Falafel is a traditionally Arab food. The word falafel may descend from the Arabic word falāfil, a plural of the word filfil, meaning “pepper.” These fried vegetarian fritters are often served along with hummus, and tahini sauce (known as a “falafel plate.”) They’re also great served with toum, a Middle Eastern garlic sauce. So just what is the history of this tasty little fritter? According to The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks, “The first known appearance of legume fritters (aka falafel) in the Middle East appears to be in Egypt, where they were made from dried white fava beans (ful nabed) and called tamiya/ta-amia (from the Arabic for ‘nourishment’); these fritters were a light green color inside. Many attribute tamiya to the Copts of Egypt, who practiced one of the earliest forms of Christianity. They believed that the original state of humankind was vegetarian and, therefore, mandated numerous days of eating only vegan food, including tamiya.”

When falafel is made the traditional way, is indeed a vegan food; it’s a great source of protein for people who have cut meat out of their diet. It’s relatively low in fat and has no cholesterol if you fry it in heart-healthy grapeseed oil. And if you top it with veggies in a pita, it becomes a filling and nourishing meal! Sure beats a Big Mac, if you ask me.

In Israel, falafel has been adopted from Arab cuisine and the most popular form, made with chickpeas, is wildly popular. Falafel stands are as numerous and plentiful in Israel as McDonalds here in the U.S. If only we had half as many falafel stands in the U.S. as we do McDonalds, I’d be a very happy girl. It’s a delicious form of fast food that is much lighter and better for your heart than burgers and fries. The idea of stuffing falafel into pita pockets is actually an invention of Yemenite Jewish immigrants to Israel. The introduction of falafel pita sandwiches made falafel portable, which expanded its popularity and made it into the number one “fast food” in Israel.

On my trip to Israel this past summer, one of the last food stops we made was for a falafel pita. I asked our friend Hagai to take us to his favorite falafel restaurant; he took us to Mana Mana on Yehuda Hamaccabi street in Tel Aviv. At that time, it was run by a three-generation family—grandfather, father, and son. The young son ran the cash register with the confidence and authority of a 40 year-old. Apparently the restaurant has changed management since then, so I can’t vouch for the food now, but at the time they made a truly delicious falafel—crispy on the outside, hot and fluffy on the inside, with fresh toppings grown on local kibbutzim.

Here’s my favorite way to make a falafel pita: start with a layer of hummus deep inside the pocket, then add the falafel, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. Top with a thin layer of tahini sauce. Oy, I’m making myself hungry! :)

Here is my recipe for falafel, along with a few variations you can try. Falafel was originally made with fava beans and continues to be made that way in Egypt and other Arab countries, but Israeli falafel is made from chickpeas. This is because many Jews have a medical deficiency called G6PD, which is a hereditary enzymatic deficiency that can be triggered by fava beans. I have included an Egyptian falafel recipe variation at the end of the blog if you’d like to try making it that way. It’s greener and spicier than the Classic Falafel.

You will need to soak dried chickpeas overnight for your falafel to turn out right; canned beans are too tender and contain too much moisture to achieve the right consistency. Don’t cook the beans, because this will result in a mushier and denser falafel, which is not the proper texture. I’ve also included instructions for constructing your own falafel pita. As they say in Israel, Bete’avon!

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  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans - you must start with dry, do NOT substitute canned, they will not work!
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • Vegetable oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, and peanut oil work well)

You will also need

  • Food processor, skillet
Servings: 30-34 falafels
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them by about 3 inches of cold water. Let them soak overnight. They will double in size as they soak – you will have between 4 and 5 cups of beans after soaking.
  • Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans well. Pour them into your food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom.
  • Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms. Scrape the sides of the processor periodically and push the mixture down the sides. Process till the mixture is somewhere between the texture of couscous and a paste. You want the mixture to hold together, and a more paste-like consistency will help with that... but don't overprocess, you don't want it turning into hummus!
  • Once the mixture reaches the desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir; this will make the texture more even throughout. Remove any large chickpea chunks that the processor missed.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  • Note: Some people like to add baking soda to the mix to lighten up the texture inside of the falafel balls. I don’t usually add it, since the falafel is generally pretty fluffy on its own. If you would like to add it, dissolve 2 tsp of baking soda in 1 tbsp of water and mix it into the falafel mixture after it has been refrigerated.
  • Fill a skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of 1 ½ inches. I prefer to use cooking oil with a high smoke point, like grapeseed. Heat the oil slowly over medium heat. Meanwhile, form falafel mixture into round balls or slider-shaped patties using wet hands or a falafel scoop. I usually use about 2 tbsp of mixture per falafel. You can make them smaller or larger depending on your personal preference. The balls will stick together loosely at first, but will bind nicely once they begin to fry.
  • Note: if the balls won't hold together, place the mixture back in the processor again and continue processing to make it more paste-like. Keep in mind that the balls will be delicate at first; if you can get them into the hot oil, they will bind together and stick. If they still won't hold together, you can try adding 2-3 tbsp of flour to the mixture. If they still won't hold, add 1-2 eggs to the mix. This should fix any issues you are having.
  • Before frying my first batch of falafel, I like to fry a test one in the center of the pan. If the oil is at the right temperature, it will take 2-3 minutes per side to brown (5-6 minutes total). If it browns faster than that, your oil is too hot and your falafels will not be fully cooked in the center. Cool the oil down slightly and try again. When the oil is at the right temperature, fry the falafels in batches of 5-6 at a time till golden brown on both sides.
  • Once the falafels are fried, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon.
  • Let them drain on paper towels. Serve the falafels fresh and hot; they go best with a plate of hummus and topped with creamy tahini sauce. You can also stuff them into a pita.
  • Troubleshooting: If your falafel is too hard/too crunchy on the outside, there are two possible reasons-- 1) you didn't process the mixture enough-- return the chickpea mixture to the processor to make it more paste-like. 2) the chickpeas you used were old. Try buying a fresher batch of dried chickpeas next time.
  • SESAME FALAFEL VARIATION: After forming the balls or patties, dip them in sesame seeds prior to frying. This will make the falafel coating crunchier and give it a slightly nutty flavor.
  • HERB FALAFEL VARIATION (GREEN FALAFEL): Add ½ cup additional chopped green parsley, or cilantro, or a mixture of the two prior to blending.
  • TURMERIC FALAFEL (YELLOW FALAFEL): Add ¾ tsp turmeric to the food processor prior to blending.
  • EGYPTIAN FALAFEL: Use 1 lb. dried peeled fava beans instead of chickpeas; cover them with cold water, soak them for at least 24 hours, then drain and rinse. You can also use a mixture of fava beans and chickpeas if you wish; just make sure the weight of the dried beans adds up to 1 lb.
  • After the beans are soaked and rinsed, add the Classic Falafel ingredients to the processor along with the following ingredients – 1 leek, cleaned, trimmed, and quartered; ¼ cup chopped dill; ¼ cup chopped cilantro; and an additional ¾ tsp cayenne pepper. When mixture is processed to a coarse meal, pour into a bowl. Stir 2 ½ tbsp sesame seeds into the mixture with a fork until it’s evenly dispersed throughout the mixture. Refrigerate and proceed with frying. If mixture seems too “wet” when making the falafel balls, add additional flour by the teaspoonful until the mixture sticks together better. Continue with frying.
  • HOW TO MAKE A FALAFEL PITA: Making a falafel pita is actually really simple. The two main ingredients are pita bread and falafel.
  • Cut the pita bread in half to form two “pockets.” Each pocket is a serving size. Stuff the pocket with falafel, as well as any add-ons you fancy.
  • Here are some traditional add-ons that can be added to your pita; these are the ingredients most widely available at falafel stands throughout Israel:
  • Tahini sauce
    Shredded lettuce
    Diced or sliced tomatoes
    Israeli salad
    Dill pickles
    French fries
  • Here are some less traditional add-ons that are also tasty:
  • Sprouts
    Cucumber slices
    Roasted peppers
    Roasted eggplant slices
    Sunflower seeds
    Feta cheese


Comments (545)Post a Comment

  1. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    This is an excellent recipe! I have tried it 3 times though and I keep failing. Tonight I tried again and the first one fried up fine, but the inside didn’t cook. I tried cooling the oil slightly (as suggested) and then when I went for the first batch, the oil shredded them apart and I ended up with falafel soup…again!

    Any suggestions? I have been using canned chickpeas and now I see others saying they don’t work but no reason why. Is this what is causing my troubles? Thanks for any help you can offer.

    1. Hi Randy– the canned chickpeas are cooked. They are too soft for falafel and have too much moisture in them, which is why you’re having difficulties. Try soaking them as described in the recipe, they are sure to turn out better. If you have the problem of the falafel falling apart again (they can be delicate), try adding more egg and flour to help bind them together. Good luck!

  2. you never answered the question about freezing: today is saturday and i’m preparing for a party monday night. how far ahead can i prepare the mixture? thanks and happy new year.

  3. Hi, I made falafels using canned chick peas, the trick is to pour them into a strainer rinse with water and mix all the ingredients with your hands not a mixer. Leave the mixture in the fridge over night and roll them the next day. They cook perfectly in olive oil and don’t break apart.

  4. hi. thank you for your recipe . i gonna to open a new falafel shop. i have listed a menu which has 8 or 9 kind of falafel. some of them are : parsley and onion+falafel > cheese and mushroom+falafel > olive
    +falafel > ……. i wanted to know your suggestion which is very important to me?
    thank you and if you can please send your answer to my email…

    1. Mahyar, since each middle east country and city and ethnic group has its own style, it all depends on where you’re setting up shop. There’s a classic Jerusalem style of Israeli salad (lettuce and tomatoes) and tahini-lemon. Then there’s the arab and sephardic toppings like harissa, pickled turnip. Then there’s things like fried eggplant or even baba ganouch. You seem to be going into more avant garde territory with cheese and mushrooms. :)

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Thank you for your wonderful recipe , I did make the falafel classic recipe as you described , there are two issues who I would like to ask you, first is the balls after fry become very hard outside like a rock but inside is fine need to know what is the cause of it and or perhaps I did something wrong ,second is you mentioned the temperature of the oil has to be right what is the right temperature (300 or 350 or more ?) and last I been told to add baking powder to hold it together , is it really necessary or flour is just fine . Also is it advisable to remove the skin of chick peas which is very hard. Please advise thank you.

    1. Hi Reza– regarding the first issue, make sure your dried chickpeas aren’t very old before soaking them. Older chickpeas can lead to hard falafel. Second, try processing the mixture for a longer time so that the mixture is finer and smoother, a little closer to a paste (but don’t process too long… it takes some experience to get it exactly right). As for frying, the temperature should be around 350 degrees F. Any lower than that, and you risk ending up with heavy, oily, and overcooked falafel. Good luck!

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Oh my falafel! I am new to veganism and have been trying out lots of new foods…these were a huge hit with my vegetarian daughter and my omnivore husband. I have no idea how many the recipe made because we kept eating them before they cooled completely. Thanks so much!

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Love your website! I’m going to give your falafel recipe a shot. I am planning a get-together in a few weeks and have decided to do a middle eastern menu. Since I haven’t made pita or falafel in, oh, about 40 years (since my best friend, who is a Yemenite Jew, and I used to hang out and help her mom in the kitchen), I tried a recipe I found online, and it came out so blah, I hate to throw out food but I really am disgusted. I did use the canned chickpeas (the recipe gave that as an option), but will try it the overnight-soaking-the-dry-ones way. We’ll see if that doesn’t help. Also, they didn’t have enough cumin for my taste, and I see that the ratio of cumin to coriander is greater in your recipe. I like your ideas of trying cilantro or turmeric. I will also have to ask my friend how her mom made them. I’ll get back to you!

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I have tried all of the variations. They’re divine. Each time I make, they get better. While I don’t deep fry. I use a wok with oil about halfway. They do not take long, to cook, especially when using a thermometer. I still find I have to use some flour in the mix. Otherwise, they will not stick together. No matter how much I try draining the garbanzos.

    BTW. I use roasted whole cumin, then mortar and pestle to grind and some pre-ground cumin. … Yummy so light and crispy and just darm good. Good luck for your party! From a fellow cumin lover.

    1. Thank you Jamie! I also did not fry mine; I decided to try baking them. But I may have to bite the bullet and fry them. It is a waste of oil and more calories than I want or need, but I know what I like, and I will just have to try different ways until I find one that works. I don’t even know what “whole cumin” is…I don’t know anything about spices and where they come from except as powders in bottles! Now I will have to find out more :)

  9. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Ummm, yes. Frying at the right temp, means they will not absorb much oil. Crispy outside, soft and delicious on the in. With much thanks to the “Shiksa”, for putting me right!

    Cumin is a small oblong seed. A bit like grass seed. Light brown in colour. Dry roasted in a frying pan at low – medium heat until aromatic and changed to a darker shade of brown. Then into a mortar and ground. If you cannot find it? No matter? After black pepper, cumin is the most popular spice in the world.

    Honestly, Sherry, Just do what the recipe says and you’ll be fine! As you get familiar you can spread your own wings! Cheers Jamie!

  10. Hi Tori – Love your site and I want to make ALL your recipes. But first, I really want to make falafel.

    In your December 29 answer to Susan you mentioned eggs. I can’t find any reference to eggs in your recipe ingredients or directions. Are eggs optional? How many would I use for this recipe?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Robin– I have revised the recipe to add a note about eggs. You shouldn’t need them, but they can be helpful to add if the falafel mixture won’t hold together.

  11. Hi there! I have these chilling in the fridge right now :) I was wondering how long I can leave them to chill before cooking? I was hoping to make them for dinner tonight, so 7 hours away? Or should I cook them in 2 hours and reheat?

  12. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    hi there,
    thank you for the great recipe. i live in the netherlands europe, here we have a very good falafel from some body from israel, but the shop is too far a way from me. due to my health condition i cant travel. so i do the falafel at home according your recipe. it was a great hit!!!!!! thank you again. and bless you all.

  13. I have committed myself to making these tomorrow. The chickpeas are soaking now! Thank you for sharing the recipe, I will report back.

    1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      Well, the verdict is: Thank you Shiksa! I don’t think I have quite perfected it, but, I will be making these again and hopefully I will get them bang on. The flavour is immense, I just need to improve the texture. Thank you again.

  14. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thank you for the awesome recipe. I live in Albuqueruqe, NM and have not found anywhere to get good, fresh falafel. This was so easy and delicious. I had a favorite place in San Francisco and these taste exactly like them. Absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to make the tzatziki next. :)

  15. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This recipe was so amazing! I added a bit more cayanne pepper, but it was so yummy!

    the grapeseed oil was a great idea! i added a bit more parsley in order to make it “greener.” adding the roasted garlic was also AMAZING!

    Super kudos for an amazing recipe!

  16. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    thank you for this recipe, it is the only way i can eat chickpeas.
    I love your site with all these recipes,
    thank you again

  17. Am thinking of using green, fresh chickpeas. Why? Simply because I have them in the freezer and can’t think of a better use to put it to. Ever heard of using these for a falafel? If yes, any caveats you know of? I am thinking of simply letting them thaw to room temperature slowly (and not heating) and then proceeding to make the mixture.

    It is pretty cool that you are still responding to comments years after you first posted the recipe. Thanks.

    1. Great question Koundi. Honestly I’ve never tried it. My guess is that it might turn out great, but I can’t promise anything. If you try it, will you let us know how it worked for you?

  18. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Would it make a difference if the beana wwre hulles before going into the food processor? I hear this is a great trick for hummus, would it be worrhwhile here or a waste of time?

    1. The beans are not cooked here, so they would be quite difficult to skin, and it wouldn’t make much of a difference because it doesn’t have the smooth texture that a dip does.

  19. OK, it took me a few more weeks, but I finally got all the ingredients together (had some trouble finding cardamom). I did all the soaking, the mixing, the food processing, and now the mixture is chillin’ in the fridge (will have to be overnight, as it is almost 4 AM!) I have to tell you, it smells divine, and I tasted some of the raw mix, and I just KNOW it is going to come out fabulous! I will fry it all up tomorrow and give you the final verdict!
    I just want to mention, the recipe calls for roasted garlic. I don’t know exactly what you meant, so I found a recipe for I guess baking garlic (?) and did that. I think it will be fine, but can you tell me exactly what you meant by roasted garlic? Is it something you buy, or something you make? And if you make it, how do you do it? The recipe I used (from the Fanny Farmer cookbook, don’t make fun of me, I am so lame in the kitchen!), took a head of garlic, minus some of the papery outer, snip off the top, pour some oil on it, sprinkle some thyme, salt and pepper, cover and bake at 275 for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another hour, hour-and-a-half. I skipped the sale and was light on the pepper (knowing this was going in the spice mix already). What do you think?

  20. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thanks for the roasted-garlic link. I didn’t know that I could have used raw garlic. The recipe I had (for roasted garlic) was similar to yours, but I had NO idea how to cut the “top” off. All I cut off was the very pointy, papery tip! It looked nothing like yours LOL. After reading other posts here and thinking about it, I think next time I will mash up the chickpeas a bit before processing them, to get a more pasty consistency. Maybe a bigger, fancier food processor would have done a better job, but I have to work with what I have, and it just didn’t give it the right consistency, even after processing the entire batch 3 times (which means, i had to process 12 smaller batches!) Too much work, not to mention losing half the mix. Thanks so much for the excellent recipe, the taste is JUST perfect!

  21. Hi love the recipe just concerned about the soaking of the chick peas do you need to boil these before processing them in the blender

    Sam walker

    1. Hi Sam– falafel is made from soaked chickpeas, no boiling is required. Just make sure you soak them for the recommended length of time.

  22. I’ve been looking for a good authentic recipe for Literally years. I spent 6 months in Israel many, many years ago and I got hooked on falafel while I was there and have never been able to find or replicate a good falafel since. Although I did find a place in Golders Green in London when I got back home that made a good substitute, but that is long gone. I now live in the Netherlands and once again no good falafel places to be found and I hate the packet stuff. I will be making these this week and thanks for this recipe in advance of cooking them.

  23. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Amazing! I made these for my in-laws from Cairo and they RAVED about them. Thanks for the history & the variations. My vegetarian friends also loved them. Some of them want me to quit my day job to make these… they’re THAT GOOD!

  24. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thanks so much for the recipe! I made if for my family (husband and our 4 girls, ages 3-11) recently and it was delicious, a real hit! I was wondering if you have ever tried to make it baked in the oven instead of frying? Thought it might be a little less labor-intensive (standing at the stove), and perhaps a bit healthier, using less oil? :) Thanks so much!

    1. Heather, I tried baking them in the past before I found this web site and this recipe…I threw out the whole batch. I also hate to fry things for the reasons you mentioned, but in this case, frying them gives you the full and proper flavor of all the spices, and I think that if you fry them at the right temperature and for the right amount of time, you won’t get greasy falafel. They will be crisp, not soggy and full of oil. But if you try baking them and find you have success, please let me know and I will try again!

  25. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori,

    Thanks for the falafel recipe I have made falafel many times over the last decade but have to admit, this recipe is one of the best I have tried.

    Thanks again,

  26. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I just made these…oh my god. Delicious! I’m having a hard time backing away from eating them. The dough/paste was hard to handle so I did add an egg. Will make this recipe again!

  27. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    After playing around slightly with the mix and added a little turmeric ,have now put these on my resturant menu and must say they are flying out the door with great results

    I make them in batches and freeze before cooking absolute beautifully served with babaganoush ,tasaki and humours
    Ever in England visit us at the waterside tea garden and bistro arundel West Sussex

  28. I followed this recipe to the “T” and they fell apart in the oil, made a hell of mess. Won’t be using this recipe again!

    1. So sorry to hear that! As you can read in the comments above, many readers have had a positive experience with this recipe, but they can definitely be tricky the first time out. I am here to help, please feel free to email me so I can help you troubleshoot. Here is my contact page: link to theshiksa.com

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