Flavorful air fryer falafel is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and perfect on salads or stuffed into a pita. Drizzle with homemade tahini dressing!
My air fryer obsession continues with this crispy air fryer falafel. I'm including oven directions, as well, so you can make these even without an air fryer.
A friend on Instagram recently mentioned that he bought an air fryer but is having trouble finding vegan recipes to make in it, so this one's for you, Ian!
Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish that originated in Egypt, though many countries now have their own versions of falafel. The history of falafel is rich and complex, and there are so many ways to make it!
If you're looking for a very traditional falafel recipe, Tori Avey has you covered.
Ingredients & substitutions
Traditional falafel uses raw, soaked chickpeas. For the sake of time, I'm using cooked chickpeas instead. You can use canned or homemade.
- cashews and oats - Some falafel recipes use flour, and this mixture is a gluten-free replacement.
- cooked chickpeas - Homemade or canned is fine.
- carrot - Why not add some veggies to the mix?
- fresh parsley and cilantro - These fresh herbs are part of what give falafel its flavor. Feel free to add even more if you like your falafel super green!
- fresh garlic - Garlic is essential. You can use an equivalent amount of garlic powder, if you prefer.
- soy sauce - This is not traditional but it does double duty, adding salt and moisture to the dough.
- lemon juice - This is your acid. You can use red wine vinegar instead, if needed.
- flax meal - Flax helps your dough hold together even better!
- cumin and coriander - These dried spices bring even more flavor to the mix!
- spray oil - This is optional, but spraying the falafel before putting it into the air fryer does help it get that browned, crispy outside.
How to make air fryer falafel
Once the cashews and oats reach a flour-like consistency, transfer them to a large bowl, then pulse the rest of the ingredients in your food processor until you have a finely-diced mixture.
Now, mix everything together in that large bowl with the cashew-oat flour, and form the dough into balls.
You should be able to get the dough to hold together by pressing it into a ball shape. Rolling it between your hands will not work. If they simply won't hold together, add water to the mixture, a tablespoon at a time, until you can form balls that hold up.
You have the option to spray these with oil before cooking. If you want the super crisp outside that comes with deep fried falafel, I recommend spraying with oil.
Remember: don't use propellant oil spray in your air fryer! You want a manual pump instead. That super fine mist from a propellant spray can damage your basket over time.
Now, either bake or air fry the falafel balls until they're golden brown.
You can make the falafel dough ahead of time. Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for two to three days.
When you're ready to air fry, just pull it out, knead it briefly, and form into balls. Then, cook as directed in the recipe.
If you can't do cashews, you can replace them with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds instead.
How to serve and store
These little balls of deliciousness are super versatile. Serve them up over salad greens with lemon tahini sauce, or stuff them into a sandwich or wrap.
For sandwiches and wraps, you may want to flatten these a bit, rather than cooking them up as big spheres. They can be a little bit cumbersome in a sandwich, as-is.
You can also dish them up as part of a meze spread, with hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves, and fresh and pickled veggies to go with.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator. They'll keep for three to four days.
You can eat leftovers cold or warm them back up. I like to toss them back into the air fryer with a spritz of oil at 350° F for five minutes or so to warm them. You can also pop them into the microwave, if you're in a hurry.
Air fryer falafel recipe
- ½ cup cashews - raw or roasted is fine
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 cups cooked or 1 15 ounce can chickpeas - drained and rinsed
- 1 carrot
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- juice of 1 fresh lemon
- 1 tablespoon flax meal
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- spray oil - optional
- If you're baking, preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Put the cashews and oats into your food processor and grind until you get a coarse meal --- think cornmeal consistency. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients to your food processor, and pulse until everything is finely minced. Transfer the chickpea mince to the bowl of cashew-oat flour, and mix until you have a crumbly dough.
- Use your hands to create around 12 falafel balls from the dough, then arrange them in a single layer in your air fryer basket. You should be able to get them to hold together by pressing the dough into a ball shape. Rolling it between your hands will not work. If they simply won't hold together, add water to the mixture, a tablespoon at a time, until you can form balls that hold up.
- To air fry: Arrange the balls in a single layer in your air fryer basket. Spritz with oil, if you want a crispier outside. Cook at 370° F for 12 minutes, shaking gently after 8 minutes.
- To bake: Arrange the balls on a lined baking sheet, and spritz with oil, if you want a crispier outside. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until they're golden brown.