Crisp on the outside and delicious on the inside, falafel is a classic Middle Eastern street food favorite all over the world! This Vegan Falafel Recipe is authentic in flavor and super easy to make. It makes a great dinner, lunch, or snack.
For me, no sharing of a falafel recipe would be complete without mentioning what I like to call Falafel Street in Paris! That's right, Paris, France. You see, Paris is famous for its Israeli style falafel and it was there that my obsession with falafel making began.
It all started a few years ago when I spent 2 weeks in Paris and stayed in the historic district of La Marias. It was amazing! Yet, it was also expensive. But falafel is affordable and they had plenty of it there. Just imagine a street lined with Middle Eastern restaurants serving some of the most delicious falafel you will ever eat. A truly unforgettable falafel eating experience!
So when I got back, I was on a mission to recreate that amazing falafel. A version that was authentic in flavor and true to its roots. With just the right amount of seasoning and cooked in the traditional way.
After about 10 different versions and lots of falafel for dinner over the last year, I am happy to report that I've accomplished my goal of creating a vegan falafel recipe!
Simple ingredients that are both affordable and easy to find create these amazing falafel balls!
- Dried Chickpeas- Also known as garbanzo beans. You can not use canned beans for this recipe. It will end in disaster.
- Baking Soda- Helps to soften up the chickpeas when soaking.
- Onion- I like to use brown onions for this recipe.
- Garlic- Fresh cloves create the best flavor over the pre peeled.
- Fresh Parsley & Cilantro- You need fresh herbs for this recipe.
- Cumin- The most popular spice in Middle Eastern cooking is easy to find in any market.
- Ground Coriander- If you have coriander seeds on hand you can use a spice grinder to make your own. If not you will find ground coriander in the market.
- Cayenne Pepper- An optional ingredient. I find it adds a little more depth.
- Chickpea Flour- Regular flour or gluten-free flour can be used instead, but the chickpea flour will create a more authentic flavor.
- Baking Powder- Added to produce a lighter fluffier falafel. Do not omit this ingredient.
- Oil- Sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, and regular vegetable oil all work great. You want an oil with high smoking point.
Tahini Sauce Ingredients
To make the addictively good tahini sauce you'll need just 5 ingredients!
- Tahini- Tahini is a paste made from ground roasted sesame seeds that is typically found with nut butters in the grocery store.
- Garlic- Fresh garlic cloves work best over store bought already peeled.
- Lemon Juice- You want to use fresh lemon juice.
- Salt- I used sea salt in this recipe.
- Water- You'll want to use warm water for easier blending.
How to Make Vegan Falafel
This recipe will show you how easy it is to make falafel at home.
You start off by soaking the dried chickpeas in water with a dash of baking soda overnight in the fridge.
Then the next day you will drain the chickpeas and add them to the bowl of a food processor along with the onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. Next, you will pulse the mixture in the food processor until it resembles a coarse meal. Now, you add the salt, cumin, coriander, cayenne, chickpea flour, and baking powder to the food processor and continue to process until it forms a chunky paste. The mixture should hold together well enough to form a ball, but not look like hummus.
Once the falafel mixture is the right consistency, you will put it in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
Once the mixture is good and chilled, you take 2 Tbsp size portions of the falafel mixture and form it into balls or discs about the size of a walnut. If the balls won't hold together you can add a little more chickpea flour. If they still won't hold together your mixture is likely still too chunky.
To cook the falafel, you will heat 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees farenheit in a deep pot or wok. Now, fry the falafel in batches of 6 balls at a time for about 2-3 minutes on each side. They will be crisp on the outside and deep brown in color when they are done. Drain the cooked falafel on paper towels.
And that's how you make perfectly cooked yummy authentic falafel ready to be devoured!
Tips For Success
- Soaking: You must soak the dried chickpeas for at least 12 hours! I can't say this enough. They need the time to soften up and there is no shortcut for this step.
- Baking Powder & Soda: Do yourself a favor and use both the baking soda and baking powder this this recipe. The baking soda is going to help soften the dried chickpeas and the baking powder is going to give you falafel that is nice and fluffy. No one wants dense falafel balls no matter how good they taste.
- Taste: Maybe you are new to batter tasting, but if not then you know the drill. Taste your raw falafel mix before you fry the balls. This is the time you want to add more salt to ensure the best tasting finished result.
- Oil temperature: I recommend using a digital thermometer to fry falafel. It is important that the oil be 350 degrees fahrenheit. If the oil is too cold your falafel will be greasy. If the oil is too hot the falafel will cook too fast on the outside and be undercooked on the inside. Not having a thermometer isn't a deal breaker when making falafel, but it will make it a lot easier.
How to Store
Falafel keeps really well in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Because it stores so well, it is a great make ahead meal.
To reheat the falafel, simply put them in the oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for about 10 minutes right out of the fridge or about 20 minutes right out of the freezer.
You are going to love this Vegan Falafel recipe because it's...
- Full of the authentic Middle Eastern street food flavor
- Crisp on the outside and delicious on the inside
- Filling and high in protein
- Perfect for making ahead
I hope you love this vegan falafel recipe! It's a street food favorite enjoyed by people all over the globe!
If you try this recipe please let me know how it turns out by leaving a comment and rating. You can also hashtag #danceswithknives with a photo of your creation on Instagram where you can find me @dances_with_knives.
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Easy Vegan Falafel Recipe with Tahini Sauce
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (½ lb in weight)
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup parsley, packed into the measuring cup
- ⅓ cup cilantro, packed into the measuring cup
- 1 to 1¼ tsp sea salt (start with 1 tsp)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional )
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp chickpea flour
- Sunflower oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, and vegetable oil all work too)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- ¾ cup tahini
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup warm water
- Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in the fridge by putting the chickpeas and baking soda in a large bowl covered with a couple of inches of cold water. They will need to soak for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. Once soaked, drain and rinse the beans.
- Place the drained chickpeas along with the onions, garlic, parsley, and cilantro into the bowl of a food processor and pulse into a coarse meal. You will need to stop the food processor from time to time to scrape down the sides.
- Once you reach a coarse crumbly meal texture, add 1 tsp salt along with the cumin, coriander, cayenne, chickpea flour, and baking powder. Then process again until blended but not pureed. You want the falafel mixture to resemble a chunky paste. It should hold together to form a ball, but not look like hummus. Some texture is good, but not big not chunks.
- Taste for salt. I highly recommend this step and it makes a big difference in your finished falafel. Just taste your raw falafel mix and add salt if needed. The only way to know how it’s going to taste cooked is to taste it raw. Most chefs taste all doughs, batters, mixes before they cook them.
- Place the falafel mix into a bowl then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight before cooking.
- Once chilled, form the falafel mixture into balls that are about 2 Tbsp in size. Around the size of a walnut. You also have the option to form small discs if you prefer. The mixture will be slightly loose and this is totally fine if it is still holding a shape. Falafel are not perfectly sized balls of all the exact same shape. But if the mixture just doesn't hold together you may not have processed it enough. Remember more like a paste that is chunky and less like crumbly. If this is the case, simply process it a tad longer in your food processor and proceed with the recipe. You can also try adding 1-2 Tbsp of chickpea flour if you are still having further difficulties.
- To cook, heat 3 inches of oil to 350ºF in a deep pot or wok. If you can use a digital thermometer to ensure you are at 350°F. If the oil is too cold you will have oily falafel and if it is too hot the falafel will cook too quickly on the outside leaving you with an undercooked inside.Once the oil is at 350°F, do a test by frying one falafel. If it doesn't hold together you'll need to add a little more flour to the mix. Fry the remaining falafel 5 to 6 balls at a time for 2-3 minutes on each side until deep brown in color. Again, make sure you are at 350°F as consistently as you can be. They will be crunchy on the outside when done. Drain on paper towels to remove as much oil as possible.The goal here is to fry them at the right temperature so you end up with falafel that are crispy on the outside with little to no oil on the inside. Once you fry a few you quickly get the idea of what you are looking for and falafel making becomes easy!
- Serve the falafel with the tahini sauce on a pita with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber or with a salad. You can even serve them as an appetizer with just the tahini sauce alone.
- Put ¼ cup of the water along with all the other ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Then add the remaining ¼ cup of water and process again to thin out the sauce.
- If you like lemony tahini sauce add more lemon now. If the tahini is too thick add a little more warm water. If too thin add a touch more tahini.
- Try the tahini sauce and season with more salt if desired.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.