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Learn how to make this classic healthy falafel recipe! Crispy on the outside and bursting with herbaceous fresh flavor, these healthy chickpea patties can be baked or lightly pan-fried! They are perfect as a snack, stuffed into pita bread for lunch, or served with slaw for a light, healthy dinner! (healthy, vegetarian, vegan)

Overhead shot of a platter of falafel with canned chickpeas.

Update: This post was originally published in January 2015. I’ve updated the post below to include more information about healthy homemade falafels. Plus, I added step by step photos and a recipe video to show you how easy this recipe is to make!

Hey, friends! Today we are talking about the joys of crispy, homemade falafel with canned chickpeas!

Have you ever wanted to make falafels at home, but you’ve been too scared? Well, have no fear, because this healthy falafel recipe is insanely easy to prepare! The falafel mix requires very minimal prep work and come together in a matter of minutes!! Plus, NO large (scary) pot of hot, bubbling oil is required!

This falafel with canned chickpeas is simply made with fresh herbs, crisp vegetables, pantry staples, and a can of cooked chickpeas! And, they can be baked or lightly pan-fried so the falafel calories can be kept low.

We will answer all your burning questions like “Is falafel healthy” and “Can you bake falafels?”

Ingredients to make falafels in a food processor bowl.

About This Easy Healthy Falafel Recipe

Seriously, this crispy falafel with canned chickpeas recipe is beyond fantastic, friends. I’ve been eating them for lunch and dinner for the past three days in a row, and honestly, I’m showing no signs of slowing down!

These falafels are bursting with fresh, herbaceous flavor and have the perfect amount of bright, savory taste. They are golden brown and crispy on the outside with a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth tender interior.

Never one for being traditional, I decided to forgo the classic Mediterranean way of preparing and serving these chickpea fritters. Instead, I opted for Asian-inspired flavors: sesame seeds, cilantro, and ginger! The result is a homemade falafel that packs both flavor and texture! Served on a quick Asian slaw with a miso tahini sauce for dipping or drizzling, these falafels are going to be your new favorite lunch, snack, or light dinner!

Why you’ll love falafel with canned chickpeas

  • Simple! This easy falafel recipe comes together quickly and is great as a main dish or appetizer.
  • Low Calorie! Filled with plant based proteins, the falafel calories are minimal. Plus, baking them keeps the calories low too!
  • Crispy! These are the BEST crispy falafel with canned chickpeas ever. The crunchy exteriors please your pallet and give you a burst of flavor. The insides are deliciously tender too.

Easy Falafel mix in a food processor bowl.

What are falafels?

Falafels are a Middle Eastern dish made up of chickpeas, or other pulses such as fava beans, plus flavorful spices and fresh herbs. The chickpea mixture is then mashed, formed into balls (or fritters), and usually deep-fried.

This healthy falafel recipe is my version of the traditional street food and adds jalapeno, sesame seeds, and ginger to the mix for a spicier, aromatic falafel with more texture and flavor.

As well, this recipe utilizes drained, canned chickpeas so the falafels are faster and more fuss-free preparation!

Ingredients needed for chickpea fritters

The exact ingredients in falafels can greatly vary from recipe to recipe. There are numerous variations and a plethora of ways to make chickpea fritters.

This easy recipe is made with the following:

  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas are the base of the recipe. I use canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained) to save time. However, you can use dried chickpeas, just make sure to soak and cook them first.
  • Fresh Herbs: Fresh cilantro and parsley give the falafels a bright, herbaceous taste and a beautiful green hue!
  • Onion: I use red onion for a milder flavor. However, you can substitute yellow onions for a more pungent flavor, white onion for a sharper flavor, or sweet onion for a subtly sweet flavor.
  • Jalapeno: Seeded and ribbed jalapeno provides a slightly smoky flavor with a touch of spicy heat.
  • Garlic: Minced fresh garlic provides a subtle aromatic flavor. If you love the taste of fresh garlic, feel free to add more to the recipe. Alternatively, if you aren’t a huge fan, cut back to only 1 or 2 cloves.
  • Flour: I use chickpea flour, but you can use all purpose, white whole wheat, or even gluten-free flour if desired!
  • Baking Soda: Baking soda is a raising agent which helps make the falafel fluffy on the inside.
  • Lime: Both lime juice and zest add a punch of zippy taste and rounds out the flavors in this healthy falafel recipe! Plus, the lime juice helps activate the baking soda (listed above).
  • Seasonings: Cumin, cayenne, ginger, sea salt and ground pepper provide tons of flavor.
  • Sesame Seeds: These are entirely optional, but they give the falafel balls a touch of nutty flavor.

Healthy Falafel Recipe Variations

This recipe is extremely forgiving and can be easily adapted! Feel free to get creative and swap out ingredients to use what you have on hand or try flavor combinations your family loves!

  • Use different legumes: If you aren’t a fan of chickpeas, you can make falafels with other pulses! Try using lentils, white beans, black beans, or even fava beans!
  • Add vegetables: While I use onion and jalapeno, you can add just about any fresh vegetable you like or have on hand. However, I do not recommend juicy vegetables such as tomatoes or cucumbers. If you start adding juicy vegetables with a high water content you will need to add more flour to balance out the moisture.
  • Use different herbs: I know not everyone is a fan of fresh cilantro. Try swapping out the cilantro for a bit of fresh mint and scallions. Or, you can make the falafels with a combination of both flat-leaf and curly-leaf parsley!
  • Swap out spices: Ground spices are a great way to play around with the flavor! You can try adding ground coriander, turmeric, cardamom, chili powder, or even cinnamon!

Homemade falafels on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.

How to make falafel with canned chickpeas

You can make the best crispy homemade falafels with this quick and simple recipe! Pair them with refreshing slaw and creamy miso tahini for a delicious easy meal!

(Scroll down for the detailed measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.)

  1. Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. Make the falafel mixture: In the bowl of a food processor add red onion, garlic, jalapeno, parsley, and cilantro. Pulse until chopped and combined, about 12-15 pulses. Add the chickpeas and pulse again until finely chopped.
  3. Add in the cumin, cayenne, ginger, baking soda, 2 TBS of chickpea flour*, lime zest, juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until combined, but NOT smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as necessary. (You want texture and for the mixture to be slightly chunky and thick). Stir in the sesame seeds. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  4. Form the falafels: Using your hands, roll and form the mixture into falafel balls, about 2 tablespoons of mixture for each, for a total of 12 balls. Place the formed falafels onto the prepared sheet pan and place them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm (you can let these sit overnight, just cover lightly with plastic wrap).

Pan-Fry Falafels

To PAN-FRY falafels: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the falafels. Cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan if the pan seems dry and flip the falafels. Cook on the other side until golden, an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Bake Falafels

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray. Add falafels to the baking sheet and spray the tops with non-stick cooking spray. Bake falafels for 25-28 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping once halfway through bake time.

Serve the falafels warm on top of slaw and drizzle with miso tahini. Enjoy!

How to make falafels step by step photos:

Collage of how to make easy homemade falafels step by step with written instructions on each step.

Tricks for the best chickpea fritters:

  1. There is no need to finely dice any of the ingredients. Just give them a rough, coarse chop and let the food processor do the rest of the work for you! However, if you do not own a food processor, you will need to finely chop all the falafel ingredients and then stir them together.
  2. Swap the cilantro. If you are not a fan of cilantro, simply nix it and increase the amount of parsley to 3/4 cup.
  3. Switch the flour. While the recipe calls for chickpea flour, you can absolutely use all purpose or gluten free flour instead. The amount of flour needed in the falafels will depend on the consistency of your mixture. Start with 2 tablespoons of flour, and if the mixture is too wet, add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time. You want the mixture to hold together, but not be overly moist. To test it, simply take a small ball of the falafel mixture in your hand and press it together to see if it sticks. (I usually end up using about 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon in my mixture).
  4. Don’t forget to refrigerate! Make sure you transfer the formed falafels to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before pan frying. Refrigerating the falafels helps firm up the mixture. If you are in no hurry, you can allow the falafels to sit in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, overnight.

Asian Crispy Pan Fried Falafels on a bed of Asian slaw with pita bread and lime wedges.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the falafel mix be made in advance?

Absolutely! In fact, preparing the mixture ahead allows the flavors to develop and helps the falafel balls stay together!

You can make the mixture up to 3 days in advance. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or until ready to use.

Can you bake falafels?

Yes! You can absolutely bake falafels!

The recipe below includes instructions for both shallow pan-frying and baking falafels!!

Please note, that traditional falafels are deep fried, which results in a crispy exterior all the way around. Pan-frying the falafel in a couple of tablespoons of oil (versus a vat of oil) is a healthier alternative. Pan-frying results in a falafel with a crispy top and bottom exterior. If you bake the falafels, they will not be as crispy as the two previous cooking methods, however, they will still be delicious!!

Is falafel healthy?

This falafel with canned chickpeas recipe is healthy! Made with fresh and healthy ingredients, it’s a recipe you can feel good about serving to your family.

Falafel calories

The falafel calories are around 32 calories per serving. The actual number of calories can vary depending on the ingredients you use and the variations in brands. Either way, it’s a healthy dish that happens to taste terrific too.

Keep in mind that other recipes are deep fried and that can increase the calories a fair amount. So take that into consideration when cooking homemade falafel.

Serving Suggestions

Falafel balls are traditionally served as a sandwich. Typically, they are wrapped in a pita or a flatbread and filled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and some sort of sauce.

This simple recipe is super forgiving, adaptable, and versatile! You can serve these crispy, tender delicious chickpea fritters plain, dress them up with a tahini drizzle, stuff them in a pita or stack them high on a salad! No matter how you decide to serve them, these falafels will become a go-to recipe both you and your family will love!!

  • Mezze Platter: You can serve falafels plain as part of an assortment of appetizers, known as a mezze. Try serving tzatziki, baba ganoush or hummus on the side. (See below for more pairing options.)
  • Sandwich or Wrap: Serve falafels the classic way, stuffed in a pita. Or, opt for a healthier option and wrap falafels in bibb lettuce. Don’t forget to pile on the fresh veggies and drizzle them with plenty of tahini!
  • Salad: Crispy falafels make a delicious addition to salads and slaws!
  • Bowls: Add falafels to the top of grain or rice bowls for added protein and flavor!

I served my crispy falafels with a simple fresh slaw salad and miso-tahini sauce for dipping or drizzling. However, falafel balls pair well with a wide variety of dishes! Try mixing and matching to create an epic spread packed with tons of flavors and textures!

What to serve with chickpea fritters:

Storage

How long do they keep?

Cooked falafels taste best when freshly cooked. However, leftover falafel balls are perfect for easy lunches or snacks on the go! Cooked falafels should be stored in an airtight container or zip-closure bag in the refrigerator. Properly stored, they will last for up to 5 days.

Can you freeze them?

Yes! Cooked falafels can be frozen and are excellent to have on hand for a quick meal!

To freeze, simply cook the falafels according to the recipe instructions below. After cooking, allow them to cool in the refrigerator completely. Once cool, transfer them to freezer safe zip-closure bag in a single layer and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, you can store them in an airtight container, just make sure you place a piece of wax paper in-between the falafels to prevent sticking.

Thaw falafel balls overnight in the refrigerator. Alternatively, they can be reheated from frozen. (Directions below)

To reheat, wrap falafels gently in foil. Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F until they are warm throughout, about 15 minutes if defrosted, or 30 minutes if frozen. Make sure you turn the falafel balls halfway through cooking time, regardless if they were frozen or not.

Overhead close-up photo of homemade falafels made with canned chickpeas on a bed of healthy slaw.
I pinkie-promise you are going to absolutely love this easy Healthy Falafel Recipe! Grab your food processor get ready to transform canned chickpeas into something truly delicious!!

Until next time, friends, cheers – to homemade street food with a tasty twist!

Cheyanne

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More chickpea recipes!

If you love these healthy falafels, try one of these delicious recipes with garbanzo beans next!

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How to make the best Falafels at home with canned chickpeas with recipe video👇

Overhead photo of a platter of Asian Crispy Pan Fried Falafels on a bed of Asian slaw with pita bread; with a pale green linen, knife, lime wedge, ramekin of sliced scallions and small ceramic jar of miso tahini surrounding the platter.

Healthy Crispy Falafels

5 from 9 votes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
0 minutes
Servings: 12 falafels
This healthy falafel recipe is easy and results in fresh, herbaceous flavor in every bite! These chickpea fritters are delicious!
Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.

Equipment

  • Food Processor
  • Large Skillet or Baking Sheet

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 small Red Onion – peeled & roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic - smashed & peeled
  • 1 Jalapeno - seeded & coarsely chopped
  • ½ Cup fresh Parsley leaves - tightly packed
  • ¼ Cup fresh Cilantro leaves - tightly packed (SEE NOTES)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Chickpeas – drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • ½ tsp Cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh Ginger - grated
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • 2-3 TBS Chickpea Flour - (or All-Purpose or Gluten-Free flour)
  • 1/2 Lime zest + 1 tsp Juice
  • 1 tsp Coarse Sea Salt (or Flakey Sea Salt)
  • 1/4 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sesame Seeds (raw, un-toasted)
  • 2-3 TBS Neutral Oil - FOR PAN-FRYING

For Serving: Slaw (recipe below), Pita Bread, Sliced Jalapenos, Microgreens, Lime Wedges

Miso Tahini Sauce (recipe below)

Instructions

  • Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Make the falafel mixture:  In the bowl of a food processor add: red onion, garlic, jalapeno, parsley and cilantro. Pulse until chopped and combined, about 12-15 pulses.  Add the chickpeas and pulse again until finely chopped.
  • Add seasonings: Add in the cumin, cayenne, ginger, baking soda, 2 TBS of chickpea flour*, lime zest, juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined, but NOT smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as necessary. (You want texture and for the mixture to be slightly chunky and thick). Stir in the sesame seeds.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  • Form the falafels:  Using your hands, roll and form the mixture into falafel balls, about 2 tablespoons of mixture for each, for a total of 12 balls.
  • Chill: Place the formed falafels onto prepared sheet pan and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm (you can let these sit overnight, just cover lightly with plastic wrap).
  • To PAN-FRY falafels:  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the falafels. Cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan if the pan seems dry and flip the falafels.  Cook on the other side until golden, an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • To BAKE falafels: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray. Add falafels to the baking sheet and spray the tops with non-stick cooking spray. Bake falafels for 25-28 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping once halfway through bake time.
  • To serve:  Serve the falafels warm on top of slaw and drizzle with miso tahini.  Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  1. Prepping Veggies: There is no need to finely dice any of the ingredients.  Just give them a rough, coarse chop and let the food processor do the rest of the work for you!  However, if you do not own a food processor, you will need to finely chop all the falafel ingredients and then stir them together.
  2. Cilantro: If you are not a fan of cilantro, simply nix it and increase the amount of parsley 3/4 cup.
  3. Chickpea Flour: While the recipe calls for chickpea flour, you can absolutely use all purpose of gluten free flour instead.  The amount of flour needed in the falafels will depend on the consistency of your mixture.  Start with 2 tablespoons of flour, and if mixture is too wet, add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time.  You want the mixture to hold together, but not be overly moist.  To test it, simply take a small ball of the falafel mixture in your hand and press it together to see if it sticks.  (I usually end up using about 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon in my mixture).
  4. Chill Falafels: Make sure you transfer the formed falafels to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, especially before pan frying! Refrigerating the falafels helps firm up the mixture. You can store the prepared falafels in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to overnight.
Miso Tahini:
1/4 cup Tahini, stirred
1 1/2 TBS White Miso (or light sweet miso)
1 1/2 TBS Honey
2 tsp Rice Vinegar
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 tsp Fresh Ginger - minced (or 1/16th tsp Ground Ginger)
Coarse Sea Salt, to taste
Warm Water, as needed
Whisk together the tahini through the ginger in a small bowl.  Add warm water to thin, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached ( I used 3 tablespoons).  Taste and adjust for seasoning. 
Asian Slaw
1 large Carrot - shredded
3 Scallions - sliced on diagonal
1/4 Red Onion - thinly sliced
2 TBS Cilantro leaves - roughly chopped
2 TBS Flat-leaf Parsley - roughly chopped
2 Cups Cabbage - shredded
2 TBS Mirin - or more to taste
Place all vegetables in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Set aside until ready to use.  When ready to serve, season with pepper and drizzle with mirin. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.
*Nutrition information is for falafels only and it's an approximation based upon 12 servings. Exact information will depend upon the brands of ingredients and precise measurements used.

Nutrition

Calories: 32kcal    Carbohydrates: 2g    Protein: 1g    Fat: 3g    Saturated Fat: 1g    Sodium: 242mg    Potassium: 34mg    Fiber: 1g    Sugar: 1g    Vitamin A: 280IU    Vitamin C: 6mg    Calcium: 10mg    Iron: 1mg

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Falafels - asian style