Vegan Falafels are a popular Middle Eastern dish that’s deep fried balls of dough made from chickpeas that are surprisingly gluten free. Can also be baked if trying to reduce oil consumption.
If you are a picky person, you may hear vegan falafels and wonder what the heck you are about to eat.
Essentially, if a hushpuppy and a meatball had a baby, this is what you would get.
Falafels are a Middle Eastern main dish that is usually free from most common allergens. It is made from chickpeas that give it a delicious taste and texture.
In fact, falafels are usually vegan already. However, you should always check your labels in case things have been added to them.
Once the chickpeas soak, they are quick to make and you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make them.
The traditional way is to fry them in oil; however, we will share a baked method as well.
They also store really well, so they are great for meal prep lunches or dinners that you may want to prep ahead.
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What ingredients do you need for vegan falafels?
Falafels don’t need a lot of ingredients. In fact, you only need 10 ingredients in them to work. Full amounts listed below in printable recipe card.
The ingredients that you need are:
- dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas) *See notes below about canned
- yellow onion
- fresh cilantro (can sub with parsley)
- salt and pepper
- ground cumin
- ground coriander
- chickpea flour
- lemon juice
If frying, you will also need baking soda and vegetable oil.
Can I use canned chickpeas for vegan falafels?
The short answer, yes.
However, it is best to use dried chickpeas and do an overnight soak.
Canned chickpeas have been soaking for months at a time, sometimes maybe even longer, and because of that they retain a lot more moisture which gives a bit of an issue when making falafels.
If you are adamant about making vegan falafels with canned chickpeas, then we highly recommend that you not only thoroughly drain them from any juice in the can, but that you also dry them completely on a kitchen towel.
Even letting them sit for an hour or so to make sure you’ve gotten all the juice.
Think of it like trying to remove excess water from tofu. You don’t want mushy falafels, so you need to remove as. much water from chickpeas as possible.
How do you make vegan falafels?
The first step to making vegan falafels is to let the dried chickpeas soak overnight.
Once they are soak you are going to want to drain them from the water and lay them out on a towel. Thoroughly pat them dry. You want as little moisture on them as possible.
Add them to a food processor with the remaining ingredients.
Pulse, scrapping down the sides often, until all the ingredients are chopped up and a thick batter is left.
Roll into 1″ balls – we like using a cookie scoop to make sure they are all even.
Once all the balls are made, heat oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pot and bring the temperature up to 350 degrees F.
Add the baking soda to the oil.
Drop the balls into the oil and cook for 2 1/2-5 minutes, moving around to ensure golden brown on all sides.
Remove from the oil and lay on a towel lined plate to remove excess oil. Repeat with remaining balls.
Serve inside pitas, or with vegan turmeric garlic rice.
If you do not have a deep fryer or don’t want to necessarily deep fry, but still use oil, you can just add a little oil to a skillet and move them around for 5-7 minutes ensuring that all sides are cooked golden brown.
Air fryer and baked methods follow.
Can I make these oil free falafels?
Falafels are usually deep fried; however, we know for various reasons that people may want to not use oil.
There are two methods to doing so. Either way, make the recipe as instructed up until the deep frying. So with your plate of uncooked falafels you can.
Air Fryer Vegan Falafels
Place the falafels inside your air fryer at 350 degrees F and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway.
They should be a golden brown color on the outside.
Oven Baked Vegan Falafels
Place the falafels on a baking sheet and into a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway.
They should be a golden brown color on the outside.
Can I prep vegan falafels ahead of time?
Vegan falafels, once cooked and cooled, can be stored in an air-tight container for up to a week.
This makes them perfect for any weekly meal prep that you do.
Can you freeze vegan falafels?
Yes. Either uncooked or cooked vegan falafels can be frozen.
If cooked, make sure that they are completely cooled.
We prefer to place on a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes, then place them into a freezer safe container or bag. Doing so helps make sure that they don’t stick.
If cooked before freezing, you can let them thaw out for a few hours and heat in the oven for 5-10 minutes or pop into a microwave for a few minutes.
If uncooked, you can cook from frozen according to the directions above, just adding a few minutes of cooking time.
Can you make falafels Top 8 Allergen free?
Falafels are almost always Top 8 Allergen Free. This recipe already is written to be Top 8 Allergen free.
Just a note, if buying store bought or from a restaurant, you do want to ensure that if you have allergens that they are not using dairy or gluten as some people do even though that’s not the traditional way to make them.
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- 1 cup dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped into 4 pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (Can sub for parsley if you don't like cilantro)
- 1 tbsp chickpea flour
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
If Deep Frying
- 1 qt vegetable oil
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- Soak dried chickpeas overnight.
- Drain chickpeas from water and lay them out on a towel. Thoroughly pat them dry. Get as much moisture out as possible.
- Add chickpeas to a food processor with the remaining ingredients.
- Pulse, scrapping down the sides often, until all the ingredients are chopped up and a thick batter is left.
- Roll into 1" balls (you can use a cookie scoop to ensure even size).
For Deep Fried Falafels (Traditional)
- Once all the balls are made, heat oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed pot and bring the temperature up to 350 degrees F.
- Add the baking soda to the oil.
- Drop falafels into the oil and cook for 2 1/2-5 minutes, moving around to ensure golden brown on all sides.
- Remove from the oil and lay on a towel lined plate to remove excess oil. Repeat with remaining balls.
- Once falafels are shaped – Add a little oil to a skillet and move them around for 5-7 minutes ensuring that all sides are cooked golden brown.Alternatively, if you want to deep fry but only have a skillet, you can add enough oil to a heavy bottom skillet or dutch oven and fry for a few minutes like above. It's best to have a thermometer to make sure you are frying at 350 degrees F.
Air Fryer Method (Oil Free)
- Once falafels are shaped -Place the falafels inside your air fryer at 350 degrees F and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway. Should be a golden brown color on the outside.
Baked Method (Oil Free)
- Place the falafels on a baking sheet and into a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway. Should be a golden brown color on the outside.
- Serve inside pitas, or with vegan turmeric garlic rice.
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This post was originally published on 1/22/20 and updated on 2/24/20 to add a video.