Make the popular Lebanese street food in your kitchen from scratch. This crunchy Lebanese falafel recipe is from my Lebanese family’s recipe book, it’s easy, super delicious and on top of that it is gluten free.
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What Is Falafel?
Falafel is a deep-fried ball made out of chickpeas or fava beans or a combination of both.
Falafel mixture will vary between recipes and Middle Eastern regions, some can be plain, some are filled with herbs, garlic and onion and others are filled with spices.
Not all falafel is gluten free, if this is a question for you, the linked article delves into a detailed answer. Yo might also be curious about is falafel vegan? this article covers what you need to know.
This popular street food possibly originated in Egypt and then migrated into other Middle Eastern countries, especially popular in the Levant region.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
- I can guarantee this is a never fail Lebanese falafel recipe, I have been watching my mother make this since I was a child and now I make it for my family
- Hugely flavorsome, these fried balls will make you want to overeat!
- Relatively easy to create, you will never want to buy falafel again
- Easily freeze the mixture ready for use later on
- Dietary friendly - vegan and gluten free (not all falafels are gluten free! Ensure all the ingredients used are certified gluten free if required)
Ingredients You'll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Dried chickpeas, soaked overnight. Never use cooked chickpeas this will not be effective in this recipe and will not result in crunchiness.
Dried broad beans (fava beans), soaked overnight, Again never use cooked fava beans. It is important to note that the extra large broad beans are to be used in this recipe and not the small dark ones. See pic below.
Herbs, my recipe calls for the use of dried herbs which includes, dried parsley flakes, ground coriander seed, dried mint flakes
Spices are an integral part of the flavoring, you will need ground cumin, paprika, Lebanese baharat, which is a blend of 7 spices (click the link to see how to make your own blend) and black pepper. Salt is also important to boost all the flavors.
Fresh garlic cloves and onion are added to the mixture and make the world of difference in taste, however, you can leave these out if you wish. I have made both versions and both are really tasty. My preference is with both in there. If you are taking these out, add another teaspoon of boiled potato.
Boiled and peeled potato in the smallest amount is added to the mixture, this helps to bind the ingredients together.
Bicarbonate soda leavens the mixture to make it airy and light when fried. I prefer to use an this bicarb soda (affiliate link).
How To Make Lebanese Falafel From Scratch
Overnight soaking. It is vital to the success of making Lebanese falafel that the dried chickpeas and broad beans be soaked overnight in water. This will rehydrate them, they will double in size. Soak the beans in triple the amount of water.
Drain and peel. The next day, drain and rinse the beans, and let them sit in a colander whilst you peel the broad beans. The skins come off very easily which can be discarded.
Process the mixture. In a high-speed food processor, add the beans, and process them until they become roughly chopped, about a minute. Add in all the other ingredients and then process for a minute at a time, scraping down the sides and bringing up the bottom to ensure the mixture is evenly processed. Repeat 5 to 6 times. The mixture should be a fine grainy wet-crumb, moist to the touch.
Hand mix and rest the mixture. Place your mixture into a bowl and knead it with your hands for a minute, until you feel that everything is evenly mixed (also check there are no large pieces - if there are blend until even). Cover and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
Heat oil and shape the falafel balls. In a saucepan heat frying oil at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep, over high heat. Once the oil is hot enough, add your mixture to a falafel maker (affiliate link), pack it in tight, and shape it into a domed puck (just over an inch thick). I highly recommend watching my how to make falafel video for this.
Time to fry the falafel. Gently place it into the oil and fry until reddish (about 2-2½ minutes) turning every so often with a slotted spoon, which you will use to remove the falafel and place it on the paper towel-lined plate. You can fry several at a time but do not crowd the oil as the temperature will drop. Serve immediately.
Don’t have a falafel maker, use your hands to create the balls and gently squish them into a puck.
Not a fan of frying? You can oven-bake or use my air fryer falafel recipe instead. To oven bake, place the balls on an oiled lined baking sheet tray, brush them with a tiny amount of oil and bake in a preheated 392F (200C) fan-forced oven until reddish, about (20-25 minutes)
Can you freeze falafel? This guide will show you how to freeze the mix which will save you time.
- Enjoy your Lebanese falafel as a falafel pita sandwich with lettuce, tomato, falafel sauce, onion and some Lebanese pickles. You can add some heat too with this shatta sauce.
- Make a falafel bowl instead, by serving it with salad such as tabouli or Arabic salad, pickled vegetables and a side of fries. Drizzle the above-linked falafel sauce on top.
- It is common for falafel to be served as part of a lunch mezze (an assortment of share plates) you can find foods such as Lebanese hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, fattoush, tahini salad, garlic sauce, spicy potatoes, fried cauliflower, potato kibbeh and more.
- Otherwise, here's a list of mouthwatering ideas for what to serve with falafel.
Whilst it is not the traditional method for cooking falafel, baking is definitely an option and a healthier version too. Baked falafel is drier than the fried version. To oven bake, place the falafel balls on an oiled lined baking sheet tray, brush them with a small amount of oil then bake in a preheated 392F (200C) fan-forced oven until reddish, about (20-25 minutes)
Other Vegan Lebanese Recipes
Enjoy these falafels with some tofu skewers which are based on the shish tawook. Trust me the flavor of these skewers are out of this world good.
If you are vegan and gluten free check out my fresh quinoa taboula salad.
Easy Lebanese Falafel (From Scratch)
- 216 g Dried chickpeas soaked overnight
- 95 g Dried broad bean soaked overnight (fava beans)
- 25 g Boiled potato peeled
- 100 g Onion
- 1½ teaspoon Ground parsley
- 1 teaspoon Ground coriander
- 1½ teaspoon Ground mint
- ¼ teaspoon Lebanese Seven spice
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon Baking soda bicarbonate soda
- 2 cloves Garlic large
- Canola oil For frying
- Water For soaking broad beans
- Soak the dried chickpeas and large broad beans (fava beans) overnight in triple the amount of water.216 g Dried chickpeas, 95 g Dried broad bean, Water
- Drain the beans. Peel the broad beans (fava beans). Discard the skins. Using a food processor, add the beans, onion, garlic, baking soda and spices, and process for a minute. Scrape down the sides of the food processor and bring up the bottom of the mixture to help the food processor evenly process all the ingredients. Repeat this 5 times.25 g Boiled potato, 100 g Onion, 1½ teaspoon Ground parsley, 1 teaspoon Ground coriander, 1½ teaspoon Ground mint, ¼ teaspoon Lebanese Seven spice, ½ teaspoon Paprika, ½ teaspoon Ground cumin, ¾ teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Ground black pepper, 2 cloves Garlic
- Place your mixture into a bowl and knead it with your hands until you feel that everything is evenly mixed and make sure there are no large pieces. I normally do this for about a minute. Cover and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
- In a saucepan heat frying oil at least 2 inches deep, over high heat. Once the oil is hot enough (it needs to be hot!), add your mixture to a falafel maker, pack it in tight, and shape it into a domed puck (just over an inch thick - See video.). Gently place it into the oil and fry until reddish brown (about 2 - 2½ minutes) turning every so often with a slotted spoon, which you will use to remove the falafel and place it on the paper towel-lined plate. You can fry several at a time, but do not crowd the oil as the temperature will drop. Serve immediately.Canola oil
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.