Today, we are making the best falafel recipe that you have ever tasted. Falafel is little balls of chickpea goodness that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
They’re a traditional Middle Eastern recipe, they are naturally vegan, and they are perfect on top of salads or in wraps, in a pita, or in sandwiches, though I personally love them on salads because it means you get a little extra green.
How To Make The Best Falafel Recipe:
with all of that inspiration, let me show you how to make the best falafel recipe.
To get started, you’ll need one cup of dried chickpeas and it is critical that you do use dried chickpeas in this recipe and not canned chickpeas, as canned chickpeas are too soft and wet and your falafel will not form properly if you use them.
You’ll need to soak your chickpeas for at least eight to 12 hours, and this is easy to do overnight.
Just add them to a large bowl and cover them with two to three inches of water. Remember that the chickpeas will almost triple in size so you do want plenty of water in the bowl.
The next morning, you’ll see how much your chickpeas have expanded and the water might look a little yellowish.
That’s fine, just drain and rinse your chickpeas and then add them to your food processor.
Dice up about a half a cup of yellow onion. The food processor will do much of the work, but I find that it does help to do a little chopping beforehand to keep the texture consistent.
The best falafel recipes I’ve eaten have always had heaps of herbs inside, so we’re adding a generous amount today.
Grab a large bunch of parsley and then roughly chop it. It should equal about one cup, lightly packed if you wanna double-check, and then add it to your food processor.
Next, we’ll add cilantro, and you want an equal amount of cilantro to parsley. So, roughly chop your cilantro and add that to your food processor as well.
Now, this is what I consider the special ingredient of this recipe, and it’s green pepper. I’m using a small serrano pepper but you could use a small jalapeno pepper as well.
You don’t want too much pepper, just enough to add a kick of flavor without overpowering the falafel.
If your pepper is bigger than what you see here, just use half of it, but don’t omit the pepper without trying it first.
you’ll just have to trust me on this one. So, remove the seeds and membrane from the inside of the pepper, dice it up, and add it to the food processor.
Next, we’ll add three cloves of garlic, and do use fresh garlic rather than garlic powder for the most robust flavor. Again, you can always tweak the amount of garlic to your liking.
So, just peel the garlic cloves and toss them into the food processor as well.
Now we’ll add a couple of spices that are often used in Middle Eastern cooking and which smell amazing, and that includes one teaspoon of cumin, one teaspoon of salt, a half a teaspoon of cardamom, which I love, and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper.
Once everything is in your food processor, add the lid, and then pulse it several times, scraping down the sides in between.
After you’ve done this for a minute or two, you should have a mixture that still has a little bit of texture to it but it also resembles coarse sand.
Transfer the falafel dough mixture to a mixing bowl and then add two tablespoons of chickpea flour and half a teaspoon of baking soda.
These ingredients help to bind everything together and make the falafel nice and fluffy on the inside.
Cover the bowl and then refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to an hour so it can chill and all of the flavors can melt together.
After it’s chilled comes the scooping part. I’m using a medium cookie scoop, I love it as it helps to keep all of your falafel the same size.
So, scoop the mixture into your hands and form them into balls. The ball should stick together but they are a bit fragile, so do be gentle with them.
Repeat this process until you’ve used up all of your dough and just place the uncooked falafel on a plate.
Now, if you do prefer the flatter patty shape, you can do this by hand as well.
I tend to scoop a little bit more than I do for the balls, and then just form them into patty shapes with my hands.
The flatter shape is perfect for serving in pita or sandwiches, so it helps to think of how you might serve the falafel before you start shaping them.
HOW TO COOK FALAFEL – 3 DIFFERENT WAYS
When it comes to cooking falafel, I’ll show you three different methods.
The first is deep-frying, which is the most common method used in restaurants, but it does use the most oil.
In terms of oil, I’m using avocado oil as it’s a high heat oil and it’s my personal favorite oil to cook with, but you could use vegetable oil as well.
Heat the oil on medium heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some websites recommend 375 degrees, but I found that this made the outside of the falafel much darker and I prefer a more golden, crispy outside.
Once your oil has come to temperature, gently drop your falafel balls in the oil and let them cook for a minute or so.
Cook them in batches of six to eight at a time, and I’ll use my skimmer to move them around a bit and take a peek to make sure that they’re not getting too dark.
Once they look beautiful and golden, we move them to a paper-towel-lined plate and repeat the process.
Now I’ll show you how to pan-fry falafel, and this method is great as it uses less oil.
You only need a few tablespoons of oil in a pan and I prefer a cast iron pan for this.
Heat the oil to medium-high or until it sizzles when you drop the first falafel in the pan.
Cook the falafel for two to three minutes on each side or until they’re golden brown.
Then, transfer them to a paper-towel-lined plate.
Our last method is baked falafel and you’ll start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grab a baking sheet and either spray or lightly brush it with oil. Then add your falafel to the pan and lightly coat the top sides with oil as well.
Cook them in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes and flip them halfway through. When they’re done, they should be just as golden as the other methods.
So here’s my flatter, baked falafel, my pan-fried falafel, and my deep-fried falafel.
You can see that they look pretty darn similar, so it’s really up to you which method you prefer. Falafel is best eaten warm and while they’re nice and crispy on the outside.
If you break one open, you’ll see beautiful vibrant green colors, and I’ll forewarn you that they are highly addictive.
HOW TO SERVE FALAFEL
Drizzle your falafel with tahini sauce, which is a creamy and flavorful requirement, If you want to make a feast, serve the falafel with my homemade hummus, lentil salad, cauliflower rice tabbouleh, and roasted cauliflower with za’atar.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (don't use canned chickpeas)
- 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped (about a one large bunch)
- 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
- 1 small green chile pepper, serrano or jalapeno pepper
- 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (about one large bunch)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- avocado oil for frying
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour
The night before, soak the dried chickpeas in water. Make sure the water covers the chickpeas by 2-3 inches, as they'll triple in size.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to your food processor.
Add the onion, parsley, cilantro, pepper, garlic, cumin, salt, cardamom, and black pepper to the food processor and pulse several times until it resembles the texture of coarse sand.
Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl and add the chickpea flour and baking soda. Stir together, then cover or add a lid.
Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to one hour.
Use your hands, an ice cream scoop or falafel scoop to form the falafel into balls or patties. If you find the mixture is too wet, you can add another tablespoon of chickpea flour. If it's too dry and crumbly, you can add a teaspoon or two of water or lemon juice.
Once the falafel is formed, you can cook them by your preferred method mentioned above.
To deep-fry, the falafel, add about 3 inches of oil to a pot on medium heat. Heat the oil to 350F.
Cook the falafel in batches (about 6-8 at a time) for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Use a skimmer to check the color of the falafel and make sure they don't overcook it. Then remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
Serve the falafel immediately, while warm and crispy on the outside.