I love falafels. I truly do.
This popular Middle Eastern “fast food” is immensely packed with flavor and are often eaten as a pita sandwich or salad along with a tahini drizzle. These delicious falafel balls (and patties) leave me fully satisfied without feeling nauseous and bloated. They also don’t make me feel guilty for eating them. Overall, falafels are just downright DELICIOUS.
Traditionally, falafels are deep-fried. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of deep frying. Luckily, falafels can also be baked. However, now that I have an air fryer, I figured that this is the perfect opportunity to test my air fryer’s versatility.
Why Make Falafel
Besides their deliciousness, falafels are also vegan! In fact, this vegan dish will fill you up and keep you feeling full. They also have amazing, unique texture that is unlike any other sandwich or salad protein.
Although they require quite a bit of preparation, the falafel mixture is freezer friendly. In fact, I highly recommend preparing the mixture before your week starts. That way, you can pop them into the air fryer, oven, or deep fryer whenever you find yourself wondering what to eat or have no time to prepare something.
The Air Fryer
In this recipe, I use a 2.6 quart air fryer by Bella and I use it almost every day. However, I mostly use it to make french fries, home fries, breakfast potatoes or chips, which is hard to mess up. Evidently, I’ve been trying to find non-potato recipes to do in the airfryer. Eventually, I would like to have at least 10 non-potato recipes using the air fryer, but for now, let’s just jump into a couple of very important tips when making falafels.
The Falafel Ingredients
Chickpeas: Canned vs. Dried
If you have bounced around the internet looking for a falafel recipe, you will see that many use canned chickpeas. Although it’s not the end of the world, you are ultimately sacrificing texture for reduced preparation time. With that being said, however, you should always opt for dried chickpeas to not only get the texture right, but really bring out that chickpea flavor that you won’t get from canned chickpeas.
Always Use Fresh Herbs for Falafels
This feels like a no-brainer, but always use fresh herbs! This falafel recipe, or any falafel recipe, requires parsley, cilantro, and dill. These fresh herbs are the key to making authentic falafels, so be sure to only buy them fresh. Also, make sure to remove the leaves from their stems before combining the ingredients.
The falafel recipe also calls for garlic. I know how tempting it is to use the prepared garlic you can find in jars at the store. However, for the best results, use fresh garlic only!
Spices are Your Best Friends
Cumin, coriander, and a bit of cayenne pepper make up the ultimate spice trio needed for falafels. In case you haven’t realized yet, falafels are packed with flavor and it’s all thanks to these spices. Do not be afraid of using them! In fact, you should be afraid of under-seasoning your falafel mixture. So please do yourself a favor and don’t skimp on those spices!
Make Life Easier, Use a Food Processor
A lot of preparation goes into falafels. To make your life easier, use a food processor big enough to hold all of the falafel mixture. For reference, I used a 7 cup or 1.7 liter food processor which was the right size for this recipe.
If you do not have a food processor and instead have a blender, that will work as well. However, you may have to work in batches as the blender may be unable to prcoess the entire batch. If that is also not in your kitchen, find a friend who has a food processor or pray that you have a potato masher or pestle and mortar. Heck, this may be the time to finally buy a food processor.
Finally, the Falafel Recipe
Air fryer? Check.
Dried chickpeas? Check.
Fresh ingredients? Check.
Food processor? Check.
Now it’s time to get into the recipe. Good luck and have fun with it!
- 2 cups, dried chickpeas (not canned or cooked)
- 1.5 tsp, baking powder
- 1 cup, chopped white onion
- 1 cup, lightly packed parsley leaves (stems removed)
- 3/4 cup, lightly packed cilantro leaves (stems removed)
- 1/2 cup, dill leaves (stems removed)
- 6-8 cloves, garlic
- 1 tbsp, lemon juice
- 1 tbsp, ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp, ground cumin
- 1 tbsp, ground coriander
- 1 tsp, cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp, salt or to taste
- Optional: 1-1.5 tbsp, flour (if your mixture is not holding well together)
The Method for Falafels
- At least one day before cooking your falafels, place your dried chickpeas and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a large bowl of water. There should be about 2 inches of water covering the chickpeas. Soak the chickpeas overnight. Feel free to soak them for a little longer if they feel too firm.
- The following day, drain your chickpeas with a colander. I like to lay them over a clean towel on a flat baking sheet so that I can pat them dry.
- Prepare the mix in the food processor by adding the chickpeas, white onion, parsley, cilantro, dill, garlic, lemon juice, white pepper, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, and the remainder of the baking soda. Start by pulsing the food processor and then run the food processor for about 30 seconds. Keep pulsing until the texture is coarse.
- Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl, cover it, and refigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before air frying.
- On the day of cooking, preheat your air fryer to 375°F and spray with vegetable oil.
- Prepare the falafels by using a spoon or cookie dough scooper to measure out 1 tablespoon of dough. Form into balls or patties and place them onto a chilled plate. Repeat until desired amount.
- After the air fryer is done preheating, place the falafels on the bottom of the basket. Return the basket to the air fryer and cook for 15 minutes. Be sure to use tongs and flip the falafels once or twice during cooking time to ensure even cooking.
- Once done cooking, remove the falafels from the air fryer and allow them to cool slightly.
- To serve, eat with pita, Mediterranean salad, and a side of hummus or tahini sauce for dipping or as a drizzle. Enjoy!