Falafel is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and if you've ever a had truly authentic falafel recipe, you'll know why. That crisp, delicious shell encapsulating a warm, tender and green fluffy center is something from the heavens. My problem has always been that it's hard to find it made to perfection in a restaurant. So often it's served to the table dried out - maybe even brown on the inside. What a disappointment!
***Updated with new images 5/12/2017 , new video added 2/25/2022 as well as information chickpeas and chickpea nutrition.****
Well, I'd had enough falafel disappointment in my life - so I began my journey to finding perfection. Along the way I discovered an unexpected tool to add to my kitchen arsenal that put my falafel recipe over the top. Today, I'll share that secret with you!
What is falafel?
Falafel is a traditional middle eastern food, traditionally made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans), fava beans, or both. Served with pita, it's often topped with salad and drizzled in tahini-based sauces. Around the globe, you'll find it in both high-end restaurants and at street food stands. It's a favorite no matter where you are.
First, you might wonder if chickpeas are garbanzo beans? The answer is yes, and they are loaded with nutrients. The variation in name comes from the beans' origin through latin (cicer) and the popular spanish naming (garbanzo). They are a terrific source of plant-based protein and fiber along with containing several vitamins and minerals. In addition chickpeas possess properties that can help to curb your appetite and keep your blood sugar under control. Wow!
You can find more detailed information on the nutritional benefits of garbanzo beans here on Healthline.
Looking to learn more about chickpeas or garbanzo beans?
Whole Foods named chickpeas 'the new cauliflower' in their 2021 food trends guide and for good reason! Chickpeas ( AKA Garbanzo beans) are delicious and good for you too!
How to Cook Chickpeas: Canned, Dried, Aquafaba, and Flour. The Ultimate Guide to Chickpea Recipes
Ever wondered if chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same things?
Or how to cook chickpeas so they taste amazing, but don't make you gassy?
Everything you need to know for cooking with both dried and canned chickpeas is here in one spot!
Watch how easy it is to make falafel at home in the video below!
Making falafel at home
If you were to come to my house for dinner, chances are I would offer to make you an amazing falafel dinner. It's one of my favorite meals to make! I would make homemade hummus with my own tahini, I would throw down a basket of gluten-free naan, and we would slather it with tzatziki before loading it up with grilled veggies, and crispy falafel. We would eat our weight in falafel and probably want to take a nap afterward...seriously, it happens.
The Incredible Secret to an Authentic Falafel Recipe
The secret to a great falafel recipe is not what you'd think. It's not a secret spice, or even the way you cook it - although they are both super important! Ok, this is going to sound like a strange question, but do you have a meat grinder?
Up until a few months ago I really thought I had falafel nailed down! That was of course until I read that real deal authentic falafel is made in a meat grinder. WHAT?! Honestly, I couldn't wrap my head around it. We cook vegetarian most of the time, so I tend to shy away from things like meat grinders, because seriously why would I ever buy one? Turns out after a lot of research that this $30 gadget is actually great for a lot of things other than making ground meat. Who knew?
You can grind soaked chickpeas, herbs, and spices for falafel, you can also makes salsa, grind hominy for tamales, and even make fruit purees. Since Christmas was around the corner I asked for one. I am pretty sure that Todd thought I had LOST my mind, but being the super supportive husband that he is he went along with my whim. I made falafel the first opportunity I had and all I can say is WHOA! It's a whole new ballgame around here and my falafal making game is officially on point.
Do you need a meat grinder?
Now, I am not telling you that you have to have a meat grinder to make this falafel, but using one will make the texture unbelievably light and airy as opposed to being more dense and compact when you make falafel with a food processor.
It is a world of difference in texture, both are amazing in flavor, and either way your family and friends will rave about your amazing falafel to everyone they know. However, if you are a true falafal snob like my family tends to be, a meat grinder is the way to go. It's a super small investment for a lifetime of amazing falafel.
Save some for later
Also - an added bonus that works no matter how you choose to make your falafel: This recipe makes a lot of falafel, but it freezes great! Form the falafal into balls or patties, freeze it on a sheet pan before transferring to a plastic zip bag for long term storage.
The falafel can go straight into the hot oil from the freezer without a problem. Just add another minute or so to the cook time. Perfect golden falafel!
What to serve with falafel
Rosemary Lamb Kofta
Looking for a meaty main dish to turn your falafel fest into a full-on feast? Check out our Rosemary Lamb Kofta recipe by clicking here.
20 delicious ideas for a Mediterranean feast
When I think of a giant, gluten free Mediterranean feast all laid out before me I get a bit weak in the knees over here! I could literally live on herby gluten free falafel, gluten free tabbouleh, garlicky hummus, and lemon-laced tazatziki every day for the rest of my life and never complain. I mean, what's not to love?! The flavors are fresh and bold, while the ingredients required to make these dishes are easy to find, even in a pandemic!
If you’ve tried our Authentic Falafel recipe I would be so grateful if you would rate the recipe and let me know what you think in the comments below, I just love hearing from you and your reviews and comments really help others that visit This Mess is Ours!Print
Don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think about this Authentic Falafel in the comments below, I just love hearing from you and your reviews/comments really help other people that visit This Mess is Ours!
- Prep Time: 24 hours
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 24 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Fried
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
- 2 cups dried chickpeas, NOT canned chickpeas, see note
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
- Zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning after cooking
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- grape seed oil for frying
- Place chickpeas in a large bowl and fill with water to cover them to a depth of 3 inches. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave on counter for 24 hours. The chickpeas will triple in size and absorb quite a bit of the water so check a few times during soaking to see if you need to add more water.Once the beans have soaked for 24 hours, drain and rinse well.
- Place the cumin and coriander seeds in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet and set over medium high heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds give off an aroma and just begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the toasted spices to a spice grinder and process until finely ground. Set aside.
- Place the drained chickpeas, ground spices, garlic, onion, cilantro, and parsley into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine then feed through the meat grinder in small batches until everything has been ground.
- Mix the lemon zest, cayenne, salt, and black pepper into the ground chickpeas then roll a small amount of the mixture into a walnut sized ball or a small patty with your hands. The mixture should hold together nicely and not fall apart.
- Continue rolling the rest of the batter into uniform size balls or patties so that they will cook in the same amount of time. I used a small ice cream scoop and had falafels that were about the size of golf balls. Place the uncooked falafel on a large plate or baking sheet until ready to cook.
- Pour oil in a Dutch oven or a large, high-sided skillet to a depth of 2-3 inches, enough to cover the falafel. Place a thermometer into the oil and heat over med-high heat until the temperature reaches 360° - 375° F.
- While the oil is heating place a flattened paper grocery bag onto a baking sheet and cover with a few clean paper towels. This will help to collect the oil as it drains off of your falafel.
- When the oil is to temp fry a test falafel. The oil should bubble up and sizzle all around it. The falafel itself should stay together in one piece and not break apart at all. It should take 2 - 3 minutes to fry to a beautiful golden brown. If your falafel is not completely submerged flip and cook the other side until it’s nice and browned all over. Remove the cooked falafel from the oil and drain on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt while the falafel is still hot. Fry the remaining falafel in batches, being careful to not over crowd the pan and drop the temp of the oil.
Do not use canned chickpeas when making this falafel recipe - using canned chickpeas will result in a completely different texture than the dried chickpeas and the falafel patty will fall apart in the oil.
- Serving Size: 4 falafels
- Calories: 557
- Sugar: 1.6 g
- Sodium: 610.1 mg
- Fat: 55.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 13.7 g
- Protein: 3.9 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Really so delicious recipe. it's very simple and easy to make.
Yay Anika!! I am so glad you enjoyed it!
Don't know what I did wrong, but this was the first total cooking disaster I've had in 10+ years. The hummus and tabbouleh recipes came out great (thanks for those), but the falaffel dissolved within a minute or two of putting them in the oil, with no crust forming at all. I followed the recipe verbatim...used dried chickpeas, put them through a meat grinder, kept the temperature of the oil exactly where it needed to be etc, all to no avail. I eventually tried putting them in the oven, in the misguided hope that our family would at least have something to eat, but the result was inedible.
I hate defeat in the kitchen, and I will come back to this, but I think I need to do some more research first.
I am so sorry you had an issue with the recipe Mark! I know how frustrating a kitchen fail can be - trust me! Honestly, if you followed the recipe and the temperature of the oil was at the right spot I'm not sure what the issue would be. I have 2 separate videos in the blog post that document the process of making falafel from start to finish that are helpful to watch. That being said, I am so sorry you invested your time and effort and it didn't work out, I am really glad that you like the other recipes that you tried, and I hope you give the falafel another go some time. It really is worth the effort and I personally love when I turn a kitchen fail into a kitchen victory!
Try using more lemon juice and squeeze tightly
Wow! Simply wonderful! Made these tonight and my family devoured them. Will be making again for sure! Thank you so much for sharing.
I am so glad you enjoyed them! Making homemade falafel is so gratifying!
Monica M says
Tasted great but most fell apart. Try one at a time to make sure you don’t need more flour or binding agent
I am so glad you liked the flavor, but hate that they fell apart! Was the oil deep enough in the pot to cover the entire falafel? I don't add any flour or binder, so in my experience if the falafel falls apart it's either because the raw falafel balls were too wet, which can happen if the chickpeas weren't drained super well after soaking, in which case when I'm forming the falafel balls I give them a little squeeze to extract some of the liquid or if the oil is too low in the pan and it isn't submerged. Hopefully, this helps!
Hey! Im from Chile! I loved your blog, this is my first time and it was delicious. Thank you so much!
I just had a problem with the tzatziki sauce, I couldn't open the link. If you can, can you share it? please? thank you!!
Hi!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and I am SO glad you like the falafel! I have updated the link to my tzatziki sauce, so sorry it didn't work before. Keep me posted on what you are cooking in your kitchen!
Andrew Terry says
Hi, I have been trying to make the perfect vegan felafel for thirty years! I have always used a small food processor previously, and always ended up with a mixture that was too wet. Most of the time I ended up adding gram flour to soak up some of the mousture. The balls would just about stay together in the fryer but always resulted in felafels of uneven texture and often insufficiently cooked in the centre.
Well, after reading your revelation about the tradition of using a m*t-grinder instead of a food processor, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase an inexpensive small grinder to experiment with. Lo and behold - near perfection on the first attempt! The felafels hung together nicely and fried evenly. Even the inside was better cooked than previously (although I always think the inside is a little undercooked as it seems almost 'raw')!
So, I am indebted to you for solving a thirty-year-old personal conundrum! Cheers, Andy from the UK!
Well, Andy from the UK you just made my day!!!! I am so happy that you now have near perfect falafels to enjoy, that just makes my heart sing!!
The Greek restaurant (owned by Greeks, chef is Greek) I go to puts carrots in their Falafel. They say their recipe is authentic. So, I was looking for a recipe like theirs when I ran across yours and no carrots. But so so good. I'm a vegetarian so I also would like a recipe for falafel with carrots in them too. So do you have the authentic recipe that also uses carrots in falafel along with everything else in your recipe? Also I have tried baked and deep fried. Baked everyone that did taste test for me said throw them away. They are right Falafel ate so much better deep fried. So carrot and chickpea Falafel recipe if you have. Thank you
You can add all sorts of ingredients to the falafel mix. I would just add a cup of shredded carrots to the mix of whole chickpeas, chopped onions, and toasted spices then when you run all of the ingredients through a food processor or meat grinder it will be incorporated in to the batter. I only fry falafel - once you have fried it is very hard to go back to baked falafel!
Vic Sain says
I love falafel and the way presented it, definitely gonna try this out.
Awesome! I hope you love them!
Mike Power says
This is the second recipe I have tried for falafel and it turned out great. The first attempt I made I used a different recipe, used canned instead of dry peas, used a blender and over blended it and ended up with a soup that did not even make a decent pancake! It also had baking powder and flour in it!
For your recipe and learning from my last mistake, although I did not have a meat grinder, I get the gist and so used my mortar and pestle to painstakingly "process" my mash. I finely chopped the onion and garlic first and put these along with the whole toasted cumin and coriander seeds in the mortar first. I processed them and transferred these to a bowl and then did the chickpeas in 4 batches and transferred to same bowl. I then finely chopped the herbs (and I added mint) and then added them to the bowl. I then mixed the chopped herbs and formerly processed herbs, added in the lemon zest, cayenne, black pepper and salt. At this stage it was not quite right to hold together in a ball so I then did 4 more batches of mortar and pestle processing of the final mix. I let it rest in the fridge overnight. I thought this would help the chickpeas bind the mixture further (and it did) by resting overnight.
Finally, aside from the addition of mint, the only other change i made was that I made small cakes instead of balls from the mix, about 1.5" diameter x 3/8" thick, and cooked them in a small non stick frying pan without any oil in small batches, carefully turning them so the did not break, several times, until they were golden brown and crispy (yes these were crispy without any oil!). I served them on a plate with some tehina as a dip. PS this is the one I used: Yehuda Matzo Tehina (from Israel).
These were the best falafel I have ever had let alone made myself! Thanks for your awesome recipe!
Wow Mike!! You really did put in some work for those falafel and I am so happy you loved them and that the hard work was worth it!
Laura P says
This are the best falafel I’ve every try! So crispy and with so much flavour 😍
I was wondering if I could baje them and how instead for deep frying them ...
I am SO glad that you love them!!! I have tried and tried to bake them but have never had good results, there are some suggestions in the comments here from other people documenting their efforts baking them that may be of interest to you. I have come to the conclusion that falafel is just better fried! haha!
Fuji Sushi says
This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading.
Kerry B. Marino says
Actually, I may love them more. These rival the ones we get at Assad Bakery on Lorain Rd. The crew there is middle eastern, so they know their stuff. I will be going there a little less now. Sorry Assad, but I’ll be back for the fava beans.
Please keep posting your recipes, THEY WORK WHEN THE DIRECTIONS ARE FOLLOWED.
Awww thank you for that Kerry!! Your comments mean so much to me - I created these when we lived in a town with zero options for takeout. We craved falafel, so these were born!!
Kerry B. Marino says
I have made these, following the recipe exactly, for the last 2 nights. Super easy and great tasting. I’m so glad that I now have another use for my KitchenAid mixer.
If you follow the recipe, these will come out perfectly. I chopped up the parsley and cilantro fairly finely before adding it to the chickpeas. That was the most time consuming part of the prep. It took all of 5 minutes.
How wonderful Kerry! I am so glad you love them as much as we do!
Kerry B. Marino says
If I could eat them every day, I would. Right now, without working kidneys, I have to watch the amount of phosphorus in my diet. Sadly, chickpeas are a higher phosphorus food. So, what other middle eastern recipes do you have?
Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to hear about your health problems - I am so glad that you can still splurge from time to time though! Here are some of our favorite Mediterranean inspired recipes, besides the falafel 😉 Shawarma Spiced Sheet Pan Chicken , Vegan Sheet Pan Shawarma, Gluten Free Naan bread, Creamy Baba Ganoush, and my Deconstructed Tabbouleh Hummus Platter!
Karen Cline says
Thank you for doing this. Your work is so lovely and it’s really kind of you to share.
You are so sweet for saying that! Thank you so much!
Tried it fabulous recipe thank so much for sharing it
Sharon Gore says
Wow. Inspired. Can’t wait to make this!
Helena Orstem says
Hi, I just bought a meat grinder and happened to be searching for a great falafel recipe!
Hooray!! i am so glad you found my recipe - i know you are going to love it!
Mateo Pedersen says
I never leave comments, however, this was so easy and such a huge hit! Cannot wait to make again!
My son & his girlfriend are huge fans of falafel, while my husband and I are not, or should I say were not!
We are hooked! These are delicious! Made them for the kids to go with chicken souvlaki, that I was already making for dinner, however we all devoured them! They are now on my need to make often list! Easy, inexpensive, but most of all, DELICIOUS!!!! Thanks for the recipe! Highly recommend
Wow! Thank you so much for your amazing review! I am so glad that my falafel is now on your "make often" list. I think that is pretty much the BEST compliment ever!
Umehani Tiewala says
Hey, I've made these and they were the bomb! Absolutely gratifying experience. Quick question though, it was very difficult for me to form the falafel balls, they kept falling apart. Any suggestions on how to fix it?
I am so glad you liked them!! I'm not sure what might have gone wrong without a few more questions. Did the falafel fall apart while forming into balls or did they fall apart in the oil? Were your hands slightly wet when you were forming the falafel? I usually have to rinse my hands every 4-5 falafel that I make. The stare will help everything bond together and not stick to your hands.
Quick update, I made them exactly as per your recipe and they were fantastic! total game changer in falafel making! thanks so much 😀
Angela Donaldson says
Hi there, I've just made these with canned chickpeas and baked them in the oven. They held together nicely and taste delicious. I don't cook with oil so frying was not an option. I also don't have a food processor so mashed the chickpeas with a potato masher. Wonderful recipe, thank you.
I am so glad to know it worked in the oven for you! I know the hand mashing took some work, but I bet it was worth it!