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How to make healthy vegan falafel with canned chickpeas (so no soaking necessary) in under 40 minutes—including baked and air fryer falafel methods, perfect for enjoying with pita, salads, and mezze!

completed Healthy Baked Falafel on bread against a white background

What Is Falafel?

Falafel is a Middle Eastern fritter traditionally made with dried chickpeas and/or fava beans ground and mixed with fresh herbs, aromatics, and spices. They’re then rolled into balls or pucks and deep-fried until super crispy outside and tender in the middle—ready to enjoy as a popular street food in a pita wrap with salad veggies and hummus or tahini sauce.

For our version, though, we’ve stepped away from tradition, sharing a super quick and fuss-free method of making homemade falafel with canned chickpeas. Using canned beans gets them on the table in under 40 minutes whenever the cravings hit (no overnight soaking required)!

As a bonus, we’ve included a traditional method using dried chickpeas in the FAQs for those who’d like to try.

Baked or Air Fryer Falafel with Canned Chickpeas

All you need for this naturally gluten-free and vegan (also Passover kosher) treat are a handful of inexpensive pantry staples, a food processor, and a few minutes to process the mixture.

While making falafel with canned chickpeas yields firmer, denser patties than traditional falafels, they’re super delicious and make for a simple last-minute snack, appetizer, or main any day of the week.

Even better, by ditching the deep fryer to make baked falafel (or air fryer falafel), the recipe uses just a fraction of the oil. The result is super satisfying yet far healthier homemade falafel loaded with plant-based protein and fiber!

The Falafel Ingredients

This vegan falafel recipe relies on under a dozen simple, inexpensive pantry-friendly ingredients.

ingredients for Healthy Baked Falafel measured out against a white background
  • Chickpeas: There are two ways you can prepare these vegan falafels. The first is with canned chickpeas. However, you can make a more traditional recipe using dried chickpeas (method in FAQs).
  • Aromatics: You’ll need fresh garlic and onion. We used green onions this time, but shallots (or yellow onion) will work well, too.
  • Parsley: We recommend using fresh Italian parsley. Alternatively, you could use a combination of parsley and cilantro.
  • Seasonings: We use a simple pantry-friendly combination of ground coriander, ground cumin, red pepper flakes (or chili powder), and salt and black pepper for this baked falafel recipe. However, you could also use a pre-mixed ‘falafel spice.’
  • Lemon juice: Fresh is best, but bottled will work in a pinch.
  • Starch: You can use either potato starch or chickpea flour as a binder when making falafel with canned chickpeas.
  • Baking powder: To help give the falafel balls a fluffier texture.
  • Olive oil: Or another neutral cooking oil to help crisp up the outside of the oven-baked falafel and keep the patties’ interior moist (oil works better than water).

How to Make Falafel With Canned Chickpeas?

Prepare this homemade falafel recipe in a handful of steps with little fuss or effort for a quick and simple last-minute treat!

  • 1) First, preheat the oven to 350F/177C.
  • 2) Then, drain and rinse the chickpeas and transfer them to a food processor to process into a crumb consistency (about 15-20 seconds on high).
process shot of adding chickpeas to food processor
  • 3) Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until doughy.
process shot showing post processed ingredients for Healthy Baked Falafel
  • 4) Use a spoon or scoop to divide the mixture into golf-ball-sized falafel, slightly flatten them (so they sit still), and transfer them to a baking tray, leaving a space between them. Optionally spray/brush each one with some oil to help them become crispy.
  • 5) Bake the falafel for 25-30 minutes, until firm and golden brown. There’s no need to flip halfway.
post baked falafels on baking tray

Air fryer falafels

First, preheat the air fryer to 400F/200C, then spread the falafels into a single layer in the basket, leaving a space in between (cook in batches), and spray/brush with oil. Then air fry the falafel for 10-14 minutes (based on their size) until brown and crispy.

FAQs

Is falafel vegan?

Yes, falafels are naturally gluten-free and vegan, and this recipe is also Passover kosher.

Can I use baking soda instead of baking powder?

Yes, you can technically use either. Just made sure to only add it just before shaping and cooking the falafel.

Why is my falafel falling apart?

If the dough consistency isn’t correct, they’re more likely to fall apart. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of water. If it’s too wet, add some extra starch/ chickpea flour. Be careful not to add too much, though, as that can affect their texture.

Chilling the dough for 30-60 minutes can also help it firm up and become easier to shape.

Could I pan-fry the vegan falafel?

Add a swirl of oil to a large skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the falafel (don’t overcrowd the pan) and fry for about 3-4 minutes per side until browned and crispy. Then transfer the pan-fried falafel to paper towels to drain any excess oil.

How to make falafel with dried chickpeas?

1) Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water (or up to 24 hours), then drain, rinse, and drain once more.
2) Then, pulse the soaked chickpeas in a food processor into a medium crumb consistency before adding the remaining ingredients (no starch or baking powder) until well mixed.
3) Transfer the mixture to the fridge for 30-60 minutes, stir in the baking powder, form into falafel, and bake/ air fry as written above.

If the falafel mixture doesn’t hold together when pressed, add a small sprinkle of chickpea flour/starch to help it bind. However, be careful not to add too much, as it turns the chickpea falafels dense.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Don’t overcrowd the falafel: They need space for hot air to circulate, so they become crispy.
  • Don’t skip the leavening agent: Especially when using canned chickpeas, which already make for denser patties. This will help make them a little fluffier inside.
  • When using raw chickpeas: Don’t over-process the dough or skip the chilling step, which is important for texture and shaping.
  • Using canned chickpeas: Depending on how much you process the garbanzo beans, the texture of the canned chickpea falafel recipe differs. Leave texture for airier, fluffier falafel. Smooth, paste-like chickpea falafel dough will be denser.
  • Adjust the shape and size: Enjoy them as falafel balls or puck-like patties, and decrease or increase to preference (even up to the size of burger patties), adjusting the cooking time as needed.
  • For crispier baked falafel/air-fried falafel: You could press the balls/patties into some panko breadcrumbs before cooking them.
  • For herbier falafel: Feel free to add up to double the amount of herbs to the recipe for super herby vegan falafel.
completed Healthy Baked Falafel on bread against a white background

Serving Recommendations

The best way to serve chickpea falafel is within a falafel pita sandwich/wrap, along with fresh lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, onion, and tahini sauce or hummus.

However, you can also enjoy them in other wraps, salad bowls, with a quinoa salad, Mediterranean pearl couscous salad, as a snack with dipping sauce, as a taco filling, or with other ‘mezze,’ like classic hummus, baba ghanoush, tabouli, fattoush, etc.

Make Ahead and Storage Instructions

Once mixed, you can save the falafel dough in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days (only add baking powder just before shaping and cooking) or in Ziplock/Stasher bag/s, spread thin and excess air removed, for up to 4 months.

Once cooked, any leftover canned chickpea falafel will store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Then, either thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or reheat them from frozen.

Reheat them in the oven or air fryer at 350F. It’ll take 8-12 minutes in the oven and 5-8 minutes in the air fryer, depending on their size. Longer for frozen patties. A toaster would also work.

More Vegan Chickpea Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Healthy Baked Falafel [+ Air Fryer]

4.97 from 52 votes
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
This super-easy baked falafel recipe will make your chickpea dreams come true! No frying involved but all of the flavorful reward! Eat them inside a wrap with some veggies or inside a pita bread!

Ingredients 

  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans
  • 1 bunch of green onions finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • ¼ cup of fresh Italian parsley chopped
  • ½ of a lemon juiced
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
  • Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Place them in the bowl of a food processor, wiz on high for 20 seconds.
  • Place all of the remaining ingredients into the food processor. Wiz until you have a doughy texture.
  • Use a spoon, scoop out a golf-ball-sized piece and place it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Line out the entire batch, about 10-12 balls. Slightly flatten with your palm or a spatula.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm. Do not flip while cooking.
  • I served mine on pita with fresh lettuce, parsley, and tomatoes. Top with a tahini mixture (equal parts water and tahini paste with a squirt of lemon). Trader Joe's tahini is already mixed and ready to use.

Video

Notes

  • Don’t overcrowd the falafel: They need space for hot air to circulate, so they become crispy.
  • Don’t skip the leavening agent: Especially when using canned chickpeas, which already make for denser patties. This will help make them a little fluffier inside.
  • When using raw chickpeas: Don’t over-process the dough or skip the chilling step, which is important for texture and shaping.
  • Using canned chickpeas: Depending on how much you process the garbanzo beans, the texture of the canned chickpea falafel recipe differs. Leave texture for airier, fluffier falafel. Smooth, paste-like chickpea falafel dough will be denser.

Nutrition

Calories: 280kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 13gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 850mgPotassium: 609mgFiber: 12gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 973IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 265mgIron: 6mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: David Sterkel
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Method: Baking
Diet: Vegan
Keywords: air fried, air fryer, baked falafel, chickpeas, falafel and pita, kosher, no oil, vegan chickpea recipe, vegan dinner, vegan falafel, vegetarian falafel
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

David Sterkel

Plant based foodie, running, cooking, trash TV- all things that describe me! I enjoy cooking quick and easy meals that are healthy and inexpensive. Happy reading!

More about David Sterkel

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  1. Hi. Made these tonight. Tastes good air fried them amd nice and crispy inside. But they were dry on the inside
    Will try again with garlic aioli or a dori or thank you for this great recipe.