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Pan fried falafel in bowl with greens
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Quick Pan-Fried Falafel with Tahini Sauce

By Nicki Sizemore, adapted from Build-a-Bowl: 77 Satisfying & Nutritious Combos: Whole Grain + Vegetable + Protein + Sauce = Meal (Storey Publishing 2018)
Homemade falafel on a weeknight? In under an hour? Yes you can! These easy falafel are made with canned chickpeas and a heap of fresh herbs right in the food processor. The falafel patties are pan-fried until golden and crisp then served with a velvety, dairy-free Tahini Sauce (or try this Green Tahini Sauce). Serve the falafel in pita bread or in bowls over salad greens or grains. The falafel can be made with either oat or almond flour—oat flour creates slightly denser falafel (but they’re easier to flip), while the almond flour falafel will be a bit lighter but more delicate.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: healthy falafel, healthy falafel recipe, pan fried falafel
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Non-stick skillet

Ingredients

Falafel

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup lightly packed parsley
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro
  • 1 scallion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15- ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oat or almond flour
  • 4-6 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or safflower

For serving

  • Easy Tahini Sauce, see recipe link above
  • Pita bread, cooked grains or lightly dressed salad greens
  • Chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and thinly sliced red onion
  • Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Instructions

Make the falafel patties

  • Drop the garlic cloves into a food processor with the blade running. Add the parsley, cilantro and scallion. Process until the herbs are finely chopped. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin and tahini. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until the chickpeas are finely chopped and sticky, about 20 pulses—you should still see little chickpea chunks (you’re not going for a puree).
  • Sprinkle the oat or almond flour over top. Pulse 2-3 times, then stir with a rubber spatula to fully incorporate the flour. Form the mixture into 12 patties (they should be about 1 ½-inches wide and ½-inch thick) and arrange them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Do Ahead: At this point, the falafel can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.

Cook the falafel

  • Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange half of the falafel in the pan, leaving plenty of space in between each. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and season with salt. Pour in another 1 to 2 tablespoons oil (as needed) and repeat with the remaining falafel.

Serve

  • Serve the falafel in pita bread, or over whole grains or over lightly dressed salad greens. Drizzle with the tahini sauce and garnish with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced red onion and a sprinkle of feta cheese (if using).

Notes

Do Ahead: The uncooked falafel can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day before cooking. You can freeze the cooked falafel in an airtight container between layers of parchment or wax paper for up to 2 months. Reheat them in a warm oven (or you can use a toaster oven or air fryer) until warmed through and crisp.
Tips: 
  • The falafel mixture is whipped up in a food processor, which evenly chops and incorporates all the ingredients. Be sure to pulse just until everything is chopped yet sticky (if you over-process you'll end up with a puree).
  • Using a large non-stick skillet will help ensure the falafel patties flip easily and don’t stick.
  • A thin spatula, such as a fish spatula, will make it easier to flip the falafel in the pan.
  • Serve the crispy falafel with this Creamy Tahini Sauce or this Green Tahini Sauce!
  • Get this recipe and a ton of other healthy meals in my book, Build-a-Bowl (Storey Publishing 2018).