Delicious Oven Baked Falafel. Homemade falafel balls plus pickled onions and tahini sauce are easy to make and taste incredible. Serve healthy baked falafel on a plate with hummus, baba ganoush and israeli salad or in lettuce or pita wraps for a nutritious and satisfying vegan meal.
This post has been updated from the original that was posted in February 2018.
Who loves falafel? Me! Oh, you too? Awesome…just one more reason we were destined to be friends! You’re in luck….because I’m sharing my healthy baked falafel recipe here so you can jones on them all the time too.
I’ve always loved falafel, but the greasy fried balls haven’t always loved me. Meet my oven baked falafel recipe..with a combination of fresh and pantry ingredients…totally authentic falafel taste and no belly ache! Hello perfect, nice to meet you!
My ideal mediterranean plate is made with chickpea falafel balls, roasted cauliflower hummus, chopped israeli salad,homemade baba ganoush, pickled onion, gluten free tabbouleh and olives. I could eat that healthy falafel plate any day and be super satisfied!
Hubby prefers his falafel balls in a pita with all the fixings and an extra drizzle of tahini sauce…and sometimes we meet in the middle and use butter lettuce or crispy romaine as a wrapper for those oven baked falafel.
Falafel Ingredients and Substitutions
- CHICKPEAS: If you make them yourself from dried beans they’ll be firm with more texture, but there’s no shame in using canned chickpeas. Just make sure to rinse them well if they’re from a can. Chickpeas are loaded with fiber and protein for a satisfying plant based meal.
- PARSLEY: Fresh parsley adds so much flavor, plus it’s nutrient dense. Use curly or flat parsley, it’s going to be chopped up anyhow! Parsley is considered one of the most nutritious leafy greens and this is a tasty way to get in that Vitamin A, C, and K. Plus it contains powerful antioxidants, supports bone health, has antibacterial properties and helps fight against cancer.
- CILANTRO: One of my favorite herbs. If you don’t care for cilantro (I know it tastes like soap to some), then double down on the parsley!
- SUNFLOWER SEEDS: These add just a bit of nutty flavor to the falafel, add protein and healthy fats, plus some bulk. You can substitute any nut or seed for similar results.
- GARLIC: Yum…love the flavor boost plus it’s anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and helps regulate blood sugar. If you don’t have any garlic cloves, use garlic POWDER, but not garlic salt.
- SHALLOTS: More mild than red onion, but those would be a good substitute here. Scallions would also be a good sub.
- LEMON: Recipe calls for the zest and the juice. If you don’t have fresh lemon, use 2-3 Tablespoons from a jar. You could also substitute a lime….depending on how large or juicy, maybe 2.
- TAHINI: Drippy tahini is best in this recipe. Tahini adds a nutty flavor, plus healthy fats, calcium, manganese, B6 and thiamine. If you sub nut or seed butter, be sure the jar is thoroughly mixed before you begin to use and that it’s drippy.
- SPICES: Cumin and coriander are the main spices in this recipe and offer a rich, earthy taste.
- COATING MIXTURE: I used a combination of almond and flax meal. For nut allergies use all ground flax. This coating will help the falafel become crispy even though they’re not fried.
Why this is The Best Falafel Recipe:
- They’re baked, not fried! No greasy falafel balls, plus no need to stand at the stove.
- DELISH: A tasty mixture including fresh herbs and garlic. YUM.
- EASY TO MAKE: Let your food processor do the heavy lifting…and then pop them into the oven.
- VERSATILE: Everyone can enjoy them how they like. This vegan protein option is perfect for salads, wraps, bowls, pita or lettuce wraps.
- SATISFYING: Hearty plant based protein and fiber will keep you full, without dragging you down.
How to make Falafel with Canned Chickpeas:
The falafel mixture will come together quickly, so preheat your oven to 450 before you begin. Also, prepare a large rimmed baking tray with a sheet of unbleached parchment paper.
Place cilantro, parsley, shallot, garlic and sunflower seeds in the bowl of a food processor. There is no need to chop the fresh herbs beforehand, but do remove the woody stems. Process until everything is uniformly chopped and there are no large pieces of garlic or sunflower seeds.
Sprinkle cumin, coriander, sea salt and cayenne onto herb mixture. Zest lemon over bowl and then pulse until spices are well mixed into the rest.
Juice the lemon over the bowl. Then add in the chickpeas and tahini. Pulse until chickpeas are well incorporated. It’s ok if there are some larger pieces, but not whole chickpeas. You want the mixture to resemble a coarse paste, so it will hold together.
Portion out 20 falafel onto the prepared pan. It’s super easy to do with a small cookie scoop. If you don’t have one, no worries. Use two Tablespoons: one to scoop and the other to push the “dough” onto the baking tray.
Use wet hands to take each falafel portion and roll into a ball. They will be about the size of a golf ball. You can also make these into little patties if you prefer a flatter (mini burger) type of falafel. Now, measure the almond meal and flax meal into a shallow bowl to coat the falafel balls. Use a spoon (or 2) to roll them around in the mixture until evenly coated and then place back on the tray.
Bake in preheated 450 oven for 15 minutes. Roll the falafel balls to the other side and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Falafel will be crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. The perfect healthy baked falafel!
Some of the coating will have fallen off and scattered, very crispy onto the parchment. That’s ok. Either throw it away with the used parchment or sprinkle the crumbs onto your falafel salad plate.
While the falafel bake, you can make some pickled onions. Thinly slice red onion and place in a small jar. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, water, salt and maple syrup to a boil. Reduce to simmer and stir until syrup and salt dissolve. Pour over sliced onions, making sure they’re all submerged. Let sit until ready to use. Pickled onions will stay good in fridge for 2 weeks.
Also, while falafel bake, make the tahini sauce: whisk together tahini, water and maple syrup. Start with just 2 Tablespoons of water and continue to add water 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency that can easily be drizzled over the falafel. The key to a great tahini sauce is using drippy tahini…which entails fully mixing the jar of tahini when you first open it. Otherwise there will be portions of the jar that are too oily and other parts that are hard. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh herbs.
Take a leaf of romaine or buttercup lettuce, add a few falafel balls, garnish with pickled onions and some fresh lemon juice and drizzle with tahini sauce. Definitely the quick and easy way to go. But, use your imagination and use what you have (hello half a jar of kimchi!) to get those baked falafel balls into your belly!
How to serve Falafel:
- Serve falafel on a plate with chopped israeli salad, traditional hummus (or roasted cauliflower hummus), baba ganoush, tahini sauce, pickled onions and olives.
- Make a sandwich with pita or lettuce cups…add shredded lettuce, jalapenos, pickles and drizzle with tahini.
- As a plant based protein option to go with traditional sides like mediterranean cauliflower rice, grilled veggies, ratatouille salad or a simple green salad.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- You can make the pickled onions in advance and leave the jar in the fridge until ready to use.
- If you make the tahini sauce in advance, take out to come to room temp before serving, or whisk in a bit of warm water if it’s become too thick to pour.
- Make some roasted cauliflower hummus or baba ganoush a few days ahead to divvy up the workload. OR….buy some already made….just read the labels to make a healthy choice.
- Use canned chickpeas to save time.
- Use dried chickpeas to save money. Make them in your instant pot with my quicker, no soak method.
- Set up a “bar” with all the fixings and let everyone make their own bowl, plate or wrap.
MEAL PREP AND STORAGE
- SERVE: with pita or lettuce wraps with tahini drizzle and pickled onions or kimchi, as part of a salad plate with mediterranean sides like olives, hummus, baba ganoush or israeli chopped salad.
- PREP AHEAD: Refrigerate or freeze uncooked falafel mixture to bake later.
- STORE: Cooked falafel will stay good in fridge for 5 days.
- FREEZE: Freeze uncooked falafel balls for up to 3 months. Roll into balls, flash freeze for at least 3 hours on tray and then transfer to zip top bags.
- REHEAT: Reheat cooked falafel on parchment lined baking tray in preheated 450 oven for 15 minutes, until heated through. Or, pan fry in heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
More Vegan Tahini Recipes
Oven Baked Falafel FAQs
Falafel can be a healthy plant-based option, depending on ingredients and cooking method. The healthiest falafel are baked, not fried. Look for ingredients that are wholesome, and unprocessed, and use fresh herbs and ground nuts or seeds to add protein, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.
Yes. Generally falafel are made with entirely plant-based ingredients. Chickpea falafel provide a vegan protein option to wraps, salads, bowls, pitas and more.
Not all falafel are gluten-free. Gluten-free falafel use ground flax, nuts or seeds rather than breadcrumb coating for a crispy exterior.
Absolutely. It’s a great way to save time, and it makes homemade falafel possible as a last minute quick dinner option. Make sure to rinse the canned chickpeas very well before using.
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Healthy Baked Falafel
- 1 cup parsley
- 1 cup cilantro
- ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1 large shallot roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper*
- 1 15-oz can chick. peas
- 2 Tablespoons tahini
- ¼ cup almond meal*
- ¼ cup ground flax
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 large purple onion thinly sliced
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Heat oven to 450 and line rimmed baking pan with unbleached parchment.
- Place parsley, cilantro, sunflower seeds, shallot and garlic info bowl of food processor. Process until everything is well chopped into tiny pieces.
- Zest lemon over processor bowl and sprinkle on cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne. Process again.
- Juice lemon over mixture and add in chickpeas and tahini. Pulse, until mixture is pasty with a few chunks.
- Mix almond meal and ground flax in shallow bowl.
- Scoop falafel mixture onto prepared pan. You should get about 20 falafel. Wet hands and roll into golf ball sized spheres. Drop each into the flax mixture, toss to coat and then place on prepared pan.
- Bake for 15 minutes, turn and then bake for additional 10 minutes until golden.
- Store extra falafel balls in the fridge for up to a week. Leftovers can be eaten cold, or at room temperature. For warm falafel balls, gently heat on stovetop or in 375 oven until heated through.
- Whisk together 2 Tablespoons of the water with the maple syrup and tahini. Add more water 1 Tablespoon at a time until pourable consistency.
- Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks. If mixture hardens, set container in a bath of warm water and whisk. Or, whisk in 1 Tablespoon warm water
- Thinly slice onions and place in small glass jar.
- Place vinegars, water, syrup and salt in small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Stir continuously until syrup and salt are totally dissolved.
- Pour over onions that are in jar, making sure they are all submerged. Let sit at room temperature until ready to serve.
- Store sealed jar in fridge for up to 2 weeks.