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. I followed this recipe carefully and it is grainy lacking moisture...I am unable to form patties and actually thought I had added too much parsley and cilantro....How can I fix it?

    1. Hi, Pat. It's going to be a bit grainy before baking/frying, so that's to be expected. If you need more of a binding agent, you can add an egg and see if that helps. There are some other great suggestions in the post throughout the comments here that you may find helpful if you're having some issues.

  2. I LOVE this recipe! Very cheap and easy. I make it the exact way it says and have no issues. Don't let your oil get to hot and use wet hands to form the patties. If you follow the directions, it'll work fine. I even air fried a few the second time!

  3. Not sure the issue, it tells you exactly where to use which powder in the directions. I hear my oil in a car iron skillet with 3 inch sides, but I don't use 3 inches of oil (I flatten mine so I need less). You can also just air fry it. Mine looked like the pictures both times I made it

  4. Was looking for a falafel recipe as I was looking for more ways to eat interesting meals without using meat. This recipe was perfect and the falafel that I made using this recipe were delicious. I would definitely recommend.

  5. I already had some chickpeas soaking. I did not measure the two cups before soaking but it was probably 3-4 cups. I was wondering if you had a weight or measurement for chickpeas that have already been soaked so I can get the proportions right.

    1. Hi, Steve. Once soaked, chickpeas will at least double in size. So if you've already soaked the chickpeas and they've expanded, you can use approximately 4 cups of the soaked chickpeas (this is just a rough estimate).

  6. The directions are confusing and NOT clear. One place it's baking soda later it's baking powder. Are they fried in 3 inches of oil? Or just in a skillet? I'm certainly not going to heat 3 inches of oil, especially that much oil, to the point of bubbling ! The pictures look way different than my ingredients. I soaked the chickpeas before understanding the recipe, so I did try this.

    1. Hello. The recipe actually calls for both baking soda and baking powder. The baking soda is what is used to aid in the soaking of the chickpeas. You'll need the baking powder later in the recipe, when the falafel patties are formed. In my opinion the baking soda is necessary, it does help a lot in softening the chickpeas. You can omit it, but you'll want to extend the soaking period a bit. And you do need at least 3 inches of oil here in a sauce pan with higher sides (not a skillet). This is one of the top recipes on our website and works very well if followed as written.

  7. When I looked at both recipes for falafel- baking and frying, the fried recipe says to add baking powder just before cooking, but the baked recipe says to add it in with all the spices at the beginning.
    Is this an error or not? I want to try the recipe both ways and want to make sure I do it correctly.
    Thank you!!!!

    1. I've got my chilled bowl of seasoned chickpeas, but they are NOT forming a ball or patty, just total crumbs
      I added some flour, but still not formula anything. Help! The oven is heated and ready.

  8. I made the Anytime Falafael from your cookbook. I added the 1 Tablepoon of Kosher salt that the recipe called for but it was way too salty. Is it possible it should only be 1 teaspoon? The recipe above calls for salt to taste. Much better idea.

    1. Thanks for the heads up, Lorna. 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt is correct. Be sure you're using kosher salt, though. Regular salt tastes a lot more salty. If 1 Tablespoon was too much for you, you can certainly season to taste.

  9. These falafel were so tasty, we couldn't stop eating them! I had made falafel many times over the years, using canned chickpeas. Although they were good, I did not like how much flour I had to add to the mixture to be able to form patties. These were much different, and I think, better tasting. We ate them straight out of the pan, with nothing but lemon juice squeezed over them, So delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, except I did add one egg to help hold the mixture together a bit better. I have printed the recipe and added to to my binder, where I keep recipes that I plan to make again. Thank you for the detailed instructions!

  10. Hi!
    How big should the balls be to be 93 cals? And what’s the difference in calories if you bake vs fry?

    Thank you!

  11. Hi Suzy,

    I have all the ingredients except the parsley, cilantro, anddill are dried. Is it possible to use dried herbs in a pinch? And if so how much of each.

    Fresh herbs would certainly flavor the falafel patties better, of course, but I was just curious if my pantry dried versions of the three herbs would work too.

    1. Hi, Raine. While we've never tested this recipe using all dried herbs before, I think it would be fine to do if needed. The general rule of thumb is that you want to use a 1 to 3 ratio. For example, if a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of a fresh herb, use 1 tablespoon dried. If you do a bit of experimenting with this, please stop back and share your thoughts!

  12. I have made this recipe several times and each time I'm shocked that it doesn't have any sort of binder. I always end up adding 2 eggs to a full batch, 1 to a half batch. Pardon me for being so skeptical, but like other commenters this mix just simply does not stay in a ball from hand to oil, or baking sheet. Is it possible I'm just not strong enough to form the patties into firm enough discs? That being said, this stuff is absolutley delicious and flavorful, and with the small addition in order for it to stay together, I'll certainly give 4 stars.

  13. I made these today following the recipe exactly, and made them into patties. The only deviation was that I baked them- I preheated my oven to 400 (convection on), brushed both sides of the patties with vegetable oil, and baked for 30 minutes, turning halfway through. They were crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. I served them on pita with tzatziki, tomatoes, lettuce and onions, and they are AMAZING! So flavorful!

    For those having issues with them staying together, you probably have too much moisture in the "dough". I patted the chickpeas dry after draining, along with the herbs and onions (which I diced first to get some of the moisture out), and refrigeration is key- you want the "dough" to be cold, as it'll stick together better. If your mixture is not sticking together, you can add some chickpea flour (I don't recommend adding an egg as a binder, as it'll change the texture.) Mine turned out fine without having to add any flour. Thank you, Suzy- this recipe is definitely a keeper!!!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and recommendations on this one, Chrissy! Much appreciated!

  14. Did you forget the flour in the recipe? Without the flour, mine won't hold together. I have made a few other falafel recipes in the past and all contained flour.

    1. Hello! We typically don't add flour to this recipe as in our experience, it hasn't really been needed. We do recommend in the notes that you an add some flour to the mix if you're having trouble getting your "batter" to bind.

  15. I absolutely loved this recipe. I don't have a processor so I used my vitamix on 1. I had forgotten to add baking powder, final result was still fluffy.I also added stems because I didn't have enough of the greens. It had strands of fiber in mix but I don't mind that at all. My kids had lots of fun making this. It's their new vegan gluten free meal

  16. Tried making this recipe. Falafel mix would not hold together. Crumbled and fell apart when I tried to put the falafels in the oil. Ended up with small bits in the oil. Ended up throwing the mess away.

    1. Hi, Bill. I'm so sorry this recipe didn't work well for you. Many times falafel will fall apart if the cooking oil is too hot. We have several tips listed both in the article and here in the comments sections that may help you out if you ever want to try again.