The Ultimate Guide To Air Fryer Falafel: Healthy, Tasty, And Simple 

 Last Update December 11, 2023

By Jenny Zhang

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Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure that combines Middle Eastern flavors with the convenience of modern cooking techniques? You will need to try this heavenly air fryer falafel. Traditionally deep-fried, these delightful little balls of goodness can now be prepared with less oil and fuss, thanks to the wonders of air frying.

Food enthusiasts around the world have been captivated by falafel, a delectable creation brimming with protein, crafted by blending ground chickpeas or fava beans with an exquisite medley of herbs and spices. Traditionally deep-fried, these golden-brown falafels offer a delightful crunch on the outside while remaining soft and flavorful on the inside. But what if we told you there's a way to achieve that same mouth watering texture with far less oil and a simpler cooking method?

Introducing the air fryer, a brilliant culinary device that has transformed our approach to cooking. With its ability to crisp up foods using hot circulating air, the air fryer has quickly become a go-to appliance for health-conscious individuals and culinary enthusiasts alike. And when it comes to falafel, the air fryer works wonders, creating a guilt-free version that is just as tasty as its deep-fried counterpart.

In this blog post, we will share my healthy air fryer falafel recipe with no deep frying. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, we'll provide you with step-by-step instructions, along with tips and tricks to ensure your crispy air fryer falafel turns out perfectly every time. After you try this air fryer falafel recipe, it may just become one of your new favorite air fryer recipes. 

Air Fryer Falafel Recipe

Prep Time
10 minutes

Cook Time
15 minutes

Rest Time
8 hours

Total Time
8 hours and 25 minutes

  • Cooking Method: Air-Frying
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Servings: 12
  • Calories: 86
  • Courses: Main Dish, Appetizer
  • Best Season: Any

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or olive oil spray for coating falafel)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

1. In a large bowl, place the dried chickpeas and submerge them in water with more for the dried chickpeas to absorb water. Allow them to soak overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. The chickpeas will absorb water and become plump.

2. Once the soaking is complete, drain the chickpeas and rinse them meticulously under cold water to eliminate any residue.

3. Add the soaked and rinsed chickpeas, chopped onion, minced garlic, parsley, dried oregano, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper, and baking powder in a food processor or Vitamix. Process the ingredients in quick pulses until they are thoroughly blended together. Aim for a coarse texture with small chunks.

air fryer mixture

4. Take small portions of the mixture and shape it into small balls or patties, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Arrange them on a tray that has been lined with parchment paper.

air fryer falafel before

5. Begin by preheating your air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for approximately 5 minutes.

6. Lightly brush or spray the falafel balls or patties with olive oil to promote browning and prevent sticking. Arrange the falafel in a single layer within the air fryer basket, ensuring adequate space between each one. Cook them in batches, if necessary.

air fryer falafel after

7. Air fry the falafel for 10-12 minutes, flipping them halfway through cooking. Achieve a desirable golden brown exterior with a crispy texture for the falafel.

8. After cooking, take out the falafel from the air fryer and allow them to cool for a few minutes. Serve them hot as a delightful appetizer or main dish.

falafel

After enjoying these crispy falafel, don't forget to clean your air fryer to maintain its peak performance.


Tips & Notes

Don't Overprocess the Mixture: When blending the ingredients in the food processor, be cautious not to overprocess the mixture. Process the ingredients in quick pulses until they are thoroughly blended together, while ensuring a coarse texture with small chunks remains. This texture adds to the traditional Jordanian-style falafel experience.

Preheat the Air Fryer: To attain a crispy exterior, it is crucial to preheat the air fryer. Give the air fryer a few minutes to heat up before adding the falafel. This step guarantees even cooking and the development of a delightful golden brown crust.


Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 12


Calories

86


% Daily Value*


Total Fat 3.4g

4%


Saturated Fat 0.4g

2%


Cholesterol 0mg

0%


Sodium 103mg

4%


Total Carbohydrate 11.4g

4%


Dietary Fiber 3.2g

11%


Total Sugars 2.1g



Protein 3.4g



Vitamin D 0mcg

0%


Calcium 44mg

3%


Iron 1mg

8%


Potassium 213mg

5%


*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Brush or Spray with Oil: Lightly brush or spray the falafel balls or falafel patties with olive oil before placing them in the air fryer. This step helps to enhance browning and crispiness during the cooking process. Additionally, this step prevents the falafel from sticking to the air fryer basket.

Maintain Adequate Spacing: To allow for proper airflow and even cooking, make sure to leave some space between each falafel ball or patty in the air fryer basket. Avoid overcrowding, which can lead to uneven cooking and a diminished crispy texture.

Flip Midway Through Cooking: Flip them halfway through the cooking process to ensure that the falafel cooks evenly on all sides. This helps to achieve a uniform golden brown color and a crispy exterior.


What Is Falafel?

Falafel, a beloved Middle Eastern delicacy, is crafted by blending ground chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) or fava beans with a blend of herbs, spices, and other flavorful ingredients. Traditionally formed into small balls or patties, falafel is deep-fried to achieve a delightful crispy and golden brown exterior. Falafel is often served in warm pita bread or flatbread and makes a pita sandwich. Often accompanied by a variety of toppings and sauces, such as tahini sauce, hummus, pickles, and fresh veggies like tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers.

The origins of falafel are believed to be in Egypt, though it has become a beloved staple in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It is widely enjoyed as a vegetarian or vegan option due to its protein-rich chickpea base.

The key ingredients in falafel include chickpeas or fava beans, which are soaked and ground, along with aromatic herbs like fresh parsley and fresh cilantro, garlic, onions, and a blend of spices such as cumin, coriander, and sometimes oregano or paprika. By combining these ingredients, a dough-like mixture is formed, which is then skillfully shaped into balls or falafel patties prior to frying.

While traditional falafel is deep-fried, variations like air frying or baking have become popular alternatives for those looking for healthier cooking methods. The result is a crispy, flavorful exterior with a tender and moist interior.

What Ingredients You Will Need

Chickpeas

The main ingredient in falafel is chickpeas. They provide a hearty and protein-rich base for the dish. The chickpeas, when ground, create a dense texture that holds together well during frying. For a delightful twist on the classic recipe, fava beans can be used as a substitute for chickpeas.

Avoid canned chickpeas as it has too much moisture compared to dried chickpeas.

Fresh Parsley

Parsley adds vibrant flavors and a fresh, aromatic element to the falafel. It contributes a bright green color and a hint of freshness to each bite. Substitute: If you're not a fan of parsley, you can experiment with other fresh herbs like fresh cilantro, dill, or mint for a different flavor profile.

Garlic and Onion

Garlic and onion provide a pungent and savory taste to the falafel mixture. They add depth of flavor and complement the other spices. For those who prefer milder flavors, adjusting the amount of garlic or onion, or even omitting them entirely, is an option to consider.

Spices (Cumin, Coriander, Oregano)

The combination of spices in falafel brings complexity and warmth to the dish. Cumin and coriander are the key players, adding earthiness and a distinctive Middle Eastern flavor. Oregano, while not traditionally used in falafel, can be added to introduce a different herbal note. You can adjust the spice blend to your taste preferences, adding more or less of any spice. For unique flavor variations, you can also experiment with other spices like paprika, turmeric, or chili powder.

Salt and Pepper

These staples enhance the overall taste of the air fryer falafel, ensuring a well-balanced flavor profile. If you adhere to a low-sodium diet, you have the option to decrease the quantity of salt used or substitute it with a low-sodium alternative.

Baking Powder

Air fryer falafel recipes employ baking powder as a leavening agent. It helps the falafel mixture rise and become light and fluffy when cooked. Baking powder also aids in binding the falafel mixture together. It helps hold the ingredients together, reducing the risk of the falafel falling apart during cooking.

In the absence of baking powder, baking soda can be used as a substitute alternative. However, it's important to note that the two ingredients work differently, so there may be slight differences in the final texture and rise of the air fryer falafel. To activate the leavening properties of baking soda, an acidic ingredient is required. If you decide to use baking soda as a substitute, you must include an acidic ingredient in the falafel mixture to ensure proper leavening. To activate the baking soda, incorporate a tablespoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. This will help the falafel mixture rise and give it a lighter texture.

Oil (for coating)

The oil lightly coats the falafel before cooking to promote browning and crispiness. It also helps prevent sticking. Substitute: You can use cooking spray instead of oil to reduce the amount of added fat.

How To Elevate Traditional Falafel Recipe

Toasted Seeds and Nuts

Add an extra layer of crunch and flavor by incorporating toasted sesame seeds or crushed toasted almonds or pine nuts into the falafel mixture. This will provide a delightful texture and a nutty taste.

Herbed Yogurt Sauce

Prepare a tangy and refreshing herbed yogurt sauce to accompany the falafel. Mix Greek yogurt with minced garlic, lemon juice, chopped fresh herbs (such as dill, mint, or basil), salt, and pepper. This sauce adds a creamy element and complements the falafel perfectly.

Pickled Vegetables

Pickled vegetables, such as pickled radishes, onions, or cucumbers, add a tangy and vibrant element to the falafel. These ingredients deliver a contrasting flavor that beautifully complements the richness of the falafel while introducing a refreshing note.

Flavorful Toppings

Enhance the falafel experience by including additional toppings. Consider adding crumbled feta cheese, sliced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, fresh mint leaves, or a drizzle of pomegranate molasses for a burst of sweetness.

Spicy Harissa Sauce

If you enjoy a bit of heat, serve your falafel with a spicy harissa sauce on the side. Harissa, a fiery North African chili paste, infuses the dish with a bold kick. You have the option of preparing it from scratch or finding pre-made versions at specialty stores.

Use Fresh Herbs

By incorporating fresh herbs throughout the recipe, you'll infuse your falafel with an array of vibrant flavors and fragrances. The herbs will lend a refreshing and aromatic touch to the dish, enhancing its overall appeal and culinary experience.

How To Store Leftover Falafel And Falafel Mixture

Leftover Cooked Falafel: Allow the cooked falafel to cool completely before storing. Transfer them to either an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag for storage. They can be refrigerated for a period of 3-4 days. To preserve their crispiness, it is recommended to reheat them in an oven or air fryer prior to serving.

For storing for a longer period, you can freeze the cooled falafel. Frozen cooked falafel can be stored for up to 2-3 months. Place them in a preheated oven or air fryer for reheating and bake until thoroughly heated.

Uncooked Falafel Mixture: If you have extra uncooked falafel mixture, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Move the mixture into an airtight container or tightly wrap it with plastic wrap. Before using the mixture, allow it to come to room temperature. You may need to add a little extra flour or breadcrumbs to adjust the consistency if it becomes too wet during storage.

Another option is to freeze the uncooked falafel mixture. Frozen uncooked falafel mixture can be stored for up to 2-3 months. When you're ready to cook them, thaw the desired amount in the refrigerator overnight, and then follow the cooking instructions.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I prevent the falafel from sticking to the air fryer basket?

To prevent falafel from sticking, make sure to lightly coat them with oil or cooking spray before placing them in the air fryer. Also, ensure the air fryer basket is clean and preheated adequately before adding the falafel. Giving the falafel enough space in the basket also helps prevent sticking.

Can I use canned chickpeas instead of dried chickpeas for air fryer falafel?

Although it is possible to utilize canned chickpeas for this recipe, we do not recommend it. Canned chickpeas are softer and more tender compared to dried chickpeas. This difference in texture can make it more challenging to achieve the desired consistency and texture of falafel. 

The mixture made with canned chickpeas may be too wet, resulting in a less firm and cohesive falafel. This excess moisture can affect the ability of the falafel mixture to bind together properly. It may result in a mixture that is too wet and difficult to shape, leading to a less crispy and more fragile final product.

If only canned chickpeas are available, add some chickpea flour or other types of flour to help absorb the excess moisture.

How do I achieve a crispy texture with air fryer falafel?

To achieve a crispy texture, lightly brush or spray the falafel with oil before air frying. Preheating the air fryer and ensuring adequate spacing between the falafel for proper airflow also contribute to crispiness.

How do I prevent the falafel from falling apart in the air fryer?

To avoid the falafel from crumbling, it is important to achieve the proper consistency in the mixture. If it appears too moist, incorporate additional flour or breadcrumbs. Also, make sure to shape the falafel tightly and handle them gently. Lightly brushing or spraying the falafel with oil before air frying can also help with binding.

How to make falafel without an air fryer?

If an air fryer is not available, here are a few alternative methods for preparing falafel:

Pan-Frying

In a frying pan, heat a generous amount of vegetable oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the falafel balls or patties, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes per side or until they achieve a golden brown, crispy exterior. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil before serving.

Baking

Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Arrange the shaped falafel on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush them with oil on all sides. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, flipping them halfway through, until they attain a golden brown color and are fully cooked.

Deep-Frying

You can deep-fry the falafel if you have a deep fryer or a deep pot. Heat vegetable oil to about 350°F (175°C) in the fryer or pot. Gently submerge the falafel into the hot oil and fry them until they achieve a delightful golden brown hue and a crispy texture. Utilize a slotted spoon or tongs to carefully lift them out of the oil, allowing any excess oil to drain, and transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels.


Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.