Fresh, Homemade Falafel makes the best vegan or vegetarian dinner – especially with some tzatziki/tahini sauce on the side! Round up some dried chickpeas and herbs to make this delicious Middle Eastern recipe.
An Easy Vegan Falafel Recipe
Out of ideas on vegetarian or meatless dinners? Don’t give up your search for a protein substitute just yet! This Homemade Falafel recipe is here to save the day and your meal plan. Made with blended dried chickpeas and onion, these fritters are fried to perfection, and they smell like heaven!
Falafel are so versatile – you can fit them into your weekly menu any way you please! If you’re in need of a vegan appetizer, serving falafel is a great choice. Just whip up a batch of these crispy chickpea balls, put out some hummus or tzatziki sauce, and call it a day!
They are also delicious wrapped inside some homemade pita bread! Of course, they also double as a simple Mediterranean dinner idea. Bottom line: Wherever you choose to give them a slot, they’re sure to create a bright spot in the week!
What is Falafel?
Falafel are balls of blended chickpeas (or fava beans), fresh herbs, and assorted spices. This meal is a vegan/vegetarian recipe that has its roots in the Middle East. Homemade falafel is meant to mimic classic Mediterranean/Middle Eastern street food, and can be served with tzatziki sauce, in salads, etc.
What You’ll Need
So, what specifically goes into homemade falafel? Here’s a list of the ingredients you’ll need:
- Dried Chickpeas: Soaked for 8 hours – see tips section below for more info.
- Onion: Finely diced. You can use white, yellow, or red – I used a small white onion.
- Garlic: 3 cloves – peeled and roughly chopped.
- Seasoning: You’ll need chopped parsley, chopped cilantro, salt, cumin powder, and ground black pepper.
- Flour: I prefer to use all-purpose flour, but you can give other kinds – like gluten free flour – a try.
- Baking Soda: Gives the inside of the falafel the right texture.
- Vegetable Oil: For frying.
How to Make the Best Falafel
Homemade falafel comes together in 6 simple steps. One of the things I love most about this meal is that you just need a blender and a pan full of oil to make this chickpea delicacy – no deep fryers necessary!
Blend Falafel Ingredients: Add the soaked chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, salt, cumin and pepper to a food processor. Blend just until the mixture resembles a coarse grain, but is not mushy.
Mix in Flour & Baking Soda: Add the mixture to a large bowl then stir in the flour and baking soda until combined. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Shape the Falafel: Form the mixture into 2-inch balls using a cookie scoop or your hands and set on a cookie sheet or large plate.
Heat Oil: Add 3 inches of oil, to a large deep sauce-pan, over medium heat and let it reach 350°F.
Cook the Falafel: Fry 3 to 4 balls at a time in the oil, for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir and turn them every so often to prevent burning or over cooking on one side.
Let Cool: Remove the falafel balls from the oil and let them drain on a large plate fitted with a paper towel for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Tips for Success
Read through these tips and tricks on falafel for the best results with your meal:
- How to Soak the Chickpeas: Soak dried chickpeas in water overnight, or for 8 hours. Make sure the water covers the chickpeas by a few inches because they will more than double in size. Drain and rinse chickpeas before using.
- How to Check the Oil Temperature: I use a candy thermometer to make sure my oil is not too cold or too hot for frying. You want to keep your oil between 350°F and 360°F to fry your falafels.
- Can I Use Canned Chickpeas? I would steer clear of this – the moisture might cause your falafel balls to disintegrate when frying.
- Make Ahead Tip: Prepare this recipe up to step two, refrigerate the falafel mixture overnight instead of for an hour, and finish the rest of the cooking process the next day. Huge time saver!
Serve falafel with freshly chopped parsley, homemade tzatziki sauce, and/or tahini, as desired! Falafel is also delicious in Greek salads and stuffed in homemade pita bread wraps/sandwiches. Feel free to serve these chickpea balls alongside a healthy serving of hummus, too.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
This falafel can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you want to reheat, pop the leftover balls into the toaster oven/regular oven until they are crispy and warmed through.
Can I Freeze Falafel?
Sure. I recommend forming the balls and freezing them before you fry them. They will keep in an airtight container for about a month, and then you can fry them up fresh after thawing them in the fridge overnight.
- 1 ½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked for 8 hours**
- 1 cup finely diced white onion, about 1 small onion
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- vegetable oil, for frying
- homemade tzatziki, optional for serving
- Add the soaked chickpeas**, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, salt, cumin and pepper to a food processor. Blend just until the mixture resembles a coarse grain, but is not mushy.
- Add the mixture to a large bowl then stir in the flour and baking soda until combined. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Form the mixture into 2-inch balls using a cookie scoop or your hands and set on a cookie sheet or large plate.
- Add 3 inches of oil, to a large deep sauce-pan, over medium heat and let it reach 350°F. I use a candy thermometer to make sure my oil is not too cold or too hot for frying. You want to keep your oil between 350°F and 360°F to fry your falafels.
- Fry 3 to 4 balls at a time in the oil, for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir and turn them every so often to prevent burning or over cooking on one side.
- Remove the falafel balls from the oil and let them drain on a large plate fitted with a paper towel for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Serve falafel with freshly chopped parsley, tzatziki sauce and/or tahini, as desired!
More Easy Vegetarian Recipes
Looking for more easy vegetarian dinner ideas? Here are some of my favorites:
- Vegetable Enchiladas Recipe
- Pasta Primavera
- Vegetable Ravioli Lasagna
- Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup
- Caprese Stuffed Avocado
- Crockpot Minestrone Soup
- Cheese Enchiladas
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