Today is all about how to make falafel. Hearty and healthy vegan patties made of ground chickpeas, garlic, and lots of herbs. You can fry or bake falafel (instructions for both included in today’s post). I’m sharing the BEST authentic falafel recipe as prepared on the streets of the Middle East. Be sure to check out the video and my step-by-step instructions and tips.
What is Falafel?
Falafel is a ubiquitous Middle Eastern “fast food.” They are vegan patties (or fritters) made of chickpeas (or fava beans) and tons of fresh herbs and warm Middle Eastern spices.
They say falafel originated in Egypt some thousand years ago. The little patties were invented by Egypt’s Coptic Christians as a replacement for meat during long seasons of fasting such as lent.
Falafel continues to be the people’s daily grub in Egypt to this day. There is a falafel shop or street vendor in almost every neighborhood serving fully stuffed falafel pitas or wraps with a generous drizzle of tahini and loads of Mediterranean diced salad. Why? Because, to Egyptians, a day that does not include a little freshly fried falafel is simply not a productive day.
How to Make Falafel
Falafel are vegan patties where the main ingredient is dried chickpeas that have been soaked in water until they are easily ground.
To make falafel, the soaked chickpeas are ground in a food processor with a healthy dose of fresh herbs and warm spices like ground cumin and coriander. Then we leave the falafel mixture in the fridge for one hour (or overnight).
Once the mixture has had a chance to chill, we add a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a little baking powder. Then we form the falafel patties (this recipe makes about 24 patties).
From here, we can fry or bake the falafel patties. Frying is the traditional way to cook falafel, and in my opinion, yields the best results.
Can I bake them instead?
Yes, you can bake the falafel patties in a 350 degree F heated oven for about 15-20 minutes, turning them over midway through. Use a lightly oiled sheet pan, and you might like to give the patties a quick brush of extra virgin olive oil before baking.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions
This falafel recipe makes about 24 patties. You can prepare the patties ahead of time and freeze them for use as needed! Prepare the falafel mixture and divide into patties (up to step #6). Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze. When they harden, you can transfer the falafel patties into a freezer bag. They will keep well in the freezer for a month or so. You can fry or bake them from frozen
Important Tips for this Falafel Recipe
Just a couple more tips:
- For best results, you need to start with dry chickpeas soaked in water, do not use canned chickpeas, or your patties will not hold up and will disintegrate in the cooking oil. Allow enough time for dry chickpeas to soak. See recipe notes.
- Once you prepare the falafel mixture, you will need to store it in the fridge for about 1 hour or so before forming into patties. Allow time for this step.
How to Serve them?
Falafel are best served hot. You can serve the patties plain or dip them in tahini sauce. Add a few small plates like: Turkish-inspired fried eggplant, tabouli salad, Balela Salad, and Roasted Garlic Hummus.
Watch How to Make Falafel Video:
Learn how to make the best falafel! Flavor-packed vegan chickpea patties with fresh herbs and warm Middle Eastern spices. Serve them with favorite small plates, or make loaded falafel sandwiches! Watch the video and the step-by-step tutorial for best results.
- 2 cups dried chickpeas (Do NOT use canned or cooked chickpeas)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, stems removed
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed
- 1/2 cup fresh dill, stems removed
- 7–8 garlic cloves, peeled
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Oil for frying
Fixings for sandwich (optional)
- Place the dried chickpeas and baking soda in a large bowl filled with water to cover the chickpeas by at least 2 inches. Soak overnight for 16-18 hours (more if the chickpeas are still too hard). When ready, drain the chickpeas completely and pat them dry.
- Place the fresh leaves of parsley, cilantro and dill in a large food processor. Pulse to finely chop the herbs.
- Now add the chickpeas, garlic and spices. Run the food processor 40 seconds at a time until all is well combined forming a smooth falafel mixture.
- Transfer the falafel mixture into a container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or (up to one whole night) until ready to cook.
- Just before frying, add the baking powder and sesame seeds to the falafel mixture and stir with a spoon.
- Scoop tablespoonfuls of the falafel mixture and form into patties (1/2 inch in thickness each). It helps to have wet hands as you form the patties.
- Fill a medium saucepan 3 inches up with oil. Heat the oil on medium-high until it bubbles softly. Carefully drop the falafel patties in the oil, let them fry for about 3-4 minutes or so until medium brown. Avoid crowding the falafel in the saucepan, fry them in batches if necessary.
- Place the fried falafel patties in a colander or plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- Serve falafel hot next to other small plates; or assemble the falafel patties in pita bread with tahini or hummus, arugula, tomato and cucumbers. Enjoy!
- Note: You will need to begin soaking the chickpeas overnight, allow up to 18 hours.
- Recipe variations: Variations of this recipe may call for flour or eggs. If you prefer, you can add 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp of flour to the falafel mix or 1 egg. I did not use either, and the falafel mixture stayed well together.
- Pro Tip for Frying: When you fry the falafel patties, you want to achieve a deep golden brown color on the outside. More importantly, the patties need to be fully done on the inside. Your frying oil needs to be at 350 degrees F, for my stove, that was at a medium-high temp. Be sure to test your first batch and adjust the frying time as needed.
- Pro-Tip for Baking: If you prefer, you can bake the falafel patties in a 350 degree F heated oven for about 15-20 minutes, turning them over midway through. Use a lightly oiled sheet pan, and you might like to give the patties a quick brush of extra virgin olive oil before baking.
- Pro-Tip for Make-Ahead: To make ahead and freeze, prepare the falafel mixture and divide into patties (up to step #6). Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze. When they harden, you can transfer the falafel patties into a freezer bag. They will keep well in the freezer for a month or so. You can fry or bake them from frozen.
- Category: Entree
- Method: Fried or Baked
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: falafel, how to make falafel, falafel recipe