This is the BEST falafel I've ever eaten! Light and airy yet crispy falafel balls filled with herby garlic flavour made easily at home! Naturally gluten free and dairy free these homemade falafel.
As a person who has spent many years of her life as a vegetarian, I have eaten a LOT of falafel. Falafel shops were always a favourite of mine for a quick lunch on the run because it was one of the best vegetarian options available and also because it was something I never thought I could make at home. Turns out I was wrong!
If you are already a falafel fan, you are going to love this one, and if it is something you haven't tried yet I hope this recipe inspires you to!
These falafel balls are just as they should be - a nice crispy exterior, a fluffy and flavourful inside, not too moist and not too dry.
If you loved these falafel, you might want to check out our falafel burgers! They are all the flavour and goodness of these falafel shaped into a patty and served up burger style!
Start with dried chickpeas not canned for the best falafel
The first thing that you need to do is start with dried chickpeas. I know that there are a bunch of recipes out there that suggest you can you canned, but I've got to tell you if you want the most authentic flavour with the best chickpeas you are going to need to start with dry uncooked chickpeas.
Besides the fact that there is something about the flavour of canned chickpeas that I just don't like for dishes like this where the chickpea is the star, it also comes down to the texture. Canned chickpeas are already cooked and so when processing it doesn't breakdown the same way that a soaked uncooked bean does and it will make your falafel mushy and dense.
If you are sceptical, or just want some more in-depth research on this post by Serious Eats breaks down falafel secrets - it was a great read!
Because of this, you need to plan ahead for this one because the chickpeas take 24 hours to soak, but after that, it comes together pretty quickly.
How to make homemade falafel:
Put the dried chickpeas in a medium sized bowl and add water to make sure they are covered by at least a couple of inches. Leave on the counter to soak for 24 hours before you plan to cook the falafel.
For the dough:
To make the falafel dough, place all the ingredients except the flour and baking powder into the food processor with a blade attachment. I like to give the onions and garlic a bit of a quick chop before putting them in so that they mix into the dough better.
Process the ingredients on high for about 3-4 minutes stopping every now at then to open the top and push the mixture that creeps up the sides back down into the middle of the processor to make sure everything blends well.
The texture you are looking for is grainy but not overly processed. You are not trying to make hummus, just breaking down the soaked chickpeas into large grain side pieces.
When you have processed the mixture, transfer it to a bowl, sprinkle with the flour and baking powder and mix well using a spatula.
For the balls:
Line a medium sized baking sheet or tray with parchment paper for storing the formed balls until they are to be cooked.
Scoop 1 heaping tablespoon of falafel dough from the bowl and roll into a ball with the palms of your hand. Flatten it slightly until it has more of a wheel shape, then lay it on the parchment lined tray.
Continue making falafel balls until all the dough is gone. You should have enough dough for 24 falafel.
When I am done making the balls, I like to let them sit in the fridge for an hour or two to let them rest and help them firm up. If you don't want to wait, you can go ahead and fry them but I would suggest being extra careful as you lower the ball into the oil to help ensure it doesn't fall apart.
To cook the falafel balls:
Fill a deep sided skillet with a couple of inches of vegetable oil and heat the burner to medium. It should take about 10 minutes for the oil to heat up. I test to see if the oil is ready by wetting my finger and flicking a tiny drop of water into the oil - if it sizzles, it is ready. Be careful to not put too much water into the oil or it will go nuts - you don't want a full drop, just a tiny bit.
When the oil is nice and hot, begin cooking the falafel by lowering them gently into the hot oil using a spatula. The falafel balls are fairly delicate while raw so you will want to be careful here.
Place as many falafel balls in the skillet as you can without overcrowding it. You want to be sure there is ample space around each ball so that it can cook properly. Too many balls in the skillet can also lower the temperature of the oil.
Let the balls cook without disturbing them for 30-60 seconds on the first side. You will know they are ready to flip when sides of the falafel have started to turn a nice golden colour. Flip the falafels over and cook for 30 seconds more before removing from the pan and placing them onto a paper towel lined tray to absorb any excess oil.
What to serve it with:
Falafel is great in a pita wrap with lettuce, tomato and onions. Middle Eastern restaurants often serve it up on a platter with rice and potato and salad sides.
Tips for homemade falafel:
- If you like to spice it up, add some cayenne or red pepper flakes to the dough
- Presoaked chickpeas can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days before you plan to make the falafel
- Cooked falafel will last at least 5 days stored in a fridge in an airtight container
- To freeze: lay the falafel out flat on a tray and flash freeze in your freezer for 30 minutes or so before transferring to a storage container so they don't stick together
- To reheat: Thaw the falafel in the fridge the day before, then warm in a 350℉ oven for 15-20 minutes
Dietary Considerations and Accommodations
This recipe for homemade falafel is suitable for the following diets:
- vegan and vegetarian
- gluten free, dairy free, and allergy friendly
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- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1⁄2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1⁄2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 Tablespoons chickpea flour (or flour)
- Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours in a large bowl. covered by at least a couple of inches of water.
- Drain the chickpeas and place them in a food processor along with the onions, parsley, cilantro, salt, garlic, ground coriander and cumin.
- Process until the mixture is blended and chopped but not pureed then transfer the mixture to a bowl, sprinkle with the chickpea flour and baking powder then mix with a spatula.
- Form the falafel mixture into little balls about the size of one heaping tablespoon. Flatten slightly and place on a parchment lined tray. Continue until all the falafel balls are formed.
- Place the tray in the fridge for about an hour to let the mixture set.
- Fill a large skillet with tall sides with a couple of inches of oil and then heat over medium heat.
- When the oil is heated, add the falafel balls to the skillet by lowering them gently into the hot oil. Leave ample space between the balls - I fit about 6 in my skillet.
- Cook the falafel on the first side for about 30-60 seconds without disturbing it so it does not fall apart. The falafel is ready to be flipped when the sides have turned a golden colour.
- Flip the falafel and cook on the second side for 30 seconds before removing them from the skillet to a paper towel lined tray.
- Continue until all the falafel are cooked.