Air Fryer Falafel

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Air fryer falafel is warm and crispy on the outside and packed with aromatic herbs on the inside. Enjoy this healthy vegan dish as a quick snack, an on-the-go lunch, or as the centerpiece of a weeknight family dinner.

falafel on tope of a green salad in a white bowl

This time of year, healthy, easy to prepare vegetarian recipes are in high demand. Luckily, these fresh herb falafel hit all the right notes in the kitchen: gluten-free, high in vitamins and minerals, oh, and the best part? Your entire family, kids included, will love the lightly fried texture and flavor-popping middle.

What we love about using an air fryer in this recipe is that you’re able to enjoy the satisfying crunch of a crispy exterior, without the heaviness of deep frying. Did we mention that the ever-efficient air fryer will have dinner ready in minutes?

Because this is a color-outside-of-the-lines kind of dish, you can add your own ingredient tweaks to create all kinds of variations! Even use them in these delicious Falafel Sandwiches. Here’s how to do it!

chickpeas soaking in water in a clear glass bowl

How to Make It

  1. Soak the chickpeas – To achieve the right texture, you’ll need to soak the chickpeas for at least 4 hours (and up to 12 hours). If you don’t soak the chickpeas first, your falafel will have hard crunchy pieces of chickpeas in them. 
  2. Chop the ingredients – In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chickpeas, garlic, onion, jalapeño, parsley, cilantro, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Pulse until the mixture is combined and resembles coarse sand.
  3. Shape and form the falafel – Use a tablespoon or ice cream scoop to scoop uniform-sized rounds, and then gently flatten with your palm. 
  4. Cook the falafel – Cook in a preheated air fryer for 12 to 15 minutes at 400°F.
  5. Serve warm.
overhead image of ingredients for falafel in the bowl of a food processor
overhead image of ingredients for falafel mixed in a food processor
raw falafel patties on a parchment lined sheet pan

What is Air Fryer Falafel?

Falafel are herb and spice filled Middle Eastern fritters that are traditionally deep-fried to give them a golden brown outside and a soft, almost fluffy inside. Because of their compact, eat-anywhere size, falafel are a popular street food throughout the Middle East, and are often served in a warm pita to make enjoying them on-the-go even easier. 

Cooking these fritters in the air fryer allows you to use far less oil but results in just as much flavor and crisp texture.

overhead image of all the ingredients for falafel spread out on a grey countertop

Ingredients

  • Dried chickpeas / garbanzo beans – A kitchen staple for so many healthy vegan and vegetarian meals, this recipe starts with dried chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans). Just be sure you don’t use canned beans in this recipe. They have too much moisture and will give the falafel a mushy texture. 
  • Jalapeño – The heat in jalapeño peppers adds just the right amount of ‘kick’, and the subtle spiciness is terrific with a cooling cucumber yogurt dip. Don’t have a jalapeño on hand? Red pepper flakes are a great substitute. Feel free to skip it if you don’t want the spice.
  • Fresh parsley, fresh cilantro, garlic, yellow onion, ground cumin, salt and pepper – The neutral flavor of chickpeas means that the fresh herbs and spices in crispy falafel really shine through. There is so much room for experimentation with aromatics here. Don’t skip the fresh herbs if you can help it – they add so much flavor. 
  • Olive oil spray – To prevent sticking in the air fryer.

Variations

  • Use fava beans – Falafel in Egypt is often made with fava beans, rather than chickpeas. Try preparing these the same way, starting with dried fava beans. 
  • Use other herbs – Try these with fresh mint or basil.
  • Add veggies – Finely chop veggies like bell peppers or broccoli along with the falafel mix for a little nutritional and flavor boost.
overhead image of a box of trader joe's falafel mix on a grey countertop

How to Cook Trader Joe’s Falafel in the Air Fryer

Looking for a great shortcut? Trader Joe’s makes a great boxed air fryer mix that is easy to prepare and cook in the airfryer. Here’s how:

  1. Prepare the mix according to package directions. 
  2. Roll into balls.
  3. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, spraying with olive oil spray at the beginning of cooking and halfway through. 
  4. Serve warm. 

Here’s what the Trader Joe’s falafel look like as they cook in the air fryer.

falafel balls in an air fryer
cooked falafel in an air fryer
Why do canned chickpeas not work for falafel? 

If you’ve ever tried to make falafel with canned chickpeas, then you know how tricky it can be to get the falafel rounds to keep their shape. Like so many tried and true cooking methods, why this happens all comes down to the chemistry of cooked foods. Basically, the starch in the chickpea is released when these little guys are cooked, and that starch is lost in the canning process.  

For a more in depth explanation of the science here, check out this article from Serious Eats.

Is falafel healthy? 

There are so many good-for-you ingredients in falafel. Your chickpea base is a high fiber, high mineral food, and a single cup contains:

74% of your daily value for manganese 
71% folate (vitamin B9)
64% copper
26% iron
23% zinc
22% phosphorus 

Fresh parsley and cilantro also provide vitamins A, C and K!

What if my falafel falls apart in the air fryer?

Your mixture is likely too dry or the chickpeas didn’t soak for long enough. If you’ve already formed the falafel, there’s probably nothing you can do this time around, but they will still be delicious even if they’ve broken apart into smaller pieces. A good way to avoid this is to make sure that the falafel mixture easily comes together in patty shapes before you cook it. If not, add in some water until the mixture easily holds together.

Can I freeze falafel?

Yes! Make falafel according to the recipe, but freeze before cooking in the air fryer. When you are ready to eat, preheat air fryer to 400°F. There is no need to defrost falafel before cooking. Spray the basket of the air fryer with olive oil spray to prevent from sticking. Place frozen falafel into the basket in a single layer. Bake in preheated air fryer for 18-22 minutes or until heated all the way through.

falafel patties in an air fryer

Falafel Serving Ideas

Air fryer falafel gets an A+ for its versatility. While it’s traditionally served with creamy tahini, you can also serve these dunkable bites with a variety of hummus flavors (garlic, red bell pepper, etc). Or, if you want more of a meal, place them in a fluffy pita, inside a wrap, or use them as a salad topper for more flavor and texture.

Serving a crowd? Falafel are an easy addition to appetizer platters too. I love to serve them with Muhammara and veggie sticks. 

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5 from 2 votes

Air Fryer Falafel

Air fryer falafel is warm and crispy on the outside and packed with aromatic herbs on the inside. Enjoy this healthy vegan dish as a quick snack, an on-the-go lunch, or as the centerpiece of a weeknight family dinner.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Soaking Time: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 42 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Food Processor
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Cooking Scoop or Measuring Spoon
  • Air Fryer

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas / garbanzo beans, soaked for at least 4 hours (see note)
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped yellow onion
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped into large pieces (see note)
  • 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil Spray, for cooking

Instructions 

  • Drain the soaked chickpeas well.
  • Combine the chickpeas, garlic cloves, onion, jalapeño, parsley, cilantro, salt, cumin, and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is evenly combined and resembles coarse sand, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Use a 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon or scoop to scoop up even portions of the falafel batter. Then gently roll the batter into even rounds and flatten the rounds slightly between your palms. If not cooking the falafel right away, you can cover them tightly and refrigerate for up to a day.
  • Preheat an air fryer to 400°F. Spray the basket with olive oil spray to prevent sticking. Add the falafel to the basket in a single layer. Spray the tops of the falafel with olive oil spray. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on the outside, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Notes

Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans – Be sure to get raw, uncooked, dried chickpeas. These are usually sold near the rice. Before you get started, you’ll need to soak the beans in room temperature for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours. Pick over and remove any of the beans that are discolored. 
Jalapeño – This is optional, but nice for a hint of heat. If you want to use the jalapeño but want to keep the heat mild, just use the outer parts of the pepper (discard the seeds).
To Freeze: – Make falafel according to recipe, but freeze before cooking in air fryer.
Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
air fryer freezer label

Nutrition

Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 902mg | Potassium: 820mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1630IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $5.00
Calories: 294
Keyword: air fryer recipe, easy recipe, easy snack, gluten free, make ahead, vegan recipe, vegetarian
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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