Air Fryer Falafel

Air Fryer Falafel

The traditional fried falafel patties are getting a makeover today in the Air Fryer!  Air Fryer Falafel is made with good-for-you, nourishing ingredients and is loaded with flavor. Serve with some air fryer pita, a quick tzatziki sauce, and fresh veggies for a delicious, healthful vegetarian meal that is high in protein.

Don’t have an air fryer? Try this similar recipe for Baked Falafels (no frying in that recipe either!)

A plate filled with Air Fry Falafels, pita triangles, and tzatziki sauce

A plate filled with Air Fry Falafels, pita triangles, and tzatziki sauce

Air Fryer Falafel

Falafel is one of my all-time favorites — I make up a batch every few weeks and eat them throughout the week for a quick lunch. Yes, I’m totally obsessed. In fact, while I was visiting Dubai, our hotel served them in a breakfast buffet and that’s what I had every morning. Pita bread stuffed with a ridiculous amount of falafels, a tahini sauce, and lots of tzatziki. Yes, for breakfast. My husband made fun of me, but hey, honestly I’d take falafel over pancakes any day! Besides, it was served in the breakfast buffet so it can’t be that weird right? 🙂 

QUICK TIP

If you aren’t familiar with falafel it’s a fried patty made from blended chickpeas, herbs, and seasonings. Tradition says these patties originated in Egypt as a meat replacement during long seasons of fasting or for Lent. Today, they’re popular in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. And, over the years, falafel has become one of the most popular foods worldwide. We’re giving them a makeover in the air fryer– which is not only loads healthier, but it’s also easier than tending to (and cleaning up from) a pot of hot oil!

Process shots: creating falafel mixture in the food processor

Process shots: creating falafel mixture in the food processor

Air Fryer Falafel

Ok, so I love fried food as much as the next person, but with something so naturally nutritious, I want to keep it as healthy as possible. Using the air fryer allows us to keep the health benefits of these falafels, but still get the “fried” feel. Three cheers for the air fryer!

I use, love, and recommend this Air Fryer (affiliate link). Air fryers do vary a bit from brand to brand, so timing may need to be slightly tweaked for your specific model.

If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake these instead. Either use this recipe or my baked falafels recipe. There are two major difference between the two recipes: 

  1. The baked falafels are baked in the liquid surrounding pepperoncini, olive oil, and dried herbs. This keeps them moist and adds lots of flavor when baking the falafels. For this recipe, the actual falafels overall have more liquid in them and are fairly moist without the additional pepperoncini liquid.
  2. The baked falafels are made with dried chickpeas and this recipe is made with canned chickpeas. My baked falafels recipe is too moist for canned chickpeas whereas in this recipe I added some additional flour and fewer wet ingredients to take advantage of using canned chickpeas instead. While using canned chickpeas is far from the authentic way to make falafels, this recipe isn’t all that authentic anyway.

The aim for this Air Fryer Falafel recipe is to be as fast as possible — the air fryer cooks up the patties in record time and canned chickpeas also save lots of prep time.

Process shots: making the falafel and air frying them

Process shots: making the falafel and air frying them

Falafel ingredients

  • Canned chickpeas: I mentioned a few reasons above for why we use canned chickpeas for this recipe. The one thing to look out for when using canned chickpeas is to make sure they are very dry — wet chickpeas are going to make the mixture difficult to work with.
    • If you’ve got a salad spinner, it can dry the rinsed chickpeas in a flash! Alternatively, thoroughly dry the chickpeas with paper towels or clean kitchen towels.
  • Herbs: I like a blend of flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, and green onions. Mix and match herbs to personal preference; you can also add in dill if you’d like.
  • Garlic: We like lots of garlic, so feel free to reduce (or even increase) the amount in this recipe.
  • Seasonings: Again, adjust the seasonings to personal preference. I like cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and pepper best. If you’d like a little bit of heat, add in some cayenne pepper (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) or even red pepper flakes (1/8 teaspoon)
  • Baking powder: It seems like a strange ingredient, but this baking agent gives falafel a more fluffy, airy texture.
  • Flour, oil, and lemon juice: These all contribute to consistency and flavor. Whole wheat flour, gluten-free flour, or chickpea flour can be used in place of white flour.

Process shots: preparing the pita bread triangles

Process shots: preparing the pita bread triangles

How to serve Air Fryer Falafel

Our favorite way to serve Air Fryer Falafel is with a quick tzatziki sauce, air-fried pita, and loads of fresh veggies. I’ll discuss all the components below:

Tzatziki sauce:

This sauce (or variations of it) has shown up quite a few times on this site — it’s almost always in my fridge! It’s so tasty and it whips up very quickly. A few notes:

  • Make sure to use good full-fat, plain Greek yogurt.  Use full-fat yogurt to avoid watery or bland tzatziki. (We love Greek God’s® plain Greek yogurt best!)
  • Use English or Persian cucumbers. Regular cucumbers don’t work as well because they lack flavor and are too watery.

Air-fried Pita:

I generally char pita bread on my gas stovetop, but I thought since we’re using the air fryer, why not throw it in there as well? Total game changer — you will love it! A few notes:

  • Season. Since there is so much flavor between the falafels and the tzatziki sauce, I keep the seasoning here very simple — just salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  • Air fry to preference. While you can air fry pita bread to have crisp chips, I like them to remain somewhat soft and pliable so they can hold the falafels, sauce, and veggies. This takes about 5 minutes in my air fryer. If you’d like firmer “chips”, add a few minutes up to 5 additional minutes. Remember that the pita does continue to firm up and harden as it sits out of the heat.

Fresh veggies:

Here are our favorite veggies to serve alongside Air Fryer Falafel.

  • English or Persian cucumbers. Persian cucumbers are sometimes labeled as mini/salad cucumbers. English cucumbers are often sold wrapped in plastic and are much longer and thinner than regular cucumbers.
  • Thinly sliced red onions. If you’re sensitive to the flavor of raw red onion, soak the diced onions in salted ice water for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly before enjoying.
  • Halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Feta cheese. Feta adds such a nice flavor and texture but also acts as a great seasoning since it’s fairly salty. If you don’t add feta cheese, you may want to top the falafels with a pinch more of salt.

Process shots: finishing up the falafels, preparing the tzatzki sauce and serving.

Process shots: finishing up the falafels, preparing the tzatzki sauce and serving.

Alternative Serving Ideas

If you want to try something different with these Air Fryer Falafels, here are a few other ways to enjoy them:

  • In a bowl: Start with a base of cooked couscous, rice, veggies, or a salad. Then, add the falafel and bowl toppings like chopped cherry tomatoes, chopped Persian cucumbers, halved Kalamata olives, thinly sliced red onions, feta cheese, and toasted pita bread. Add a sauce like hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, or tahini.
  • In a wrap: Fill a large pita or tortilla with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, veggies, feta cheese, and a sauce. (I’d suggest hummus and/or tzatziki.)
  • In a salad: We love this Greek salad with falafel added in.
  • As an appetizer: Serve Air Fryer Falafel with a bunch of different sauces for dipping! Use sauces such as hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, or tahini.

QUICK TIP

Are you familiar with the sauces we mention? Tzatziki is made with yogurt, cucumber, and lemon; tahini is like peanut butter, only made with toasted sesame seeds instead of peanuts; and baba ganoush is made with eggplant, tahini, and sesame seeds.

Overhead image of the Air Fryer Falafel, pita triangles, tzatzki, and raw veggies on a plate

Overhead image of the Air Fryer Falafel, pita triangles, tzatzki, and raw veggies on a plate

Air Fryer Falafel Tips

  • Add lots of fresh lemon juice. Lemon pulls all the flavors together and adds a zip of freshness and tang. I like serving Air Fryer Falafels with lots of lemon wedges — the more lemon, the better in my book!
  • Use a cookie scoop for ease. Not only does the cookie scoop make the process easier, but it also helps pack in the chickpea mixture so the falafels don’t fall apart. I use a scoop that is 1-1/2 tablespoons (about the size of a golf ball). Slightly flatten falafels out of the cookie scoop.
  • Freeze the falafels before air frying. I wanted to make these falafels as quick, fast, and easy as possible, but they do need some time in the freezer so they don’t fall apart in the air fryer. While they’re chilling it’s the perfect time to fry pita chips and assemble the veggies or make the sauce.

Overhead view of Air Fryer Falafels with all the trimmings

Overhead view of Air Fryer Falafels with all the trimmings

More recipes using chickpeas

Air Fryer Falafel

The traditional fried falafel patties are getting a makeover today in the Air Fryer! These Air Fryer Falafels are made with good-for-you, nourishing ingredients, and are loaded with flavor. Serve them with some air fryer pita, a quick tzatziki sauce, and fresh veggies for a delicious, healthful vegetarian meal that is high in protein.

Air Fryer Falafel

The traditional fried falafel patties are getting a makeover today in the Air Fryer! These Air Fryer Falafels are made with good-for-you, nourishing ingredients, and are loaded with flavor. Serve them with some air fryer pita, a quick tzatziki sauce, and fresh veggies for a delicious, healthful vegetarian meal that is high in protein.

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15.5 oz.; 439g) chickpeas (also called Garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup (68g) coarsely chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves roughly chopped garlic Note 1
  • 1/2 cup (14g) lightly packed roughly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley (not curly parsley) Note 2
  • 1/2 cup (14g) lightly packed roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup (18g) lightly packed chopped green onions (~2)
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, paprika, baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon EACH: fine sea salt, ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup white, all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons EACH: fresh lemon juice and olive oil
  • Extra olive oil and olive oil cooking spray
  • Optional veggies: halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced English/Persian cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, feta cheese, lemon wedges, kalamata olives skip feta for vegan

Air Fried Pita (Optional)

  • 6 pita breads
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and pepper

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1/2 cup (58g) (unpeeled) grated Persian/English cucumber (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup (107g) full-fat plain Greek yogurt  (we love Greek Gods) use non-dairy yogurt for vegan
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 large lemon (1/2 teaspoon zest and 1 tablespoon juice)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Instructions

  • FALAFEL: Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Dry thoroughly with a paper towel, clean kitchen towel, or add to a salad spinner to dry. Coarsely chop the red onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and green onions. Add all these ingredients to a large food processor. Pulse or process until just blended and broken down (don’t fully puree; about 45 seconds). Scrape down the sides and add the completely dried chickpeas. Process a few more times (we don’t want to puree the chickpeas, just chop them down). Scrape down the sides again and add the remaining falafel ingredients. Pulse a few more times.

  • FORM PATTIES: Use a 1-1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop to compress the mixture and form patties. Transfer formed patties to a parchment-paper-lined plate. Flour your hands/surface with a little more flour if needed; if the falafel mixture is too wet to work with, refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Continue scooping out and forming patties until all the mixture is used up; you should get about 15 falafels. Cover the plate of falafels with plastic wrap or a tea towel and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes (or until ready to air fry them). Meanwhile, work on the sauce and pita.

  • TZATZIKI: Grate an unpeeled cucumber with the large holes of a cheese grater. Line a small bowl with a few paper towels (or a clean kitchen towel) and place the grated cucumber on top. Squeeze out as much extra moisture as you can from the cucumber (to keep the sauce from being watery). Once it’s drained, add to a medium-sized bowl along with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper). Stir and cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • AIR FRYER PITA: Cut pita bread into wedges (4-6 wedges per pita bread, depending on how large you’d like the wedges) and add to a large plastic zipper-top bag. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of oil and salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon of each). Shake to combine and coat the pita wedges. Add these pita wedges to the air fryer basket and cook them at 320 degrees F for 5-7 minutes, tossing the basket every 2 minutes or to desired crispiness. We don’t want hard pita chips (we still want them to be pliable to hold falafels), but a bit crisp and warmed through, so cook to your crispness preference and keep in mind they continue to crisp up as they cool.

  • AIR FRYER FALAFEL: Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F. Remove the falafels from the freezer and uncover. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and also generously spray with olive oil cooking spray. Flip and drizzle with another 1 tablespoon oil and again some more olive oil cooking spray. Place falafels in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook for 7 minutes and then use tongs to carefully flip the falafels and cook for another 7-8 minutes or until golden brown. While falafel is cooking, prep the veggies and toppings.

  • ASSEMBLY: Set out warmed pita, air-fried falafel, and sauce (give it another quick stir before serving). Set out toppings: We love halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced English/Persian cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, feta cheese, lemon wedges, and Kalamata olives. Allow guests to layer up their plates with all these components and enjoy immediately with lots of fresh lemon drizzled over everything!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: We like lots of garlic in these falafels, so feel free to reduce the amount in this recipe if you don’t share that love.
Note 2: If you aren’t a fan of one of the herbs, use extra of another herb (keeping quantities consistent); try to use at least two different herbs in this recipe. 

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 609kcal | Carbohydrates: 96g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 864mg | Potassium: 981mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 4743IU | Vitamin C: 71mg | Calcium: 260mg | Iron: 8mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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