I LOVE falafel, and when I’m traveling, I always seek out the best Middle Eastern restaurants and try their version of falafel. While it’s a delicious treat to eat it out, it’s not something that I would want to eat on a weekly basis, because it is usually fried in a substantial amount of oil. This Perfect Vegan Falafel is oil free, high in protein, can be either baked or air fried, and just as satisfying as the fried version. It takes just a bit of forethought to remember to soak the chickpeas, but it comes together quickly the next day, and will make several servings for meal prep or leftovers in the fridge or freezer.
Some important things about making perfect vegan falafel-
Using dried, soaked chickpeas-
I remember when I made falafel for the first time at home, and I kept reading and rereading the recipe trying to figure out when I was actually supposed to cook the chickpeas. I must have missed something, right?! Well, it turns out I didn’t- you don’t actually use cooked chickpeas to make falafel, just soaked. I know it can be a pain for people to remember to soak chickpeas the night before, but I promise it’s worth it, and you can’t use canned chickpeas in the recipe, otherwise you will get a very mushy and dense texture. Think of this recipe as meal prep since it makes so many falafel. It takes a bit of extra effort, but you will get a lot of meals out of it.
Using fresh herbs in this recipe makes all the difference. They add such a bright note and compliment the fluffy texture of the finished product. Definitely splurge for the fresh cilantro and parsley, although I find using dried for the dill works just fine.
What if I don’t have an air fryer?
These come out great in the oven as well! If you want to keep these completely oil free, line a baking tray with parchment paper and cook on top, flipping half way through. If you don’t mind a light spray of oil, the brown up a bit better if you bake them directly on the tray. Just spray the baking tray lightly, no need to spray the falafels.
If you do have an air fryer, I recommend using it. They cook faster and get a bit crispier on the outside. And zero oil required!
Can I freeze these?
I recommend actually freezing or refrigerating the leftover mixture that you don’t cook right away, instead of freezing the cooked falafels. If you want to refrigerate and eat within a few days, you can simply just put it in the fridge as is, or roll into balls so they are ready to go.
If you prefer to freeze, I recommend rolling them into balls first and then freezing. This cuts down a bit on the prep work after you take them out of the freezer. You’ll just simply need to let them thaw, and then cook according to the directions below.
How do I eat these Vegan Falafel?
There are so many different want to enjoy falafel. They are delicious over a big greek salad with tomatoes, red onion and black olives.
I also love to make pita sandwiches, and you can even use our Whole Wheat Pita recipe which cook up in a flash, or with a side of our Baba Ghanoush. Additionally, I enjoy them often with a side of rice or potatoes and some lemon tahini dressing drizzled over. You won’t stop coming up with ideas on how to eat these!
Perfect Vegan Falafel (Baked or Air Fryer)
- Air fryer (optional)
- Food processor
- 2 cups dried chickpeas (do not used canned or cooked chickpeas)
- 1 small to medium onion
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh parsley about 1/2 cup chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro about 1/4 cup chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried dill (omit if you don't have on hand)
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 4 tbsp chickpea flour or flour of your choice use chickpea or other gluten free flour to keep gluten free
- pinch cardamom powder (omit if you don't have on hand)
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp additional flour use after refrigerating the mixture if it is too wet to roll
- Soak the chickpeas in water the night before or up to 24 hours before cooking. They should triple in size, so make sure you cover them in plenty of water.
- Drain chickpeas from water and rinse. Pat dry with a towel.
- Add chickpeas and the remaining ingredients to a food processor (excluding the additional 1 tbsp of flour)
- Process until the mixture reaches a sand like texture, being careful not to over blend into a paste. Open occasionally and scrape down the sides to make sure it is processed evenly.
- Add the mixture to the refrigerator and let sit for at least 45 minutes. Don't skip this step. The flavors will really meld together, and also make the mixture much easier to form into balls or patties.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F just before you remove the mixture from the fridge.
- Using your refrigerated mixture, shape into about balls or flat patties using approximately 2 tbsp of mixture for each falafel. (If you plan on using the falafel in a pita sandwich I recommend doing flat patties so they fit into the pita.)
- If baking in the oven, line a baking tray with parchement paper if you are doing completely oil free. Alternatively, you can spray the baking tray with a light coating of oil of your choice. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping the falafel half way through.
- If using the air fryer, arrange falafel in your tray so that they are not touching or stacked on top of each other. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your air fryer. Air fry on 380 degrees for 15 minutes (you should not need to flip).
- Remove from the oven or air fryer when well browned and crispy. Serve in a pita, on top of a salad, or with hummus.