Here's a Middle-Eastern classic with dried chickpeas and aromatic and nutty flavors: homemade chickpea falafel.
Falafel is an easy appetizer and main dish that you can make with simple and affordable ingredients. The best way to cook them? Deep-fried or air-fried!
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Falafels are deep-fried balls (we also do them in the air fryer) made out of soaked chickpeas, broad beans, or a combination of both.
They come from Middle-Eastern cuisine and are especially popular in Lebanon and Egypt.
Here we'll show you how easy it is to prepare falafel and cook it in oil or an air fryer.
You can serve falafel as a main course or as an appetizer as part of a meze platter.
Traditional ways of serving it are with hummus, in a sandwich with pita bread, wrapped in flatbread, or in a falafel bowl with salads, pickles, hummus, and more.
Falafel is a delicious recipe that is also naturally vegetarian and vegan.
It's one of our favorite foods in the world, and we are delighted to share this recipe with you.
You'll need dry chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans).
The chickpeas must be soaked in water with a teaspoon of baking soda for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours before making falafel.
Canned chickpeas won't work for this recipe as they don't have the right texture.
Chickpea flour helps bind the falafel together.
We recommend it so your falafel won't fall apart when cooking them.
Cumin & Coriander
Cumin is the queen of spices in Middle-Eastern cooking, and it's an essential ingredient in homemade falafel.
Ground coriander is another excellent spice to add to the mix.
Parsley is the main fresh herb in falafel, specifically flat-leaf parsley.
Fresh mint is optional, and the falafel will still be delicious with parsley alone.
White or yellow onion.
Garlic and chickpeas are excellent together, and this is an essential ingredient.
Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper
Season with sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To add a touch of spiciness, we recommend some cayenne pepper.
You can substitute red pepper flakes or chili powder for cayenne pepper.
Just a teaspoon of baking powder lightens up the falafel balls, making them less compact airier, and lighter.
If you deep-fry them, you'll need frying oil. If you air-fry them you'll need extra virgin olive oil.
1. Soak the Chickpeas
The day or night before making falafel, put the dry chickpeas in a large pot or bowl with plenty of water and a teaspoon of baking soda.
Let them soak for 12 to 24 hours, then drain and rinse them under running water.
Note: you'll notice the chickpeas will double or triple in volume as they soak.
2. Blend all ingredients
To a food processor, add soaked chickpeas, chickpea flour, peeled and chopped onion, chopped garlic cloves, chopped parsley and mint, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and baking powder.
Blend until you reach a fine texture, scraping down the sides of the food processor often.
It should take you about 1 to 2 minutes max.
3. Shape the falafel
Unless you have a falafel scoop, the easiest way to shape the falafel is with an ice cream scoop or cookie dough scoop.
Scoop the falafel mixture into a ball, and press it with your left hand into the ice cream scoop to make it stick together.
Rinse the scoop with water after every 3 falafels or when they start sticking to the scoop.
Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Deep-fry the falafel
For air frying, see the "variations" chapter below.
Deep-frying is a lot simpler than you think. All you need is a saucepan or a small pot and about 4 cups of frying oil (you'll need more oil if your pot is larger).
What's important is to have enough oil to cover the falafel.
We show you how to do it in small batches in a small pot so that it's easier for you to control.
First, add the oil to a small pot with tall edges. Ensure you only fill up the pot to half its edges because the oil will expand as it warms up and as you dip in the falafel.
Second, warm up the oil to 320°F or 160°C. Use a kitchen thermometer to check the oil temperature. Oil temperature should be between 300°F / 150°C and 340°F / 170°C.
Dip the falafel in the oil gently, one by one. We recommend frying 3 or 4 at a time.
Cook them in the oil for about 3.5 - 4 minutes or until golden brown all around. Move the falafel around as they cook to ensure even frying. You can use a wooden spoon.
Make sure the oil temperature stays constant between 300°F / 150°C and 340°F / 170°C.
Take the falafel out of the oil and arrange them on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Repeat this until your run out of falafel.
Deep-fried falafel is unbeatable. They taste delicious, have a golden and crunchy shell, and a deliciously moist and aromatic inside.
Air fryer falafel
You can make this recipe in a standard oven, ideally ventilated; however, the air fryer yields a much better result.
The falafels turn out crisp on the outside and delicious! Air frying falafels is THE BEST alternative to deep-frying them.
Brush the bottom of your air fryer with extra virgin olive oil. Then, place the falafels in the air fryer leaving enough space from one falafel to the next.
Drizzle the falafels with extra virgin olive oil.
Air fry at 400°F or 200°C for 12 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy.
You can sprinkle it with fresh parsley, sesame seeds, and sumac.
Or serve as part of a meze platter with a selection of small dishes from the Mediterranean and Middle-Easter cuisine:
- Tabbouleh, muhammara, Zaalouk (Moroccan Eggplant), avocado spread, confit tomatoes, caramelized onions, tzatziki
- Grilled eggplant or zucchini, and some olives, pita chips, and raw veggies (carrots, celery, and red peppers).
Tip: smash the falafel with a fork as you put them in the wrap.
For extra deliciousness, add kalamata olives, jalapeños, pickled beets, crumbled feta, tabbouleh, and lemon wedges.
Make Ahead and Storage
Make ahead: soak the chickpeas ahead of time for at least 12 to 24 hours. Falafel is best when freshly cooked. However, you can cook them ahead of time and store them ready to be warmed up.
Refrigerator: they keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days before losing most of their crunch.
Freezer: let the falafel cool down completely, transfer them to a freezer-friendly bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw: defrost in the microwave.
Reheat: we recommend warming the falafel in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes max.
More Chickpea Recipes
Get more chickpea ideas with these easy and delicious chickpea meals:
- Easy chickpea stew (sweet potato, canned tomato, carrot, onion, cumin, etc.)
- Chickpea salad (cucumber, cherry tomato, black olives, corn, maple syrup, mustard, etc.)
- Chickpea pasta salad (avocado, cucumber, cherry tomato, corn, parsley, lemon, etc.)
- Pasta e Ceci (ditalini pasta, canned tomato, onion, carrot, rosemary, tomato paste, etc.)
- Savory chickpea crepes (chickpea flour, olive oil, sauteed mushrooms, white sauce, etc.)
More Middle-Eastern-Inspired Recipes
Find authentic and aromatic dinner ideas with these Middle-Eastern-inspired mains and side dishes:
- Dukkah (hazelnuts, pine nuts, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dried oregano, etc.)
- Mujaddara (lentil, rice, caramelized onions, turmeric, cinnamon, spring onion, etc.)
- Lentil tabbouleh (canned lentils, tomato, parsley, mint, scallions, etc.)
- Cauliflower lentil salad (canned lentils, maple syrup, lemon, mustard, parsley, cumin, etc.)
- Whole roasted cauliflower (harissa sauce, tahini sauce, tomato, shaved almonds, etc.)
For many more dinner ideas, check out our mains category page.
- Food processor
- Ice cream scoop or cookie dough scoop or falafel scoop
- 2 cups dried chickpeas measured before soaking + 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup mint leaves optional
- 1 yellow onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1½ teaspoons cumin ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander ground
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 - 6 cups frying oil for frying, or 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for air-frying.
1. SOAK THE CHICKPEAS
- The day or night before, put 2 cups dried chickpeas in a large pot with plenty of water and a teaspoon of baking soda.
- Soak them for 12 to 24 hours, then drain and rinse them under running water.
2. BLEND ALL INGREDIENTS
- To a food processor, add soaked chickpeas, 2 tablespoons chickpea flour, 1 yellow onion (peeled and chopped), 6 cloves garlic (chopped), 1 cup flat-leaf parsley (chopped), ½ cup mint leaves (chopped), 1½ teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.
- Blend until you reach a fine texture, scraping down the sides of the food processor often.It should take you about 1 to 2 minutes max.
3. SHAPE THE FALAFEL
- The easiest way to shape the falafel is with an ice cream scoop or cookie dough scoop.
- Scoop the falafel mixture into a ball, and press it with your left hand into the ice cream scoop to make it stick together.Rinse the scoop with water after every 3 falafels or when they start sticking to the scoop.
- Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Warm up the frying oil to 320°F or 160°C in a small pot or saucepan with tall edges. Ensure you only fill up the pot to half its edges because the oil will expand as it warms up and as you dip in the falafel.Use a kitchen thermometer to check the oil temperature. Oil temperature should be between 300°F / 150°C and 340°F / 170°C.
- Dip the falafel in the oil gently, one by one. We recommend frying 3 or 4 at a time.Cook them in the oil for about 3.5 - 4 minutes or until golden brown all around. Move the falafel around as they cook to ensure even frying. You can use a wooden spoon.
- Take the falafel out of the oil and arrange them on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Repeat this until your run out of falafel.
AIR FRYER FALAFEL
- Brush the bottom of your air fryer with extra virgin olive oil. Then, place the falafels in the air fryer leaving enough space from one falafel to the next.Drizzle the falafels with extra virgin olive oil.
- Air fry at 400°F or 200°C for 12 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. You can turn them around once for even browning.
- Serve on a platter with homemade hummus and warm pita bread or check out our serving suggestions chapter above.