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You are just nine ingredients and 40 minutes away from a hearty, healthy, vegan falafel!
This falafel is filled with real ingredients and gets it’s distinct flavors from garlic, onion, cilantro, parsley and a few key spices.
How to make pan fried falafel:
You’ll start by using a food processor to mince the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro and spices.
Then you’ll add the garbanzo beans and pulse until they are minced also. I like to leave some small pieces of garbanzo bean in my falafel to give them a bit more texture.
Toss the falafel in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill. Use this time to make the creamy yogurt sauce.
After the mixture has chilled, lightly oil hands with olive oil and flatten balls into discs.
I like to serve my homemade falafel with a little pita bread or naan as well!
What does “pan fried” mean?
It means that the falafel are cooked in a pan with a small amount of oil. This will allow the falafel to crisp up on the outside, without completely immersing it in oil.
This is different than the traditional technique of deep frying the falafel where they are fried in a large amount of oil.
The technique of pan frying gives you a similar (although not quite as crispy) texture and saves a lot of calories because it uses much less oil.
That’s not to say that I have anything against deep fried falafel – they’re delish! What I don’t like about deep frying falafel is how it makes my house smell like fried oil and can often make quite a mess.
Can I make these falafel meal prep bowls ahead of time?
Of course! This is one of my favorite meal prep recipes because it stays fresh in the fridge for up to a week!
The falafel will lose a bit of it’s crispiness as it sits in the fridge but the flavors are still on point and delicious.
If you’re really seeking that fresh made, crisp falafel crunch you can also just assemble the rest of your meal ingredients ahead of time and then refrigerate your falafel mixture until you’re ready to use it. When you’re ready for lunch you can pan fry fresh falafel each day and add them to your other Mediterranean favorites.
Why you’re going to love this recipe:
- It’s the perfect mix of satisfying and healthy. You’re going to feel full AND be fueled through your day after eating this meal. But the crispiness that the quick pan fry in oil gives the falafel is going to make it feel indulgent and comforting at the same time.
- It’s really easy to make ahead. I like to make a batch and keep it in the fridge all week. Then each night when I get home from work, I’ll form a few falafel rounds and quickly fry them up in a pan. It’s a great way to have a hot meal at the end of the day without having to spend a ton of time in the kitchen every night.
- It’s a plant based meal that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being deprived. I love pork carnitas and sausage rigatoni as much as the next gal, but I also LOVE LOVE LOVE to have a few plant based meals throughout the week. The struggle for me is that sometimes vegan or vegetarian meals can feel less filling or like you’re depriving yourself. That is not the case with this falafel! Pair it with pita bread and a fresh Greek salad and you’ve got a meal fit for a queen!
Tips for making the best vegan falafel:
- Use a cookie scoop to get uniform falafel. Using a cookie scoop is going to give you the best, most equal sized falafel. Obviously if you don’t have one, a regular spoon would work too but a cookie scoop is a small investment and you might be surprised how much you use it!
- It’s important to let the falafel chill for a bit after processing. The falafel mixture will need a little time to set up and the cooler temps will ensure that the falafel hold together when they are pan fried – so don’t skip the 20 minute refrigeration time!
- Don’t forget to oil your hands when flattening falafel. That little bit of oil on your hands is going to prevent the mixture from sticking to them and also reduce the amount of time you spend actually holding the falafel, so that they can stay cool.
Other vegan favorites you’ll love:
- Vegan Tomato Soup
- Vegan Lentil & Potato Curry Soup
- Vegan Sesame Ginger Noodle Salad
- Vegan Slow Cook Cauliflower Curry
- Vegan Orange Ginger Quinoa Salad
You are only 40 minutes away from delicious homemade falafel! Don’t forget to make my Creamy Yogurt Sauce to go with these too!
- 2 (15 oz.) cans garbanzo beans, drained
- 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
- 3–4 tablespoons olive oil for frying
- Start by adding the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to a food processor.
- Process for about a minute or so, scraping the sides as needed, until everything is finely minced.
- Add garbanzo beans and process for another minute or so until the beans are diced and the mixture becomes almost paste like.
- Transfer falafel mixture to a large bowl and stir in flour until completely incorporated.
- Use a tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop uniform balls of falafel onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the falafel balls for 20 minutes.
- While the falafel are chilling, make yogurt sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Remove falafel from fridge and lightly oil hands with olive oil. Gently press each ball between your palms, forming flat discs.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. You want enough oil that entire bottom of the pan is coated in a thin layer of oil.
- Cook falafel in batches of about 7-8 at a time depending on the size of your pan. Be sure to leave about an inch between each falafel so as not to crowd the pan.
- Cook each side for about 2-3 minutes or until a dark golden brown crust forms. Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet and continue cooking remaining falafel. Be sure to oil the pan again before adding the next batch of falafel.
- Serve with tabbouleh, hummus, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, sliced red onion, feta cheese and of course loads of creamy yogurt sauce. Or wrap them up in some fresh pita bread!
Use a cookie scoop to get uniform falafel. Using a cookie scoop is going to give you the best, equal sized falafel. Obviously if you don’t have one, a regular spoon would work too but a cookie scoop is a small investment and you might be surprised how much you use it!
It’s important to let the falafel chill for a bit after processing. The falafel mixture will need a little time to set up and the cooler temps will ensure that the falafel hold together when they are pan fried – so don’t skip the 20 minute refrigeration time!
Don’t forget to oil your hands when flattening falafel. That little bit of oil on your hands is going to prevent the mixture from sticking to them and also reduce the amount of time you spend actually holding the falafel, so that they can stay cool.
Keywords: healthy, vegetarian, easy, quick, simple, family, dinner, weeknight, meal prep, recipe
This recipe was originally shared in December 2017. It has been updated to include process shots, tips for making the dish perfectly and an improved recipe in February 2019.