Falafel

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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
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ 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 ½ inch thick and 1½ inches wide.
  4. Heat ¼-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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Comments

  • Read all the comments before making. I made sure to blend the dough long enough so they would stick together. Followed recipe exactly. When I fried them, they began to disintegrate in the hot oil. I’m going to try the air fryer for the remaining dough. I’ve loved all of your recipes and use them daily. This is the first time I’ve had a problem. It’s ok though…the other recipes make up for it!

    • — Sally on June 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • Followed the recipe and turned out excellent. Wondering if the cooked falafel will freeze well?

    • — Tamara on March 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed them! I’ve never frozen them before, so I can’t say for sure, but I think it should work. Please let me know how they are once you thaw them!

      • — Jenn on March 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • I was a culinary goddess when I made this falafel recipe. The felafel was as good as or better than any I’ve had in a restaurant and was pretty easy. Just toss the ingredients into a food processor and fry up the patties. I served with the tomato-feta-cucumber salad from this website and made tzatziki to go with. Really delicious!

    • — LC on January 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have made this several times, flavor is great, but it would always fall apart in the pan while cooking. Yesterday I decided to process it in the food processor 3-4 minutes and that was the trick that worked for me! I also decided to cook it in the air fryer – 375 for 15 minutes – and it turned out well. A healthier start to the new year!

    • — Tracy on January 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Unfortunately the falafel balls would not stick together. Based on Jen’s comments to others I made sure to process them very well. Because I could not get them to stay together despite processing them as Jenn suggested, I ended up adding an egg so they would bind better, which helped. I looked at other falafel recipes and one said it was important to chill the mix for at least an hour so they wouldn’t fall apart. I think I will try that next time. https://elavegan.com/air-fryer-falafel.

    I did make the yogurt sauce too and that was very good. The falafel have a nice flavor.

    • — Danielle on November 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made a half order of this last night and it came out exactly as shown in the recipe. We only have a small food processor attachment for the blender so I divided all the ingredients into two batches. The chickpeas still seemed pretty hard even after a 24 hour soak. I also thought the paste might not be fine enough, but no, it turned out just right. I didn’t add any egg or liquid.

    To get a head start on dinner I mixed everything up about an hour in advance and put it in the fridge. When making the patties I gave each dollup of mix a good squeeze in my palm then flattened them and tidied up the edges a bit. They held together perfectly in the pan, with only a few small crumbs coming loose. My wife says it was the best falafel she’s ever had. I don’t know if I’d go that far since there is an Israeli place in town that does a wonderful falafel wrap, but it was right up there. Definitely much better than the boxed mixes.

    • — Jim on October 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made these a few times. They have typically worked out for me, and they always taste great! I noticed that some others mentioned that they fell apart while frying them. I ran into that issue recently. I added 2 eggs to the remaining mix, and they turned out beautifully.

    • — Adrienne on October 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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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