Packed with bold spices and delicious flavor, this crispy Lebanese falafel recipe is one that needs to be on rotation in your home. Wrap it with flat bread or include it in your pita bread, we are showing you three ways to make this falafel recipe at home.
Falafel is one of the common street foods found in the Middle East. The origin of the recipe is Lebanon but is transformed into various versions throughout the Mediterranean. Though the recipes may vary, the base remain the same.
Bite-sized patties made from beautifully spiced and seasoned chickpeas, falafel is a middle eastern street food that has gained enormous popularity over the past few years – and for good reason! Not only are they absolutely delicious, but falafel is also surprisingly easy to make at home with the help of a handy air fryer.
Falafel is traditionally deep-fried but can also be made in the air fryer with an easy method which helps to not only speed up the process, but also hugely cut down on fat and calories from oil. With a crispy outer layer and a tender, flavorful middle, Airy Fryer Lebanese Falafel bites will soon become a staple in your home.
If deep frying or air frying are not an option, that’s perfectly fine as we are also sharing a pan fried method which will result in a crispy outer layer falafel disk.
Also known as garbanzo beans depending on where you’re from, chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse packed with a ton of fiber, protein and vitamins.
Either dried or canned chickpeas can be used for this recipe, though dried chickpeas will have to be soaked first for a minimum of 8 hours but best overnight or 18 hours before you can get cooking.
Chickpeas will make up the bulk of your falafel and the dried variety usually have just enough moisture to hold your mixture together.
However, if you opt for tinned chickpeas your mix may be a little too wet. If, after processing your ingredients, you find that your falafel balls are falling apart when you form them then you can add in a tablespoon of flour to your mix before trying again.
Canned Vs. Dried Chickpeas
When it comes to making falafels, do not use canned chickpeas. It may sound like a lot of work to use canned chickpeas to make falafel, but from experience, they do not work. Canned falafels have less starch and will fall completely apart when frying.
The number one rule to making falafels is to be sure that the peas are soaked for a long period of time.
Most falafel recipes include dried cumin and paprika while pairing with fresh cilantro and parsley. These ingredients help to pack flavor into your Lebanese falafel balls, while garlic and onion add some extra kick.
This classic combination of middle eastern inspired herbs and spices perfectly complements the mild taste of chickpeas. Even if you aren’t a cilantro fan, it’s well worth including in this recipe as there are so many other tastes going on that it isn’t too overpowering.
One of the great things about this recipe is that all of the key ingredients are simply mixed together in a food processor, making for minimal clean up and ensuring that there is flavor in every bite. The key here is not to overmix your ingredients.
You want there to be some texture in the mix rather than a smooth paste, as doing so will result in mushy falafel.
Falafel Blending Process
It is best to use a food processor. The exact measurement for each recipe is listed in the recipe card below. For now, here’s an overview of how to blend the ingredients.
In a food processer, add the rinsed chickpeas. Next, add in the onion, garlic cloves, chopped, fresh parsley, dried coriander, red pepper flakes, cumin, ground black pepper, and salt.
Blend the mixture to well combine. The mixture should be crunch not purée texture; but not overly crunchy either.
Add the flour and continue to mix. Cover with plastic wrap. Then refrigerate for at least 1 hour so the mixture can set.
When ready to start frying, add the
Frying Is Best (Deep Fry)
As we have included 3 options to making this falafel recipe, the best version is to deep fry them.
Deep frying the falafels will provide a golden crispy outer crust while keeping the inside moist.
We used 1 quart oil. You may use vegetable oil, peanut oil, or any oil that’s great for frying.
When ready to start cooking the falafel, make balls from the mixture. We used an ice cream scoop (about 2” inches wide) to make sure the balls are all the same size.
Fry the balls for 3-4 minutes at 350 degrees. Put the fried Falafels onto paper towel to get excessive oil.
When using the pan to fry the falafels, instead of making balls shape the falafels into discs (start by making a ball but flatten slightly), as this is the most used method.
Add about 1 cup of oil to the pan and fry the falafel until they are golden crispy on both sides.
Air Fryer Method
If you want to concentrate on less fat and less oil, the next best option is to air fry the falafels.
During the air fryer process, shape the falafel into discs as it is easier to air fry.
Spray with cooking oil. Air fry for 15 minutes, turning over and spraying a couple times at 325°F.
How To Make Falafel Sauce
When it comes to serving falafels, a sauce must accompany them as this is used to help keep the falafels moist, making them even more enjoyable.
For the falafel sauce you’ll need the following ingredients listed below.
- Greek Plain Yoghurt
- Tahini or Sesame Paste
- Juice From 1 Lemon
- Water; For thinning. Optional.
Whisk all of the ingredients for 2-3 minutes. Serve Falafel with the sauce.
You can make this Falafel recipe ahead of time. However, we recommend if making them ahead of time, that you shape them into balls or discs.
Then fry them an hour before they are ready to be served, that way the Lebanese falafels are crispy and moist, as well as fresh. If the falafels are made in advanced they may lose the moisture, this is the reason why making the falafels in an hour before is highly recommended.
How To Store
For storing, we recommend to use vacuum pocket if you have one. Or use an air tight container. The Falafel can be placed in the freezer for up to a month. Allow to thaw in the fridge. Reheat in the oven for a few minutes.
These tasty little bites are incredibly versatile, and work as a snack or as part of a full meal. Falafel can be paired with a crunchy salad, like this cucumber salad, and made into a wrap or sandwich for lunch, or served alongside French fries or lemon rice for a hot and satisfying supper.
If you’re looking for a sauce to accompany your dish, a nutty tahini dressing is the perfect complement. More details are provided later in this post.
For vegetarians and vegans, falafel also makes for an excellent snack for on-the-go or at the office, providing plenty of plant-based fiber and protein.
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How To Make Falafel
- Deep fryer
- Frying Pan or Skillet
- 2 Cups Chickpeas; Rinsed and soaked
- 4 Cups Water For Soaking
- ⅓ Cup Onion Cut in Quarters
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- ½ Cup Fresh Parsley
- 1 Tsp. Dried Coriander
- 1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 Tsp. Cumin
- 2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
- 1 ½ Tsp. Salt; We Used Kosher Salt
- 3 Tsp. Flour
- 4 Cups Oil For Frying
- Cooking Spray
- 1 Cup Oil For Pan Frying
For The Falafel Sauce
- 1 Cup Greek Plain Yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon Sesame Paste
- Juice From 1 Lemon
- Cup Water 2 Tbsp. at a time. Optional
Deep Frying Method
- Rinse the chickpeas. Then add the 4 cups of water to soak the chickpeas for at least 8 hours. Best if soaked overnight. When ready to cook (after the soaking time passed), drain and rise the chickpease. Using a food processor, add the chickpeas to the food processor.
- Add the remaining ingredients with the exception of the flour. Blend to well combined. The mixture should be crunch not purée texture; but not too crunchy either. This process takes about 2-3 minutes on high blend process. Add flour to the mixture and knead it for an additional 1-2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Make balls from the mixture. We used an ice cream scoop (about 2” inches wide) to make sure the balls are all the same size. Fry the balls for 3-4 minutes at 350° F on all sides or until golden brown. Place the fried Falafels onto paper towel to get excessive oil out.
Pan – Fried Method
- When using the pan to fry the falafels, instead of making balls shape the falafels into discs (start by making a ball but flatten slightly), as this is the most used method.
- Add about 1 cup of oil to the pan and fry the falafel until they are golden crispy on both sides.
Air Fryer Method
- If you want to concentrate on less fat and less oil, the next best option is to air fry the falafels.During the air fryer process, shape the falafel into discs as it is easier to air fry.
- Spray with cooking oil. Air fry for 15 minutes, turning over and spraying a couple times at 325°F.