This light and fluffy authentic falafel recipe is made with chickpeas, parsley and spices then drizzled in a creamy tahini sauce.
Growing up in a Lebanese household, falafel is a very traditional appetizer, side dish or vegetarian main dish at our family dinners. It’s delicious on its own, wrapped in a pita or served over a giant Syrian Salad.
When making falafel, you’ll want to start with dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that you soak in water overnight. As much as I wish I could recommend using canned chickpeas, the consistency won’t turn out right if you do (trust me – I know from experience!!)
Once the chickpeas have soaked at least 12 hours, you pulse them, raw, in a food processor. Yes that’s correct – there’s no need to cook the chickpeas before pureeing them!
While you could mince the onion and parsley by hand, I know from my many years of making tabbouleh that the food processor can do all that hard work for you and save you a ton of time!
Added bonus: it minces the onions, garlic, parsley, and cilantro into almost a puree which is ideal when making dishes like Kafta or Falafel because no one will end up with a big bite of onion or a long parsley sprig in their mouth.
Once the falafel mixture is made, you will refrigerate it for an hour then form into small patties. To cook, simply fry on each side until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes total, flipping once.
Cooking Tip: Sprinkle the falafel patties with a pinch of salt immediately when it comes out of the frying pan. The hot oil will allow the salt to stick which will result in more flavor.
To serve, I like to whisk together a quick tahini sauce with lemon, garlic, salt and cayenne.
Frequently asked questions:
Can I use canned chickpeas?
No you must start with dry chickpeas. You don’t need to cook them, you will be pulsing them in the food processor raw.
Can I bake the falafel?
Yes you can but it won’t taste as good as you’re hoping it will so I recommend frying. I’ve never baked them so I can’t offer baking instructions.
What is tahini?
Tahini is a sesame seed paste. It can be found online or in most large grocery stores or ethnic markets.
Why do you add baking soda to the water when soaking the chickpeas?
This helps the chickpeas soften which is important since you don’t cook them pulsing them in the food processor.
Unlike the falafel you’re used to from restaurants, my version is much lighter and fluffier. Additionally, when cooked at home with fresh oil I find that the taste is much cleaner than most restaurant versions.
I love to eat it in a pita with tomato, lettuce, onion and tahini sauce but you can also serve over Lebanese Rice Pilaf.
No forks required.
Authentic Lebanese Falafel
Optional for Serving
- Pita Bread
- red onion (thinly sliced)
- tomato (thinly sliced)
- Place chickpeas in a large bowl and sprinkle with baking soda then cover with water. Soak overnight or for 12 hours; drain.
- Place chickpeas in a high-speed food processor and pulse until grainy, remove and set aside.
- Add onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro to the food processor and pulse until smooth. Pour chickpeas back into the food processor and add all remaining ingredients (salt through cayenne.) Pulse until everything is evenly incorporated. Be sure to use a rubber spatula to scape down the sides at least once.
- Remove mixture from the food processor and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least once hour.
- When you're ready to fry the falafel, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat. Form falafel mixture into small patties (I like to use a cookie scoop to start) then place in the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 5-6 minutes total flipping once. Remove from oil and place on a plate lined with paper towel then sprinkle with salt while it's still hot.
- Serve in pita bread with tahini sauce, tomato and onion if you wish.
- Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl then thin with warm water, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach desired consistency.