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Making homemade falafel is easier than you think! With a few simple ingredients and your own herbs and spices, you can learn how to make falafel any time you want. You have the option to bake, air fry, or fry them; all three will give you that perfect light crunchy texture. Serve with warm pita bread and tahini sauce for a delicious lunch or dinner!
Why this homemade falafel recipe works
If you are looking for a meal packed full of flavor, these homemade falafel balls are perfect for you. Not only are they quick and easy to make, but the combination of chickpeas, herbs, and spices gives them an amazing flavor. Plus, you can adjust the spiciness to your liking!
The chickpeas are a great source of protein and are the perfect base for this recipe. Combined with fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro, you get a great mix of herbaceous flavor. Spice it up with cumin and coriander to give it a nice kick.
The best part is that you get to decide how to make them- baked, air fryer, or fried! Each of these methods will result in a delicious falafel, but if you’re looking for an even crunchier texture, then go with the fried version.
Now let’s get to the recipe!
Here’s everything you need to make these homemade falafels…
- Dry chickpeas
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Fresh cilantro
- Red onion
- Garlic cloves
- Ground cumin
- Ground coriander
- Baking powder
- Chickpea flour
- Lemon zest
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Peanut oil
- Tahini paste
- Garlic cloves
- Lemon juice
- Parsley leaves
You don’t have to make the tahini sauce, but it’s definitely worth the extra effort for a delicious dish!
How to make falafel (3 different ways!)
After you’ve shopped for all of your ingredients, follow these simple steps to make falafels and homemade tahini sauce!
Prep the chickpeas
To make these best falafels, you’ll need to prepare the dried chickpeas the night before. I am very stubborn and tried to make canned chickpeas work… but sadly, it just didn’t work.
So, the night before you plan to make the falafels, add the dry chickpeas to a large water-filled bowl. and fill the bowl with water. Allow them to soak for 24 hours or a minimum of 12 hours.
You want about 1 1/2-2 inches of water above the chickpeas.
Once the chickpeas are done soaking, drain, and transfer to a towel to dry (lightly dab to remove excess moisture).
Why can’t I use canned chickpeas?
Canned chickpeas are cooked and already have a soft texture. When you try to process them, they will turn into mush. Soaking the dry chickpeas overnight allows them to rehydrate and become tender enough for your food processor.
Do I need to peel the soaked chickpeas?
No, there is no need to peel the soaked chickpeas. You can leave the skins on for added nutrition and fiber!
Are garbanzo beans and chickpeas the same thing?
Yes, garbanzo beans and chickpeas are the same thing. They are the same type of bean, so you can use either term.
Make the falafel mixture
Once the chickpeas are done soaking and patted dry, they are ready to be used!
To make the falafels:
- Add the chickpeas, herbs, red onion, garlic, spices, and lemon zest to a food processor.
- Pulse everything until all the ingredients are chopped and resemble a coarse meal.
Do not blend on high, or it will become too mushy. Go too far, and you might have some hummus on your hands!
- Once the falafel mix is made, dump it into a bowl.
- I add chickpea flour to help the falafel stay together when frying, and it keeps the falafel recipe gluten-free.
- I also add baking powder, which helps keep the falafel from drying out; they stay fluffy and moist.
- Using a spatula, mix until absorbed.
- Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes because this will help the falafel stay together when forming.
Are these falafels vegan?
Yes! These falafels are vegan-friendly and gluten-free.
Shape the falafels
After taking the time to refrigerate the falafel mixture, it’s now time to shape your patties. Falafels are very delicate; you can’t just roll them into a ball like cookie dough.
To do this:
- Use a cookie scoop to keep them uniform in size, and scoop a heaping spoon.
- Using both hands, gently begin pressing and forming a ball. You will figure out the right amount of pressure because if you press too hard, they will crumble.
- Repeat this until you have formed all of the falafel balls.
If you are being extremely gentle and they are still falling apart, add another tablespoon of chickpea flour.
Cook the falafels
Traditionally falafel is fried to get that golden brown crunchy exterior. I like to use peanut oil to fry mine!
- In a Dutch oven (or frying pot), heat up your oil until it reaches the correct temperature.
- Fry the falafels in batches for 2-3 minutes each until the outside is golden brown.
- Drain on a paper towel and put them aside.
Make sure your oil is at the correct temperature at 360°F, or it will fall apart and be overly greasy.
Also, don’t overcrowd the pot because it will not brown evenly on all sides.
If you want that crispy falafel exterior without all of the frying oil, your next best choice is to use your air fryer!
- Preheat the air fryer to 390°F.
- Spray the basket with oil and arrange the falafels evenly spaced out in one layer (you may have to do batches).
- Spray them with oil and air fry for 13-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Last but not least, if you want to keep it healthy and avoid all of the oil, you can always bake your falafels!
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Spread falafels out on a non-stick baking sheet, evenly spaced apart so they can brown on all sides.
- Spray them with oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Both baking and frying the falafels will result in a lighter-colored falafel on the outside.
How to eat
The best part about falafels is all the ways you can enjoy them!
- Add to an appetizer medley with some pickled vegetables, muhammara, hummus, kalamata olives, and your favorite dipping veggies
- Serve over some basmati rice
- On top of some Greek orzo pasta salad
- As a side dish to curry chicken salad
My go-to favorite way to enjoy these baked falafel bites is as a sandwich! Slice open a warm pita bread, and add a few falafel balls with some sliced cucumbers, pickled red onions, and feta cheese. Drizzle with some homemade tahini sauce over the top, and enjoy!
Make the tahini sauce
- Blend all the ingredients together and store it in an airtight glass container.
- You can thin it out with a few tablespoons of water if needed!
How to store
If you have any leftover falafels, you can store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
You can also freeze them after they have been cooked! Just make sure you keep it air-tight and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to reheat
If you want to reheat any leftovers, use the oven or an air fryer. Heat for 5-10 minutes at 400°F and make sure it’s nice and warm before serving.
You can also pan-fry them with a little oil on each side over medium-high heat and even slice them in half to make sure they get fully warmed through.
Try to avoid using the microwave, as it can make falafel dry and soggy!
Love vegetarian meals? Try out these other recipes:
- Air Fried Avocado Fries
- Mushroom Risotto
- Au Gratin Potato Stacks
- Crispy Eggplant Caprese Stack
- Fried Goat Cheese and Roasted Beet Salad
For the web story version of this recipe, click here!
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- 2 cups dry chickpeas (see note)
- 1 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup red onion (chopped)
- 5 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (or all purpose)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 3-4 cups peanut oil for frying (about 3 inches of oil depending on frying vessel size or spray oil for baking/air fryer)
- Pita bread
- Homemade pickled red onions
- Kalamata olives
- Feta cheese
- Cucumber (diced or sliced)
- Homemade Tahini sauce (see below or store bought)
- 1/2 cup tahini paste
- 1 clove garlic (pressed)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves
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- The night before you plan to make the falafel, add the dry chickpeas in and fill the bowl with water. You want about 1 1/2-2 inches of water above the chickpeas. Allow to soak for 24 hours, or minimum 12 hours.
- Once chickpeas are done soaking, drain, transfer to a towel to dry (lightly dab to remove excess moisture).
- In a food processor add chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, red onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon zest, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Pulse until all the ingredients are chopped and resemble a coarse meal. Do not blend on high, or it will become too runny.
- Dump the falafel mixture into a large bowl and add the baking powder and chickpea flour. Using a spatula, mix until evenly distributed. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes, this will help the falafel stay together when forming.
- Falafel’s are very delicate, you can’t just roll it into a ball like cookie dough. I use a cookie scoop to keep them uniform in size and scoop a heaping spoon. Using both hands, gently begin pressing and forming into a ball. You will figure out the right amount of pressure, because if you press too hard they will crumble. If you are being extremely gentle and they are still falling apart, add another tbsp of chickpea flour. Repeat until all falafel’s are formed.
- In a dutch oven or fry safe vessel, heat oil to 360 F degrees. Ensure your oil reaches desired temperature or the falafel will fall apart and be overly greasy. Fry in batches, if you overcrowd they will not brown evenly on all sides. Fry for about 2-3 minutes, until the outside is golden brown and drain on a paper towel.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread falafel out on a non-stick baking sheet, evenly spaced apart so they can brown on all sides. Spray them with oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Air frying instructions
- Preheat air fryer to 390 degrees F. Spray basket with oil and arrange falafel evenly spaced out in one layer (you may have to do batches). Spray them with oil and air fry for 13-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- You can stuff the falafel into pitas, serve over rice, over a bed of lettuce, etc. Serve with , kalamata olives, hummus, feta cheese, cucumbers, and tahini sauce.
To make tahini sauce:
- Blend all the ingredients and you can thin with a few tbsp of water if needed. You can also use store bought.
- To make a successful falafel, you need to use dry chickpeas. You can not use canned chickpeas for this recipe.
- I add chickpea flour to help the falafel stay together when frying and it also allows it to stay gluten free. You can also sub all purpose flour if you do not care about them being gluten free.
- The baking powder helps keep the falafel from drying out, they stay fluffy and moist.
Baking/air frying falafel
- Both baking and frying the falafel will result in a lighter colored falafel on the outside.
- Store cooked falafel in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- When reheating falafel, you want to cook them fast or they will dry out. Microwave isn’t recommended or they will just be soggy. You can pan fry them with a little oil on each side over medium/high heat, and even slice them in half to ensure it gets fully warmed through. You can bake them in an oven at 400F for 5-7 minutes on foil, use a toaster oven, or an air fryer.