If you’ve never made falafel from scratch, I’m here to say: It’s possible and it’s delicious. I was definitely intimidated by the task until I finally jumped right in. But I couldn’t have done it without following a few expert tips.
Ditch the Canned Chickpeas
Every expert falafel fryer I spoke with agreed: You must use dried chickpeas to achieve the best, most authentic falafel. The easiest way to do this is to soak them overnight. Cookbook authors Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox also suggest adding baking soda to the soaking chickpeas. “Adding baking soda helps soften the beans and is gentler on the stomach,” they shared with The Nosher. When you’re ready to begin making your falafel mixture, rinse the chickpeas well before processing.
Note: Make sure to reserve some of the soaking liquid to use in the falafel mixture in case it is a tad dry.
Use a Food Processor
While you do not need any fancy tools for making falafel, you will need a decent-quality food processor to create the right consistency.
Add Lots of Bright Herbs
Don’t be scared of lots of fresh herbs in your falafel mix. Cookbook author Samantha Ferraro recommends using a mix of cilantro, parsley, and mint for color and flavor.
Let It Rest
When you make matzah balls, it’s always crucial to allow the matzah ball mixture to rest in the fridge before rolling into balls and simmering. Same applies for falafel. After the mixture has come together in the food processor, empty into a bowl or container and allow to sit for 30 minutes before frying.
Fry a Test Batch
My mom taught me to fry a small piece of meatball before frying all the meatballs to make sure the taste and consistency was right. This rule also applies to falafel. To make sure your falafel will fry up, hold together, and are seasoned well, fry up a small piece before jumping in. Taste, then adjust accordingly. If the falafel is not holding together, add some of the chickpea soaking liquid, 1-2 Tbsp at a time until the mixture holds together more firmly.
OK, Get Frying (But You Can Actually Bake Them, Too)
You can use a cookie scoop, a large tablespoon, or just your hands to shape into the falafel mix into balls. Food writer Susan Barocas actually prefers to make her falafel into patties, which are easier to serve on their own as bite-sized appetizers, or for stuffing into fluffy pita.
You don’t need a deep fryer to properly fry falafel — 3 inches of 350-375 degrees F oil in a deep pot or wok works just as well. Barocas also swears you can bake them. Line a baking sheet with parchment, spray that with olive oil, and then put the patties on. Spray oil generously on each patty and bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until crisp, then flip, spray a little more oil, and bake for another 12-15 minutes until crisp on both sides.
Craving falafel? Try one of our favorite recipes.