Homemade Falafel

Packed with herbs & spices, this crispy baked falafel recipe is bursting with delicious flavor. Stuff it into pitas, top it with your favorite fixings & enjoy!

 Falafel

Falafel was the food that first convinced me that a vegetarian diet could be filled with bold, exciting flavors. It’s crispy, rich, and satisfying, packed with fresh herbs and aromatic spices. Stuffed into pita bread with veggies, tahini sauce, and a pop of pickled onions, it’s insanely flavorful, making it one of my all-time favorite foods.

I included a recipe for red lentil falafel in Love and Lemons Every Day (one of my favorites in the book!), but never before have I shared a classic chickpea-based falafel recipe. Without a doubt, it was worth the wait. I’m picky about my falafel, but these little guys check all the boxes: they’re crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, and loaded with herbs and spices.

Falafel recipe ingredients

What is Falafel?

If you’re thinking, “Wait. What is falafel?”, you’re in for a treat. A traditional Middle Eastern dish, falafel are fried balls of ground chickpeas, which often include parsley, cilantro, and spices such as cumin and coriander. It’s a popular street food throughout the Middle East and Europe (if you’re ever in Paris, make a stop at L’As du Fallafel), where you can find it stuffed into pitas brimming with fresh veggies, herbs, sauces, and pickles.

I’m not a fan of working with a big vat of hot oil at home, so instead of deep frying my falafel, I bake it. It comes out deliciously crisp just the same, and it’s a little lighter than the traditional version. This one is my favorite falafel recipe to date, and I hope you fall for it too!

Chickpeas and herbs in a food processor

My Falafel Recipe Ingredients

To make my baked falafel recipe, you need these key ingredients:

  • Uncooked dried chickpeas. I use soaked dried chickpeas, not canned chickpeas, in this recipe. Soak your dried chickpeas overnight before beginning the recipe, and then blend the soaked chickpeas into the herby falafel mixture.
  • Shallot and garlic. Together, they add a delicious bite! You can also use yellow onion in place of the shallot.
  • Lemon zest. It’s not traditional, but I love the lemon’s zesty brightness in these patties.
  • Cumin, coriander, and cayenne. This spice blend is warm and aromatic, and the cayenne adds a little heat.
  • Sea salt. It punches up the rich flavor of the herbs and spices.
  • Baking powder. Just a pinch makes these balls nice and puffy in the oven.
  • Cilantro and parsley. I use a good amount to make my falafel bright green and flavorful. There’s no need to toss the herb stems for this recipe – blend them straight into the falafel mixture along with the leaves!
  • Extra-virgin olive oil. I add a tablespoon to the chickpea mixture for richness. In addition, I drizzle the patties with oil before baking so they become nice and crisp in the oven.

How to make falafel

How to Make Falafel

Once you’ve soaked your chickpeas, this recipe is easy to make! Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Blend the ingredients. Add the falafel ingredients to a food processor, and pulse until well combined, but not pureed.
  2. Form the falafel balls. Use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop and your hands to gently form the mixture into 12 to 15 thick patties.
  3. Bake! Drizzle the little cakes with olive oil, and bake, flipping halfway, until they’re golden brown and crisp.
  4. Serve, and enjoy! Stuff the cooked falafel into pitas with your favorite fixings, top them onto a salad, or serve them over a bowl. Then, dig in!

Baked falafel recipe

Best Baked Falafel Tips

  1. Used dried, NOT canned chickpeas. The perfect cakey, crumbly falafel texture comes from dried chickpeas that have been soaked, but not cooked, before being blended into patties. Make sure to soak dried chickpeas ahead of time to make this recipe. Substituting cooked, canned chickpeas does not work here – your falafel will turn out wet and mushy.
  2. Drizzle the patties generously with oil before baking. Because this falafel recipe is baked, not fried, it automatically uses much less oil than traditional falafel. In order to get your patties nicely crisp and golden brown in the oven, don’t hesitate give them a generous drizzle of oil before baking. They’ll come out delicious and still be lighter than classic falafel.
  3. Don’t pack your patties too tightly. It’s tempting to really pack falafel patties together tightly, but doing so will make them tough and dense. Form the falafel balls gently, and if your mixture isn’t holding together well, pop it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes before shaping and baking the patties.
  4. Make a double batch, and freeze the extras. These guys keep well in the freezer, so go ahead and make a double batch to have on hand for salads, bowls, or wraps. To reheat frozen falafel, pop them in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes, until they’re crisp and heated through. Check out this post for more freezer-friendly dinner ideas!

Falafel Serving Suggestions

I love stuffing my falafel into a pita sandwich loaded with chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, fresh herbs, hummus, pickled onions, and generous drizzles of tahini sauce. To customize your pita sandwich, you could easily swap another Middle Eastern sauce like tzatziki or baba ganoush for the hummus, or drizzle it with cilantro lime dressing instead of (or in addition to) the tahini.

If you’re not in the mood for pita, top your falafel onto a big salad along with some crispy roasted chickpeas, or serve it over a bed of quinoa, cilantro lime rice, or cauliflower rice with lots of fresh veggies.

Baked falafel

And if you’re in the market for a side dish, any of these recipes would be excellent with this baked falafel:

Falafel

If you love this falafel recipe…

Try my Mediterranean chickpea salad, shawarma wraps, or stuffed zucchini next!


5.0 from 1 reviews

Falafel

 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This falafel recipe is my favorite vegetarian main dish. I like them stuffed into pita sandwiches, but they're also delicious over salads, grain bowls, or on their own for a quick snack! Gluten-free and vegan.
Author:
Recipe type: Main dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked chickpeas, soaked 24 hours, drained, rinsed, and patted dry* (see note)
  • ½ cup chopped shallot or yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems, patted dry
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves and stems, patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
For serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large food processor, place the chickpeas (they will be plump but still raw at this point), shallot, garlic, lemon zest, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne, baking powder, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. Pulse until well combined but not pureed. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Use a 2-tablespoon scoop and your hands to form the mixture into 12 to 15 thick patties (be careful not to pack them too tight or your falafel will be dense). Place the patties on the baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil (this is the key to making these moist and crisp since we're not frying) and bake for 14 minutes. Flip and bake for 10 to 12 minutes more or until golden brown and crisp on the outside. During the last few minutes of baking, wrap the pita in foil and warm in the oven.
  4. Assemble pitas with a slather of hummus, diced veggies, falafel, herbs, pickled red onions, and generous drizzles of tahini sauce.
Notes
*Canned chickpeas cannot be substituted in this recipe or your falafel will turn out mushy.

17 comments

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  1. Susan
    09.29.2019

    Falafel is one of my all-time favorite foods, but is not always easily available in the middle east. I tried finding it in Dubai with no luck. But did find it in Jordan on the same trip. Real falafel are ALWAYS made with soaked dried chickpeas. Some people seem to think that canned would work, but I agree with you about using the dry ones.

  2. Emily from carvingajourney.com
    09.30.2019

    I have never made falafel because I do not enjoy deep frying at home. I am so excited to see this recipe for baked falafel. If only I could find a good gluten-free pita recipe to go with this!

    Do you have any suggestions to substitute the pita? Thanks so much!!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.30.2019

      Hi Emily, I hope you enjoy this baked version! I really like them in a big salad with arugula or topped onto a grain bowl with brown rice or quinoa. You can add all the same fixings – crispy veggies, pickled onions a scoop of hummus, and generous drizzles of tahini sauce. I hope that helps! If I ever come across some amazing GF pita, I’ll report back 🙂

  3. Angela
    09.30.2019

    Question – so you only soak the chickpeas- you don’t actually cook them after soaking? I make a lot of dried beans from scratch and have never seen a recipe that didn’t cook the beans after soaking. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.30.2019

      yep – you soak them, pulse them into the recipe and then they fully cook in the oven. This is what gives them the crispy non-mushy texture.

  4. Bry
    10.01.2019

    I make felafel quite a lot, but this recipe sounds AMAZING! Agree with the dried chickpeas for felafel – they add this amazing texture you just don’t get with the canned variety! Looking forward to trying this recipe out x

  5. JJ
    10.02.2019

    Best homemade baked falafel recipe I’ve used – and I’ve used many! Easy and delicious. Mixture seemed a little wet at first (my herbs weren’t totally dry and I used too many!) but baked up to a very nice texture. Thank you!

  6. Marci from veggingattheshore.com
    10.02.2019

    This was delicious. My 8 year-old daughter devoured it. I was very apprehensive about not cooking the chickpeas first. Loved it!

  7. Cam_LA
    10.05.2019

    Did anyone else have trouble with the mixture not sticking together when trying to form patties? I couldn’t even brush with olive oil because they’d fall apart.
    I loved the flavor but would appreciate any tips on what I did wrong.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.05.2019

      Hi Camille, oh no… I just want to be sure you used dried chickpeas (and not canned). Without seeing it, it sounds like you could have pulsed the mixture a little longer in the food processor until everything was a bit more cohesive. Another tip, (especially if your chickpeas or herbs are not fully dry) is to set the mix aside in the fridge for 20 minutes. I like to use a cookie scoop to form the patties and then drizzle with oil instead of using a brush. I hope that helps.

      • Cam_LA
        10.06.2019

        Thank you so much for the response! I soaked my raw chickpeas for about 3 days before using them. I think you’re right, I should have pulsed a bit more in the food processor… I had a pretty chunky mixture. I must say, the flavor is delicious!

        • Jeanine Donofrio
          10.07.2019

          I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor :). I’d try soaking for 1 day, and then pulsing a bit more. Scoop a sample of the mixture to see if it sticks together. If it doesn’t, give another few pulses. They’re more fragile than a meatball, but you should be able to gently form them into disks. Hope that helps!

  8. Christine
    10.07.2019

    Do you have any suggestions for a substitute for cilantro? Would you just add more parsley? (Cilantro tastes like soap to me 😔.)

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.07.2019

      Hi Christine, you can just use extra parsley.

  9. Hannah
    10.07.2019

    What’s the minimum amount of time you could soak the beans? Would 5 to 6 hours count as overnight?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.07.2019

      Hi Hannah, I haven’t tried at 5-6 hours – I do 18-24 hours.

  10. Kayleigh Legg
    10.14.2019

    What food processor do you use?

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.