Falafels | The Gluten Free Vegan

This recipe was originally posted August 19, 2009. Now I’m giving it a facelift and reposting it.

Falafels are a favorite around here. From the first time I made them in 2009, they’re always high on the list of recipes people request that I make them.

Falafels take a bit of time, simply because of the soaking of the chickpeas overnight. You want to make sure you use dried chickpeas for this recipe because the texture of canned chickpeas won’t be the same. Once you’ve got everything mixed up you’ll also want to let it sit in the fridge for the two hours, as instructed.

Now I know some people will ask about whether you can get away with not deep-frying these. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know. I haven’t tried baking them. I know that frying them works and for the occasional treat I would say go for it.

I’ve served the falafels with tahina and hummus but we really enjoy them with a tamarind chutney because we like the little kick of spiciness. I’ve included the recipe for Tahina Sauce below, even though it’s not really one of our go-to sauces for falafels and I’m pretty sure Levi hates it when I make it. He will eat halvah like it’s going out of style but anything else that has a distinctive tahina flavor he’s not too keen on.

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A Middle Eastern staple - Falafel - served gluten-free and vegan.
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb dry garbanzo beans (chick peas)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 potato, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chickpea flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups canola oil, for frying
  1. Rinse the chick peas in cold water and discard any bad ones. Place in a large pot, and cover with water. Let soak 24 hours, rinse again.
  2. Process soaked beans in batches in food processor until finely ground into a coarse meal. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Process garlic, onion, and potato in food processor until chopped finely.
  4. Add cilantro, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Process on low to blend thoroughly. Add to the ground chickpeas and stir to combine.
  5. Add lemon juice and olive oil and stir. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Once the mixture sits for 2 hours, stir the baking soda and chickpea flour into the garbanzo bean mixture until evenly blended. Using damp hands, form the mixture into 1½ inch balls.
  7. Pour the canola oil into a wok or deep pan to about 2 inches deep. Heat over medium-high heat.
  8. Cook falafel balls in batches, turning so all sides are evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.


Tahina Sauce

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup tahina
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons of room temp water

Whisk together, adding more water if needed until it is a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over falafel or use in falafel sandwiches.



One last tip!

Just for fun you get to still see some of the old photos I took way back in 2009. I kept them here for a reason. I wanted you to see the texture difference between these ones and the updated photo. You can play around with the texture of your falafel by grinding your chickpeas longer. In fact, the more ground the chickpeas are the easier the mixture may be to work with.


    • Megan says

      Hey Sara,
      Thanks for mentioning this product. I checked out their site and the ingredients sound a lot like what I make in this recipe. It’s always nice to have a quick alternative that is still healthy like this. :)

  1. Sara says

    Hi Megan, ingridients maybe close, but trust me, quantities makes the difference.
    try it and let me know, pls :)
    i get it at ORGANICDIRECT.COM
    They have it at sale prices.

    • says

      Oh wow, this recipe was posted from when my husband Levi was avoiding garlic because he was having issues digesting it. We omitted garlic from most recipes for about 9 months and slowly started introducing it back with great success. Now we use garlic in everything again! This makes me very happy of course, because any good Italian loves garlic. 😉

  2. Cindi says

    I made these last night and they were great! I don’t usually fry things but went for it and am glad I did. Thanks for sharing. Now if I can just find a vegan, GF pita recipe…

    • says

      I have had these big ideas of trying to make a gluten-free and vegan pita for nearly two years. I have yet to do it … or even attempt it. I think it’s about time to move that one to the top of the ‘must-make’ list. Glad you enjoyed the falafels.

  3. Robin says

    Looks delicious! You should do a recipe on Sicilian Panelle (chickpea fries). I added garlic and some smoked paprika. They puff up light and fluffy and they happen to be gluten-free and vegan. I know it sounds pretentious but we had them with an espresso aioli.

    • says

      Care to share your recipe Robin? I love the sound of chickpea fries and would like to try making them. :)
      PS espresso aioli sounds totally pretentious – but also delicious. Hehehe.

  4. says

    I looked this up because everyone at work was having falafel today and I felt left out! This is so simple. i can’t wait to try it myself! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Angela says

    These came out great! I followed your tahini dressing recipe, but curious to try with the tamarind chutney you mentioned. Did you prepare one yourself?

    • says

      I still haven’t gotten around to making my own tamarind chutney. It’s on that long list of recipes I want to make. There are quite a number of good ones from the Indian market – as long as you double check the ingredients for hidden gluten or ‘food starch’ without the source stated.

    • says

      No. Sorry. The ground chickpeas have texture that is essential to these falafels – to any falafels. Substituting chickpea flour will just result in a gummy mess as far as I can imagine. If you don’t want to soak dried chickpeas you can use canned as the notes indicate, though the results may vary and I’ve personally never tried using canned chickpeas.

  6. donna says

    Can you make these ahead, freeze, and then heat up later when ready to serve?

    Also, how many does this recipe make?

    • says

      The cooked falafels do refrigerate and freeze well. Just reheat them in an oven to crisp them back up. Make sure they’ve cooled completely before freezing them or they might stick together and tear in the freezer bag.

      I put that this serves 4-6 people but I didn’t count out exactly how many falafel the recipe makes. I would wager a guess that at least 2 dozen falafel, maybe even 3 dozen can be made from one batch.

      • Donna says

        Thanks! Made them today and got 7 dozen of the falafel balls! Taste great!!

        One note/question: I put the garbanzos in the food processor and that was fine; also put potato, onion, etc in food processor and I think that was a mistake and/or I over-processed. This resulted in too much moisture (probably from the onion), which eventually made it hard to have the falafels retain their ball shape. I added more flour (I used quinoa flour as I didn’t have chickpea) and also a little ground flax seed to try to get the dough to stick together better. They taste good, but mine are more like small “squares” and patties versus balls — the result of my trying to get them to brown on all sides when they didn’t want to stay “round”.. I think next time I would just dice the onion and potato by hand. Your thoughts and suggestions?

        • says

          I suppose if you had a larger onion it may have added more moisture to the recipe. I do squeeze excess moisture out as I’m forming the falafel balls so perhaps a bit more squeezing would help? I haven’t tried hand chopping but I wonder if it would make the falafel fall apart with larger chunks of onion in there. If you try it, let me know.

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