It’s so easy to make crispy falafel at home in just 30 minutes. This recipe uses canned chickpeas for ease and is bursting with fresh flavor from parsley and cilantro. Enjoy them on their own, in pita sandwiches, or on salads.
There is probably nothing better than really good falafel. Crispy on the outside, soft and (sorry) moist on the inside, bursting with fresh flavor, herbs, and spices. They’re magical, and one of my favorite vegetarian dinner recipes both for easy weeknights and get-togethers with friends.
They’re so versatile and perfect for meal prep for quick lunches, too. Serve them with pita, homemade hummus, quick pickles and onions, or on a salad with lemon tahini dressing. Psch, you can even just nosh on them all on their own they’re that good.
What is Falafel?
Falafel is a super popular Middle Eastern fritter. It’s a mixture of chickpeas or fava beans, fresh herbs, and spices that are formed into balls or discs (patties) and deep-fried. It’s usually enjoyed with pita bread, or in a pita pocket as a sandwich.
As I mentioned, falafel can also be enjoyed on top of salads, enjoyed with a variety of sauces, savored on its own, or on a meze platter – a variety of appetizers to nosh on.
Crispy Falafel Ingredients
With just a few simple ingredients, you’ll have the most delicious dinner or appetizer in no time! Here’s what you’ll need for this falafel recipe:
- Canned Chickpeas: alright, the most authentic falafel will use dried chickpeas that have been soaked. However, this recipe variation uses canned chickpeas for ease.
- Shallot: more mild than a regular onion, shallot adds the same allium flavor without being too harsh.
- Garlic: you know I love garlic, and it’s a must in this recipe!
- Cilantro and Parsley: these fresh herbs add TONS of flavor to this recipe. Go ahead and add the stems, they hold a lot of the herb’s flavor and because they will be processed in the food processor, they’ll blend right in.
- Cumin, Coriander, and Black Pepper: these dried spices round out the flavor in the falafel, bringing warmth, spice, and deliciousness.
- Flour: to bind together the filling and soaks up some of the moisture.
- Panko: added to the outside of the falafel balls to make that crispy exterior.
How to Make Homemade Falafel
Please see the recipe card below for full instructions.
Are you ready to make the best homemade falafel? You are going to love how easy this recipe is to make.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Add the chickpeas, shallot, garlic, herbs, and spices to the bowl of a food processor.
- Pulse the ingredients in the food processor until a coarse mixture forms.
- Add flour, and pulse until it is incorporated and the mixture is more uniform. If it’s extra sticky, add a little more flour, but don’t overdo it, or the falafel could become too dry.
- Optional: place the mixture in the fridge to set up for 15 minutes.
- Form the falafel “dough” into balls or discs. The size you make is honestly up to you, however, I like to use about 2 tablespoons of the mixture to form the balls. A cookie scoop works great for easy scooping. Spray it with a little oil if the mixture seems to stick too much.
- Roll the balls in panko. This gives a lovely textured exterior and makes these falafel crispier.
- Cook – there are several options here. Pan-frying is my favorite for the most crispy falafel. You can also bake them (with less crispy results) or air fry the falfel. More below!
- Enjoy! Ideas below…
For Crispy Falafel – Pan-Fry!
This is my favorite method for cooking falafel, especially when the goal is crispy falafel. It crisps up the panko wonderfully, making the absolute best texture!
Use a large cast-iron skillet or another skillet with tall sides and pour about 1/2 inch oil in the bottom. It should coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil.
To test if the oil is hot enough, toss in a flake of panko. If it begins bubbling immediately, you’re ready!
Add the falafel balls evenly around the pan, and use the back of a spatula to press the falafel down into discs. Alternatively, you can form them into discs when you form them, I just find pressing them down when they’re in the pan to be easier when frying the falafel.
Once the first side is golden brown, flip and fry the second side, again until golden brown.
Transfer the fried falafel to a cooling rack or plate lined with a paper towel. Continue to fry the remaining falafel.
How to Air Fry Falafel
Of course, I had to test homemade falafel in the air fryer, and I’m happy to report that it does work. I’ll still say pan-frying is best, but the next best option is to air-fry.
Air fryer falafel works decently with the panko on it, opposed to when baking. I do recommend forming them into patties before you cook them, however, balls will work, too.
You will want to lightly spray the falafel with cooking spray before placing them in the air fryer. This will help them crisp up a bit more. Then, bake, flip about halfway through. They’ll be golden brown and crisp when ready, then enjoy!
How to Bake Falafel
Now for baking falafel in the oven. The panko won’t crisp up quite as well, and in fact, you probably want to leave it off, but it’s definitely an option if you’re looking for an alternative to frying. I also recommend forming the falafel into discs before baking for even cooking.
Bake them in the oven, flipping halfway through, until golden brown.
Baking Tip: place them on an oven-safe cooling rack on top of your baking sheet so the air circulates around them evenly, similar to the process with these cauliflower bites.
How to Serve Falafel
Falafel is such a versatile item because there are so many ways to enjoy it! Here are a few of my favorites. I’d love to hear how you enjoy falafel, just leave a comment below!
- Add it to a veggie pita sandwich or in a wrap.
- Pair it with homemade flatbread and hummus with tomatoes and red onion.
- Dip it in herby lemon tahini sauce.
- Or of course make some lazy girl tzatziki sauce.
- Add it on a salad (that tzatziki sauce is a great dressing, too!).
- Make falafel sliders (excellent for game day!).
- On top of Mediterranean Nachos.
Storage and Reheating
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat the falafel in the oven or air fryer at 350° for 5-8 minutes. They will need less time in the air fryer than in the oven. Flip them about halfway through the cooking time, until crispy again. I don’t recommend reheating in the microwave, because they don’t crisp up and are kind of soggy.
Freeze already-fried falafel for easy dinner or lunches! Let them cool completely, then for best results freeze on a baking sheet in a single layer before transferring to a freezer-safe container for storage.
Reheat in the oven or air fryer for best results, see above for reheating directions, just add a few additional minutes because they are frozen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, this recipe is vegan as it contains no dairy or eggs.
I haven’t tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, but I suspect they will be just fine with either chickpea flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour.
Homemade Crispy Falafel
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup shallots, heaping, roughly chopped, approx. 1 medium bulb
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- Pinch black pepper
- 4-6 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup panko
- Oil for frying
- In the bowl of a food processor, add chickpeas, shallot, garlic, cilantro, parsley, salt, cumin, coriander, and black pepper. Pulse until a coarse, pea-sized mixture forms. Add 4 tablespoons of flour, and continue pulsing until the mixture is uniform and fairly smooth – some texture is ideal. If the mixture is really sticky, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of flour.
- Optional: chill the mixture for about 15 minutes before forming.
- Take approximately 2 tablespoons of the falafel mixture and form it into a ball, then roll each ball in panko and set on a plate or baking sheet while you continue with the rest of the mixture (will make 8-10 falafel balls).
- Meanwhile, begin heating a flavorless oil in a skillet over medium heat. Oil should be approximately ½ inch high in the pan. Add falafel balls in the hot oil, evenly spacing them evenly, being careful to not crowd the pan.
- Use a spatula to gently press about halfway down on the ball to form a disc (if desired). Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel or cooling rack. Continue frying the remaining falafel (I usually do 2 batches, this will depend on the size of your pan).
- Serve immediately as desired. Excellent with hummus, tzatziki sauce, or in a pita sandwich.
- Bake: I recommend omitting the panko if you plan to bake the falafel because it won’t crisp up as intended. Otherwise, lightly spray it with cooking oil before baking. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake the falafel for 16-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Using an oven-safe cooling rack to bake them on helps yield crispier results, too.
- Air Fry: Lightly spray falafel on each side and place on the rack of an air fryer. Set the air fryer to 375°F and bake for 14-16 minutes (if not preheated) flipping halfway through, until golden brown and crispy. If you preheat the air fryer, cook for 12-14 minutes.
- Storage & Reheating: place any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the oven or air fryer at 350° for 6-10 minutes (less time in the air fryer), flipping halfway through, until the falafel is crispy again.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.