This easy Air Fryer Falafel recipe is a delicious and healthy alternative to deep fried. Made with soaked chickpeas, these vegan falafels are ready in just 15 minutes. No Air Fryer? No problem - you can make oven baked falafels instead.
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You know what I love? Hot, crispy homemade falafels.
Do you know what I do not love? Deep frying things.
It's not about nutrition - I am all about a wrap made with delicious, deep-fried falafel so long as I don't have to make it. I simply don't like deep frying things at home. I'm afraid of burning myself (I am a klutz!) and I never know what to do with the oil when I'm done.
If you, like me, are deep-fryer phobic, I have got good news for you: Air Fryer Falafel is the bomb dot com! They're crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and packed full of flavour. Plus, they're incredibly easy to make. And no scary hot oil!
Ingredients for Air Fryer Falafel
To make homemade Air Fryer Falafel, you'll need just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients. You'll find specific amounts of each ingredient in the printable recipe card at the end of the post, but let's take a quick look at what you need:
- Dried chickpeas --> We're using DRIED chickpeas that have been soaked overnight, NOT canned.
- Red onion --> Bringing some flavour.
- Parsley --> I use flat-leafed parsley, but curly is fine too.
- Cilantro --> So good. But you can use more parsley if you hate it, or other fresh herbs.
- Garlic --> Because of course.
- Chili --> I used a mild red chili to make these kid-friendly.
- Ground cumin and coriander --> Our spice crew.
- Salt --> As one does.
- Baking powder --> This provides a bit of lift while the falafels are air frying.
If you're going to make your falafel in an Air Fryer, you're going to need an Air Fryer! I have this model, and it works just fine.
I use an oil sprayer to spray both the basket of the air fryer and the falafels with olive oil. If you don't have one, I've also used a silicon brush to brush the basket and falafels, and that works fine as well.
How to make Air Fryer Falafel:
You'll find detailed instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, but let's talk through it step by step.
Note! Making homemade falafel is easy, but it does require a bit of planning - you will need to soak dried chickpeas for at least 8 hours (overnight), and up to 24 hours.
Step 1: After soaking, drain and rise the chickpeas.
Step 2: (below) Place the chickpeas, chopped onion, crushed garlic, minced chili, parsley, cilantro, cumin, coriander, and salt into the bowl of a food processor.
Step 3: Pulse a few times, and then run the food processor until the ingredients are finely chopped. It should still have a bit of texture to it, roughly the size of couscous grains. You may need to stop and scrape the sides of the food processor a couple of times.
Step 4: Transfer the falafel mixture into a bowl, and refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavor develop.
Step 5: When you're ready to cook the falafel, add the baking powder to the mix. Use a wooden spoon to stir it in and ensure it's thoroughly incorporated into the mixture.
Step 6: (below) Scoop heaping tablespoons of the falafel mixture, and use your hands to form into balls. I err on the side of slightly smaller falafels to ensure they stay together well, but they're maybe 2 tablespoons each.
Step 7: Heat your Air Fryer to 200°C / 400°F.
Step 8: Brush or spray the air fryer basket with a bit of oil, and then place the falafels in a single layer, with a bit of space between them. Brush or spray the tops of the falafel balls with olive oil.
Step 9: Place the basket into the air fryer, and set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, carefully turn the falafels over, and brush with olive oil again.
Step 10: Air Fry for another 5 minutes.
Step 11: Serve the falafel hot, with pita and vegetables, or on top of a salad with cucumber, tomatoes, and a drizzle of tahini sauce or a squeeze of lemon juice.
Tips for the Best Air Fryer Falafel
Making falafel in the Air Fryer is a simple and straightforward cooking method. But there are few things to do to ensure you end up with the best, crispiest falafel in the end!
Give them space
For the crispiest falafel patties, make sure you don't crowd your air fryer basket. The falafels should not be touching, and you'll need enough space to turn them over. My air fryer is fairly small, so I need to work in batches to turn out crispy, delicious Air Fryer Falafel.
Make 'em small
When cooking falafel in the air fryer, you'll end up with the best results if you don't make them too big. I aim for about 2 Tablespoons per falafel, which means they'll hold together nicely and cook through in a good time.
Make 'em flat
Although I prefer to make my falafel into balls, many folks find that flattening them into an oval patty ensures they don't roll around in the Air Fryer basket.
Know your Air Fryer
Air Fryers tend to vary from unit to unit, so to ensure you don't overcook or burn your falafel, you may want to cook them in 5 minute increments when you're first starting out.
How to Serve Falafel
Having a batch of hot, crisp falafel on hand is a means to so many delicious eating occasions. Here are a few of our favourite ways to enjoy Air Fryer Falafel:
- In a sandwich --> Make a tasty Falafel Sandwich with pita bread, or try stuffing them into a baguette or even a burger bun.
- In a bowl --> We love adding falafels to Meal Prep Bowls of all kinds. They're particularly great with our Roasted Cauliflower Hummus Bowls!
- In a salad --> Falafel is a great way to add a boost of protein to your favourite salad.
- As a snack --> Falafel bites make a great appetizer or snack. Pair them with your favourite hummus or dip.
No! Canned or cooked chickpeas are way too soft and hold way too much moisture to make falafels. You'll end up having to add a bunch of flour to compensate, and your falafels will be wet and doughy.
While our Instant Pot Chickpeas are perfect for recipes like this Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry, I must insist you start with dried chickpeas for these Air Fryer Falafels.
If you didn't remember to soak your chickpeas overnight (hey, we've all been there!) you can use the quick hot soak method. Simply add the chickpeas with plenty of water to a pot and bring to a rolling boil for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, let soak for one hour, and then drain your chickpeas.
You sure can. And you've got options!
Option 1: Make the falafel mix in advance, then shape and air fry the falafel balls when you're ready.
Option 2: Form the falafel balls in advance and refrigerate or freeze until you're ready to cook.
Option 3: Cook your Air Fryer Falafels, and re-heat when you're ready.
You bet they are! Chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, contain about 12.5 grams of fiber per cup, which is 50% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber.
Chickpeas are also a great source of plant-based protein, offering up about 12 grams per cup. The protein-fiber combination in chickpeas is key for stabilizing our blood sugar levels.
Chickpeas are notable for antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, and also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the body’s omega-3 fatty acid from which all other omega-3 fats are made.
How to Store and Reheat Falafel
How to freeze falafel
If you want to freeze your falafel balls, you can either freeze the formed balls, uncooked, or you can freeze cooked and cooled falafels.
If you're freezing uncooked falafel balls, I recommend freezing them on a tray in a single layer, and the transferring to a freezer bag for storage. We love these reusable silicon freezer bags for this job.
Cooked falafels are less likely to stick together, so you can just toss them directly into the freezer bag. Frozen falafels will be good for up to three months.
How to re-heat falafel
If you've got leftover falafel that you have refrigerated, you can gently re-heat them in your air fryer. I do recommend spraying them with oil for re-heating as they may dry out a bit.
To reheat frozen falafel, I recommend arranging them on a baking sheet and baking for about 15 minutes at 350°F.
I also reheat my falafel in the microwave, and usually add a splash of water to the bowl to prevent them from drying out. They won't be crisp, but they will be delicious.
Air Fryer Falafels
- Air Fryer
- 1 ¼ cups dried chickpeas soaked overnight in plenty of water
- ½ small red onion chopped (about ½ cup chopped red onion)
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 red chili seeds removed and minced
- ¼ cup packed parsley
- ¼ cup packed cilantro
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Start by rinsing the chickpeas and then placing them into a large bowl with plenty of water to soak overnight, and up to 24 hours.1 ¼ cups dried chickpeas
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
- Place the soaked and drained chickpeas, chopped red onion, crushed garlic, chili, parsley, cilantro, ground cumin, ground coriander, and salt into the bowl of a food processor.½ small red onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 red chili, ¼ cup packed parsley, ¼ cup packed cilantro, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- Pulse a few times, and then run the food processor until the ingredients are finely chopped. It should still have a bit of texture to it, roughly the size of couscous grains. You may need to stop and scrape the sides of the food processor a couple of times.
- Transfer the falafel mixture into a bowl, and refrigerate for about an hour.
- When you are ready to make your falafel, add the baking powder to the bowl and mix to combine well.½ teaspoon baking powder
- Scoop heaping tablespoons of the falafel mixture, and use your hands to form into balls. I err on the side of slightly smaller falafels to ensure they stay together well, but they're maybe 2 tablespoons each.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Heat your Air Fryer to 200°C / 400°F.
- Brush or spray the air fryer basket with a bit of oil, and then place the falafels in a single layer, with a bit of space between them. I had to cook mine in two batches. Brush or spray the tops of the falafel balls with olive oil (I use a silicone pastry brush).
- Place the falafels into the air fryer, and set a timer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, carefully turn the falafels over, and brush with olive oil again.
- Return to the air fryer for another 5 minutes.
Oven baking instructions
- Pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray the parchment with olive oil.
- Arrange the falafel balls in a single layer on the parchment and spray or brush with olive oil.
- Bake the falafels for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven, carefully turn over, and spray with a bit more oil.
- Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, until falafels are brown and crispy.
- Serve with pita and vegetables, or on top of a salad.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
- It's really important that you use dried chickpeas, soaked overnight. Do NOT use canned chickpeas - they will result in mushy falafels.
- Uncooked falafel balls can be frozen in a single layer on a tray, then transferred to a freezer bag for storage. You can air fry from frozen by adding a few minutes to the cooking time.
This recipe was first posted April 8, 2021. It was edited, updated with useful information, and republished on June 22, 2023.