Crispy Air Fryer Falafel is a delicious mixture of chickpeas, fresh cilantro and parsley, lemon and spices cooked to a crispy outside with soft insides! Air Fryer Falafel has all the authentic ingredients of the traditional middle eastern food without the deep frying!
This easy Air Fryer Falafel recipe takes a classic food and whips it up in a new way leaving the frying and oil behind. It's a great way to make the best falafel to enjoy with skinny tzatziki sauce in a pita bread, on the top of a salad or dipped in homemade hummus.
Instead of the traditional way of deep frying using an air fryer turns this middle eastern dish into a healthy falafel recipe.
What is falafel?
Falafels are a spiced chickpea fritters made with ground chickpeas, fresh herbs and spices that are usually cooked in a deep fryer. An authentic falafel recipe makes falafel patties the size of a golf ball which are usually served in warm pita bread. They are the best kind of middle eastern street food; full of exotic, fragrant flavors and protein from the chickpeas.
What makes this skinny?
No deep frying is the biggest calorie savings! The air fryer produces very similar results (crispy outside, soft inside) to deep frying but no fat calories are needed.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Chickpeas. Also called garbanzo beans. You can use 2 15-ounce canned chickpeas OR 1 ½ cups dried chickpeas which will need to soak for 18-24 hours before starting the recipe. Instructions for each are in the recipe steps details. More details about each in the section below.
Yellow onion. Use a small onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces. They will be pulverized into the falafel mixture so rough cutting is fine.
Italian Parsley and Cilantro. You'll need ¼ cup of each fresh herb. Rinsed, patted dry before starting the recipe.
Canned Chickpeas versus Dried Chickpeas
Using dried soaked chickpeas is definitely the authentic way to make a traditional falafel recipe. It's our favorite method too. Some people will tell you that you can't use canned chickpeas; that's not really true but there is a difference. Here is a comparison:
- No soaking time; can make the falafels immediately (after the refrigeration of the falafel mixture)
- The falafels are softer and more delicate to handle (this is probably the most significant consideration)
- The exterior is not as rigid and crispy as with soaked chickpeas
- Must be soaked for 18-24 hours before making the mixture; so there is planning and a delay with using them
- They are the traditional method
- The exterior is crispy and more solid as with traditionally deep fried falafels
We've included instructions for making the falafels either way and have tested both methods successfully.
How to make Air Fryer Falafels
STEP 1. For dried chickpeas
Place the chickpeas and ½ teaspoon baking soda in a large mixing bowl covered with lots of cold water. Allow them to soak at room temperature for 18-24 hours.
Drain, and place on paper towels to absorb excess moisture before starting.
STEP 2. Make the falafel mixture
In the bowl of a food processor combine the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, coriander, cumin, kosher salt, black pepper and lemon juice (photo 1). Pulse until the mixture forms a coarse paste – about 30 seconds (photo 2).
Add the garbanzo beans (either soaked or canned) (photo 3) and pulse until they are pulverized and a coarse paste mixture forms (photo 4) – about 30 seconds. It should be smooth enough to hold together in a ball but not as smooth as hummus.
STEP 3. Chill
Cover and refrigerate the mixture for 30-45 minutes.
STEP 4. Cook
Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees F. When heated spray the air fryer basket lightly with olive oil spray.
Using a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop or ice cream scoop, scoop falafel balls from the chilled falafel mixture and place in the air fryer basket in a single layer with space between them (both for air circulation and to turn them midway) (photo 5). Spritz the tops with olive oil spray and return extra batter to the refrigerator.
Cook for 10 minutes, flip the falafels over (using tongs works great) and cook 5 additional minutes until the outside is crispy and they are cooked through (photo 6).
Allow to sit for a few minutes before eating. Repeat for remaining falafel batter.
How to serve
- In a pita bread pocket with fresh vegetables for a sandwich
- In a wrap
- On salads
- As an appetizer served with a dipping sauce
Dry the garbanzo beans. After soaking (if using dried) or draining (if using canned) lay the chickpeas out on a few layers of paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. This is important so the falafel batter isn't overly moist.
Cook in batches. Leaving some room around the falafels is important both for hot air circulation to fully cook them but also to allow turning them over without damaging them. For a Cosori 5.8 quart air fryer I cook 9 falafels at a time.
Adding flour. Our recipe does not need flour however if your falafel batter is very wet and won't form patties or balls well, adding 1-2 tablespoons of chickpea flour can help. Often this happens if the chickpeas have not been dried before adding to the homemade falafel batter which creates too much moisture.
Use fresh herbs. Usually dried herbs can be substituted into recipes instead of fresh herbs but this isn't recommended for these homemade falafels.
Air Fryer variations. All air fryer brands and sizes cook slightly differently. Monitor cooking to adjust for your air fryer brand.
How to Store
Falafels are the best when freshly cooked however leftover falafel can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. They will soften slightly.
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Air Fryer Falafels
- 1 small yellow onion cut into roughly 1” pieces
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup parsley leaves
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Choose between canned or dry chickpeas below (choose one only)
- 2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans drained, rinsed and placed on paper towels to absorb excess moisture
- 1 ½ cups dry garbanzo beans
- ½ teaspoon baking soda only to be used with dry chickpeas
Soak chickpeas (if using the dry chickpea option)
- Add the 1 ½ cups dry chickpeas and ½ teaspoon baking soda to a large bowl. Cover with several cups of water. Allow to soak at room temperature for 18-24 hours until softened. NOTE: they will not be soft like canned chickpeas after soaking but will be able to be blended.Place on layers of paper towels to absorb excess moisture before proceeding with the recipe.
Make the falafels (for canned chickpea and after soaking dry chickpeas)
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, coriander, cumin, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until the mixture is broken up into a coarse paste– about 30 seconds.
- Add the garbanzo beans and pulse they are pulverized and a coarse paste mixture forms – about 30 seconds. It should be smooth enough to hold together in a ball but not as smooth as hummus.
- Chill the mixture, covered, in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat air fryer to 370 degrees F.
- Scoop out 1.5 tablespoon sized portions using a scoop. Or if measuring by hand gently shape into a ball.
- Lightly spray the air fryer basket with olive oil spray and add the falafel, making sure not to overcrowd the air fryer. Spray the top of the falafel with olive oil spray as well.NOTE: for the Cosori 5.8 quart air fryer I cook 9 falafels at a time so they have plenty of air circulation room between them. Keep the batter in the refrigerator while a batch is cooking.
- Air fry at 370F for 10 minutes. Gently turn the falafels over and cook 5 additional minutes, or until the falafel is golden brown and crisp on the outside.Repeat for remaining falafel batter.
- Remove from the air fryer and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes before serving (this allows them to firm up slightly). Serve immediately with your favorite additions– pita, hummus, salad, etc.