Falafel was one of the first vegetarian foods I ever learned to make and they are still a staple meal and family favorite in our home. But traditional falafel are deep-fried and sometimes contain egg and I was looking for a healthier, vegan alternative. So after a little experimenting, I created these Easy Vegan Baked Falafel Balls.
Not only are these delicious little nuggets easy to make, but they can be made with little or no oil by baking them in an oven or an air fryer!
Falling in Love with Vegan Falafel
Shortly after becoming a vegetarian at the tender age of 18, I worked in a Greek “fast food” place in a mall food court in San Diego. Everything was made from scratch and truly delicious. I learned to make spanakopita, baklava, hummus, tahini sauce, and of course, falafel.
Rarely have I tried to make spanakopita or baklava at home, but falafel, hummus, and tahini sauce have, like I said, become staples in my diet. But some things have changed about the way I have made falafel over the years.
Can you cook vegan falafel in an air-fryer?
Absolutely! In fact, since I got an air fryer, it is my preferred way to cook them. I have tried them both with and without oil and I there was virtually no difference. So, these vegan baked falafel make a great fat-free source of healthy protein.
I have tried many different recipes, but I always ended up going back to the original recipe I learned over 30 years ago. However, I have tweeked it a bit to make vegan baked falafel balls that have less or no oil and are full of healthy fiber. I have found that it makes absolutely no difference in the flavor.
Well, maybe it’s even better!
Vegan Baked Falafel are a healthy meal prep item
These vegan falafel are full of flavor, fiber, protein, and healthy fat. They are great as a family dinner, or for meal prepping, or both! Since we currently have 3 people in our household, there is generally enough for one dinner and 2-3 lunches (which is usually for me and my son, since we have to take our lunches to go).
They can be eaten in the traditional way with pita bread, vegetables such as cucumber and tomato, hummus, and a drizzle of tahini sauce. Or, for a lighter meal, try vegan baked falafel with a salad!
Are vegan falafel also gluten-free?
This falafel recipe does call for bread crumbs, but you can use gluten-free bread crumbs or try some rice panko bread crumbs instead. Otherwise, all the other ingredients are gluten-free.
Try them in a salad or wrapped in a large lettuce or chard leaf, or a gluten-free wrap. Any way you eat these, they are guaranteed to be delicious AND nutritious!
Check out the video if you want to see how it’s done! And don’t forget to like and leave a comment while you’re there!
Easy Vegan Baked Falafel // Air Fryer Friendly Recipe
These delicious falafel are easy to make and can be made gluten-free and oil-free. Super easy to cook in the air fryer too!
- 1 can garbanzo beans / chickpeas or 2 cups
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4-1/2 cup parsley or cilantro fresh chopped or dried
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric optional
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
- 6 Tbsp water
- 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (Panko is nice) gluten-free if needed
- olive oil (spray) optional
- 6 Tbsp tahini paste
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil optional
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- water to thin to desired consistency
To make the Falafel balls
Combine the ground flax meal and water to make the flax eggs and set aside to gel.
In a food processor, combine the garbanzos/chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, spices, and parsley (or cilantro). Blend thoroughly into a slightly chunky, not smooth paste (we're not making hummus here!)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the garbanzo mixture with the quinoa, flax eggs, and bread crumbs. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Form the dough into 1-2" balls (depending on how big or small you want them).
If you are baking them in the oven, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat, or lightly oil the baking sheet.
If you are using an air fryer, place the balls in the basket, separated enought so they are not touching. You may need to do two batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
Lightly spray or brush the falafel with olive oil if you like. This will help them brown but it is optional.
Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes or in the air fryer for 15 minutes. You can flip them over halfway through cooking but it is not absolutely necessary.
After removing from the oven, you can make a sandwich in a pita with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onions - whatever you like - or put them in a wrap. Top with tahini sauce.
You can add hummus too! (I usually do). You can also wrap them in a large chard leaf instead of pita, or put them on a salad.
They keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week, or you can freeze them and reheat in an oven, air fryer, or microwave, or eat them cold if you like.
For a large portion (about 6 servings), place the tahini paste, 2 Tbs. lemon juice, garlic powder, a dash of cayenne, and a dash of sesame oil (optional) in a small bowl. Stir together to combine.
You will probably need to add a little water at a time until you get the consistency you want.
Tahini Sauce keeps well in the fridge for about 2 weeks. You may need to add a little water each time you use it after it has been refrigerated.
Congo Tofu is a deliciously creamy, VEGAN version of Moambe, or Congo Chicken. This West-African inspired dish is so tasty, it will turn any tofu skeptic into a convert!
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