How to make vegan falafel, with a baked and a fried option! Crunchy on the outside with a sesame seed crust, as well as fluffy and soft on the inside, this easy falafel recipe is packed full of flavour and uses just simple ingredients. Gluten-free, easy to make.

Vegan Falafel (Gluten-free)

I absolutely love the start of a new year. It’s a time of fresh opportunities, a chance to leave negative energy behind, review your goals and improve yourself with a fresh burst of motivation. Of course, you don’t have to wait until a new year or even a new week to do that. But I always love the atmosphere the start of a new year brings!

Another great thing about the start of a new year is Veganuary. With participation more than doubling each year, this challenge encourages people to go vegan for the month of January. After completion, a lot of people decide to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle. 

Vegan falafel on a plate

This year, I’ve decided to run a series on my blog where I share a lot of basic vegan recipes that anyone wishing to eat more plants needs to know. These recipes will be ideal if you’re participating in Veganuary 100%, or just want to incorporate more vegan meals into your dinner rotation.

Falafel with sesame seeds on a plate

Gluten-free vegan falafel

To start this series, I will teach you how to make amazing vegan falafel. This recipe took a few tries, but I absolutely love how it turned out. Falafel is naturally vegan most of the time, and makes a great addition to lunches, dinners, and even snacks. 

Bowl with vegan falafel, avocado, hummus and soy yoghurt

Here, I’ve featured both a baked and a fried version. Regardless of which method you choose, it’s going to be incredibly delicious. Think perfectly crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and with a lot of flavour. Plus, you don’t need many ingredients to create such deliciousness! I make falafel at least one a week, and could not recommend it more.

Ingredients and substitutions

As I mentioned, you only need a handful of simple ingredients for delicious vegan falafel. These are:

Ingredients for falafel
  • Chickpeas. You can use either soaked dried chickpeas (instructions below), which is the most common method for falafel, or canned chickpeas. If you use dried chickpeas, they will be more firm on the inside. Either way, make sure to drain them very well and pat them dry with a paper towel – this will help the falafel keep their shape.
  • Red onion. Great for texture and a tangier flavour.
  • Fresh cilantro. This adds a wonderful green colour and freshness. However, if you don’t like cilantro, you can leave it out or replace with fresh parsley.
  • Garlic cloves.
  • Sesame seeds. These will add a nutty undertone. They will also be used to coat the falafels.
  • Buckwheat flour and rice flour. They will work together to not only help the falafels keep their shape, but will also help enhance the savoury flavour. You can use any flour of your choice.
  • Spices: turmeric, cumin, dried basil, salt and smoked paprika. You can add other spices of your choice – for instance, add garlic powder if you want a stronger garlicky flavour. You can also adjust the amounts depending on your preference.
  • Olive oil. This will give the falafels a great soft and fluffy texture on the inside, and ensure that they are not too dry. If you want to keep them oil-free, you can use tahini.
  • Lemon juice. Needed to create a distinctive tangy flavour!

How to make crispy vegan falafel

If you are using dried chickpeas, soak them in cold water for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse them, and pat them dry with a paper towel.

If using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them, and pat them with a paper towel, making sure they are as dry as possible.

Transfer the chickpeas to a blender or food processor together with the other ingredients, setting aside some of the sesame seeds to coat the falafel. Blend on a low setting for a few seconds, until mostly smooth, but with a bit of texture left.

Scoop out around 2-3 tbsp of the mixture per falafel and shape them using your hands. If they stick, dip your hands in a little bit of flour before shaping. Dip the falafel in the sesame seeds on both sides and lay them out on a flat surface.

How to fry falafel

To make fried falafel, heat a thin layer of olive oil or avocado oil in a large flat pan or skillet. Add the falafel to the pan, working in batches if necessary – it’s important not to overcrowd the pan.

Fried falafel in a pan

Fry for around 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip and fry for 2 minutes more, until crispy and browned.

How to bake falafel

If you want to make baked falafel, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350F) before blending.

Lay out the falafel on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, flipping half way through.

Storing and freezing falafel

These vegan falafel keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

Vegan falafel with sesame seeds on a plate

You can also freeze them in a freezer-friendly container for up to 3 months. Once cooked and cooled down, freeze them on a baking tray and then transfer to freezer-friendly containers or bags. To reheat, thaw in the fridge and then warm up either by frying, or baking at 180 degrees C (350F) for 20 minutes.

Recipe tips

Closeup of vegan falafel on a plate
  • I would definitely recommend using dry chickpeas and soaking them, as this results in the best texture.
  • If using canned chickpeas, make sure to dry them really well before adding to the blender/food processor.
  • If using dry chickpeas, it is not necessary to use flour.
  • Adjust the spices according to your preference, and try out different flavour options.

Serving suggestions for vegan falafel

You can serve these falafel as a snack or a side dish with a dip of your choice, such as vegan tzatziki, hummus, vegan sour cream, guacamole, or spicy cashew cream.

Pita with vegan falafel and hummus

You can also add them to salads, serve in pita or flatbread, in a sandwich, or as part of a nourish bowl.

Other recipes you might love

Vegan Falafel (Gluten-free)

Let me know in the comments: what’s your favourite way to serve falafel? Will you be joining Veganuary this year, or have you ever done it? If you give this vegan falafel recipe a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthofmariaa), and leave your feedback in the comments below, together with a star rating.

Vegan Falafel (Gluten-free)

Get the Recipe: Vegan Falafel (Gluten-free)

How to make vegan falafel, that's crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and packed full of earthy, tangy flavour. Serve in a pita or flatbread, a salad or in a sandwich with a sauce of your choice. Gluten-free and easy to make in under 30 minutes, using simple ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, or 3 cups (2 cans) canned chickpeas
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp buckwheat flour
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of

Equipment

  • Blender or food processor
  • Spoon
  • Skillet or frying pan (if frying)
  • Conventional oven (or baking)

Instructions 

  • If you are using dried chickpeas, soak them in cold water for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse them, and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • If using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them, and pat them with a paper towel, making sure they are as dry as possible.
  • Transfer the chickpeas to a blender or food processor together with the onion, cilantro, garlic, sesame seeds, buckwheat flour, rice flour, turmeric, cumin, dried basil, salt, smoked paprika, olive oil, and lemon juice. Set aside 1/4 cup of the sesame seeds to coat the falafel. Blend on a low setting for a few seconds, until mostly smooth, but with a bit of texture left.
  • Scoop out around 2-3 tbsp of the mixture per falafel and shape them using your hands. If they stick, dip your hands in a little bit of flour before shaping. Dip the falafel in the sesame seeds on both sides and lay them out on a flat surface.
  • To fry: To make fried falafel, heat a thin layer of olive oil or avocado oil in a large flat pan or skillet. Add the falafel to the pan, working in batches if necessary – it's important not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for around 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip and fry for 2 minutes more, until crispy and browned.
  • To bake: If you want to make baked falafel, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350F) before blending. Lay out the falafel on a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, flipping half way through.

Video

Notes

The nutritional information is an estimate, and doesn’t include any oil used for frying.
Calories: 194kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 300mg, Potassium: 340mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 78IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 135mg, Iron: 4mg
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Vegan falafel gluten-free