The Best Authentic Falafel Recipe

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Top tips for the BEST authentic falafel recipe, crisp outside and tender in the middle – combining chickpeas, fresh herbs, and spices with a simple step-by-step tutorial and FOUR cooking methods: fried, pan-fried, baked, or air-fried!

Homemade falafel

As a Middle Eastern woman, dishes like tabouli, baba ganoush, hummus, and these gluten-free, vegan, authentic falafel are in my blood. In this post, you will learn how to make the best homemade falafel with an authentic Lebanese recipe. Plus, I’ve also included top tips and FAQs, as well as four cooking methods.

That way, you can make the perfect moist, tender, and crispy chickpea falafel to fit your equipment, time, and dietary goals. They’re both make-ahead and freezer friendly too. So, get ready for the best falafel recipe you’ve ever tried. And, if you’re as obsessed as me, check out my recipes for a traditional falafel wrap or rainbow falafel!

What Is Falafel

Falafel (sometimes spelled falafal or felafel) is a type of Middle Eastern ball or patty-shaped fritter made from soaked and ground dried chickpeas (and sometimes fava beans), garlic, fresh herbs, and seasonings. They are traditionally deep-fried until crispy brown outside and tender in the middle.

Once cooked, the falafel balls/patties popularly are enjoyed as street food (comfort food for me) within pita bread or flatbread wraps. They are also enjoyed as a snack, or even part of a mezze selection, and have become a popular vegetarian and vegan staple.

Hand holding a falafel wrap

Is Falafel Healthy

When cooked correctly, even deep-fried versions aren’t loaded with grease/fats, though they contain significantly higher amounts than baked and air-fried versions.

However, cooking methods aside, they are a wonderful source of plant-based protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and several vitamins and minerals. They are also popularly served as part of nutrient-dense meals, like salad-heavy pita wraps, salads, etc.

What Is Falafel Made Of

You might already have most if not all of the falafel ingredients in your kitchen.

  • Dried Chickpeas: Use raw, dried chickpeas for this recipe. Cooked or canned chickpeas won’t work, and you’ll end up with super mushy patties that fall apart easily.

Alternatively, use 50/50 dried chickpeas and broad beans (fava beans).

  • .Aromatics: I use fresh onion and garlic cloves.
  • Herbs: I use a classic combination of cilantro and parsley, though dill will also work, or you could use a single herb. These make the falafel green.
  • Seasonings: Along with my homemade falafel spices blend, you’ll also need salt.
  • Baking powder: This is important for giving the patties an airy, fluffy texture.
  • Oil: Based on the cooking method, you may need a lot of high-heat cooking oil. Or use a small amount of any neutral cooking oil to coat them before baking/air frying.
Ingredients for falafel

You might also like to sprinkle in some sesame seeds. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to pair the dish with the best tahini sauce for falafel. It is made of just 5 ingredients and in a few minutes!

What Spices To Put In Falafel

I love to use my homemade authentic spice blend. This includes the best spices for falafel, like ground coriander, ground cumin, pepper, cinnamon, and chili powder. Some versions also add onion and garlic powder or cayenne for heat.

How To Make The Best Authentic Falafel

While learning how to make falafel from scratch may seem daunting, this easy falafel recipe requires just a few simple steps.

How Long to Soak Chickpeas for Falafel

First, transfer the dried chickpeas to a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Leave them to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight (up to 24 hours). Then drain and rinse them well.

Then, in a food processor, roughly chop the onion and garlic.

Add the chickpeas and pulse into a crumb consistency. Then add the cilantro and parsley and pulse a few more times into a homogenous mix.

Steps for mixing chickpeas with cilantro and parsley

Be careful not to over-process it into a paste. There should be some texture.

Transfer the dough back to the large bowl and combine with the falafel spice and salt, mixing with a spoon.

When you’re ready to cook the falafel mixture, add the baking powder and mix. Cover and chill the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (an hour if you have the time) before frying.

To form the falafel balls, you can use a specific falafel scoop or a spoon. Or hand-shape them into balls or slightly flattened disks. Be gentle, so they stay fluffy.

I like to use about 1.5-2 tablespoons of mixture per ball. But you can adjust the size, like making larger burger patties (then also adjust the cooking time, accordingly).

Steps for making falafel patties

How To Cook Falafel (4 Ways)

Deep Fried Falafel

Deep frying falafels is the traditional way of preparing them for the crispiest results. When done correctly, they will be crisp outside, soft in the middle, and shouldn’t taste greasy.

  1. In a large, heavy-based skillet, add 1 ½-2 inches of oil (you need enough to cover the balls). Heat over high until it gently bubbles.

What temperature do I deep fry falafel? 350°F/180°C is best. To test if the oil is hot enough without a thermometer, drop in a small amount of the dough. It should sizzle immediately and brown within a minute.

  1. Carefully lower 5-6 falafel balls into the oil (cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan). Cook them for 3-4 minutes, flipping and continuing to cook until golden brown all over.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the oil onto a layer of paper towels to drain.
Deep frying falafel

Pan Fried Falafel

Pan-fried falafels use less oil but are still wonderfully crispy, and ready in just minutes.

  1. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of a large, heavy-based skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Once hot (the oil should shimmer), add the patties (best if flattened, not balls). Cook them for about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a layer of paper towels to drain.

Oven Baked Falafel

Baked falafels are great for those who want minimal oil but still enjoy a crispy exterior.

  1. Preheat the oven to 475ºF/240ºC.
  2. Spread the patties onto a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and generously brush or spray with oil.
  3. Bake them for between 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway. When ready, they should be golden brown and crispy. How long to bake falafel depends on the size of the patties as well.

Adding the oil is technically optional but will help achieve the crispy exterior.

Before and after baking falafel in the oven

Air Fryer Falafel

Air fryer falafels mean minimal oil and crispy falafels in less time than oven baking.

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 400ºF/200ºC.
  2. Spread the balls or patties into the air fryer basket, leaving space between them (cook in batches if necessary). Then brush or spray them with oil.
  3. Air fry them for 8-10 minutes or until brown and crispy. No need to flip halfway.

The cooking time will vary based on the size of the patties.

What’s The Difference Between Fried, Pan-Fried, Air Fried, and Baked Falafel?

Fried will produce the crispiest falafel, with a wonderfully tender middle. The pan-fried versions are also tender and moist inside but won’t become as crispy outside.

Oven-baked versions, while healthier, are cooked for longer, have a drier interior, and are the least crispy. Finally, air fryer versions are my favorite “healthy” version. They tend to be crispier than baked, and a little moister, too, as they cook for less time.

Deep fried falafel on a plate

What To Serve With Falafel?

Falafels are best served immediately when crispy and warm. However, you can enjoy them either warm or chilled. My favorite way is as a snack with a dip or part of a mezze spread/platter alongside dishes like:

You can also enjoy them in other falafel dishes, within salads, made into large patties to make plant-based burgers, as a taco filling, etc. Or try my favorite falafel pita wrap.

How To Eat Falafel with Pita?

All you need is some pita bread (traditional flatbread or a pita pocket), falafels, fresh veggies (like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion), pickles, and a delicious dressing (I recommend tahini dressing).

Homemade falafel next to veggies and pita to make a wrap

How to Store Cooked Falafel

Allow it to cool, then store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

How to Reheat Falafel

The fastest way to reheat it is in the microwave. Wrap the balls in a damp paper towel – this allows them to retain moisture. Microwave for 30 seconds, then check if they are heated through and add 10-15 more seconds if needed.

You can also reheat them in the oven at 350°F/175°C for 10-12 minutes. Or in the air fryer at 350°F/175°C for 3-5 minutes – or until heated through. To keep them crispy, brush them with a bit of olive oil.

Can You Freeze Falafel Dough?

Mediterranean falafel dough freezes very well and for up to 6 months! I like to freeze it in a Ziplock spread into a thin layer (so it thaws quicker). Once thawed and back to room temperature, mix in the baking powder, shape, and cook.

Alternatively, you can freeze the formed balls/patties (baking powder included). Flash-freeze them on a tray before transferring them to a Ziplock bag.

How To Cook Frozen Falafel

Thaw and cook or cook them directly from frozen, adding extra cooking time.

A meal made of falafel and veggies

FAQs

What to do if falafel falls apart?

I always recommend cooking a test falafel (especially when frying) to ensure the consistency is correct and won’t fall apart. If it does, you’ll need to fix the batter with either water or chickpea flour. If it still doesn’t hold together, you may need to add an egg as a binder.

Can I use baking soda instead of baking powder in falafel?

Usually, the swap isn’t recommended. In this case, though, you could use baking soda instead.

How long to deep fry frozen falafel?

They should take between 6-8 minutes.

Do you eat falafel hot or cold?

You can enjoy them warm or chilled (i.e., in salads, etc.). It’s up to you.

Important Tips for Successful Falafel

  • Use RAW dried chickpeas: Tinned beans result in the wrong texture and balls/patties that fall apart.
  • Don’t forget the baking powder: This is responsible for the fluffy texture but should be added just before cooking.
  • Don’t skip the chill step: This will help the mixture hold better and make it easier to shape while also improving the flavor. You can chill it up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Avoid overcrowding: No matter which cooking method you use, as it will affect crispiness/ even cooking.

More Middle Eastern Recipes

If you try this easy traditional falafel recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

The Best Authentic Falafel Recipe

5 from 43 votes
By: Samira
Top tips for the BEST authentic falafel recipe, crisp outside and tender in the middle – combining chickpeas, fresh herbs, and spices with a simple step-by-step tutorial and FOUR cooking methods: fried, pan-fried, baked, or air-fried falafel!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 20 falafel balls

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 cups chickpeas dried; or optionally 50/50 chickpeas and fava beans
  • 5 oz yellow onion 1 medium
  • 0.7 oz garlic 3 cloves
  • 1.6 oz cilantro 1.5 cups
  • 1.6 oz parsley flat-leaf, 1.5 cups
  • 1 Tbsp falafel spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4-5 cups sunflower oil if frying – or other neutral cooking oil; other cooking methods require just a bit of oil

Instructions 

  • You can do this step the night before!
    Transfer the dried chickpeas to a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Leave them to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight (up to 24 hours). Then drain and rinse them well.
  • In a food processor, roughly chop the onion and garlic.
  • Add the chickpeas and pulse into a crumb consistency before adding the cilantro and parsley and pulse a few more times into a homogenous mix.
    Be careful not to over-process it into a paste. There should be some texture.
  • Transfer the falafel dough back to the large bowl and combine with the falafel spice and salt, mixing with a spoon.
  • When you're ready to cook the falafel, add the baking powder and mix. Cover and chill the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (an hour if you have the time) before frying.
  • To form the falafel, you can use a specific falafel scoop or a spoon (and hand-shape them into balls or slightly flattened disks). Be gentle, so they stay fluffy.
    I like to use about 1 ½-2 tablespoons of mixture per falafel, but you can adjust the size to preference, like making large falafel burger patties (and the cooking time, accordingly).
    Once you've formed your falafel balls, proceed with the coking method of your choice.

Deep Fried

  • In a large, heavy-based skillet, add 1 ½-2 inches of oil (you need enough to cover the falafels) and heat over high heat until it gently bubbles).
    Heating the oil to 350°F/180°C is best. To test if the oil is hot enough without a thermometer, drop a small amount of the falafel dough. It should sizzle immediately and brown within a minute.
  • Carefully lower 5-6 balls/patties into the oil (cook in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan). Cook them for 3-4 minutes, flipping and continuing to cook until golden brown all over.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the oil onto a layer of paper towels to drain.

Pan Fried

  • Add enough oil to coat the bottom of a large, heavy-based skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Once hot (the oil should shimmer), add the falafel patties (best if flattened, not balls) and cook them for about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a layer of paper towels to drain.

Oven Baked

  • Preheat the oven to 475ºF/240ºC.
  • Spread the falafel patties onto a greased or parchment paper-lined baking tray (best if they're flattened, not balls). You can also place them in small muffin tins. Generously brush or spray with oil.
    Adding the oil is technically optional but will help to achieve the crispy outside.
  • Bake the falafels for between 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway. When ready, they should be golden brown and crispy.

Air Fried

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400ºF/200ºC.
  • Spread the falafel patties into the air fryer basket, leaving space between them (cook in batches if necessary). Then brush or spray them with oil.
  • Air fry the falafels for 8-10 minutes or until brown and crispy. No need to flip halfway.
    The cooking time will vary based on the size of the patties.

Storage Instructions

  • Fridge: Allow them to cool, then store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. 
    Freeze: Flash freeze the patties until solid, then transfer them to a Ziplock for 3-4 months. You can reheat them from frozen or thaw them first.
    Make ahead: You can store the falafel mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring it to room temperature and add the baking powder before shaping and cooking them.

Video

Notes

  • Use RAW chickpeas: Tinned beans result in the wrong texture and falafel that fall apart.
  • Avoid overcrowding: No matter which cooking method you use, overcrowding will affect crispiness/even cooking.
  • Don’t forget the baking powder: This is responsible for the fluffy texture of falafels but should be added just before cooking.
  • The falafel dough consistency: Depending on whether it feels dry or wet crumbly, add either a few drops of water or a sprinkle of chickpea flour. Increase until the mixture is a paste that sticks/holds when formed, but be careful not to add too much flour, as it can make them dense. Ensure to thoroughly drain the soaked chickpeas to avoid adding flour.
  • Don’t skip the chill step: This will help the mixture hold better and make it easier to shape while also improving the flavor. You can chill it up to 24 hours in advance.
Check the blog post for tips, serving recommendations, and answers to top FAQs!
Course: Appetizer, Side, Snack
Cuisine: Lebanese, Middle Eastern
Freezer friendly: 3-4 Months
Shelf life: 3-4 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 1falafel, Calories: 59kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 0.3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 165mg, Potassium: 87mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 0.3g, Vitamin A: 349IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 26mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




28 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    What a great healthier version!!!! Love love love this recipe….good tip to not squish them too much in order to keep them light and fluffy!!

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for the simplicity and amazing flavors. This recipe is awesome. I loved it. Made it last night for diner and even my husband that is a meat lover, loved it and was satisfied.
    So glad I stumbled upon your Instagram and your page.
    Thank you for the work that you do.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Jade. So happy you tried and enjoyed this falafel recipe.

  3. I’m so excited to find this. I’ve been messing up a fried recipe and I’m sure now it was the canned beans. I’m excited to have a baked recipe. It looks perfect and I’ll be baking it tonight.

  4. Hi! So I made for the first time and my mix didn’t come out as green…I added in the right amounts..any idea what I did wrong? They look and taste good though!

    1. It may just be the color of your ingredients is slightly different – I suppose they can differ depending on the time of year, where they’re sourced, etc. If you want them to be more green you can always add in a handful extra of something like spinach 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        Make it today! Love falafel so much but I’ve bene cutting out all deep fried foods so this was a savior 🙂 used only coriander instead of parsley and coriander and it still turned out delicious! Thank you

      2. Thank you for your comment, Subadra. Glad you are trying this recipe.