Falafel

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Making homemade falafel is as easy as making meatballs. The secret is to avoid using canned chickpeas.

A popular vegetarian street food eaten throughout the Middle East, falafel are deep-fried patties made from ground chickpeas (or fava beans), herbs, and spices. They are traditionally stuffed into a pita or served as part of a mezze platter with Israeli salad, hummus, baba ganoush, tahini sauce, and yogurt sauce.

Making falafel at home may seem complicated, but that’s not the case at all! It’s as easy as making meatballs, and you don’t even have to deep-fry. The key is to use avoid using canned chickpeas. Many recipes call for them — and, believe me, I see their appeal — but I can tell you from experience that they don’t work (unless you want a mushy disaster on your hands). The best falafel is made with dried chickpeas that have been soaked but not cooked. If you don’t have time to soak chickpeas overnight, you can use the quick-soak method, which only takes about an hour.

What You’ll need to make falafel

ingredients for falafel

Step-By-Step Instructions

Begin by soaking the chickpeas: Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by about 4 inches. Soak for 24 hours, adding more water as necessary to keep the chickpeas covered (they will double or triple in size).

Alternatively, if you’re short on time, you can use the quick-soak method: place the beans in a pot and cover with water by about three inches; bring to a rolling boil and boil for five minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let stand for one hour.

soaking chickpeas

Drain the chickpeas.

draining the chickpeas Add the drained chickpeas to a food processor along with the scallions, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and spices.

chickpeas and other ingredients for falafel in food processor

Process until the chickpeas are finely minced, scraping the bowl as necessary, 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture won’t be totally uniform; you want a slightly nubby texture but it should hold together when you pinch it between two fingers.

nubby ground chickpea mixture

Form the mixture into patties.

falafel mixture formed into patties

Heat about 1/4-inch of oil in a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Pan-fry the falafel in batches, flipping once, until golden brown all over, 3 to 5 minutes total. (Before frying your first batch of falafel, you can ensure the oil is the right temperature by frying one patty in the center of the pan. If you notice that the outside of the patty is browning before a total cook time of 3 to 5 minutes, reduce the heat a bit.)

pan-frying the falafel patties

Drain on paper towels.

draining falafel patties on paper towels

Serve warm with tahini or yogurt sauce. If you have leftover cooked falafel, you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days; reheat in a 325-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through.

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Falafel

Making homemade falafel is as easy as making meatballs. The secret is to avoid using canned chickpeas.

Servings: 20 to 24 falafel
Total Time: 30 Minutes, plus 1 hour to quick-soak the chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, rinsed and picked over
  • 8 scallions, light and dark green parts, from 1 bunch, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Begin by soaking the chickpeas: Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by about 4 inches. Soak for 24 hours, adding more water if necessary to keep the chickpeas covered, as they will double in size. (Alternatively, if you're short on time, you can use the quick-soak method: place the beans in a pot and cover with water by about three inches; bring to a rolling boil and boil for five minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let stand for one hour.)
  2. Drain the chickpeas and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add all of the other ingredients except for the oil and process until the chickpeas are finely minced, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture shouldn't be completely uniform -- you want a slightly nubby texture -- but you'll need to process it enough so that it is moistened and binds together.
  3. Form heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture into patties about 1/2 inch thick and 1-1/2 inches wide.
  4. Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add half of the falafel to the pan (the falafel should sizzle immediately when you drop it in the oil; if it doesn't, wait another minute or two for the oil to heat up.) When the first side is golden, flip and cook a few minutes more until golden all over. The total cook time should be 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the falafel to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Cook the second batch, then serve warm or room temperature with tahini sauce or yogurt sauce.

Pair with

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • My attempt was a failure!
    The flavour was delicious but they all fell apart in the fry pan
    I would like to make them again but…..What should I do next time?

    • — Wendy on September 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendy, Sorry you had a problem with these falling apart! You may just need to process the mixture a bit more until it gets moistened and pasty; it takes a few minutes.

      • — Jenn on September 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • Having never eaten falafel, I started with a half-recipe. We loved it! So much so that I decided to serve it to my daughter’s college age friends. When I made the full recipe, my 11-cup food processor bowl was really full. It wasn’t really big enough to get the mixture fine enough so the patties partially fell apart while cooking. While the results were pretty messy, I still give the recipe 5 stars because her guests devoured it. Next time I’ll run it through the food processor in two batches. We loved your yogurt/cuke sauce too.
    Thanks for introducing us to falafel!

    • — Sue K on August 24, 2021
    • Reply

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