Become a falafel maestro with our easy, foolproof falafel mix recipe. Crunchy on the outside, and tender on the inside, every bite is pure crispy perfection!
What is Falafel?
Falafel is made from blending ground chickpeas, with fragrant herbs and spices. Shaped into balls and deep-fried to crispy perfection, falafel is a popular Middle Eastern fast food, tracing its origins to ancient Egypt.
Falafel is believed to have been initially made with fava beans and over time, chickpeas became the primary ingredient. It has gained popularity across the Middle East and the Mediterranean, becoming a staple street food and a popular vegetarian or vegan choice.
Why make Falafel?
- Delicious flavor and texture: With its signature crunchy exterior and tender, savory interior falafel is widely popular because it offers several layers of textural and flavor contrasts that are very appealing.
- Popular plant-based protein source: Made of vegetarian and vegan ingredients, falafel is a tasty and nutritious alternative to meat.
- Versatile: Falafel can be enjoyed in many ways such as a sandwich or wrap filling, on salads, as a side dish or an appetizer.
- Easy recipe: All the ingredients are blended then shaped into balls and deep fried. It really does not get any easier than that.
- Cultural and fun experience: Making falafel is fun and it also offers the opportunity to explore Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
- Dried chickpeas: Dried chickpeas are the core ingredient for falafel. Avoid using canned chickpeas, as their moisture content is too high for this recipe. Adding flour does not solve the issue as it dulls the chickpea flavor. Dried fava beans can be substituted for chickpeas as they were also used in authentic falafel recipes.
- Baking soda: Baking soda is used during the soaking process to help soften the chickpeas.
- Onion: Either white or red onion may be used. You can also substitute it with 2-3 shallots or 2-3 green onions for a milder taste.
- Garlic cloves: Peeled garlic cloves contribute to the dish's aromatic flavor. Substitute with 1 -2 teaspoons of garlic powder if fresh garlic isn't available.
- Fresh parsley: Fresh parsley adds freshness to the falafel mix. You can substitute it with fresh cilantro or a mix of both herbs.
- Fresh cilantro leaves: Fresh cilantro contributes a distinct flavor to the falafel balls. If cilantro isn't your preference, use more fresh parsley or substitute with mint leaves for a unique twist.
- Baking powder: Baking powder gives the falafel a light, fluffy texture.
- Ground cumin: Ground cumin provides a warm and earthy flavor.
- Ground coriander: Ground coriander complements the cumin's flavor and adds a citrusy, earthy herby flavor.
- Ground black pepper: Ground black pepper adds a hint of spiciness. Adjust the quantity based on your heat preference or use crushed red pepper flakes for added heat.
- Salt: Salt enhances the overall flavor.
- Toasted sesame seeds: Toasted sesame seeds add a rich nutty flavor to this dish. It is an optional ingredient in this easy falafel recipe.
- Oil for frying: Use a neutral oil with a high smoke point, such as canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil. You'll need enough for deep frying; the exact quantity depends on the size of your frying vessel.
How to make authentic Falafel
Step 1: Soak the dried chickpeas. Place the dried chickpeas in a large mixing bowl, along with the baking soda. Fill the bowl with cold water, ensuring there's at least 2 inches of water above the chickpeas. Soak the chickpeas for 18-24 hours at room temperature, possibly longer if they're exceptionally hard. Note that the chickpea water, also known as aquafaba, has numerous uses so you may wish to save it.
Step 2: Make the falafel mix. Drain the soaked chickpeas and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, chopped onion, peeled garlic cloves, fresh parsley leaves, fresh cilantro leaves, baking powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground black pepper, and salt. Pulse the mixture until it's finely minced but not pureed. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. The mixture is ready when a pressed handful holds its shape and doesn't crumble. Transfer the falafel mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 15 minutes. You can prepare this mixture ahead of time and store it in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Step 3: Shape the Falafel Balls. Add the sesame seeds and baking powder to the falafel mix. Mix. Using a small ice cream scoop or a ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop out portions of the cold falafel mix and shape them into balls. The uniform size ensures even cooking.
Step 4: Fry the falafel balls. In a small deep skillet or dutch oven, pour at least an inch of oil for frying. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches a temperature of at least 350°F (175°C). Carefully add the falafel balls to the hot oil, a few at a time, to avoid overcrowding the skillet. Fry them until they turn a dark, golden brown color all over, gently flipping as needed for even cooking. Place with on a paper towel so that the falafel has less oil. Serve immediately.
Tips to make the best Falafel
Use dried chickpeas: Use dried chickpeas, not canned. Canned chickpeas have too much moisture and a different texture.
Soak as long as necessary: Soak the chickpeas for at least 12 hours. You may need to soak them longer (18-24 hours) if they need more time to hydrate. Drain them thoroughly to remove excess moisture.
Fresh herbs and spices: Use fresh parsley and cilantro leaves, along with a blend of aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, and black pepper for maximum flavor.
Blend do not puree: Pulse the falafel mixture in a food processor until it's minced but not pureed. Stop blending when a pressed handful of the mix holds its shape. If the mix is too wet, use a very small amount of chickpea flour or regular flour until the mixture is the correct consistency.
Refrigerate the mix: Refrigerate the falafel mix for at least 15 minutes. This helps it firm up and makes shaping easier.
Use an ice cream scoop: Shape falafel into uniform small balls using a scoop or measuring cup for consistent cooking.
Make sure the oil is hot enough: Heat the frying oil to at least 350°F (175°C) for crispy results. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. If the temperature is too low, the falafel boils will be oily.
Fry in small batches: Fry falafel in small batches to prevent overcrowding in the pan, which can lead to the oil temperature dropping and uneven cooking.
Use a neutral, high smoke point oil: Use an oil like cornflower, canola, or vegetable oil.
Drain excess oil: After frying, place falafel on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Serve fresh and hot: Falafel is best enjoyed immediately when it's at its crispiest. Serve with pita bread, tahini sauce, and fresh veggies for a classic treat.
Customize to taste: Adjust the spice levels and herbs to suit your preferences. Add a pinch of cayenne for extra heat or experiment with different herbs for a unique twist.
Storage and Freezer
Storing and freezing falafel properly can help you enjoy them later. Here's how to do it:
Refrigeration: Allow freshly cooked falafel to cool to room temperature. They should not be hot when stored to prevent condensation inside the storage container. Place the falafel in an airtight container or a zip-top bag. The falafel will last for about 3 days.
Freezer: Allow freshly cooked falafel to cool to room temperature. They should not be hot when stored to prevent condensation inside the storage container. Place the falafel in an airtight container or a freezer-safe Zip-loc bag.
If you plan to freeze a large batch, you can flash-freeze the falafel individually on a baking sheet. Place the falafel on the sheet, making sure they don't touch, and freeze for a few hours until they are firm. Once they are cool or pre-frozen, transfer the falafel to an airtight container, a freezer-safe bag, or vacuum-sealed bags. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Falafel will last in the freezer for about 3 months. Don't forget to label the container or bag with the date of freezing to keep track of freshness.
Thawing: To thaw frozen falafel, transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator and let them thaw overnight.
Reheat: After thawing, you can reheat falafel using the methods mentioned earlier: in the oven, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. Be gentle when reheating to prevent them from becoming too dry.
Can I make Falafel ahead of time?
You can prepare this homemade falafel mix in advance and store it in an air-tight container for 2-3 days in the fridge.
How to reheat Falafel
Reheating falafel is simple and can be done using the oven, stovetop, or microwave. Here are three methods:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Place the falafel on a baking sheet or in an oven-safe dish.
- Heat them for about 10-15 minutes, or until they are heated through and crispy.
- If you like them extra crispy, you can broil them for a minute or two, but keep a close eye to prevent burning.
- Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium heat.
- Add a small amount of oil to the pan (about a teaspoon) to prevent sticking.
- Place the falafel in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are heated through and crispy.
- This method is the quickest but may result in slightly less crispy falafel.
- Place the falafel on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel.
- Heat in the microwave on medium power for 20-30 seconds at a time, checking after each interval until they are heated to your liking.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to monitor the falafel closely to avoid overcooking, which can make them dry.
A single serving of this Falafel Mix Recipe has about 236 calories, 7.5g of fat and 33.9g of carbohydrates.
This recipe yields approximately eight servings. The nutrition guidance is intended for informational purposes only. Please use it as a general guideline. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should independently verify it using your preferred tool.
How to serve falafel
Whether you prefer it as a sandwich, salad topping, or part of a larger spread, falafel offers a versatile and delicious way to enjoy the flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine. Here are some great ways to serve falafel:
Pita sandwich/wrap: One of the most popular ways to enjoy falafel is by stuffing them into a pita bread or flatbread along with fresh vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Add tahini sauce or yogurt-based dressing for extra flavor.
Salad: Falafel can be placed on top of a fresh salad for a lighter meal.
Vegetarian or vegan bowl: Create a nourishing bowl with falafel as the protein component. Add pita chips or cooked grains like quinoa or rice, roasted vegetables, and a flavorful sauce.
Appetizer or side dish: Serve falafel as an appetizer at parties or gatherings. Provide toothpicks and a dipping sauce like tahini, tzatziki, or spicy harissa for guests to enjoy. Falafel is also delicious as a quick snack drizzled with some lemon juice.
Breakfast: In some Middle Eastern countries, falafel is eaten for breakfast. It can be served with pita bread, pickles, and a drizzle of tahini sauce.
Mix the falafel mixture with cold water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Shape the mixture into small patties or balls using an ice cream scoop. Arrange them on a baking sheet and give them a light coating of olive oil spray. Bake them on the center rack of your oven until the bottoms turn golden and the tops puff up, typically taking about 20 to 25 minutes.
Falafel mix is primarily composed of ground dried chickpeas or fava beans, along with a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, black pepper, and salt, which provide a distinct savory flavor. Fresh or dried herbs such as parsley and cilantro add herbal notes, while a leavening agent like baking powder contributes to a lighter texture. Toasted sesame seeds may also be included for added nuttiness and crunch.
Add water as directed in the bulk falafel mix package. Let stand for about 15 minutes to absorb water. Form the mix into 1-inch balls - I use an ice cream scoop. Pour vegetable oil into a deep skillet until there is enough to deep fry the falafel balls. Heat the oil until it reaches 350°F. Fry the falafel balls in small batches and place them on a paper towel so that excess oil is absorbed once the balls are a dark brown color. Serve immediately.
The perfectly blended falafel mix will be slightly wet and hold its shape when pressed in your hand.
If you forgot to soak chickpeas, you can try boiling the chickpeas until they are fully hydrated and then set aside to soak and cool for about an hours. The chickpeas should be tender enough to break apart when you press them with your fingers but still have enough texture and bite in them.
Instead of discarding the chickpea water, also known as aquafaba, you may wish to save it as it has a number of vegan uses. Aquafaba can be whipped into stiff peaks to make vegan meringues and whipped with sugar and vanilla to make whipped cream. It is used as a thickener or stews, soup and smoothies and as a replacement for eggs in baking.
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Perfectly Crispy Falafel Mix Recipe | Step-By-Step
- 2 cups dried chickpeas do not use canned chickpeas
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 8 garlic cloves peeled
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
- ¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- 1 ½ Tablespoon sesame seeds toasted
- oil for frying
- Soak the dried chickpeas: Place the dried chickpeas in a large mixing bowl, along with the baking soda. Fill the bowl with cold water, ensuring there's at least 2 inches of water above the chickpeas. Soak the chickpeas for 18-24 hours at room temperature, possibly longer if they're exceptionally hard. Note that the chickpea water, also known as aquafaba, has numerous uses so you may wish to save it.
- Make the falafel mix: Drain the soaked chickpeas and pat them dry with a kitchen towel. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, chopped onion, peeled garlic cloves, fresh parsley leaves, fresh cilantro leaves, baking powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground black pepper, and salt. Pulse the mixture until it's finely minced but not pureed. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. The mixture is ready when a pressed handful holds its shape and doesn't crumble. Transfer the falafel mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 15minutes. You can prepare this mixture ahead of time and store it in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Shape the falafel balls: Add the sesame seeds and baking powder to the falafel mix. Mix. Using a small ice cream scoop or a ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop out portions of the cold falafel mix and shape them into balls. The uniform size ensures even cooking.
- Fry the falafel balls: In a small deep skillet or dutch oven, pour at least an inch of oil for frying. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches a temperature of at least350°F (175°C). Carefully add the falafel balls to the hot oil, a few at a time, to avoid overcrowding the skillet. Fry them until they turn a dark, golden brown color all over, gently flipping as needed for even cooking. Place with on paper towel so that the falafel has less oil. Serve immediately.