An easy recipe for air fryer falafel that's oil-free and vegan. They are easy to make, crispy on the outside and creamy inside.
I've been playing with my air fryer again. This time it's air fryer falafel made with canned chickpeas, which I've been trying out.
To say we eat a lot of falafel is an understatement.
We eat falafel in sandwiches; in wraps; in salads; with couscous; on pizza; on skewers for the BBQ; on bagels and in pitta bread.
Yup, we love falafel.
- 👩🏻🍳 Homemade falafel
- 🥙 10 ways to serve falafel
- 💭 Tahini or not tahini?
- 🥫 Dried chickpeas or canned?
- 🍲 Cooking dried chickpeas
- 💭 Which type of flour to use?
- 💭 How to make oil-free falafel
- 👩🏻🍳 Cooking falafel without oil
- 🧾 What you need to make air fryer falafel
- 🥄 Equipment you need to make vegan falafel
- 🌡️ Storing homemade falafel
- 🧾 More vegan air-fryer recipes
- 📋 Want new recipes delivered to your inbox?
- ⭐ Pin it for later
- 🥦 Living on the Veg
- 💭 How to make air fryer falafel
- 📖 Recipe
👩🏻🍳 Homemade falafel
I'll hold my hands up and admit I do buy shop-bought falafel. It's quick and convenient and still tastes pretty good.
So why make it at home?
- Cheaper - it's cheaper to make than buy
- Oil-Free - you can make it oil-free or use less oil
- Flavour - you can tweak the flavours with different herbs and spices
- Crisp - it's crisper than shop-bought falafel which is softer and not crisp
- No Additives - homemade falafel has no additives or artificial flavourings or colours
🥙 10 ways to serve falafel
Here are some ideas for serving falafel.
- Bagel - Try this falafel beetroot bagel sandwich.
- Burgers - Make falafel mixture into large patties, then cook and serve like burgers in a bun with all the toppings.
- Couscous - Try this roasted sweet potato and falafel couscous.
- Kebabs - Cook on skewers with red pepper, mushrooms, and red onion, brushed with a tasty marinade.
- Pies & Tarts - Add it to homemade pies and tarts. Try these mini falafel pies.
- Pitta - Serve in a pitta with hummus and salad.
- Pizza - My husband loves the Goodfellow Falafel Pizza, but you could make or buy a simple vegan Margherita pizza and top it with halved or broken falafel pieces, sundried tomato, spinach, and vegan feta (add the feta right at the end so it doesn't melt). Season it with my most excellent pizza seasoning.
- Salad - Add falafel to a salad of salad leaves, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, and vegan feta. Add some olive oil to hummus to thin it to make a salad dressing.
- Sandwiches - Try this falafel and apple salad sandwich.
- Stuffed Peppers - Stuff peppers with chopped falafel, mixed with cooked rice (microwave rice can be used straight out of the pack), drizzled with hot sauce, topped with grated vegan cheese, and baked.
💭 Tahini or not tahini?
Yes, falafel is usually made with tahini, which is a sesame seed paste.
People who suffer from a nut allergy can also be allergic to tahini because of the sesame seeds.
This falafel is perfect for them.
I make falafel with tahini, sometimes I replace it with peanut butter (which is milder in flavour) and sometimes I leave it out completely.
Each version tastes a bit different but all are utterly delicious.
Traditionally it is made with tahini, so purists may like to add a spoonful to this oil-free falafel mixture.
🥫 Dried chickpeas or canned?
Life is too short to soak and cook chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and other pulses if you ask me.
As a busy mum with a family to look after, a house to clean, meals to cook, two blogs to share recipes on and a day job, I just don't have the time.
I'm perfectly happy using canned or as we say here in the UK tinned chickpeas. They are great quality and very convenient.
💭 Canned chickpea tip
My tip to you is to go to the world aisle (in the supermarket) for your tinned chickpeas as they are usually cheaper and much nicer.
The ones I buy are bigger and creamier than the supermarket brand.
🍲 Cooking dried chickpeas
I totally understand why people would soak and cook dried chickpeas.
First of all, they are much more organised than me.
They also get more for their money, which is a real consideration these days.
If you are thinking of using dried chickpeas check out my guide to soaking and cooking dried chickpeas.
🍲 Soaking & cooking dried chickpeas
Here's how to soak and cook dried chickpeas.
- Weigh and Sort - First of all you want to weigh out your chickpeas (they are roughly double their weight when cooked, so you need half the weight of dried chickpeas) and remove any stones or discoloured chickpeas.
- Soak - Place the dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover them with lots of cold water and a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) then leave to soak overnight.
- Drain & Cook - The next day you can drain the water, then add to a pan with plenty of fresh water, bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for nearly an hour on a low heat.
- Check - taste one to check if they are soft enough.
- Drain & Use or Store - drain the chickpeas and use in a recipe, keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Hope that wee guide helps.
💭 Which type of flour to use?
The best type of flour to use in falafel is chickpea flour, which is also called gram flour.
Make your own by whizzing up dried chickpeas (organic are best if you can get them) into a flour or buy it in any supermarket.
You can also use plain flour, which I used as I didn't have gram flour when I made these.
💭 How to make oil-free falafel
So how do you make falafel with no oil in the falafel or to cook?
In place of oil in the falafel mixture, I added aquafaba. It helps with the texture and to hold the mixture together.
Aquafaba is the water in a can of chickpeas.
If you're using dried chickpeas, you can actually buy aquafaba now. Here in the UK it is sold by Oggs or check out this guide to making homemade aquafaba from the water you soak the dried chickpeas in.
Alternatively, you could add some olive oil.
👩🏻🍳 Cooking falafel without oil
Falafel is traditionally deep-fried, but these days in home kitchens, it is often shallow fried in just a little oil.
But how do you cook it with no oil?
The best way of cooking falafel with no oil is to bake it or to cook it in an air fryer.
For this recipe, I take you through cooking it in an air fryer.
🧾 What you need to make air fryer falafel
Here are the simple ingredients you need to make air fryer falafel.
- Chickpeas - canned (tinned) or dried chickpeas, which are soaked and cooked
- Garlic - you can add more if you like, I go lightly with the garlic for my husband.
- Dried Parsley - or fresh parsley
- Ground Coriander - don't worry if you don't like fresh coriander, ground coriander tastes totally different (it's from the seeds not the fresh leaf)
- Ground Cumin - gives a warmth
- Lemon Juice - you can add some zest too to make it more lemony
- Aquafaba - chickpea water from the can
- Salt and Pepper - to season
- Plain Flour - or even better gram flour
You may also add a generous spoonful of tahini if you like.
🥄 Equipment you need to make vegan falafel
You could make it by hand in bowl, by mashing the ingredients together, but if you want smooth, creamy falafel that holds it's shape well, it is better to get one of your gadgets out.
You can use either a blender or food processor to blend the falafel mixture.
I use a mini food processor, but I have used a blender before with the pulse function.
You can choose just how rough or creamy you make the mixture if you pulse it.
🌡️ Storing homemade falafel
You can keep this freshly made falafel in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days, once it is cool.
You can also freeze falafel.
Flash freeze them on a tray, then pop it in a freezer bag.
Leave in the fridge overnight to defrost for the next day.
🧾 More vegan air-fryer recipes
Here are a few more vegan air fryer recipes you might like to try.
- Cheese Toasties - I add extra flavours to mine
- Crispy Chickpeas - a crunchy snack
- Fruit Scones - made with raisins
- Golden Syrup Flapjacks - chewy and delicious
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💭 How to make air fryer falafel
Step-by-step photos. Keep scrolling for the full printable oil-free falafel recipe (with full ingredient list and nutritional info).
- Drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid (aquafaba).
- Add the chickpeas to a food processor or blender and add grated or crushed garlic (you can add it whole, but I like to make sure it is in fine pieces).
- Add herbs, spices, salt and pepper to the food processor to flavour the falafel.
- If you are adding tahini, you can add it now, along with the lemon juice.
- Add aquafaba and some flour to the food processor and blend.
- You can pulse and make it as coarse or smooth as you like.
- Spoon it into a bowl and add more flour.
- Mix well, then pop in the fridge for half an hour.
- Roll into balls.
- Place on air fryer trays (or in a lined basket) and cook until crisp.
Air Fryer Falafel (Oil-Free)
- 400 g canned chickpeas reserve the aquafaba (chickpea water) from the can
- 1 clove garlic more if you like
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley or fresh
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon aquafaba (chickpea water from the can)
- 5 tablespoons plain flour or gram flour (you may need one or two more spoonfuls)
- Drain the chickpeas, reserving the chickpea water (aquafaba).
- Add the chickpeas to a food processor or blender with the garlic, herbs and spices, then season with salt and pepper.
- Add lemon juice, aquafaba and a couple of tablespoons of flour and pulse until as coarse or smooth as you prefer.
- Spoon into a bowl and add the rest of the flour and mix well. You can add more if you think it needs it.
- Pop the mixture into the fridge for half an hour. This will make it easier to roll.
- Roll into balls (between 12 & 16 depepnding on size) and place on the shelves or in the lined basket of your air fryer. You may have to do this in two batches if you have a small air fryer.
- Cook at 200c/400f for 25-30 minutes until crisp.