The base ingredients in falafels are so healthy, but most falafels prepared in restaurants—or even pre-packaged in stores—are either deep-fried or filled with artificial ingredients (or both!).
This falafel recipe uses traditional ingredients like chickpeas, garlic, onions, and fresh herbs…but they’re baked instead of fried and they’re oil free! You can even make them gluten-free if you’d like by using gluten-free bread crumbs (just double-check to make sure they don’t contain eggs or dairy).
These homemade falafel balls are delicious stuffed in pita bread (which is usually vegan) and loaded with fresh vegetables like tomato, red onion, cucumber, mixed greens, fresh herbs, and avocado. A naturally vegan Middle Eastern classic!
I added very finely chopped parsley to classic lemon tahini sauce to make the dressing. But if you’re not a fan of tahini (whaaaaat?), feel free to swap it out completely for hummus! This hummus works beautifully in these vegan falafel pitas. If you want to go one step further, make or buy some vegan tzatziki and you’re set!
- 1/2 cup of red onion
- 1/2 cup of packed fresh parsley
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 1 14oz can of chickpeas
- 3/4 teaspoon of cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspon of pepper
- 2/3 cup of breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon of aquafaba, the liquid from a can of chickpeas
- 1/2 cup of tahini
- 1/3 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of packed fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- pinch of pepper
- 4 pita breads
- Tomato, red onion, parsley, cilantro, mixed greens, cucumber, avocado, and more
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking tray with parchment.
- Add the onion, parsley, and garlic to a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to chop the ingredients.
- Add the chickpeas, cumin, salt, and pepper, and pulse a few times until the mixture is combined but some chickpeas pieces still remain (don't over process it to the point where it's completely smooth).
- Transfer the chickpea batter to a medium bowl.
- Add the breadcrumbs and aquafaba and mix the batter by hand until it's well combined.
- Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter and form 9 falafel balls. Line them on the tray.
- Place the baking tray on the center rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, gently flip the falafels and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- While the falafels are baking, whisk together all of the tahini sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. You can add more water if you prefer a runnier texture. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Remove the falafels from the oven.
- Prepare your toppings and stuff your pitas with 2-3 falafels each. You can stuff these pitas with a variety of fresh vegetables such as tomato, red onion, parsley or cilantro, mixed greens, cucumber, avocado, and more.
No Food Processor…No Problem!
If you don’t have a food processor, no problem! The method without a food processor is simple. Just mash the chickpeas in a bowl with a potato masher until they are mostly broken down, but there is still some texture. Finely chop the onion, parsley, and garlic, then add it to the bowl along with the rest of the falafel ingredients.
I typically don’t have breadcrumbs in my pantry, so I have a little hack to make my own! Toast some plain white bread (I used 2 slices of toast for this recipe) until it is golden brown, then add it to your blender and blend! Voilà.
If you haven’t cooked with aquafaba yet, seriously get on it! This magical ingredient (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) is used in this recipe because it simulates eggs. Use just 1 tablespoon of aquafaba to bind all of the ingredients together. It’s also helpful because it makes the falafels crispy, even though there’s no oil and they’re not fried.
The Magical World of Chickpeas
Chickpeas (also known as “garbanzo beans”) are quite magical and versatile beans. Yet often I hear from those who are new to plant-based cooking that cans of chickpeas sit in their pantry month after month gathering dust. Let’s fix that right now!
Not only are chickpeas loaded with protein and healthful nutrients, but they can be tossed in salads, used soups, blended to make creamy hummus, and the brine from chickpeas can even be used to make fluffy whipped cream and meringue cookies.
More Vegan Chickpea Recipes
Hungry for more vegan chickpea recipes? Check these out:
Falafel photos by Kathy Chrzaszcz for World of Vegan. Recipe and photographs copyright of World of Vegan™, all rights reserved. Please note that this article contains affiliate links—shopping through them helps keep the lights on at World of Vegan!