cilantro, and dill.
- seasoning - cumin, cardamom (or Italian seasoning), salt, and pepper.
- all-purpose flour - this is optional, and only needed if your mixture is too wet. Flour will help hold the falafel together when deep frying.
- baking soda
- vegetable oil - for frying
- tahini sauce - I highly recommend serving falafel with tahini sauce. They complement each other so well. You can use store-bought sauce or make homemade tahini sauce yourself in just 5 minutes.
How to Make the Best Falafel
- Soak the chickpeas. Fill a large mixing bowl with water and add the dried chickpeas. Soak them overnight (8-10 hours or longer). Make sure all the chickpeas are completely submerged in water the whole time.
- Combine the ingredients. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and transfer into a food processor. Add onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro, dill, cumin, cardamom, salt, and pepper. Pulse on an off for about 1 minute until a fine consistency is achieved. Transfer the falafel mixture into a large mixing bowl and stir in flour (optional) and baking soda until evenly combined. If the mixture is too wet, then adding flour will help keep the falafel from falling apart when being fried.
- Refrigerate. Cover the bowl with plastic cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This helps the mixture soak in all the flavor.
- Shape the falafel. Apply some water to your hands to prevent sticking and use your hands to shape the falafel into 1-inch balls (like meatballs). Alternatively, you can use an ice cream scoop to form into even rounds.
- Cook the falafel. Add oil into a cooking pot at least 2-inches deep. Heat over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes until the oil is sizzling hot and shimmering. Deep fry the falafel in batches (about 4-5 pieces each time) until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the falafel occasionally to get an even golden crust on all sizes. Transfer the falafel to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
How to Cook Falafel in the Air Fryer
Preheat the air fryer to 375 F, about 3 minutes. Place falafel in a single layer in the air fryer basket and lightly spray with cooking oil to coat evenly. Air fry the falafel for 12-14 minutes until browned. Shake the basket halfway during cooking to brown evenly.
- Serve. Serve warm with tahini sauce and a sprinkle of chopped parsley on top.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Tips for frying falafel: When frying foods, it’s essential to maintain the right temperature oil. Ensure your oil is fully preheated before introducing the falafel patties. Keep in mind that the cold patties will lower the oil temperature too.
- How to store: Before storing falafel, allow them to cool completely to room temperature on a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool, place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4-6 days.
- How to reheat: For best results, reheat leftover falafel in a preheated 350F oven or air fryer for 10-20 minutes until warm and crisp. You can also microwave leftover falafel, but it will lose some of its crispiness.
More Middle Eastern Recipes
- Chicken Shawarma
- Classic Hummus
- Homemade Pita Bread
- Persian Shirazi Salad with Cucumber and Tomato
- Baba Ganoush Eggplant Dip
- Persian Saffron Chicken Kebabs (Joojeh Kabob)
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.