Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
Homemade falafel is easier than you think! Using canned chickpeas and only a handful of ingredients, this easy falafel recipe is perfect for weeknights, with traditional fried, baked and air-fryer directions.
As a longtime vegetarian, it’s no surprise that I love falafel. Fried, baked, air-fried, in a sandwich, in a salad, or dipped into a herbed tahini sauce, there’s no way not to love falafel.
So, when my chef assistant, Melanie, told me she had nailed the perfect falafel, I couldn’t wait to try it. You are going to love this one. Crispy on the outside, just soft enough on the inside, I ate almost the entire batch while first testing. They are that good.
And then, just because we can, we take this falafel recipe up a notch with a green tahini sauce and homemade flatbread. The flatbread is totally optional, and yes, a store-bought pita (or no pita) totally works. But, if you want the take-out falafel sandwich of your dreams– make the flatbread too.
This is the real deal recipe because it’s fried! I know– I’m a dietitian, but I’m telling you, this one is totally worth breaking out the oil for. One, because as long as you fry at the correct temperature, you aren’t absorbing as much of the oil as you think, and two, because I rarely eat fried foods but make an exception when it’s worth it.
Traditional falafel is made by soaking garbanzo beans and then grinding them without cooking. That method is delicious but also time-consuming. This falafel recipe uses canned chickpeas for ease but tastes just as great.
I give you directions for making these in the air fryer and baking them, and while they are still delicious that way, they are better when fried. Especially when paired with the pillowy flatbread and homemade green tahini sauce!
Here’s what you’ll need to make this falafel recipe:
That’s it! We love how this falafel recipe is made with mostly pantry ingredients, making it perfect for weeknights.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then pay dry. Add to a food processor along with the onion, garlic, and parsley.
Pulse the ingredients until very well chopped.
Add the salt, cayenne, cumin, baking soda, and 4 tablespoons of flour. Process until smooth but not creamy. It should still have some texture and not be hummus!
Test the mixture by rolling it into a small, 1-inch ball. It will likely be sticky. Add in more flour, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until you can roll the ball easily and tightly. You may not need all 8 tablespoons. I use floured hands to make this easier and to roll all of them at once for easy frying.
Place 4 inches of neutral oil in a deep pan. Add the falafel balls gently to the hot oil. Fry until deep brown, about 2-3 minutes per side, then remove using a slotted spoon onto a paper-towel-lined plate.
To bake your falafel, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. While your oven is heating, make the falafel according to the directions above, packing them into small one-inch balls.
Spray a baking sheet with oil and add your falafel balls to it. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip and bake for another 10-12 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the outside. They won’t be as dark as the deep-fried version and that’s OK!
To make falafel in the air fryer, make the falafel balls the same way. For ease of cooking, roll all of the balls first before turning on your air fryer. The balls should be packed tightly and you may need to add more flour if using the air fryer method to ensure they aren’t mushy.
Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees, then lightly spray all of the falafel balls with cooking spray. Place into your air fryer and cook for 7 minutes, turning halfway through.
I love this with my simple green tahini sauce, though you could also serve them plain in a warm pita with tomato, cucumber, onion, and chopped lettuce. Or, even a prepared sauce for ease! I’ve served these with the prepared zhoug and tzatziki sauces from Trader Joe’s and it’s so good if you like spicy food like I do.
You can serve these falafel as a sandwich either using the flatbread recipe or pita pockets. Or, you can serve it as a salad with feta cheese, pickled peppers, lettuce, and tomato. The combo of fresh veggies and crispy fried falafel is really nice.
Or, you can make a mezze platter with falafel, baba ganoush, pita bread, hummus, and stuffed grape leaves– lots of things work!
If you are frying these, then a ball shape works best to shape the falafel dough. I use a small 1-inch cookie scoop to get the perfect ball size, but a rounded tablespoon also works. If you plan to bake or air fry these falafel, then shaping them first into patties and then a drizzle of olive oil or spraying with olive oil will make for crispier patties that are more similar to deep frying.
I like the parsley in this recipe, but you could also sub in fresh cilantro if you like. This recipe won’t work the same if you are using soaked and dried chickpeas as the other ratios are off, so I only recommend using canned or cooked chickpeas.
This recipe is vegan, as written. To make these falafel gluten-free, you can sub in oat flour for the all-purpose.
If you make this falafel recipe, make sure to come back to leave a comment and a rating. Your feedback helps other readers, and seeing you make my recipes makes my day!Print
Homemade falafel is easier than you think! Using canned chickpeas and only a handful of ingredients, this easy falafel recipe is perfect for weeknights, with traditional fried and air-fryer directions.
For the Falafel:
For the Herb Tahini Sauce:
To bake or use the air fryer, see the directions in the post.
To know if your oil is hot enough for frying, use the wooden spoon test. Place a wooden spoon into the oil and check for bubbles around the spoon. If nothing starts to bubble around the spoon, then it’s not hot enough.
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