Crispy Baked 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 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 the 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, pulse it a bit more in the food processor until the mixture sticks together. If it’s still too crumbly, 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 and this post for some great meal prep tips.

Falafel Serving Suggestions

I love stuffing these 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 patties 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!

Check out this post for more healthy dinner ideas, or this post for 85 more vegan recipes!

Falafel

rate this recipe:
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves 4
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.

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

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • 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.
  • 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). If they're not holding together, give the mixture a few more pulses in the food processor.
  • 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.
  • 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.

 

67 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

    5 stars
    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. 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.

      • Christine
        04.24.2020

        5 stars
        Thanks Jeanine! I made this a couple times now and it has been fantastic everytime!!!

  8. 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.

  9. Kayleigh Legg
    10.14.2019

    What food processor do you use?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.18.2019

      I use the KitchenAid 7-cup food processor, I also like Cuisinart’s 7-cup food processor. Neither are super large but I like them for recipes like this.

  10. Teri C
    12.29.2019

    5 stars
    Excellent flavor and crispy. I used baba ghanouj, herbs, tomatoes, pickled onions, and drizzled with cucumber tzatziki. Perfect blend of flavors.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.03.2020

      Hi Teri, I’m so glad you loved the falafel!

  11. Tracy Carman
    01.06.2020

    I cannot wait to try this! I am going to try in the air fryer instead of baking fingers crossed!

    • Laura C
      01.08.2020

      How was it in the air fryer? I was thinking of trying this too!

  12. Brooke
    01.09.2020

    Hi! Question- I soaked 1 cup dried chickpeas and they plumped to create about 3 cups- does all that go in food processor or just 1 cup?
    Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.09.2020

      It all goes in! (be sure to drain it first)

  13. Leah
    02.09.2020

    I REALLY would love to make these but could you tell me what brand of chickpeas you use? I have only ever bought the canned!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.10.2020

      Hi Leah, any dry chickpeas will do – I get the kind from the bulk bin section at Whole Foods (I’m not sure what brand it is). I’m sure there are dried ones in the bean aisle of any grocery store. Hope that helps!

      • Leah
        02.10.2020

        Thank you for your help-found them at a bulk barn! I have already began the soaking process. I’m looking forward to the finished product!!

    • Penny
      05.11.2020

      Oy was I supposed to measure the cup of chick peas before I soaked? I measured 1 cup post soak…they seem super wet 🙁 I hope I didn’t mess it up

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        05.11.2020

        Hi Penny, yes, the recipe calls for 1 cup uncooked chickpeas. They’ll grow in volume after they soak, and they should all be drained and used.

        • Penny
          05.11.2020

          Thank you! They actually came out ok, bursting with flavor, assuming with the extra chickpeas (1 cup dry and soaked) they’ll be perfect! Love the flavor of them!

          • Jeanine Donofrio
            05.15.2020

            phew, I’m glad they still came out! I replied to your friend that I think they’d be best baked ahead of time and reheated in the oven when ready to serve.

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        05.11.2020

        If you have the rest of the chickpea you soaked (if you measured 1 cup from the dry), I would pulse those in until the mixture is less wet and resembles the photos above.

        • Penny
          05.12.2020

          My Friend was asking me if the mixture could be made the day before and put in refrigerator? I think k she wrote you but now I’m curious as well?

  14. Lina M
    02.27.2020

    Hi, can you leave out the lemon zest or substitute it??

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.28.2020

      You can leave it out with no subsitution.

  15. Dana
    04.01.2020

    Hello do you freeze them prior to cooking or after ? Thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.01.2020

      Hi Dana, I freeze them after cooking. To reheat, I just bake in the oven until they’re warmed through and crisp around the edges again.

  16. Kate
    04.23.2020

    Made these last night and they are phenomenal! We have tried various falafel recipes over the years but these are by far my favorite. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.15.2020

      Hi Kate, I’m so glad you loved these so much!

  17. Hannah
    05.11.2020

    5 stars
    I made these with canned chickpeas (all we could find at the time) & found a way to make them work! Dried them out for 8 hours beforehand, made sure the herbs were dry after washing them, then used an air fryer on 400 for 14 min & they held their shape & were delightfully crispy 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.12.2020

      Hi Hannah, I’m so glad you had success with canned chickpeas! Thanks for leaving your tips!

  18. Sky Grosser
    05.12.2020

    Can the mixture be made the day before? And kept in refrigerator? Making this for a big group and want to prep.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.12.2020

      Hi Sky, I haven’t tried, so I’m not sure if the mixture would dry out too much overnight (which could cause them to crumble fall apart). I will say that they are great reheated in the oven until warmed through and lightly crisp again, so I might go that route.

    • Amanda
      05.23.2020

      I had extra mixture and kept it for a week in the fridge and then baked them up as the recipe says. They were just as delicious as when I baked them on the day I mixed them up.

  19. Amanda
    05.23.2020

    Have you ever thought about changing the flavor palette and making vegan Italian meatballs with this recipe? I was thinking some fresh basil and oregano and maybe some all spice powder would be a delicious twist.

  20. Sam
    05.26.2020

    5 stars
    This is the best baked falafel I’ve ever had. The spices were spot on. I quadrupled the recipe, and I’m so glad I did-absolutely delicious!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.09.2020

      Hi Sam, I’m so glad you loved it!

  21. Jessie
    05.31.2020

    5 stars
    My new weekly favorite to make!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.09.2020

      Hi Jessie, I’m so glad you loved the falafel!

  22. Tracy D
    06.10.2020

    5 stars
    These are delicious. I make these all the time for my family, and they are always a huge hit! The pickled red onions are a must have on hand at all times!

  23. Lucy Daniel
    06.17.2020

    Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe! Everyone loves falafels, vegetarians and non-vegetarians! I like to add a couple of jalapenos to my falafels. It adds a nice flavor and punch to them. And if I feel they are a bit too hot, I remove the seeds.

  24. Lisa
    06.18.2020

    Is the 1 cup chickpea measurement for dry chickpeas or once they’ve been soaked?

    How many cups should the chickpeas amount to once soaked?

    Also, can I pan fry these instead of baking?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.18.2020

      yep – 1 cup dry, then use all of them post-soak (drain them first and pat dry). It’ll be roughly 3x the amount. I haven’t tried pan frying them, it should work, but they are really great baked.

  25. Jean
    07.01.2020

    5 stars
    This recipe turned out great. I used to deep fry my falafel, but the outer shell of the falafel would get hard that way. Backed falafel still holds together, but the outside does not become so hard. By the way, left over falafel freezes very well and is easy to reheat.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2020

      Hi Jean, I’m so glad you loved these so much!

  26. Bina
    07.05.2020

    5 stars
    I love falafel but I am very picky with it (there is one middle eastern restaurant that makes it sooo well) and did not want to deal with making/frying it. I had a bunch of dry chickpeas and was looking for a way to use them.
    I tried your recipe but using 1/2 measure as I have a teeny tiny food processor and I wanted to just try it out. It was a bit of a mess to make (my lack of finesse) but I was really pleasantly surprised at how delicious it turned out. 🙂 I did not have cilantro so only used parsley and left out lemon. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.10.2020

      Hi Bina, I’m so glad you loved it!!

  27. Anon
    07.13.2020

    5 stars
    This was great! Didn’t miss the “fry” at all. Baking powder a must

  28. Shelly
    07.21.2020

    In the photo of them in the wraps, you have a green dressing. Do you have a recipe for that posted somewhere? It looks good. I’m going to make these this week.

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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.