One of my worst “bad wife” moments revolves around falafel. Let me set the scene.
Me, pregnant and cranky and tired and not interested in cooking. My husband, a wonderful, caring, selfless person who decided to bless me by making falafel from scratch. Like, fried and everything. I came home from work and arrived to find the kitchen covered in falafel happenings. Let me repeat – I was pregnant and cranky, but that is still no excuse for me to get all up in his space and inspect the recipes he was using, and taste the falafel and declare that they would be better if he hadn’t used canned chickpeas. I mean, FOR REAL? It still pains me to think about what a jerk I was, pregnant or not. Oh, the shame…
You might be thinking to yourself, well what’s wrong with using canned chickpeas in falafel? Nothing, really. Except – and this is going to reveal my ultra-high levels of cooking snobbery – it won’t be falafel. It’ll be falafel-flavored chickpea mush shaped into a ball. To get the perfect falafel texture, you simply must use dried chickpeas that have been soaked in water to reconstitute them. You won’t find a lot of recipes telling you to do this, but I’m asking you to trust me here. It makes all the difference in the world. So let’s get started! Oh, you want to see how to make oven-baked falafel first? Here you go!
How to Make Oven-Baked Falafel
You’re hungry for falafel now, aren’t you? Cool, let’s make some. 🙂First, we need to get our soak on. Well, the chickpeas do. Here is 1 cup of dried chickpeas before soaking, and after soaking. They have tripled in volume. Nifty, huh? So 1 cup of dried chickpeas will yield you around 3 cups of soaked chickpeas, which just happens to be what we need for this recipe.
The remaining cast of characters are surprisingly simple (and cheap!). They are:
- Aromatics – red onion, garlic, LOTS of fresh parsley (and/or cilantro, I used a mix)
- Seasonings – fresh lemon juice, ground cumin, cayenne powder (just a pinch, or more if you like it SPICY), and salt
- Did you notice there is no oil? That’s because there’s no oil. You can add some if you want. But it’s totally not necessary. We’ll get to that.
The actual making of the falafel is so easy, and I have a cool trick up my sleeve to make portioning the falafel balls super quick and mess-free. First, just pulse all of the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is finely ground. If you try to make a ball out of the batter using your hands, it’s likely not going to hold it’s shape and seem too wet. That’s ok. You’re not going to use your hands. You’re going to use a cookie scoop. Or an ice cream scoop. Or a disher. Whatever you call it, it’s a spring-loaded scoop that looks like this:
This is the OXO Good Grips Cookie Scoop, size Medium/#40. #40 refers to the equivalent size of a similar tool called a disher (for ice cream). It holds about 1.5 tablespoons, making it perfect for, you guessed it, cookie dough, but equally perfect for portioning falafel balls hands-free. Just dip it into the batter, and slide it along the edge of the food processor bowl to remove any excess, and release the lovely little mound of falafel goodness onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you don’t have any parchment paper, definitely prepare the baking sheet with some oil spray (I love this avocado oil spray), because otherwise the falafel balls will stick and you’ll be cursing me. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
A quick trip in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes will yield these magnificent mounds of falafel goodness.
All that lovely crispy brown you see? No oil involved at all. If you did want them to be even more crispy and brown, you could certainly hit them with a spray of oil before baking, but I didn’t miss it all. It’s totally up to you.
[callout class=”wallet”]The ingredients in falafel are totally Fat Wallet friendly. You could buy enough to make two batches for around $10 or less. That’s 48 falafel! Did I mention these freeze beautifully? Make a double batch and freeze one for later. You’ll save money AND time – two of my favorite things.[/callout]
Three Ways to Stuff Your Face with Falafel
Romaine lettuce lined with hummus and stuffed with falafel, drizzled with tahini sauce and topped with tomato
Pita bread stuffed with hummus, lettuce, tomato, falafel, and tahini sauce
Falafel, hummus, tahini sauce, quinoa tabouli, and pita bread
These are just some starting points. You funnel those falafel into your mouth however you want. And don’t feel a smidge of guilt, either, because they’re only 37 calories each!
As for me, I do still have a bit of guilt over my bad wife falafel moment. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m so sorry, Michael. Maybe you’ll be willing to try again now? I promise to stay the heck out of the kitchen.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (soaked in 4 cups water overnight (see Notes for quick-soak method))
- 1 medium red onion (chopped)
- 1 cup fresh parsley (chopped (or a mix of parsley and cilantro))
- 3 cloves garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper ((or more to taste))
- Oil cooking spray (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Rinse and drain soaked chickpeas.
- Add chickpeas to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarse.
- Add onion, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and spices.
- Pulse mixture until In a food processor until finely ground and no large pieces remain.
- If your food processor is struggling to process all of the ingredients at once, do it in two batches and then combine the batter before baking.
- Using a small cookie scoop or disher, portion approximately 2 tablespoons of batter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- If desired, spray tops of falafel balls with oil cooking spray for more even browning (but it is not necessary at all).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked throughout.
- Enjoy with in a lettuce wrap or pita with hummus and tahini sauce, or any other way you like to eat falafel!
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I am on my way to the store for dried chickpeas. I have made this before but I never take the time to soak beans. It is time to take the leap. I am motivated and I will save the extra garbage that a can does.
Hi Jan! How did it go? 🙂
Rhea Hartman says
Any reason I need to use dried chickpeas? could i use canned? Thanks
Rhea Hartman says
whoops just read everything bad you said about them…. i had just skipped to the recipe.
Ha, I was just about to say, um, did you read the post? 😉 It really makes a huge difference!
Hello Beth- these look fabulous! Just one question, I have always heard that eating uncooked beans is not recommended. Does baking these for 20 minutes negate the harmful effects of eating uncooked beans. Sorry if this is a silly question, just curious.
Hi Hallie! So sorry for the delayed response. The soaked chickpeas are ground up so fine that they definitely get cooked in the 20 minutes, so there should be no harmful effects. Traditional falafel that is fried is also made with soaked chickpeas and the frying time is considerably less than with baking, and it still gets cooked through. Not a silly question at all! 🙂
gloria patterson says
i didn’t know how easy it was to make!! Have ate a lot ……….. will be trying this
It’s SO easy! Hope you’ll let me know if you give it a try. 🙂
This looks so delicious and easy. I’m so frustrated that I’m still waiting for KitchenAid to send me my food processor replacement blade which I ordered before Christmas! Do you think this would work in a Vitamix blender or would that make the texture all wrong? I can’t imagine being able to get the consistency even chopping it by hand.
Also $10 for nearly 50 falafel is a steal, I’ve been having a falafel craving and went to purchase some at the local Farmer’s Market last weekend and they were selling them for $1 each (and they were super greasy), considering that me and my kids can eat A LOT of falafel this we had to skip it. Can’t wait to try it at home.
You know, I haven’t tried it in the blender but I have a feeling it might work if the ingredients were chopped up small to begin with. The important thing would be to pulse everything and scrape the bottom and sides often as you go to make sure it doesn’t get all jammed up at the bottom. I’ll try it and report back! 🙂 So frustrating to be waiting for the food processor blade. Cheap and healthy falafel is just waiting for you! 🙂
Wondering if your Vitmix worked? I have a hand food processor from pamered chef and a vitamix. If I am not careful the vitamix can make it soup it is a great a powerful machine. Takes time to get it right.
Melissa Novotny says
We’ve been on a falafel kick ourselves, and have found that just pan frying in some olive oil works wonders. Our recipe is pretty similar to yours, so delicious!
Pan-frying is totally an option! I have been trying to leave out oil whenever I can, so long as the taste and texture isn’t compromised. In this case I’ve found that I don’t miss it at all. My other favorite way to cook the falafel is in an air fryer, although I can’t do as many at once as I can in the oven. Falafel for everyone! 🙂
Nancy Hanzel says
This recipe is super delicious. First time making falafels and was not sure on how they would taste. Excellent receive and will definitely make a double match next time. Also very easy to make. Now do you have the garlic sauce recipe? Thanks for sharing. Also do you a receipe for chicken and rice. East Indian flavour.
Hi Nancy! I’m so excited that you made the recipe and loved it! I am still working on the tahini recipe to get it just perfect. Are you on the mailing list? You’ll get an e-mail when the post is up. As for the chicken and rice recipe, my recipes are all plant-based, but I am working on a chickpea tikka masala recipe served with basmati rice, which would work with other proteins of your choice. Stay tuned! 🙂
Perfect – nothing to add, nothing to take away. Thanks Beth for a great recipe & for your cheerful posts.
Thank you so much, Josie! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your feedback and encouragement. Keeps me going… 🙂
nancy tune says
do you have a recipe for quinoa tabouli and tahini sauce??
Hi Nancy! The quinoa tabouli recipe is coming next week, I have to reshoot the photos and didn’t want to wait on getting the falafel recipe up. 🙂 I’m still testing the tahini sauce recipe before I share it, but the basic one I’ve been working with is:
1/2 cup tahini paste, 1/2 cup water, 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice (fresh), and salt to taste. Whisk or blend until creamy, and thin if necessary with either water or lemon juice. Hope that helps! 🙂
Aimee taylor says
Hi! I used to live in Egypt and loved Tahina! Local recipe is tahini paste mixed with lots of lemon juice and a small amount of white vinegar, cumin and some chilli flakes if you want…. mix into a thick paste. To this add small amounts of warm warm mixing at the same time… until the right consistency. Taste and add as you like. Yum! ?
Aimee taylor says
Thanks for sharing this, Aimee! I’m going to give that a go!
Another winner from you! I totally get the chickpea soaked vs canned!!! I tried these with half chickpeas and half split fava beans, soaked overnight. These were superb! I also did half + half cilantro, parsley as I had both of them! Its amazing how delicious it is without oil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just saw ur tahini recipe. Was going to ask you. Thanks so much!!! I’ll make the sauce next time.
Heather @ Dredge and Drizzle says
Hi Beth! Can you believe I’ve never made falafel before? I started trying to get at least one meatless day per week in my life and this would be a great addition to the veggie arsenal!
Baker by Nature says
Love that this is oven baked!
Rebecca | Let's Eat Cake says
These look fantastic! I had no idea it was so easy to make falafel and I love the idea of baking vs frying them.
I just made this the other day, and it is not only the best falafel I’ve ever made, it’s right up there with the best I’ve ever had! Even my two rather picky teens agree that this needs to be made every week. Yum!
Well, Patty, you made my day with this one. I’m so thrilled that you all love it so much!! 🙂
Made these last night – used a small cookie scoop because it’s all I had, and they came out perfectly. Tried spraying oil on the second batch to see if there was any point, and honestly they were the same. Love the flavors…delicious and super easy to make!!! Thanks for the recipe!
OMG!! Just made these and they are amazing, my new go to snack food I think 🙂 prob ate a third doing the quality check Haha! And you were right no need for the oil, nice and crisp without. Thanks for sharing your recipe ?
Does this freeze well?
It does! I’d recommend freezing them unbaked though, because they can be dry or baked, frozen, then baked again.
This looks great. How long could you refrigerate the mixture before cooking? Specifically, can I make it a day ahead?
Hi Fran! Yes, you could definitely could make it a day ahead. I wouldn’t do longer than that though (unless freezing it) because the onions and herbs might not taste the freshest.
This is a fantastic recipe! The texture is perfect. Thanks so much!
I’m so glad you loved it, Chris!! Made my day to get this comment. 🙂
Hello. How many falafel will I get in total if I follow your recipe? Thanks!
Hi Law! Using the small cookie scoop I mention in the post, I get 24 falafel out of this recipe. How many you’ll get will depend on the size of spoon/scoop you use. 🙂
Mrs E. says
have you ever tried freezing these once they are already baked and how would you reheat them? Do you think microwave would work
Mrs E. says
have you ever tried these once they are already baked to freeze and how would you reheat them? Do you think microwave would work
I recommend freezing them before baking, as they can be dry if frozen after baking. If you do freeze them after baking and reheat them, I would do so in the oven to regain the crispy exterior. The microwave will make them tough. Hope that helps!
Do you refrigerate the chickpeas as they soak or are they okay soaking on the counter covered overnight? Thanks!
Heard your interview on Fizzle and found this great recipe when I clicked over here. I made them tonight and they were delicious (ate them straight with hummus).
I used a blender and it needed a little help but eventually went through.
I might add just a little olive oil the next time?.
And now I know how to cut a spaghetti squash too.
So good! I cooked my chickpeas after soaking which i think was a mistake, because they fell apart super easily. BUT the flavour is amazing and will definitely be trying again.
I love the flavor in this recipe and have made it many times, but about two thirds of pieces break. Do you have any suggestions on what I might be doing wrong and what I can do to help them hold together? Thanks so much. I really like your blog!
These were fantastic! I had never made my own falafel because frying intimidates me so I’m excited to have a way to make them without the frying. I cooked half the batch now and set the rest aside to freeze for later.
Loved it. Made it using the quick method. Doubled the recipe and added roast garlic I had.
I’ve made these numerous times with canned chickpeas because I had missed that part of this post. So this week I made a batch using the soaked chickpeas method like you recommend. The texture is SO MUCH BETTER (the other ones were really crumbly), but the falafel don’t taste quite as good as when I made them with canned chickpeas. Any idea why this might be? Is it an issue of the canned chickpeas having been sitting in salty liquid for a while? Should I just add extra salt if I use dried chickpeas?
first time we’ve made falafel and we really liked the texture and flavour! we did end up eating some tiny bits of wax paper though as they got stuck pretty badly… but no side effects notesld yet *hiccup!
Made these tonight and they came out delicious! my 14 month old son loved them too!
Hi Beth, Your recipes look great and there are several I want to try. I always like to print out my recipes and keep them in a binder. When I print yours out there are always ads that cover part of the ingredients or part of the instructions. Am I doing something wrong or is that just your webpage? I don’t have that issue on other sites.
Thanks for your dedication to cooking with plants and oil free.
This recipe turned out awful. I did the quick soak in the Instant Pot and followed the rest to the letter. Even after 40 minutes, the falafel was undercooked and not crispy. It fell apart when I tried to scoop it off the cookie sheet. Dry and tasteless. I will never use one of your recipes again.
alec dunnachie says
Brilliantly simplistic, exactly what I wanted!
hi I loved the flavour of these however they seem to stick to the baking paper and crumble when I removed them. Is there any way to keep them together? I still ate them with my salad but it was just like breadcrumbs lol
I made these today and they were absolutely delicious! Great recipe and low fat too. What’s not to love?
Great, easy recipe and they taste terrific. I probably used too large a lemon which resulted in a very wet mixture but the addition of some breadcrumbs saved the day. Perhaps a unit of measure, eg mls or tablespoon, would be helpful. Thanks for a great recipe which is already a favourite!
Very good recipe and low fat too! I chose to add a mix of fresh parsley and fresh cilantro. You may feel the balls may not stick together but they crisp up quite well in the hot oven. Highly recommend this recipe.
Yum yum yum! The dried chickpeas make a huge difference! I followed the recipe almost exactly – only added a little more garlic, plus sumac, smoked paprika and some sesame seeds just because they were there. Served with tahini sauce and israeli salad. These are going to be a staple in our house from now on.
Amy Lafleur says
I have always used recipes with cooked chickpeas in the past. Never again, these were so good, thank you!
I can’t see the exact amounts of each ingredient. Also too many ads on the page. Frustrating to view on mobile.
Christine Brush says
do these freeze well?
Christine Brown says
I love this recipe, always make a double batch. It is a staple in my house.
I just made falafels using your recipe. However, I didn’t have cumin, so I substituted a tablespoon of packaged, dry chili spice (not plain chili powder, but spice packet for making chili, which has cumin in it). They turned out really well. I thought they would crumble when cooked, but they didn’t! Delicious served with sliced avocado, Romaine lettuce, and a little mayonnaise.
What a great idea!!!! So glad you enjoyed them. 🙂
I made this. They are delicious. I do not use oil and they are great. I flatten mine a little because that’s how I like them. They freeze well, too. Thanks for the recipe. Oh, I’m about to make another batch so thought I should comment!