The Best Homemade Falafel
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Traditional restaurant-style falafels — made at home! Falafels are a combination of chickpeas, loaded with onions, parsley, sesame seeds, and a handful of spices. Pan fry them, deep fry them, or bake them in the oven until they’re golden and delicious!
Homemade Falafels. That’s it, scroll to the bottom, grab the recipe, make them. Goodbye; so long! Farewell! Just kidding. This isn’t really goodbye. But you don’t need me to say much more than homemade falafel!
Tender on the inside and marked by that signature green color, while they’re crispy and golden brown on the outside. The key to making the best homemade falafel is to spice them just right. There’s a lot of debate whether sesame seeds have a place in falafels. Some countries (Egypt and others) use them, while others don’t. I love sesame seeds so you’ll definitely find some in my homemade batch however, they are optional.
A falafel is essentially just a chickpea fritter loaded with so much flavor and it just so happens to be completely meatless. I’ve recipe tested them to the point where they’re absolutely perfect. But really, we all know it’s because I can’t get off the falafel train.
Ingredients for homemade falafel:
- Garbanzo beans: Also called chickpeas and are very commonly used in falafel recipes. Fava beans are also sometimes used in place of garbanzo beans. However, I’ve only ever used garbanzo beans. You’ll want to rinse and soak the dried chickpeas in roughly 6 cups of water 12-24 hours in advance. I’ve never tested this recipe with canned chickpeas and those are typically cooked before canning and would produce different results. Chickpeas are also used to make hummus and various other salads, I use them as a protein source in vegetarian sandwiches and for other dips.
- Fresh Parsley: Not only adds that signature green hue to falafel it also adds tons of fresh herb flavor. You can swap out some or all of of the parsley for fresh cilantro if you’d like. I typically use both.
- Onions: Use a white or yellow onion for this recipe. We’ll pulse is with everything else in the food processor.
- Garlic: I use a few garlic cloves to give the falafel patties a bit of garlicky flavor; feel free to skip this if you’d like.
- Spices and seasonings:Cumin, coriander, salt, and black pepper, and cayenne are some of the ingredients I use. Recently, I’ve also started tossing in a hulled out jalapeño or two for a little more flavor, though this is completely optional!
- Baking soda: Helps give the falafel just the littlest bit of lift when it reacts with the lemon juice in the mixture.
- Lemon Juice: reacts with the leavening agent (baking soda) when the two mix.
- Sesame Seeds: Adds nuttiness and texture. You can omit the sesame seeds for those with allergies or if you don’t want to use them.
- All-purpose Flour: Use for binding. The flour absorbs the excess moisture in the falafel mixture.
- Oil, for frying: You’ll need oil for deep frying or panfrying. The shape of the falafel will vary if you make patties or if you make falafel balls. I usually prefer these as falafel patties but this recipe works both ways.
How to make falafel:
- Soak then drain. Start by soaking the chickpeas for 12-24 hours before preparing. Drain the chickpeas and dry them completely on paper towels. You want them to be dry to avoid too much moisture in the falafel batter.
- Mix it up. Add the chickpeas, and all of the remaining ingredients except the sesame seeds and the flour to the food processor. Pulse the mixture until the chickpeas and herbs breakdown into a chunky but small textured mixture. Heat the oil if you are frying these in a pan or in a deep fryer.
- Combine it in a bowl. Add the mixture from the food processor to a large bowl, stir in the sesame seeds and the flour. Try to form patties or falafel balls with the mixture. if the mixture doesn’t gold it’s shape, you may need to add another one to two tablespoons of flour to help form the shape. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes before forming patties or balls. This will allow the flour to further absorb the moisture. I usually prefer these as patties, but as you can see in the pictures, the recipe works with both. I do find that forming balls requires a bit more flour than making patties. And the patties usually retain moisture better.
- Fry them up and serve. The pattiesfry best in a skillet or fryingpan and the balls are best when fried in a deep saucepan with at least 2 cups of oil or in a deep fryer. When the oil is warm add the balls or the patties and fry until golden. I usually like to fry these at medium heat (or 325ºF to be more specific) so that they don’t brown too quickly on the outside without finishing cooking on the inside. Remove using a slotted spoon to a dish lined with paper towel and let drain for a few minutes. Serve these with toum, stuffed in pita bread with tomatoes, cucumbers, and thinly sliced onions with French fries and Israeli salad on the side. You could also try making falafel in the air fryer, however it’s not something I’ve had a chance to test out myself just yet!
FAQs about this recipe:
- How do you shape the patties and balls? I use a medium cookie scoop and them form the ball between my palms. If you’d like to make patties just make the ball, place it on a baking sheet and then gently press down the top to flatten.
- How do I make this into spicy falafel? Recently I’ve started adding a hulled out jalapeno (or add two) to give this a bit more heat. You can also up the amount of cayenne pepper you use!
- Any tips for making round falafel balls? Make sure to firmly roll the falafel balls or patties to avoid any cracks on the surface. Scraggly falafel have a chance of following apart in the hot oil. The more firmly packed, with a without cracks, the better the falafel will fry without falling apart.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Lebanese Meat Stuffed Pitas (Arayes)
- Lebanese Fattoush Salad
- Shirazi Salad
- Most Delicious Shawarma Seasoning
- Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Power Salad
Original recipe shared February 2016, updated with new post, images, and more clear directions May 2022.
- 1 cup dried garbanzo beans (soak in 6 cups of water for 12-24 hours)
- 1 bunch parsley (see note)
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (I used minced)
- 1 ½ teaspoon EACH: cumin powder AND salt
- 1 teaspoon EACH: coriander powder AND black pepper
- ¼ -1 teaspoon cayenne powder (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
- 2-4 tablespoons all purpose flour
- Oil, for frying
- DRAIN: the garbanzo beans from the water and dry them completely. You can do this on a kitchen towel by giving them a good wipe down.
- TRANSFER: garbanzo beans along with the rest of the ingredients except the sesame seeds and flour to a food processor. Pulse the mixture until it breaks down (see pictures for consistency). You don't want it to become a paste. You want it to still have tiny bits of chickpeas running through.
- MIX: the falafel mixture to a bowl, add the sesame seeds, and start by adding 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir to combine. Try to form patties (or balls) with the mixture. If the mixture doesn't hold it's shape, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes before forming patties or balls. I shaped mine into patties that were about 1 ¼ inch in diameter or make balls with a 2 tbsp measuring scoop
- FRY: Heat an inch of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat or in a deep fryer (if making balls). I suggest using a skillet because it reduces the chances of the falafel patties breaking vs making falafel balls. When the oil is warm (325ºF), place 4-6 patties into the oil at a time, depending on the size of the skillet. Do not overcrowd the pan as it will become very difficult to turn the patties. Let the falafel cook for 5-6 minutes total (in the pan or deep fryer) or until the patties or balls cook all the way through. Depending on the size, you may need more or less time. It's always good to do a test falafel. Taste to make sure it's cooked through and adjusting the time as needed.
- BLEND: I actually really like cilantro so I did 50% parsley and 50% cilantro for my falafels. You can use all parsley or cilantro or a good combination of the two. This is totally up to you.
- HEAT: The cayenne powder is optional. If you don't want any heat at all, feel free to leave it out completely! You can also add in 1-2 hollowed out jalapeños to give this a bit more kick!
- DEEP FRYING: You can deep fry the falafels if you wish, you'll need a slotted spoon to aid in lowering the falafel patties (or balls) into the hot oil so the oil doesn't splatter.
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