After hummus, falafel is the next most common dish made with chickpeas. Falafel, which are basically fried chickpea balls or patties, is a popular food in many Arab, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean countries. Originally, though, it is believed that falafel was made with fava beans in Egypt, and while you can still find that type, chickpeas have become the most common ingredient.
So what is falafel, exactly? The traditional recipe involves soaking dried chickpeas and then grinding them up. Then, they are seasoned with garlic, parsley, cumin, salt, and pepper. The mixture is finally shaped into balls or patties and deep-fried. Expert falafel makers rarely use flour to hold the balls together.
The most common way to eat falafel is in a pita with garnishes of tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickled onions. Finally, the sandwich is topped with hummus, tahini, and/or spicy sauces. Falafel can also be eaten in a salad with all the same toppings, like this Baked Falafel Salad + Two Creamy Dressings.
Of course, you can get as creative and inventive with your falafel as you want. Instead of frying, you can bake them. They can be shaped into balls or patties, or you can go crazy and make falafel burgers, sliders, loaves, and even waffles. Wrapping falafel in pita is delicious – in fact, you can learn to make your own pita bread – but they are equally delicious in tacos. Try making Buffalo falafel, beet falafel, or use different ingredients such as walnuts, pistachios, and sweet potatoes. Falafel are delicious no matter how you make them. Here’s a bit of trivia: the plural form of falafel is falafel. No “s” necessary. Here are 20 of our very best falafel recipes for you to try.
1. Baked Buffalo Falafel
What happens when you combine spicy Buffalo sauce with Middle Eastern flavors? Something amazing, that’s what. These Baked Buffalo Falafel are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and wonderfully spicy. Serve these on a bed of steamed rice, on salads, or with hummus. Bring on the heat!
2. Beet and Chickpea Falafel
These Beet and Chickpea Falafel are certainly the prettiest falafel you’ll ever have. Vibrant from the beets, these falafel are bursting with fresh flavors. Serve these over a bed of salad with a coconut yogurt tahini sauce, or wrap them in a pita with plenty of greens.
3. Baked Falafel with Fresh Herbs and Yogurt Tahini Sauce
These Baked Falafel with Fresh Herbs and Yogurt Tahini Sauce are filled with fresh, delicious ingredients. Fresh herbs really make the flavor of falafel stand out. Brushing the falafel generously with extra-virgin olive oil helps them get crisp and golden in the oven so you won’t miss out on that crunchy texture that you normally get from frying. Tahini, vegan yogurt, and lemon come together to make a simple, but flavorful sauce.
4. Chickpea and Pistachio Falafel
This Chickpea and Pistachio Falafel recipe is so simple to make! The addition of pistachio nuts adds some crunch and a delightfully nutty flavor. You’ll have a hard time resisting these fresh out of the oven so don’t even try. You can always say you’re testing one for quality assurance.
5. Falafel Bowl
Make falafel part of a healthy, satisfying Falafel Bowl. This falafel is made with hearty brown lentils, savory sun-dried tomatoes, dried figs, and black olives for a unique take on the classic dish. Their flavor makes them ideal for serving alongside winter squash, pan-fried spinach with tomatoes, and tahini sauce.
6. Baked Falafel with Tahini Cashew Sauce
These Oven-Baked Falafel with Tahini Cashew Sauce have onion and carrot added to the flavorful mix. They are paired with a creamy tahini-cashew sauce that perfectly complements their flavor. Serve them with a fresh side salad and crispy sweet potato fries for the perfect meal.
7. Chickpea and Almond Meal Falafel with Mint
This Chickpea and Almond Meal Falafel with Mint doesn’t have a lot of ingredients. It’s just chickpeas, flavorful herbs and spices, and a little almond meal to bind it all together. Unlike traditional falafel, it’s baked, rather than fried, but the falafel still turns out crunchy on the outside and tender and delicious on the inside. Just perfect!
8. Baked Roasted Poblano Kale Falafel
These Baked Roasted Poblano Kale Falafel are simply outstanding! Roasted poblano peppers give them a smoky, spicy kick, and since they are baked using a very small amount of oil, they are much better for you than fried falafel. Not to mention every bit as delicious! You can dress these falafel up however you like, with pita bread, fresh veggies, and tahini sauce.
9. Korean Spicy Sweet Potato Falafel Tacos with White Kimchi
Fusion food never tasted so good! These Korean Spicy Sweet Potato Falafel Tacos with White Kimchi combine Korean flavors with Mediterranean falafel and Mexican tacos. This is the most culturally diverse meal you’ll ever, have and it’s pretty darn delicious, too.
10. Baked Sweet Potato and Walnut Falafel
Delicious and healthy, these Baked Sweet Potato and Walnut Falafel are a whole new spin on the classic recipe. The falafel is made with fresh herbs, sweet potato, and crunchy walnuts. They’re perfectly moist and full of flavor. You can serve them either hot or cold, and they freeze really well, too!
11. Falafel Burger with Avocado Sauce, Spinach, and Homemade Burger Buns
Falafel served in pita bread is awesome, but falafel in a burger is super-duper-amazing! These Falafel Burgers with Avocado Sauce are a real flavor-explosion. The creaminess of the avocado, the crunchiness of the falafel, and the freshness of the spinach all come together to make an exciting blend of tastes and textures. The homemade burger buns make this already extraordinary burger even more amazing.
12. Super Green Falafel
These Super Green Falafel are so light and fluffy compared to the traditional fried version. The addition of fresh parsley and mint adds a nice flavor dynamic, while still being subtle. Paired with a simple vegan tzatziki sauce, lots of veggies, and avocado, this protein-packed meal is light, refreshing, and nourishing.
13. Falafel Tacos
If falafel taste great wrapped in pitas, it follows they would be awesome wrapped in tortillas. These Falafel Tacos are the proof of that theory. Served with a homemade green sauce containing tahini and lots of cilantro, this is one delicious fusion dish.
14. Baked Turmeric Falafel
Have you ever used fresh turmeric? These Baked Turmeric Falafel are made with fresh grated turmeric but you can certainly use dried if that’s what you have. The turmeric adds color and nutrition to these falafel, which are baked instead of fried for even more health points.
15. Spinach Falafel with Tahini Dressing
These Spinach Falafel with Tahini Dressing really amp up the nutrition. Fresh spinach is added to the chickpea mix for extra green, extra pretty, and extra tasty falafel. They’re served in homemade pitas with an easy homemade tahini sauce.
16. Vegan Falafel Waffles
These Vegan Falafel Waffles are a work of genius. They ‘re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Best of all, no deep-frying is required to make these savory waffles. Topped with a hummus “syrup” and fresh garnishes, you’ll love these waffles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
17. Baked Falafel and Cucumber Noodle Salad with Mint Tahini Dressing
It couldn’t be easier to make this Baked Falafel and Cucumber Noodle Salad with Mint Tahini Dressing. Just put all the ingredients into a food processor, make the patties, and pop them in the oven. While the baked falafel steals the show here, the crunchy and refreshing cucumber noodles work their own magic. The mint-tahini dressing coats the cucumber noodles and makes every bite flavorful and tangy.
18. Walnut Falafel Sliders with Pickled Beet and Lemon Mayo
These Walnut Falafel Sliders with Pickled Beet and Lemon Mayo are a whole new way to enjoy the popular street food. The walnut and borlotti falafel sliders sit on a slice of purple beet and are slathered with lemon and garlic vegan mayo. There are no chickpeas here, but these falafel are made with beans and they’re falafel-shaped, so we totally approve!
19. Falafel Loaf with Veg Chili and Lime Lettuce
Baking falafel into a loaf provides a healthier alternative to frying. The outside of this Falafel Loaf with Veg Chili and Lime Lettuce is wonderfully browned and crisp while the middle remains moist. A rich, spicy chili pairs with it like a dream, and the lime lettuce adds extra dimension with a tanginess that complements both the loaf and the chili.
20. Ayurvedic Falafel
This recipe is called Ayurvedic Falafel because instead of chickpeas, it is made with the “king” of all beans, mung beans. Besides the mung beans, which according to Ayurvedic principles, help balance all three doshas in our bodies, the falafel is also made with Ayurvedic spices such as turmeric, coriander, and cumin. Best of all, the flavor of these falafel is amazing.
It’s no wonder falafel are so popular. They’re easy to make, extremely versatile, and always delicious. What’s your favorite way to make or eat falafel? Tell us in the comments.
Lead image source: Baked Falafel With Fresh Herbs and Tahini Yogurt Sauce