Yes, you can make falafel in the air fryer! Follow my easy tips for perfectly crisp air fryer falafel with the same bold, authentic flavors!
Falafel is a staple food throughout the Middle East and in Egypt where I grew up. Traditional falafel is made of a mixture of chickpeas, fresh herbs, and warm spices, which is formed into balls or patties and deep fried until the patties turn a beautiful golden brown.
And if you’ve followed my authentic falafel recipe, which is an all-time fan favorite, you know how delicious freshly fried falafel are–perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and airy on the inside! Dunk one in some tahini sauce or serve them in a pita pocket with all the fresh veggies and pickles, and you’ve got the perfect little vegan meal to serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
I will tell you right now that cooking falafel the traditional way, as I showed you earlier, will yield better results 100 percent of the time! But you can absolutely make falafel in the air fryer–or even baked in the oven–too.
Many have been asking me for a good air fryer falafel recipe, so I worked on one that I’m excited to share!
In this post
- Why does this recipe for falafel in the air fryer work?
- How should you shape falafel for the air fryer?
- Ingredients you’ll need for air fryer falafel
- Should you use dry or canned chickpeas?
- How to make falafel in the air fryer
- Falafel in the oven
- Ways to serve it
- Freezing and reheating air fryer falafel
- More Middle Eastern recipes you'll love
Why does this recipe for falafel in the air fryer work?
Although the cooking method is different, I don’t believe you should compromise on flavor. That’s why this recipe uses the authentic falafel mixture, made from scratch from dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight and mixed with the same fresh herbs and spices. I still advise that you allow the mixture to sit in the fridge for about 1 hour and then mix it with some baking powder to give you the best flavor and texture.
Really, the main difference here from my earlier recipe is that you will cook the falafel patties in the air fryer as opposed to a pot of hot oil.
How should you shape falafel for the air fryer?
Typically when I make falafel, I’m partial to forming them into little balls. But for air fryer falafel, shaping them into slightly flatter disks or patties actually works better. This shape will allow the falafel to lay flat and they won’t roll around the air fryer basket. I also find that flatter patties cook more evenly in the air fryer.
Be sure to not arrange the patties too tightly in the air fryer. They need some room so they can turn airy and crispy as they cook. Work in batches as needed.
Ingredients you’ll need for air fryer falafel
As I mentioned, I use the same combination of ingredients as I always have for my authentic falafel recipe. Here is what you’ll need for this air fryer falafel recipe:
- Chickpeas: You’ll need dried chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans). Canned chickpeas will not work (more info below!). Soak the dried chickpeas in water for 24 hours. To help soften them, add ½ teaspoon baking soda to the water.
- Fresh herbs: Fresh dill, parsley, and cilantro with the stems removed.
- Onion: I use yellow onions, but you can also use white or red onions.
- Garlic: You’ll need several peeled garlic cloves. No need to mince or chop as they go in the food processor with the other ingredients.
- Spices: Cumin, coriander, and some cayenne pepper (optional, but I recommend it. You only need a little, so the falafel will not be spicy!).
- Baking powder: If you want fluffy falafel, baking powder is a must. Without it, your falafel will be dense. Don’t skip this!
- Sesame seeds: While toasted sesame seeds are optional, they add an addictive nuttiness.
Should you use dry or canned chickpeas?
This is very much a texture thing. Even though it is not as critical to use dry chickpeas when cooking falafel in an air fryer, I still recommend that you do! Canned chickpea have a lot of moisture and can turn your air fryer falafel mushy.
Soaked dry chickpeas are the best choice because their starch helps the falafel stay together, and they will also give your patties that perfect crunchy texture. No soggy falafel here!
How to make falafel in the air fryer
Making air fryer falafel starts out the same way as my traditional falafel recipe by soaking the chickpeas and making the falafel mixture. Here is how to cook falafel in the air fryer:
- Soak the chickpeas. Soak 2 cups of dry chickpeas (NOT canned or cooked!) in a bowl with plenty of water and some baking soda to soften them. Soak for 24 hours and then drain well. (The chickpeas will swell considerably in the water so be sure to cover them with a good few inches of water).
- Make the falafel “dough” or mixture. In the large bowl of a food processor fitted with a bladed, add the soaked and drained chickpeas, 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, ¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves, ½ cup fresh dill (stems removed), 7 to 8 peeled garlic cloves, 1 small quartered yellow onion, kosher salt, and spices (1 tablespoon each black pepper, cumin, and coriander; and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper). Pulse until finely ground. It will have the texture of a coarse meal.
- Chill. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for about an hour or overnight. When chilled, it will be easier to shape the mixture into patties and will hold together well.
- Form into patties. Stir 1 teaspoon baking powder and 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds into the chilled falafel mixture. Scoop about a golf ball-sized amount and form it into a ball, and then flatten slightly to make a disk shape. Do not flatten them too much – this will make them dense.
- Air-fry the falafel. Turn your air frye to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush the falafel disks with olive oil, and then add them to the air fryer basket, being careful not to crowd them (the patties need some room so they crisp up well). Cook the falafel in 5-minute increments: Air-fry on one side for 5 minutes, and then check to see if it has crisped and gained color. If not, don’t turn them and return to the air fryer for a bit longer. Then, flip them over and repeat. Serve immediately!
A couple of important tips
- Do not crowd your air-fryer basket. To ensure best texture, be sure to arrange the falafel patties in such a way that they are not touching. Work in batches if you need to.
- Air fryers do vary, so cook your air fryer falafel patties in 5 minute increments. I set the air fryer to 400 degrees F, and started by air frying the patties for 5 minutes, adding time as needed, until the patties were crispy and golden brown on either side.
Falafel in the oven
I talked about baking falafel in the oven before. I will say, it's not my favorite way to cook the delicious patties because it just does not yield the same crispy results. But if you don’t have an air fryer, and you don’t want to fry the falafels, then sure, you can bake them!
To cook falafel in the oven, start with the oven at 350 degrees F. Brush the falafel patties with olive oil on both sides and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, remembering to flip the patties halfway through baking. They should be golden brown on the outside and still somewhat green on the inside, but they should not taste raw!
Ways to serve it
There are so many ways to enjoy falafel, as I detailed in my recipe for authentic falafel. Here are some delicious ways to serve them:
- As an appetizer with a side of tahini sauce for dipping.
- As part of a mezze platter! Pile the falafel patties on a large platter and add a couple of dips like baba ghanoush or hummus and some bright small nibbles like tomatoes with feta, roasted eggplant, or a little tabouli!
- In a pita sandwich with this easy cucumber and tomato tahini salad, and if you like, add some pickles (these turnips are popular with falafel)
Freezing and reheating air fryer falafel
Allow the falafel to cool to room temperature, and then arrange them on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen solid, you can transfer the falafel to a ziptop bag to save freezer space. They can be frozen for up to 3 months, but I like to eat them within a month.
To reheat frozen falafel, place them on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degrees F-heated oven for about 15 minutes. You’ll need to flip them halfway through the reheating time.
If you have leftover falafel that you’ve refrigerated, it can either be heated in the oven as described above (just for a shorter time since they aren’t frozen) or in the air fryer. Heat the air fryer to 350 degrees F, place the falafel in the basket, and reheat for 2 to 3 minutes.
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BEST Air Fryer Falafel (Easy Tips!)
- 2 cups dried chickpeas Do NOT use canned or cooked chickpeas
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, stems removed
- ¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed
- ½ cup fresh dill, stems removed
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 7-8 garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- Soak the chickpeas. (One day ahead of time.) Soak your dried chickpeas in a large bowl of water with the baking soda (the water must cover the chickpeas by at least 2 inches). Set aside for 18 to 24 hours until the chickpeas have softened and plumped up. Drain well.
- Make the falafel dough or mixture. Add the chickpeas, herbs, onions, garlic and spices to the large bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Run the food processor in 40-second increments until everything is well blended and you have a mixture that is similar in texture to coarse cornmeal.
- Refrigerate the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or (up to overnight).
- Add baking powder and mix. Before air frying, add the baking powder and toasted sesame seeds to the falafel "dough" and stir with a spoon.
- Form falafel patties. Scoop a couple tablespoonfuls of the falafel mixture into your palms and form into disks or patties (about ½-inch thickness). It helps to have wet hands as you form the patties so they don't stick too much. Do not pack the patties too much, so they don't turn out too dense.
- Arrange the falafel patties in the air fryer basket. Lightly brush one side of the falafel patties with olive oil. Add them to the basket (oiled side down), and brush the top of the patties with olive oil as well. Don't crowd the basket, allow the patties enough room so they become crisp as they cook. (Work in batches as needed).
- Set the air fryer to 400 degrees F and air fry the falafel. Air fry the patties at 400 degrees F one side for 5 minutes, then check if they have gained some color. If not, close the basket and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes or until the ones side has turned nice and golden brown to your liking. Turn the patties and air fry on the other side.
- Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket. Allow the patties enough room so they cook well and crips up properly.
- Air fryers do vary, cook your patties in 5-minute increments until you achieve a crisp, golden brown exterior on both sides of the falafel patties.
- Can I cook falafel in the oven? Yes, but it is my least favorite way to cook falafel. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. After brushing the patties on both sides with extra virgin olive oil, arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the falafel once halfway through cooking.
- Leftovers and storage: Cooked falafel patties will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days (they will lose their crunch, however). Reheat in a 350 degrees F heated oven until warmed through, or in a 350 degrees F heated air fryer for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Can I freeze air fryer falafel? Yes, you can! Allow the cooked patties to cool to room temperature, and then place them on a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid, and then transfer to a ziptop bag or freezer-safe container. Reheat in a 350 degrees F heated oven for about 15 minutes, flipping the patties after 7 or so minutes.
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