Authentic Golden Falafel (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

If I had to list Todd’s favorite foods falafel would be number one. Unfortunately, not all falafel is created equal. Over the years I have tried numerous recipes for falafel at home. Todd, being the awesome husband that he is, was always encouraging by telling me that my home attempt was really good it was just “different” than the authentic falafel that he gets when we go out to eat. I don’t know about you but to me “different” but good is not good enough. Usually, it is the texture that is off. I have tried countless recipes and methods all with the same mediocre results that I can only imagine left my poor husband craving the “real” thing. Recently, I stumbled upon a recipe for falafel in a new cookbook that made my husbands eyes light up and satisfied his craving!

I tend to read cookbooks like other people read novels. No, I haven’t read the “Hunger Games” or “Shades of Gray” and I really could care less if I ever do, but I have read 3 cookbooks cover to cover in the last month. Does that count? Instead of faraway lands my imagination takes me to the kitchen where I whip up the perfect meal without a single slip up. I almost always have a cookbook by the side of the bed for reading at night and yes, I even read cookbooks to my toddler. Don’t judge me, I bet he knows more about what vegetables look like than a lot of adults. Who knows, maybe I am bringing up the world’s first gluten-free Iron Chef!

Over the last week or so I have been pouring through a cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon titled Bean by Bean. I was first introduced to her writing by my dad when he gave me her book titled the Passionate Vegetarian, I am still reading through the more than 1000 recipes it holds and have yet to be disappointed.

This authentic falafel recipe calls for using raw beans that have been soaked for 24 hours to tenderize them and trust me, it makes all the difference. Her flavorings are spot on even though I did add lemon zest and a little more salt to suit our tastes. I served my falafel with lettuce cups, lemon wedges, hummus, grilled onions and bell peppers. Since we are gluten-free, pita bread isn’t an option for us anymore but the lettuce cups were a really great alternative! Best of all, there was no “it’s different” comment followed by a longing look which I know means “It’s not real falafel!” There was only chewing and smiling and requests for seconds.


Authentic Golden Falafel (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

A small dish of falafel next to a plate of grilled vegetables.
  • Author: This Mess is Ours
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


  • 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • Zest of one large lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • oil for frying, I like grape seed oil
  • coarse kosher salt
  • *NOTE: Only if necessary, 2-4 tablespoons chickpea flour and ½ teaspoon baking soda


  1. 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.
  2. Place the chickpeas, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, lemon zest, cayenne, cumin, coriander, salt, and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor and alternate between pulsing and blending, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally until the chickpea mixture is uniform in size and still slightly grainy in texture not smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. **If your food processor seems like it is straining you can add water or lemon juice to loosen up the mixture, no more than a tablespoon at a time though. Try to avoid adding any liquid if at all possible.
  3. 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. *If it seems too wet sprinkle with a small amount of the chickpea flour, no more than a tablespoon at a time. Once texture is correct sprinkle the baking soda over the falafel and stir the mixture until combined.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour oil in a Dutch oven or a large, high-sided skillet to a depth of 3 inches, enough to cover falafel. Place a thermometer into the oil and heat over med-high heat until the temperature reaches 360° – 375° F.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 1 ½ – 2 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.
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  1. Kelley April 10, 2018 at 3:50 am

    This recipe was perfect and so delicious, the texture and flavors are just right!!!! My first time making falafel and they were so amazing, I will always use this recipe! (I decided to avoid the deep fry and use very little oil to pan fry, maybe 1/2 inch, and made little patties instead of balls so they’d cook through: came out perfect also!)

    1. thismess April 11, 2018 at 2:37 pm

      That is so great Kelley!! I am happy to know that you loved them so much and that the recipe worked as patties. I cannot wait to try that myself!

  2. JILL March 11, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Hello all. When you guys are baking these are you using the 24 hr dry bean soak method (then NOT cooking the chickpeas/ and proceeding in exact same way as recipe but just baking instead? Thanks. I have made numerous falafel recipes but never mastered. Am hopeful!

    1. thismess March 13, 2018 at 11:44 pm

      Hey Jill,
      I have never tried to bake these because authentic falafel is deep fried as called for in the recipe. If you do bake them I would suggest preheating the oven with a cast iron skillet in it so that the skillet is screaming hot before adding the falafel. I would prepare it as called for. I’m just not 100% sure that they would develop a crispy crust in the oven like you want.

  3. Renee July 9, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Hi there! Just prepped a ton of patties for dinner tonight! If I want to freeze half is it better to freeze them uncooked or already cooked? What are your suggestions?

    1. thismess July 12, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      Hey Renee, I freeze them uncooked and just thaw what I would like to make later. I love the this recipe makes enough that we can cook once and eat twice.

  4. Maiya Champa June 10, 2017 at 4:00 am

    It would have been nice to know what the consistency of the balls should have been. My daughter and I tried to make these and they totally fell apart in the hot oil. 🙁

    1. thismess June 24, 2017 at 12:27 am

      Oh no Maiya, that is too bad! I am so sorry that happened! Did the falafel mixture hold together when you formed it into a patty or was it possibly too wet? If you look at the inside of the falafel in the first image of the post you will see how finely processed the ingredients should be. Was your falafel possibly not processed enough?

  5. Amy K June 8, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    I made these and they fell apart! What did I do wrong? I followed the recipe exactly. Maybe they were too wet?
    I baked first then fried a little for crispness and they completely fell apart in the pan. It was painful wasting all those ingredients 🙁

    1. thismess June 9, 2017 at 1:40 am

      I hate these didn’t turn out for you Amy. I have never had success baking the falafel first and then frying them so I am assuming that is the problem. I always fry mine the entire cook time completely submerged.

    2. LaVonne Ray August 23, 2020 at 7:20 am

      For fragile fried patties, balls, timbales: I will add corn starch, some G.F. flour, potato flour. I usually test by frying one pattie so see how it behaves. Add one of the above until one hold together.

      1. thismess August 24, 2020 at 5:45 pm

        These are really great tips LaVonne, thank you for sharing!!!

  6. Bella April 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Yes! I will be trying these too! They look soooo amazing! Very very authentic looking 🙂 ExCiTeD!

    1. Meg April 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Bella, I hope you LOVE them! We are hopelessly addicted to these little babies. I am actually making them today for friends that are coming over tonight:)

  7. Picho March 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Tip from the Middle East: try using a meat grinder instead of the food processor. Your falafel seems a bit dense… It will make it lighter.

    1. Meg March 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      I personally don’t own a meat grinder, but if someone else has one and gives it a try let us know how it turns out! Thanks for the tip Picho!

  8. Shara from February 24, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve been looking for a great gluten free recipe for falafel for a friend of mine. I can’t wait to share this recipe and your blog with her. I too am going to try this recipe because I love falafel. Thank you so much for posting!

    1. Meg February 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Yay Shara! I am so glad you found our site and this recipe. If you like authentic falafel you are going to flip for this recipe, I promise!

  9. Jenna February 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Hello! What size food processor are you using for this? I think the mixture was a bit too much for mine so I had to do it in batches – but it sure tastes delicious!

    1. Meg February 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      My food processor is pretty large, I am glad you liked the falafel though:)

  10. Pamela Rose January 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Thank you for your quick response. I just put the garbanzo beans on to soak and will try out this recipe tomorrow. will let you know how it comes out.

    1. admin January 6, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      No problem, I am actually soaking some right now myself to try out tomorrow. So excited to see how they turn out, fingers crossed for you and your falafel! Please, let me know how they turn out.

      1. Pamela Rose January 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

        Just got done with dinner, the falafels were wonderful baked in the oven. I think the trick is baking them in the cast iron pans as they turned out crispy!
        Thanks again!!

        1. admin January 7, 2013 at 9:34 pm

          Yay Pamela, I am so glad that it worked for you and that you enjoyed them! I really appreciate you commenting back and letting me know how they turned out. I hope you have many wonderful baked falafel dinners in the future. 🙂

  11. Pamela Rose January 6, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I am wondering about baking these also… what temperature and how long? I cannot do fried food 🙁
    Did Jessie ever get back to you on that?
    Many blessings

    1. admin January 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Hi Pamela,

      Thanks for reminding me to add this cooking suggestion, I had totally forgotten! Jessie never got back to me, but here is what I would do:

      With an oven rack in the middle position, preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a large cast iron skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil.(You will probably need more than one skillet or you can try a baking sheet, I think you will get a better crunch from cooking in cast iron.)

      Combine all of the ingredients in the food processor as indicated in the recipe above then shape the falafel into small patties, about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.

      Place each falafel on your oiled skillet or pan. Bake for 13-15 minutes, then remove the falafel from the oven and carefully flip each one. Return the pans to the oven for another 13 to 15 minutes, until the falafels are lightly browned on both sides.

      Let me know how it turns out!

  12. janet @ the taste space December 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I am vegan and while I am not strictly gluten-free, I adore beans! I have this cookbook, too, but haven’t been *that* inspired by it but I think I may pick it up again and see what lies within. Any other recipes you recommend?

  13. Cindy (Vegetarian Mamma) September 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    This is one of my favs this week! YUM! Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! Its awesome bloggers like you that make our party wonderful! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂 See you next Friday! Cindy from

    1. admin September 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Yay! Thanks Cindy:) I hope that you have a great week.

    1. admin September 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Me too Tanya, my husband is a self professed falafel snob! Haha!

  14. Jessie September 11, 2012 at 11:58 am

    What if I want to bake them? Do I need to cook the chickpeas first?

    1. admin September 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Hi Jessie,
      Great question! The book has a separate recipe for baked falafel that calls for canned chickpeas instead of raw. Although, using canned beans has always been my issue with the texture not being right. The 24 hour soak time does a great job of tenderizing the beans so if it were me I wouldn’t cook them first. Let me know if you give it a try, I would love to know how they turn out baked!

      1. Jessie January 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm

        Baked falafels turn out fabulous! I do cook the chickpeas beforehand and spray olive oil over the falafels so they get crispy on the outside. I bake for about 20-25 mins at 350.

        1. admin January 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

          Thanks Jessie,I am really excited to see how the baked version of these falafel will turn out!


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