Middle Eastern Falafel Recipe

5 from 8 votes

This Middle Eastern falafel recipe brings your street food favorites right to your kitchen table. Learn how to make classic vegetarian chickpea falafel with a perfectly spiced, herbal batter fried up into absolute crispy perfection with this easy recipe and video!

overhead: pan fried falafel recipe in a bowl with sauce

Falafel is a very flavorful and versatile Middle Eastern recipe that can be enjoyed on its own, in wraps or with pita, or even on top of a salad! 

These chickpea patties have a crunchy outside and soft, warm inside. Their taste is subtle — the garbanzo beans are both earthy and nutty, but the abundance of fresh herbs and lemony, peppery spices keep the flavors bright.

map of Egypt and Middle East

That’s why serving these patties all comes down to the sauce, and there’s almost no shortage of sauces that are great with this falafel recipe! Creamy tahini is a no-brainer, but you might also want to try garlicky, lemony Lebanese toum. It’s just as creamy but gives you a little taste of something different.

Some of your spicier options are Yemeni schug or red shatta chili sauce. Cool those down with a fresh shirazi salad, and you’ll have a whole meal prepared!

photo collage of step by step images  show how to make falafel

Tip From Kevin

Dried and Soaked vs Canned Chickpeas

For the perfect falafel, opt for dried and soaked chickpeas instead of canned ones. For the best texture the chickpeas are best if NOT cooked. Dried chickpeas deliver a superior texture and flavor, ensuring a light and crispy outcome. Canned chickpeas ARE cooked. Also, canned chickpeas, with their excess moisture, compromise the desired consistency, resulting in a less authentic and satisfying falafel experience.

Elevate your dish by adhering to the traditional method for an irresistible falafel that captures the essence of this beloved Middle Eastern delicacy. Nobody wants a mushy falafel!

frying falafel in a pan

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Dried Chickpeas – While chickpeas are the most traditional option for a falafel recipe, white beans make a fairly decent substitute in both flavor and texture. You could also use the very traditional fava beans. That’s what they used way back when this dish first originated! 
  • Red Onion – Yellow onions are the next best cooking onion.
  • Garlic Cloves Two cloves of freshly ground garlic equals ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • Parsley & Cilantro Use fresh, finely chopped herbs to really get that pronounced herbal flavor. 
  • Ground Spices In addition to salt and cayenne pepper, this falafel recipe includes several characteristic Middle Eastern spices, including:
    • Cumin & Coriander Where there’s one, you’ll usually find the other! The two together build the perfect blend of acidity and earthiness.
    • Cardamom – Sweet but also bright and peppery, this spice is best substituted with cinnamon.
  • Sesame Seeds – Don’t skip sesame seeds, sprinkled on the surface of each crispy falafel, for that characteristic crunch!
batch of cooked falafel

How to Make My Fried Falafel Recipe

  1. Soak Chickpeas. Soak the chickpeas overnight in 4 cups of water — or for at least 8 hours — until they double in size. 
  2. Prepare Mixture. Drain and transfer to a food processor with the onion, garlic, and herbs. Pulse for a minute or so until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl along with the salt, spices, baking powder, water, and flour. Mix together, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Form Patties. Add oil to a skillet and bring to 350 degrees F. While the oil heats, form the patties with your hands, a scooper, or a spoon to form walnut-sized balls. Line the completed balls on a tray and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. It can help to chill the patties for 30 minutes or so to help them keep their shape. 
  4. Fry. Fry each batch for 4 minutes until browned and cooked through — be sure they’re in the oil for enough time for them to dry out. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and serve.

How to Make Falafel in the Oven

If you would prefer to bake rather than fry, follow steps 1 through 3 above and then complete the following steps:

  1. Form Patties. Spread ¼ cup vegetable oil over a baking sheet while preheating the oven to 350°F. Form as described above — I recommend flattening into more of a disk shape for baking.
  2. Bake. Line the fritters on the tray and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. 
  3. Cool & Serve. Transfer cooked rounds to a paper towel-lined plate and serve.
serving dish with falafel recipe
  • Falafel Scoop It’s easiest to get uniform shapes for frying with a measured scoop designed specifically for falafels. Alternatively, you can use a small ice cream scoop or even a regular spoon.
falafel recipe with a bite out of it

Storing and Reheating

You can refrigerate any uncooked batter for several days, making them a great prep-ahead snack or meal! 

Refrigerate any cooked, uneaten falafel in an airtight container. I recommend reheating in an oven or air fryer to restore the crispy texture on the exterior.

falafel in pita bread with sauce with cucumbers and tomato

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pan fried falafel in a bowl with salad and sauce

Frequently Asked Questions

Why shouldn’t you use canned chickpeas for falafel?


This falafel recipe requires using uncooked chickpeas, and canned chickpeas are already cooked. As a result, they’re simply too soft and will fall apart if you try to fry or bake them.

Is this falafel recipe vegan?


Yes. Falafels on their own are entirely vegan and vegetarian-friendly. What might not be vegan are the pitas, wraps, or dips that they’re served with.

Luckily hummus and tahini sauce, two of the most common accompaniments for these fritters, happen to be vegan as well!

Can you make and freeze falafel ahead of time?


It is possible to freeze falafel before baking. I recommend going through and forming all of the fritters, lining them on a baking sheet, and freezing briefly before transferring to a gallon-sized baggie. They’ll last for up to 6 months in the freezer.

Let thaw in the fridge overnight before frying to make sure each cooks through evenly and at the same rate.

Chickpea patties with sauce

This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes February, 2021, was updated with new content, photos and/or video in January, 2024.

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overhead image: dish of pan fried falafel

Middle Eastern Falafel Recipe

5 from 8 votes
My classic vegetarian chickpea falafel recipe uses Middle Eastern spices and herbs. Bake or fry them and serve with creamy tahini or hummus!
Servings: 20
Prep: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Soaking/Refrigerator: 8 hours
Total: 9 hours 28 minutes

Ingredients 

Falafel Mixture

  • 1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (235g)
  • 1/3 cup red onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp parsley finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp water

Frying

  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Instructions 

  • Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with 4 cups water. Cover and set aside to soak overnight (8 hours). They will double in size.
  • Drain chickpeas and transfer to food processor (See Note 1) along with the red onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro. Pulse several times for about a minute until finely chopped, but not too grainy, or too mushy of a texture. It should just start to hold together.
  • Remove mixture from processor and mix together in a bowl with the salt, spices, baking powder, flour and water. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Fry Method

  • Heat oil to 350°F in a large sided skillet (cast iron) or heavy bottom medium saucepan.
  • Wet your hands and scoop a tablespoon of the mixture into the palm of your hands to form a ball about the size of a walnut. You could also use a small ice cream scoop, spoon or falafel scooper if you prefer to keep them uniform in size (they will be flat and rounded).
  • Place each falafel on a tray and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Deep fry them in 2 batches, don't over crowd the oil, it will lower the heat. Fry for 4 minutes until browned and cooked through (See Note 2).
  • Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with tahini sauce and or all Optional Condiments in a Pita.

Baked Method

  • Add a 1/4 cup vegetable oil a baking sheet, spread to cover and preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Wet your hands and scoop a tablespoon of the mixture into the palm of your hands to form a ball about the size of a walnut. You could also use a small ice cream scoop, spoon or falafel scooper if you prefer to keep them uniform in size (they will be flat and rounded).
  • Place each falafel on a baking tray and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. I have found it better to flattened the balls slightly when baking or make the disk shape. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping after 12 minutes.
  • Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with tahini sauce and or all Optional Condiments in a Pita.

Video

Notes

  1. Using dried and soaked chickpeas in this recipe is a MUST. You want these soaked over night, but you do not cook them. Soak, drain and into the food processor. If canned chickpeas are used in this the interior will be mushy in texture and often times break apart when frying because they are cooked already.
  2. It’s important that they really dry out on the inside, so make sure they have plenty of time in the oil. If they brown too quickly lower and keep oil at 350°F.

Nutrition

Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 72mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 52IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
pan fried falafel in a pita with cucumber, tomatoes, and lettuce

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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24 Comments

    1. Not made them yet, but certainly will be te trying to.
      Would also like to make the white sauce drizzled (garlic sauce?) on top – could you give the receipe for that too please?

  1. omygosh my tummy wants these . Thank you for the recipe 😘 😋🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻♥️

  2. I soaked a big batch of chickpeas the other day, i.e. more than 1.5c dry. What would be the quantity of *soaked* beans needed for this recipe?

    1. Click the Video button on top of the post or Jump to Recipe and see the video after the Instructions. If you have a ad blocker on your browser, that may be the issue. Other than that, you can view all my videos on my Youtube channel, link here.

  3. 5 stars
    I haven’t tried falafel until now and I have definitely been missing out! So easy and delicious; easily, a new favorite recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    Your instructions were perfect. I had never made them before and they turned out perfectly. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. 5 stars
    My hubby and I absolutely love this recipe! Definitely one of our favorites, and I’ll be making these again soon!