This easy falafel recipe can be made in the air fryer or baked in the oven. Using canned chickpeas saves a lot of time and effort yet the falafel patties come out soft and fluffy inside, crispy on the outside and super flavorful. They are great in wraps, pitas, salads and bowls.
Traditionally, falafel is made with mixture of dried chickpeas (or fava beans) that have been soaked overnight, vibrant fresh herbs, onions, garlic and spices, which is formed into balls and deep fried in oil until they turn golden brown.
While I love the authentic Middle Eastern falafel recipe, it definitely requires a fair amount of time and effort. Deep frying is not something I do everyday, either so I wanted to create a super easy version of falafel without compromising the flavor and texture.
It turns out that you can make killer falafel that's crispy on the outside while being supremely soft and fluffy inside in the air fryer! Using canned chickpeas works well as long as you make sure they are dry and add a bit of flour of choice. For best results, I recommend flattening the falafel balls into discs - they stay put in the air fryer and there is more surface to crisp up.
I also tested this recipe in the oven and it works well, too. The falafel turns out a little less crispy than in the air fryer but the flavor and texture are equally great.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This falafel recipe is quick, easy and uses simple staple ingredients
- Using canned chickpeas cuts prep time significantly
- Falafel is naturally vegetarian and vegan
- Use whatever flour fits your dietary needs - all-purpose, gluten-free, almond or chickpea flour will all work
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Canned Chickpeas: I like Goya but any canned chickpeas will work. Make sure to rinse them well to get rid of extra salt and tin flavor.
- Fresh Herbs: this is what gives the falafel its gorgeous color and freshness. I used parsley and cilantro but if you don't like cilantro, you can also use fresh mint and chives.
- Onion: yellow, white, sweet or red onion will work.
- Garlic: fresh garlic cloves is what you want. I used 2 cloves but you can add more (or none) if you like.
- Spices: to season the patties use salt and pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander and red pepper flakes.
- Flour: this is what helps the mixture come together. All-purpose flour or chickpea flour are best choices but you can also swap for gluten-free or almond flour.
- Baking Powder: this ingredient helps the falafel's texture become fluffy. Some recipes use baking soda instead. Mix in the baking powder into the "dough" right before forming balls.
- Olive Oil Spray: to help the falafel patties get crispy on the outside without deep frying.
How to make falafel in the air fryer
STEP 1: Rinse and dry the chickpeas. Using a sieve, run cold water over the chickpeas, then transfer them onto a sheet of paper towel and cover with another piece of paper towel to dry.
STEP 2: Chop up onions and garlic by pulsing a few times in the food processor.
STEP 3: Add herbs and chickpeas. Start with herbs and spices and pulse a few times to combine. Then add the chickpeas and pulse 2-3 times to roughly chop.
STEP 4: Add flour and form the "dough". Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap.
STEP 5: Refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 25 minutes. Then fold in the baking powder.
STEP 6: Form balls. Using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop, drop 12 equal parts of the mixture onto a baking sheet. Then, roll into balls and flatten into discs.
STEP 7: Air fry for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, flipping the patties once after 8 minutes.
The oven method
Another great way to make falafel without deep frying is to bake it in the oven. Here's how to do it:
- Follow steps 1-6 in previous section
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Place the falafel discs (or balls) onto the prepared baking sheet spaced apart and spray with olive oil
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once half-way baking time
Falafel tastes best when it's served hot and crispy, immediately after air frying or baking. Here are my favorite ways to serve falafel:
- As an appetizer with a side of dipping sauce - check this epic list of 10 Best Falafel Sauce Recipes
- In a pita sandwich or a wrap with fresh veggies and pickles
- On top of a salad or rice bowl
- As part of a mezze platter accompanied by fresh veggies, dips and pita - check out my Falafel Platter post for some inspiration
- Try it with a side of my Mediterranean Yellow Rice or this flavorful Greek Chickpea Salad.
Storage and freezing
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days
- To freeze, allow cooled falafel on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then transfer to an airtight container or a ziploc bag and use up within 3 months
- To reheat from fresh, place the falafel on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes in the oven preheated to 375 degrees or air fry for 2-3 minutes at 350 degrees.
- You can also reheat frozen cooked falafel on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes turning once.
Yes, definitely! Soak them overnight, drain and dry, then use as you would canned chickpeas (no need to cook the chickpeas before adding to food processor).
You can either shape them into balls or discs. Personally, I prefer discs because they don't roll around the basket of the air fryer and crisp up nicely all over.
Don't crowd the patties in the air fryer and use a good amount of olive oil spray both for the air fryer basket and to spray directly on the falafel.
I love my 7 quart basket style Go Wise air fryer which large is perfect for our family of 5.
More easy air fryer recipes
- Air Fryer Butternut Squash Fries
- Air Fryer Potato Slices
- Air fryer Chicken Kabobs
- Air Fryer Eggplant Parm
- Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders (No Breading)
If you try my Easy Falafel recipe be sure to leave me a comment and give this recipe a rating. I would love to hear from you and see how it turned out for you! You can also share and tag me on Instagram!
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Easy Falafel Recipe (Air Fryer or Oven)
- 1 can chickpeas 15.5 oz, rinsed, drained and dried on paper towels
- 1 onion, quartered large
- 4 garlic cloves
- ⅔ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup all-purpopse flour or chickpea flour or almond flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoon cumin ground
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander ground
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- olive oil spray
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Place onion and garlic in a bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until roughly chopped.
- Add chopped parsley, chopped cilantro and spices. Pulse until combined.
- Add canned chickpeas (rinsed, drained and dried on paper towels) and pulse 2-3 times. Don't overprocess! The chickpeas should be roughly chopped, not pureed.
- Finally, add the flour and pulse 2-3 times more until just combined. If you prefer, you can empty the mixture into a bowl and fold in the flour with a rubber spatula.
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or a lid) and refrigerate for 2 hours (or longer) or freeze for 25 minutes.
- Add baking powder and fold it in with a rubber spatula or a spoon - this addition will make the falafel fluffy inside.
- Using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop or a spoon, divide the "dough" into 12 balls, then roll into uniform balls using your fingers. I like my falafel balls slightly flattened into discs for more crispiness but you can keep them as balls - the choice is yours!
- Spray the basket of an air fryer with olive oil spray, then place the falafel inside spaced apart. Spray with more olive oil spray.
- Air fry for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, flipping once after 8 minutes.
Can I pan fry these? Thoughts on oil? Thanks!
Hi Stacy. Yes, you can pan fry the falafel balls in oil. I like avocado oil but any plant oil will work. Heat the oil in a pan and pan fry in batches on all sides until golden brown.