Falafel balls on a tray with a side of vegan sour cream.

How to make falafel in 10 easy steps

08 Jun 2023

Are you looking to add falafel into your diet? Maybe you have heard of it but you are not quite sure what it is?

The best falafel recipes are quick and easy to make, but it is not something that everyone knows how to create from scratch.

And that is where we come in! Read on for one of the simplest vegan falafel recipes, which we would love to share with you.

But before we do, what exactly is a falafel?!

What is falafel?                  

Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern food which is made from chickpeas, fava beans, or a combination of both.

Traditionally deep-fried, it is cooked with herbs, spices, onion, and dough. It can be eaten on its own, as a snack, in a pitta bread for lunch, or with salad or vegetables, for a more substantial evening meal.

Falafel is particularly popular amongst vegans and vegetarians and a staple part of a plant-based diet.1 Veganism can be a healthy lifestyle choice, so falafel makes a tasty and nutritious alternative to meat.

And when it comes to its texture and taste, this ‘vegan meatball’ should be soft, fluffy, and lightly spiced on the inside, whilst ever so slightly crisp on the outside. Delicious!

Is falafel healthy?

Traditional chickpea falafel is low in fat and high in plant-based protein. There are also few calories in falafel when cooked healthily. Falafel contains soluble fibre, which dissolves in water as it works through the digestive system. Once it enters the stomach and gastrointestinal fluids, soluble fibre becomes a gel-like substance2. Soluble fibre helps to slow digestion, keeping you full for longer. It can also lower cholesterol and helps to maintain a healthy weight3.

Falafel also contains niacin, vitamin B5 and calcium.

However, if falafel is deep-fried in unhealthy oils, it can become high in fat and calories.

Switching to low-fat oils, like olive, canola, or grapeseed while cooking can therefore make falafel a healthier option.

Vegan falafel recipe

You might be pleasantly surprised to learn how surprisingly easy it is to make falafel from scratch.

The following recipe is suitable for vegans and can be served with a delicious tahini sauce.

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Makes: 8 falafels

Falafel ingredients:

  • 425g canned chickpeas
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Handful of coriander, finely chopped
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml olive oil

To serve:

  • Pitta bread
  • Hummus
  • Tahini
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Pickles

Cooking equipment you will need to make falafels:

  • Paper towels
  • Food processor
  • Baking paper
  • Baking tray

How to make tasty falafels:

  1. Drain the canned chickpeas and rinse. Lay down some paper towels onto your kitchen surface and dry the chickpeas thoroughly.
  2. Place the dry chickpeas into the food processor. Add the onion and crushed garlic. Process until all ingredients are roughly chopped, not pureed.
  3. Slowly add the coriander, parsley, sesame seeds, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper and salt. Process until roughly chopped and mixed.
  4. Add the flour and baking powder and pulse in the processor until incorporated with the other ingredients. The mixture should now be doughy, without sticking to your hands.
  5. Empty the processed mixture into a bowl. Create golf-sized balls with it and place them onto the baking paper.
  6. Gently flatten the balls slightly. Move the baking paper onto a baking tray.
  7. Place the baking tray with the falafel balls into the fridge so that they become firm. Or, if you are in a rush, pop them into the freezer for 20 minutes.
  8. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan. Once it is hot, add two falafels at a time and fry for around 3 minutes until they are nice and crispy on either side.
  9. Grab some fresh paper towels and place the fried falafel onto the paper to absorb the excess oil.
  10. Serve them however you choose. We love placing the falafel inside a pitta with lettuce, tomatoes and tahini to serve.

Nutritional information

Each falafel contains 129 calories and 8.6g of fat.

It also contains 1.5g of sugar, 225mg of sodium and 2.3g of fibre.

Additionally, you will get 10.4g of carbohydrates and 3.3g of protein from one falafel.

Ways to serve falafel

Now that you have your delicious homemade falafel patty, there are so many different ways you can serve it.

One of the most popular is to place your falafel inside a warm pitta bread or wrap it in a flatbread with tomatoes, cucumbers, and salad.

It can also be topped with tasty mayonnaise, humous, or tahini, to add extra texture and flavour.

Falafel is also delicious in a healthy salad bowl. You can serve it with whatever you like, but salad, pickled onions, hummus, feta, tzatziki, and harissa make a lovely combination.

And as a tasty treat, try popping your falafel in between two toasted burger buns with lashings of tomato relish. Enjoy!

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Last Updated: 8th February 2021

  1.  https://www.veganfriendly.org.uk/is-it-vegan/falafel
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002136.html
  3. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/insoluble-soluble-fiber
Bhupesh Panchal

Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.