Enjoy these healthy, crispy air fryer falafel, guilt free! Add your falafel to any salad or wrap it up in gluten free pita with lots of veggies for a nourishing and delicious plant based, gluten free meal!
What is falafel?
Falafel is a vegetarian fried dish, commonly eaten throughout the Middle East, made with chickpeas, herbs, onion, and spices. While it’s traditionally round, like a meatball, falafel contains no meat.
(Read: A History of the Mideast In the Humble Chickpea, The New York Times)
Do you have to deep fry falafel?
Nope. Frying is so last year!
While falafel is typically a healthy vegetarian meal, the downside is that it’s traditionally fried. Of course this is one of the reasons falafel is so darn yummy. It’s got that perfect combo of exterior crunchiness combined with a delicious soft center. Unfortunately deep frying food decreases falafel’s health factor by adding extra fat and calories.
Enter the air fryer…
Air fryers have been getting more and more popular every year. This trendy appliance is actually a great kitchen tool for making all the yummy fried delicious foods we love to eat, sans the extra fat and calories we don’t want. Win, win!
Using an air fryer to cook our falafel makes this recipe extremely nutritious as well as tasty, by keeping the traditional flavors and textures.
If you love this falafel recipe, be sure to experiment using an air fryer on all your favorite “fried” dishes!
(Recommended book: Air Fryer Cookbook for Dummies by Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN and Elizabeth Shaw RS, RDN)
There are loads of air fryers to choose from. If you’re in the market for one, here are some popular and reliable brands to choose from:
EA’s note: I don’t own a traditional air fryer, but I have a Breville Smart Oven Air with an air fryer setting which works well too.
Ingredients for Air Fryer Falafel
Falafel is such an easy recipe, you can be munching on these air fryer falafel in no time at all! since it only requires a few ingredients, tossing everything together, and shaping the falafel. Falafel’s main ingredient is microbiome friendly chickpeas.
Without the chickpeas, either fresh or canned, there is no falafel. Besides chickpeas, onion and garlic are added to provide extra flavor, along with anti-inflammatory rich fresh herbs and spices.
Every falafel recipe most likely has a slightly different variety of herbs and spices. In this recipe, we will be utilizing fresh herbs (cilantro and parsley) and spices you already may have in your kitchen (salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika).
These ingredients make up the majority of this air fryer recipe. In addition, we’ll be adding gluten free flour to help shape and bind the falafel. And, lemon juice is added for a fresh pop or zesty flavor. Sound yummy?!
Delicious AND Nutritious
Our falafel recipe is delicious as well as nutritious. Falafel is a great source of plant protein and fiber from the chickpeas. This quintessential pairing of protein and fiber increases satiety and helps you feel fuller longer. No more between meal snacking!
Additionally, chickpeas help manage blood sugar levels by slowing carbohydrate absorption and minimizing blood sugar spikes.
And, they’re good for your gut, as chickpeas may improve bowel health and lower the risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
Lastly, the addition of fresh herbs and spices into food can greatly enhances the nutrition of any meal. Falafel contains a variety of herbs and spices that provide antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory, boost immunity, provide cancer-fighting substances, protect against cardiovascular disease, and more!
(You may also like: The Best Gluten Free Mediterranean Diet Recipes for Your Health)
How to enjoy your air fryer falafel
The most common way to eat falafel is in sandwich form. Pop ’em into a pita with veggies (cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce), and a sauce of choice (tzatziki sauce, tahini sauce, or hummus).
In addition to the classic way, you can enjoy your air fryer falafel on a bed of greens with other veggies and dressing of choice. Falafel is typically in meatball shape but instead of the ball form, feel free to shape them into patties (like I did for this recipe) and put this vegetarian protein and micronutrient-packed patty onto a burger bun or lettuce wrap.
I personally enjoy falafel in a warm pita with Israeli salad and tzatziki sauce. Find a tasty, easy recipe for Israeli salad at Tori Avey. Another option is to serve your falafel with this Fresh & Easy Quinoa Tabbouleh. So delicious!
Bonus Recipe! Healthy Tzatziki Sauce
My favorite way to eat falafel is with tzatziki sauce! Below is my go-to 5 ingredient tzatziki sauce recipe that adds so much flavor and zest to these air fryer falafel. Enjoy!
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- ¾ cucumber (seeded and finely grated)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 tbs lemon juice (zest lemon for added flavor)
- 2 tbs chopped fresh dill
Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. lace in the fridge to chill until ready to serve. Lastly, add some freshly ground pepper and crack salt to taste.
Easy Air Fryer Falafel
- 1/2 cup olive oil, Add to blender as needed
- 2 cans chickpeas, Rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/3 cup chopped parsely
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 lemon , Juiced
- 3 tbsp gluten free flour, Plus additional flour as needed (see instructions)
- Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles a paste. You do not want it to be completely smooth.
- Add ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles a paste. You do not want it to be completely smooth.
- Remove mixture from food processor and shape falafel into desired shape. Add gluten free flour if needed to prevent falafel from becoming too sticky.
- Spray air fryer with oil and place shaped falafel in air fryer.*
- Air fry for 6-8 minutes at 350° flip and air fry for an additional 5 minutes. Removed from air fryer and fry additional batches until done.
Serving SuggestionsThe most common way to eat falafel is in sandwich form. Pop ’em into a pita with veggies (cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce), and a sauce of choice (tzatziki sauce, tahini sauce, or hummus). In addition to the classic way, you can enjoy your air fryer falafel on a bed of greens with other veggies and dressing of choice. Falafel is typically in meatball shape but instead of the ball form, feel free to shape them into patties (like I did for this recipe) and put this vegetarian protein and micronutrient-packed patty onto a burger bun or lettuce wrap. Another option is to serve your falafel with this Fresh & Easy Quinoa Tabbouleh. So delicious!
Let’s Chat! Have you made falafel before? Will you try this Air Fryer Falafel recipe? Do you own an air fryer? If so, what are your favorite foods to cook in your air fryer?
Carly Waldman is a graduate student at West Virginia University getting her Masters in Nutrition & Food Science. Carly is passionate about treating food as medicine. She strives to assist individuals to find the right food to boost their mood. She plans on becoming a Registered Dietitian who will counsel patients to reach their health goals and use holistic medicine to treat mental health disorders.