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What is traditional falafel made of?
You may be wondering… what is falafel? Falafel is a flavorful mixture of chickpeas (or fava beans) fresh herbs, spices, onion and garlic, that are shaped into little flat balls and pan-seared. Falafel can be served in a pita sandwich or as part of a mezze platter.
Serve falafels with homemade pita bread (surprisingly easy!), creamy tahini sauce, Tzatziki Sauce and pickled turnips (or onions)… somehow the combo, at least to me is absolutely perfect.
Why not use canned chickpeas?
How to make Falafel! | 60-sec video
What is in Falafel?
- Dry chickpeas (not canned)
- Cilantro (or parsley)
- Green Chili pepper (jalapeno or sub cayenne)
- baking soda
- kosher salt (add more to taste)
- olive oil
- high heat oil for frying, or spray oil for baking
How to make Falafel: Step-by-step
Soak dry chickpeas overnight, do not use cooked chickpeas, do not use canned! You’ll need two cups of soaked chickpeas with is roughly ¾ cups dry.
Drain them well! This is Key- feel free to wrap them in a towel. Spread them out and let them dry up a bit!
STEP TWO: Place the chickpeas along with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse repeatedly (do not blend), pulse -pulse- pulse, scrape down sides, pulse again, until combined, but not overly smooth.
Don’t over blend- you want to to be granular, not smooth like hummus… and should look something like this below.
To achieve this you must pulse, scrape sides, repeat a few times.
STEP FOUR: Pan-sear the falafel. No, you do not need to dredge them in flour ( unless they feel very very wet). A little wet is ok here.
Heat a skillet, with high-heat oil, over medium heat. Without crowding, carefully place falafels in the warm skillet. Do not fuss with them, just let them develop a crust.
Can Falafel Be Baked?
What to serve with Falafel
1. Pita Bread!
Making homemade pita bread is a fun easy project – and doing this with your kids is especially fun. Of course, store-bought pita bread is always a great option if pressed for time. But if you feel like making them, these really are easy!
I remember making pita bread with my mom when I was little, and I’ll never forget the feeling of complete surprise, seeing the flat dough, magically puff up in the hot oven. With the rising time, it’s about a 3-hour commitment, so plan accordingly.
2. Tahini Sauce!
3. Pickled Turnips
How to make a Falafel Pita Sandwich
Make a beautiful Falafel Bowl or a Falafel Salad
What to eat Falafel with
Authentic Falafel Recipe with Tahini Sauce and Homemade Pita Bread
- Prep Time: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 12 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 3-4 1x
- Category: vegan, main, gluten-free
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
- Diet: Vegan
How to make authentic Falafel from scratch using soaked chickpeas (not canned) with Homemade Pita, Creamy Tahini Sauce, Pickled Turnips, Cucumber Yogurt Sauce *Chickpeas need 10-24 hours of soaking time. Makes 10 Falafels (I highly recommend making a double batch of the falafels!)
- 3/4 cup dry chickpeas (yields 2 cups soaked), soaked overnight
- 1 cup cilantro (stems ok) or sub-Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup white or yellow onion, rough chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 a jalapeno, seeds ok ( add the entire thing if you want a little kick)
- 1 tablespoon Coriander
- 1 tablespoon Cumin
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (add more to taste)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- high heat oil for frying, or spray oil for baking
Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips
- 2 medium turnips, peeled and thinly sliced.
- 2– 3 slices of a small red beet, ( optional, for color)
- 1/2 thinly sliced onion
- 2 sliced garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- Additions: peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dill ( all optional)
Creamy Tahini Sauce: ( Or try this vegan Tahini Sauce!)
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup tahini paste
- 1–2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- cracked pepper
- Juice of one medium lemon
- Soak 3/4 cup dry chickpeas in a bowl of cold water on the counter for 10- 12 hours or up to 24 hours hours. They will swell into 2 cups. Place in a strainer, letting them drain WELL, and pat dry with a towel for extra dryness. (Wet chickpeas will be more difficult to fry.)
- Measure 2 cups of the soaked, uncooked chickpeas and place in a food processor and pulse repeatedly along with the onion, garlic, cilantro, chili, salt spices, baking soda, and olive oil, scraping down sides, until it is well blended but still coarse like sand. Don’t overwork it- this should not be smooth, but rather quite coarse and granular. Place falafel dough in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 400F.
- Using damp hands, form round, golf ball-sized balls in your hands compressing tightly into balls. Teh compression here will help bind them. If they feel very wet, feel free to lightly dredge in flour if you like. (I usually don’t, even when wet!).
- In a non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast iron skillet, heat a ¼ inch of “high-heat” oil on med-high heat until it sizzles when a pea-sized portion of falafel is dropped in.
- Turn heat to medium. Place them carefully in the hot oil, ( they are fragile but should hold together just fine) do not move or mess with them until a deeply golden crust forms (this crust will ensure they naturally release themselves from the pan). Using a thin metal spatula, carefully turn over. Lower heat if necessary. Sear the other side. Each side will take about 3-4 minutes. Cook in batches, not overcrowding. Place falafels in the oven while you cook the remaining falafels to cook them through. Keep them in a warm oven until ready to serve.
- Falafels can be cooked ahead, frigerated, and reheated in the oven. Alternatively, the falafel “dough” can be made ahead, refrigerated, and used throughout the week.
Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips
- Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized pot, remove from heat, and refrigerate until ready to eat.
Creamy Tahini Sauce:
- Blend all in the food processor, until smooth. This may seem slightly salty, but trust me it works in the big picture when all the components are combined.
I do not recommend using canned chickpeas.
Try Fava Beans: Feel free to use soaked fava beans- or a combo of both- also delicious!
Baked Falafel: heat oven to 375 F. Place falafel on a greased parchment-lined sheet pan. Brush or spray the tops with olive oil. Bake 12-15 minutes, flip and bake 10-15 more minutes or until golden. These can be cooled and frozen.
Meal Prep The falafel mixture can be kept in the refrigerator, and pan-seared “to order”. For example, I’ll often make a double batch and just store the bowl of falafel mix in the fridge for the week, pan-searing as needed.
- Serving Size: 2 falafels
- Calories: 366
- Sugar: 5.8 g
- Sodium: 637.6 mg
- Fat: 10 g
- Saturated Fat: 5.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 59.8 g
- Fiber: 7.3 g
- Protein: 14.8 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: falafel recipe, falafel recipes, baked falafel recipe, authentic falafel recipe, easy falafel recipes, vegan falafel recipe, vegan falafels , falafel sauce, pita recipe, easy pita bread recipe, tahini sauce,
Really delicious! I ended baking in the oven only because I didn’t feel like frying. Will be making again
Great to hear! Yes, baking works well too!
Perfect recipe, I followed the instructution and tips and it came out amazing! Thank you so much!
Yay, Lilla! So glad to hear.
Great recipe. Very easy to make. I used my Phillips Air Fryer for 6 minutes at 390 and they came out looking like they were fried in oil. So delicious!! I will definitely make again.
Wow, that is so great!
These were a smash hit. Tahini sauce made with Forager cashew yogurt-obsessed. A minor mishap with falafel-too wet. Used Bob’s Red Mill GF 1-to-1 flour to correct the problem. Also Polenta Lasagna another huge hit.
Glad you were able to make this work!
Yes, yes I made it work. Also tried the Baked Tacos, rave reviews, and the Maple Granola which is excellent. Thanks!
This is an exceptional recipe, easy to make, tastes wonderful, and freezes well. I always make a double batch. Wondering if you can use any kind of bean?
Thanks Jean! Appreciate this!
These falafel are so good just batch-up and increase the recipe 3x because you are going to crave them. I had never attempted to make falafel before but this recipe is so easy and beginner friendly. I added fresh mint, which is probably not authentic but I love the fresh hit it lends. One day I’ll make the pita. 🙂
So happy you are enjoying these Celia!
Hands-down, the best falafel I’ve ever made. Love, love, love the use of cilantro here (I think the use of straight Italian parsley is often too bitter for my taste). And the spice is just perfect (I think falafel has a tendency to be over-spiced to the point you taste only cumin). The consistency and flavor of these are phenomenal. I’ve tried *and failed* may times to get falafel right over the years. . . wish only I’d come across this recipe sooner. Thank you!
Thanks Amie- glad you enjoyed this! One of my favorites too. 😉
What do you suggest if I don’t have a food processor? I do have a blender, or I suppose I could try to mash or chop the chick peas?
Yes, I guess you could chop everything very finely and mash the chickpeas. The food processor really helps it get fine enough to stick toghether- so that is what I worry about if you do it by hand. May be crumbly.
Hi Sylvia- Could you use 2C chickpea flour (I have some I need to use up), moistened? Or would that alter the taste/texture too much?
I have never tried them with chickpea flour. Curious though…
This is so delicious. Make the pickled turnip and beets. What a keeper!
Great to hear Julie! Love that you made the turnips!
Can I freeze the fried version?
Yes, they should freeze well.
The falafel is yummy! The sauce is not vegan though. Have you tried using plant-based yogurt in the sauce?
Yes, you can make the Everyday Tahini Sauce instead- it’s vegan. 🙂 Or add vegan yogurt, up to you!
Great recipe! Much better than any bought falafels I’ve tasted. I’m still getting used to the frying method…sometimes it comes out to soft and other times it’s just right.
Great to hear Gen! Yes, I always do a practice one first to gauge the best temp of the pan.
How long will the pickled turnips keep in the fridge?
This is a fantastic recipe! I can’t wait to do this one over and over again. I served it at a dinner party and people were going back for 3rds and 4ths…huge hit. It was so delicious! I also added zatar broiled eggplant, and avocado! Yum
Great to hear!
hi Sylvia, you have two different recipes for falafels. One starts with 2 cups of drawing chickpeas and the other starts at three quarters of a cup of dry chickpeas, but they both use 1 cup of cilantro. So is one of them revision or are they just two different recipes? Do you have a preference? Thanks so much!
Hi Evie- ¾ cups of dry chickpeas turns into 2 cups of soaked chickpeas. 🙂
Yes, but one recipe calls for 2 cups of Dry chickpeas, and the other recipe calls for 3/4 cup of Dry chickpeas, and the ingredients in the second recipe are mostly halved, but the cilantro is a full 1 cup in both recipes. One recipe was for the falafel bowls and one was just for falafels in a pita. It’s a puzzle.
Ok Evie- I see your point now. Let me work on this a bit. 🙂
The flavor and texture are fantastic, even without the jalapenos. I struggled getting the mixture chopped up in my blender. I wonder if chopping the chickpeas by themselves first in the blender, before adding the rest of the ingredients, would be a better bet for me? Thank you.
Yes, a blender won’t work as well here- I use a food processor!
I frequently make a large batch and store it in the refrigerator, then cook it as needed throughout the week. You can dredge it in flour if it starts to feel wet.
I made this recipe tonight. It was delicious! The flavor was fantastic – A+. I did not have coriander or the jalapeños seeds and it still came out great.
Great to hear Teri!
Thanks Sylvia for clarifying, what about preparing mixture the day before and baking next day….?
Yes Pina, you can totally do that! In fact I often make a batch and keep in the fridge and just cook as needed through the week. If it starts to feel wet, you can dredge in flour.
Sylvia, what’s the difference between this recipe and your baked falafel bowl recipe. ? I have made your baked falafel bowl recipe and it is fantastic. Also can I prepare the mixture the day before and keep it in the fridge overnight and then form into patties and bake the following day or is it better to make the mixture form into balls , refrigerate overnight and then bake. I’m pressed for time and wanted to prepare ahead of time. Thanks for all your great recipes.
The falafels are the same- only the bowl version, is baked. And served in a “bowl”. But falafel recipe is the same Pina!
One of my favorite meals I have ever made. These falafel were relatively easy and quick to make (soaking time aside) and were soooo delicious. We baked them and will like pan frying next time. Thanks again for another amazing recipe!
thanks and happy you liked this one Alyssa!