Crispy and nutritious, air fryer falafel are delicious on warm pita bread, a salad, or just eaten by themselves. Don’t wait to enjoy these savory chickpea fritters!

Round golden-brown balls of ground chickpeas and herbs, crispy from an air fryer. A bowl of tzatziki is also pictured.

Have you tried falafel? My husband and I enjoy Middle Eastern food frequently and love these tasty deep-fried fritters. Falafel are common in a sandwich of the Middle East, popular served in pita bread, and slathered with tahini, hummus, or hot sauce. 

Comprised of ground up chickpeas or fava beans, falafel is seasoned with onion, fresh herbs, and dried spices. The ingredients are all good for you but usually falafel is deep fried, adding lots of extra unhealthy fats. That got me to thinking about how to prepare falafel in a healthier fashion without sacrificing texture or taste.

Bingo! Use an air fryer, of course! I’ve used my air fryer to make all sorts of crispy goodies, without any added oil. I love air fryer French fries, chicken nuggets, and mozzarella sticks. Now I know it’s perfect for crispy falafel, too. 

Split-open chickpea fritter made in the air fryer. Flecks of herbs are visible.

About this air fryer falafel:

Falafel are surprisingly easy to make. You will need a food processor as well as an air fryer.

For this recipe you’ll need canned garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans are the Spanish name; English named chickpeas are the same exact thing. Confusing, huh? Canned fava beans are a good substitute, as well. 

Put the drained beans in the bowl of the food processor, along with coarsely chopped onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. Don’t worry about picking off  leaves from the herbs, small stems are fine since everything gets chopped up in the food processor. The stems have so much flavor!

Add flour and seasoning: cumin, salt, pepper, coriander, and cayenne. Also add a half teaspoon of baking soda. 

Pulse this mixture until it’s coarse and mealy. You don’t want to over process it into a gummy paste. 

Form the mixture into balls. If it seems too sticky, add more flour, a little bit at a time. Place in an air fryer, sides not touching, spritz with olive oil spray, and “fry” for 12-14 minutes, turning once. How can you tell they’re done? They’ll be brown and crispy on the outside, and warm all the way through.

Tip: The olive oil spray isn’t 100% necessary but it will help these get nice and crispy, and will also assist in the development of that nice golden brown color.

Falafel is traditionally served with hummus, tahini, or hot sauce. We love falafel with tzatziki, a refreshing yogurt cucumber sauce.

Try air fryer falafel inside a pita bread sandwich with sauce and chopped tomatoes, or on a salad. I love to serve crispy falafel as an appetizer, with one of the above dipping sauces.

Overhead view of crispy chickpea balls, aka falafel. A bowl of tzatziki sauce and fresh parsley are also partially visable.

How to make this falafel your own:

  • Instead of balls, shape the falafel into small patties
  • Use breadcrumbs instead of flour. 
  • Falafel is perfect for vegetarians and vegans just the way it is! It’s a great source of plant protein.
  • Make falafel gluten-free by using all-purpose gluten-free flour, chickpea or oat flour.
  • Use dry chickpeas. Soak 3/4 cup dry beans in water 24 hours. Add a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the soaking water. Rinse and drain soaked beans and proceed with recipe as directed.
  • If you like, fry falafel using 1/2 inch cooking oil until crispy. A cast iron skillet works great for this.
  • Make your falafel spicier by adding more garlic, more cayenne, or red pepper flakes.

Close-up view of an air fried falafel ball, split open to show flecks of chickpea and fresh herbs (cilantro and parsley).

Make Ahead, Storage and Reheating Tips

A couple of make ahead tips: The falafel dough can be made up to a few hours in advance and stored tightly covered in the fridge until you’re ready to cook the falafel.

Or make the dough into falafel patties or balls, place on a baking sheet, sides not touching, uncooked, and freeze. Once frozen, place falafel into freezer bags. No need to thaw before baking or frying, although you may need to add a minute or two to the cooking time.

Leftover falafel can be tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge for up 3-4 days, or longer in the freezer. To reheat, place in air fryer or toaster oven.

Falafel balls piled on a plate, along with fresh parsley and a bowl of tzatziki sauce.

More vegetarian sandwiches:

Looking for more delicious meatless sandwiches? I have lots of ideas for you:

Overhead view of a bowl of creamy yogurt sauce (tzatziki), fresh parsley sprigs, and round, golden brown balls of ground chickpeas and herbs.

Split-open chickpea fritter made in the air fryer. Flecks of herbs are visible.

Air Fryer Falafel

Yield: 12 falafel
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 29 minutes

Crispy and nutritious, air fryer falafel are delicious on warm pita bread, a salad, or just eaten by themselves. Don't wait to enjoy these savory chickpea fritters!

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped yellow onion (1 small yellow onion)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or all-purpose gluten-free flour, or chickpea flour)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, parsley, cumin, coriander, cayenne, flour, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Pulse until mixture is coarse and mealy. Don’t overblend it! 
  2. Spray bottom of air fryer basket with olive oil spray. Form bean mixture in to balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place in air fryer so they aren’t touching, and spray with olive oil spray.
  3. Air fry at 350ºF for 12-14 minutes, turning once, until golden.

Notes

  • Use equal amounts of all-purpose gluten-free flour, chickpea or oat flour to make falafel gluten-free.
  • To use dry chickpeas, soak 3/4 cup dry beans in water 24 hours. Add a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the soaking water. Rinse and drain soaked beans and proceed with recipe as directed.
  • Fry falafel using 1/2 inch cooking oil until crispy. A cast iron skillet works great for this.
  • Make your falafel spicier by adding more garlic, more cayenne, or red pepper flakes.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 3 falafel
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 109Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 564mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Verdict: I absolutely adore these! In fact, I think I like them even better than the deep-fried version.
Husband’s take: The first time I made these, I didn’t think Ben would be all that crazy about them, but he loves them too!
Changes I would make: None are necessary!
Difficulty: Easy!