My family’s secret recipe for the Best Authentic Falafel, made with chickpeas, fresh herb, and the right spices! And, I'm sharing my complete step-by-step tutorial and important tips for baking or frying falafel. Be sure to also watch the video to see how I make it! 

What’s your favorite way to enjoy falafel?  I love them in warm pita sandwiches with tahini sauce or hummus, along with my lazy Mediterranean tomato and cucumber salad. But you can enjoy it alongside other plates or as part of a mezze spread (lots of ideas below!)

Falafel in pit pockets with garden vegetabiles and tahini

Growing up in Port Said, Egypt, one of my favorite foods ever was falafel!

My father’s friend owned a small falafel shop that was located in the heart of the souq (market).  Our weekends often involved a trip to see Mr. Bishay and partake of his fragrant falafels. You could smell them from miles away!

Over the years I have learned how to make my own authentic falafel and I am super excited to share my recipe with you! It’s as authentic and delicious as you’d find on the streets of the middle east. And easier to make than you think!

What is Falafel?

Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern “fast food” made of a mixture of chickpeas (or fava beans), fresh herbs, and spices that are formed into a small patties or balls.  It’s thought that falafel originated in Egypt as Coptic Christians looked for a hearty replacement for meat during long seasons of fasting or lent.  It has also become a popular vegan food in Egypt and throughout the Middle East.

Falafel continues to be the people’s daily grub in Egypt and you can find it from street vendors in almost every neighborhood.  It’s often served in sandwich form with a generous drizzle of tahini and loads of Mediterranean salad, along with slices of roasted or fried eggplant.

This vegan dish is made with simple, everyday ingredients and you won’t believe how easy it is. Great ingredients are key to great falafel so be sure to purchase high quality spices like cumin and coriander for your falafel mixture. I've got a few more tips for you below...

Falafel served in bowl with a side salad, tahini and pita bread

What I love about this recipe

- No canned chickpeas (very important!) If you're after the best texture and flavor, you need to start with dry chickpeas. Many falafel recipes use canned chickpeas which is not authentic and will cause the falafel patties disintegrate in the hot cooking oil.

- Hearty and flavorful. Falafel patties are packed with plant-power and protein from the chickpeas that will leave you feeling full and satisfied. My recipe also uses the perfect blend of spices --cumin, coriander, and a hit of cayenne--and fresh herbs to give them bold authentic flavor.

- Make ahead and freezer friendly. I love that this recipe can be prepped ahead of time, and you can freeze uncooked falafel patties for later use.

Ingredients

- Dried chickpeas: AVOID using canned chickpeas! Dried chickpeas (that have been soaked in water for 24 hours) are an important ingredient that will give your falafel the right consistency and taste. (Tip: I usually add about ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water to help soften the dry chickpeas.)

- Fresh herbs: fresh parsley, cilantro, and dill are key to this authentic recipe.

- Onion: I typically use yellow onions, but white or red onions would work.

- Garlic: for best flavor, use fresh garlic cloves.

- Kosher salt and pepper: to taste.

- Spices: cumin, coriander, and a little cayenne pepper. Along with the fresh herbs, this trio of spices is what gives falafel it's bold authentic taste.

- Baking powder: this is what gives falafel an airy, fluffy texture (many recipes skip this, causing the falafel to come out too dense.)

- Sesame seeds: these are optional here, but I do like the added nuttiness.

How to Make Falafel: Step-by-Step

1. Soak chickpeas for 24 hours. Cover them in plenty of water and add baking soda to help soften them as they soak. The chickpeas will at least double in size as they soak. Drain very well.

Chickpeas after being soaked for 24 hours

2. Make mixture. Add chickpeas, fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, and dill), garlic, onion, and spices to food processor and pulse a little bit at a time until the mixture is finely ground. You’ll know it’s ready when the texture is more like coarse meal.

& Refrigerate (important.) Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. The chilled mixture will hold together better, making it easier to form the falafel patties.

Falafel mixture in food processor

3. Form patties or balls. Once the falafel mixture has been plenty chilled, stir in baking powder and toasted sesame seeds, then scoop golf ball-sized balls and form into balls or patties (if you go the patties route, do not flatten them too much, you want them to still be nice and fluffy when they're cooked.)

Falafel patty

4. Fry. Frying is the traditional way to cook falafel and yields the most authentic and best result. Heat the oil on medium-high until it bubbles softly (your oil should be hot enough around 375 degrees F, but not too hot that it causes the falafel to fall apart.)

Carefully drop the falafel in the oil, using a slotted spoon, and fry for 3-5 minutes until medium brown on the outside. Avoid over-crowding the falafel; fry them in batches if necessary.

Tip: it's always a good idea to fry one falafel first to make sure the oil temperature does not need to be adjusted.

One fried falafel

You can serve falafel for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Most Egyptians, and others throughout the Middle East actually start their day with falafel, much like many here in the States start with a bowl of cereal.

Important Tips

I shared some of these earlier in the post, but just in case you missed them:

1. Always use dry chickpeas. Dry chickpeas, that have been soaked in water for 24 hours, will give you the best texture and flavor. Dry chickpeas are naturally starchy and will help your falafels to stay well formed. If you use canned chickpeas, your falafel will disintegrate in the frying oil.

2. Chill the falafel mixture. Chilling for at least 1 hour helps with the shaping. And good news is, you can make the falafel mixture one  night in advance and chill overnight.

3. Add baking powder to the falafel mixture before forming into balls/patties. As a raising agent, baking powder here helps make the falafel on the fluffy side.

4. Fry in bubbling oil, and do not crowd the saucepan. For perfectly crispy falafel, sadly, the best option is deep frying. The cooking oil should be hot and gently bubbling, but not too hot that the falafel disintegrate. If you need to, use a deep fry-safe thermometer (affiliate link); it should read around 375 degrees F (for my stove, that is medium-high heat.)

5- Once cooked, falafel should be crispy and medium brown on the outside, fluffy and light green on the inside.

One falafel cut to reveal a green middle

For baked falafel

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and lightly oil a baking sheet. Give each patty a quick brush of extra virgin olive oil before baking; bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning the falafel patties over halfway through baking.

Make ahead and freezing

To make ahead: Prepared falafel mixture will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days ahead of time. Form it into patties when ready to fry.

To freeze: Place uncooked falafel patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 1 hour.  Once hardened, transfer the patties into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.  Falafel can be cooked from frozen by frying or baking.

Falafel assembled in one pita pocket

Choose how to serve falafel

Middle Eastern Style: On the streets of the Middle East, falafel are typically served hot with a generous amount of tahini sauce.

As a Sandwich: To make a mean falafel sandwich, garb some warm pita pockets, load them with falafel, drizzle with tahini and add fresh greens (like arugula), fresh diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickles.

On a brunch board: Serve your flalafel with an array of fresh veggies, cheese, and dips like I have don’t on my brunch board.

As a side: serve falafel next to small plates like Turkish-inspired fried eggplanttabouli salad, or Balela Salad.

Dip it: If you’re looking to dip your falafel, definitely try my Classic Creamy Hummus or Baba Ganoush! 

Watch video for this authentic falafel recipe

Browse our vegetarian recipes collection for more meatless ideas!  For all recipes, visit us hereAnd be sure to view our collection of Mediterranean diet recipes.

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Falafel served in bowl with a side salad, tahini and pita bread

How to Make Falafel


Description

Ready to learn how to make authentic falafel from scratch? My family’s secret recipe for the Best Authentic Falafel, made with chickpeas, fresh herb, and spices is all you need!

Be sure to check out the complete step-by-step tutorial, important tips for baking or frying falafel. And watch the video just above. 

What’s your favorite way to enjoy falafel?  I love them in warm pita sandwiches with tahini sauce or hummus, along with my lazy Mediterranean tomato and cucumber salad. But you can enjoy it alongside other plates or as part of a mezze spread (lots of ideas below!)


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas (Do NOT use canned or cooked chickpeas)
  • ½ tsp 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 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

Falafel Sauce

Fixings for falafel sandwich (optional)

  • Pita pockets
  • English cucumbers, chopped or diced
  • Tomatoes, chopped or diced
  • Baby Arugula
  • Pickles

Instructions

  1. (One day in advance) 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 18 hours (longer  if the chickpeas are still too hard). When ready, drain the chickpeas completely and pat them dry.
  2. Add the chickpeas, herbs, onions, garlic and spices to the large bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Run the food processor 40 seconds at a time until all is well combined forming a the falafel mixture.
  3. Transfer the falafel mixture to a container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or (up to one whole night) until ready to cook.
  4. Just before frying, add the baking powder and sesame seeds to the falafel mixture and stir with a spoon.
  5. Scoop tablespoonfuls of the falafel mixture and form into patties (½ inch in thickness each). It helps to have wet hands as you form the patties.
  6. 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 to 5 minutes or so until crispy and medium brown on the outside. Avoid crowding the falafel in the saucepan, fry them in batches if necessary.
  7. Place the fried falafel patties in a colander or plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  8. 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!

Notes

  • Cook's Tip: You need to start with dry chickpeas, do not use canned chickpeas here. You will need to begin soaking the chickpeas overnight, allow up to 24 hours.
  • Falafel Recipe variations: Variations of this recipe may call for flour or eggs. If you prefer, you can add 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon 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 375 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.
  • Have an air fryer? Try this air fryer falafel recipe.
  • Popular falafel sauce: tahini sauce is what is traditionally used with falafel. I use organic tahini paste by Soom, and here is my tahini sauce recipe.
  • Baked Falafel Option: 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.
  • Visit our online shop to browse all-natural and organic spices, including cumin and coriander; organic tahini paste; extra virgin olive oils and more!
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Fried or Baked
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Keywords: falafel, how to make falafel, authentic falafel recipe

*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2015 and has been recently updated with new information and media for readers' benefit.

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. In your book (which I have and love!!) you say to add 1 Tbsp. chickpea flour or all purpose flour, but in this recipe you don't list the flour addition. Which should I do?

      1. Thank you, Suzy. I made these tonight as well as your tabbouleh, hummus, and marinated onions recipes. They were all fabulous. My son & daughter-in-live gave me your book for my birthday and I’m enjoying it so much. What oil do you use to fry the falafel? I baked them but next time I want to fry them.

  2. Thank you Suzy. I made these this evening. The mix was so fragrant I wanted to eat it right out of the food processor bowl. Just as good, if not better than a local Mediterranean restaurant. I will definitely be making these again in the near future. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Nahida. Oops! I've never done that before, but I don't think it would hurt the chickpeas. The purpose of the baking soda is to help them soften, so they may end up with more of a crunch.

  3. So flavorful! I doubled the batch but forgot to double the baking powder so mine came out a little dense. I air fried these in small batches at 370° for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Will definitely be making these again!

  4. Thanks for sharing about the baking powder. I always wondered why my falafels were so dense! Also, can we use regular sesame seeds instead of toasted sesame seeds?

    1. Hello! I prefer toasted sesame seeds here. If you can't find them at your local market, you can toast regular ones in a skillet on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes. No oil needed.

  5. Adding the baking soda to the water for soaking the beans is great for those of us who have, um, trouble digesting beans.

  6. We've been making falafel, from various recipes, for years. But none have turned out particularly well.

    We made this recipe for falafel a few days ago and not only did it turn out to be easy and foolproof but they tasted great.

    Finally found a falafel recipe that works well and tastes delicious.

    thank you.

  7. Best falafel I have had since I first tried it 45 years ago! Moist, tasty, balanced flavors. I like it better than local restaurant falafel. Thanks for the recipe.

  8. I tried frying the falafels and after a minute in the 375 degree oil they became soup. What did I do wrong? Thank you

  9. Hi Suzy
    The Egyptian falafel, ta3meya, can you share the recipe or what to substitute in your original falafel with. I know it is foul but how much & mix with chick peas or not.
    Thank you