These easy Baked Falafel are healthy, delicious and full of flavor! Enjoy these nutrient dense nuggets in pita sandwiches, falafel bowls, or simply dipped in a tasty sauce. They’re a delicious oil-free, gluten-free twist on a Middle Eastern favorite you’re whole family will love!
Are you a falafel fan who’s looking for a healthier alternative to the traditional deep-fried version?
Well, you’re in for a treat! In this blog post, we’ll show you how to make delicious oil-free baked falafel that’s not only crispy and flavorful but also a guilt-free delight for your taste buds.
While classic fried falafel is undeniably delicious, baking them instead of frying offers numerous health benefits. By eliminating the oil, you significantly reduce the calorie content without sacrificing flavor.
It’s a fantastic option for those watching their fat intake or following a plant-based or vegan lifestyle.
What is falafel?
Falafel are patties or balls made of ground chickpeas or fava beans combined with spices like cumin and coriander and fresh herbs. Traditional falafel is deep fried until golden-brown. It is a popular Middle Eastern street food that is also popular among vegans and vegetarians.
Falafel is served in pita sandwiches with tahini and vegetables; as part of a mezze spread with other small plates such as hummus, tabbouleh and grape leaves; or paired with salad or as a side with hummus.
In order to keep these falafel low-fat and healthy, I have chosen to bake them instead of deep frying. They still have a wonderful crispy outside with a tender, fluffy interior.
Is falafel good for you?
The ingredients and preparation method for this baked falafel recipe are good for you and your health.
Namely, chickpeas are high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium and other micronutrients. Parsley and cilantro are good sources of vitamin K. And the aromatics like onion and garlic contain beneficial phytochemicals like flavonoids.
By using an air fryer or oven-baking to prepare these little golden nuggets of deliciousness, this baked falafel is oil-free. However, when falafel is made with a lot of sodium, and deep fried in oil, the health benefits diminish.
Ingredients for oil-free falafel
- Dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – be sure to use dried and soaked chickpeas and not canned chickpeas. The canned ones will result in mushy falafel.
- Baking soda – added to the soaking water to help soften the chickpeas
- Fresh herbs – I chose to use a combination of fresh parsley and fresh cilantro. Mint and dill are also commonly used. Choose which ever combination of herbs you prefer.
- Onion – I used yellow onion, but red onion would also be delicious!
- Garlic – for the best flavor, use fresh garlic.
- Spices – ground cumin, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper
- Salt – to round out the flavors
- Baking powder – for a fluffier falafel
- Lemon juice – fresh is best, but bottled will also work
How to make baked falafel
Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours. – Place the dried chickpeas in a large bowl or pot of water and add a teaspoon of baking soda to help soften them. They will absorb a lot of water, so make sure the water level is a few inches above the beans. Drain them well.
Make the falafel mixture. – Place the onion and garlic in the food processor and chop them up. Then add the soaked chipeas, herbs, spices, lemon juice, baking powder, and salt, and process until the mixture is finely ground like cornmeal. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times.
Refrigerate – Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a bowl and refrigerate for about an hour will help the mixture stick together when forming the balls or patties.
Form the falafel – shape the falafel mixture into balls or patties using a spoon or ice cream scoop. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake the falafel – Preheat your oven to 375℉ and bake the falafel for 20 to 25 minutes, turning over half-way through the baking time. They should be crispy and golden brown.
Serving suggestions and variations
There are endless ways to enjoy your oil-free baked falafel!
- You can stuff these crispy falafel patties into warm pita bread with some fresh veggies and hummus or tahini sauce for a delicious falafel sandwich.
- Add these homemade falafel balls to salads and top with this Hummus Dressing or your favorite dressing.
- Serve them as an appetizer with your favorite dipping sauce. A drizzle of tahini sauce or a dollop of homemade hummus will take your falafel experience to the next level.
- Get creative! Feel free to experiment with the recipe by adding your favorite herbs or spices. Some people enjoy adding a sprinkle of sesame seeds for an extra crunch.
Frequently asked questions
Absolutely! Preheat the air fryer to 400℉. Place the falafel patties in the air fryer and cook in 5 minute intervals. Check the falafel after the first 5 minutes. If the haven’t started to gain color on one side, cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Once they are browning on one side, turn them over and cook for another 5 minutes.
These falafel will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Yes, falafel can be frozen before or after cooking. To freeze before cooking, arrange the falafel on a baking sheet, leaving space between each. Place baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for 1-2 hours, or until the falafel are frozen completely solid. Then, transfer the falafel to a freezer safe container or airtight bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Bake falafel from frozen until warm and crispy.
To freeze after cooking, place the baked falafel in a container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
If your falafel are falling apart, the original mixture was likely too dry. When pulsing the ingredients together, the mixture should hold together when you press it between your fingers. If it seems too dry and crumbly, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it holds together.
Other recipes you might like
- Hummus Veggie Wrap
- Chickpea Burgers
- Oil Free Hummus
- Roasted Garlic Hummus
- Chickpea Salad Sandwich
- Vegan Tahini Sauce
- Chickpea Lettuce Wraps
- Chickpea Noodle Soup
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Oil Free Falafel
- 1 cup dry chickpeas soaked overnight
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 small onion
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Soaking the chickpeas
- Soak the chickpeas in a large bowl or pot with enough water to cover the chickpeas by 2 to 3 inches. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water to help soften the chickpeas. For best result, allow them to soak for 24 hours.
- Drain the chickpeas well after soaking.
Making the falafel
- Add the onion and garlic to a food processor and process them to chop them up.
- Add the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper. Process until it is finely ground, almost like cornmeal. You may need to scrape down the sides a couple of times.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour. This will help the mixture stick together.
- Preheat the oven to 375℉.
- With a spoon or an ice cream scoop, for the falafel mixture into balls or patties and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. It will make approximately 16 falafel, depending on the size you make them.
- Bake the falafel for 25 minutes until they are golden brown, turning them half-way through the cooking time.