Spicy Falafel

spicy falafel recipe

Crispy, spicy falafel make a delicious (and fairly easy-but-also-impressive) vegan lunch or dinner. Or even appetizer! Make them little bite-sized balls for snacking or bigger patties for turning into sandwiches or wraps.

This is how your falafel mix should look: a little chunky and coarse but sticky enough to shape into a ball

The trick to making falafel is to start with soaked but not cooked chickpeas. I know it seems wrong to American sensibilities to eat unboiled beans of any kind but they do cook in the oil. It takes a while, because you’ll fry them at a much lower temperature than most fried things, but that makes sure they’re cooked through and gives them the deep, crunchy crust on the outside.

Incidentally, there are a few other regional recipes that use the same method to make fried bean snacks. Accara (or akara) in West African became acarajé in Brazil — both made from black-eyed peas — and vada in South India are made from lentils.

I like to roll my falafel into balls a little smaller than a golf ball.

I think.

Truly I’m not 100% sure how big a golf ball is, but my falafel balls are bigger than a whole walnut … maybe the size of a cow’s eyeball? Is that disturbing or awesome that I am more comfortable comparing sizes to eyeballs than golf balls?

Anyway, the size isn’t super important; whatever size you make you will need to adjust the cooking time to suit.

I use chickpea flour (aka besan) to bind my falafel so they are gluten-free, but you can use some regular, all-purpose flour, too. If you do buy the chickpea flour, use the rest to make GF socca pizza and thank me later!

It’s pretty important, too, to have a sauce (at least one!) for dipping. I made an avocado-tahini dip but this creamy hatch chile sauce or jalapeño salsa would be good, too. Or make some hummus to dip into if you have a bunch of chickpeas left!

jalapeno falafel recipe


Spicy Falafel

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4.8 from 6 reviews

Adapted from http://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/2011/01/falafel/

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Yield: 12 1x


  • 1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight in 4 cups water
  • 1/2 small white onion
  • 1 fresh jalapeño or 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño slices, drained
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 23 tablespoons wheat flour or chickpea flour
  • 34 cups oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, corn)
  • Avocado tahini sauce:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 12 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Soak the chickpeas at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours at room temperature. Drain. You should get about 2 cups of soaked peas.
  2. Grate the onion on the large side of a box grater. You should get about 1/2 cup grated onion.
  3. Remove seeds from chile for milder falafel. Mince the chile.
  4. Grind the soaked chickpeas in a food processor with the garlic, herbs and spices until it looks like a chunky paste. It should not be completely smooth but look more like wet couscous. If you have only a tiny food processor like my 4-cup size, you’ll need to do this in batches.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and mix in in the grated onion and minced chile. Add enough flour to make a dough that will stick together but isn’t too wet. Cover the bowl.
  6. Refrigerate this mixture at least 1 hour and up to 3 days (be sure to cover so it doesn’t dry out).
  7. Shape balls from falafel mix using about 2 tablespoons per ball (or a little bigger/smaller if you want).
  8. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep pot to 275ºF (135ºC)
  9. Fry balls or patties for 3-4 minutes on each side until dark brown. Keep the oil temperature between 250-300ºF (120-148ºC). You want them to cook slowly to ensure the insides are cooked through or else you’ll have raw-tasting falafel.
  10. Drain on paper towel or rack
  11. For tahini sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add extra water for thinner sauce.

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  1. Sharon on March 29, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Yer killin’ me with all this amazing food!!! Now I have to cook all the time just so I can try the stuff!!! lol

  2. Norman on March 29, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Yum gotta try it!

    • Hilah on March 30, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Hi Norman!! 😀

  3. SandyToes on March 29, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Just watched your Chopped episode, and have to say how much I admire the sheer guts it took for you to put yourself on the line like that. Love that you competed for SPLC, they tend to fly under the radar and it’s nice to see them getting the love they deserve.

    I’ve never had the nerve to try my hand at falafel, I’m always afraid of ruining them. Will you come to my house and make some for me?

    • Hilah on March 30, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Thanks, SandyToes! SPLC was my grandmother’s pet charity and when she passed away a few years ago, I took over her membership in her honor.
      I would love to come make falafel for you. When and where?! 😉

  4. eric shep on March 29, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    can’t wait to make this. p.s. watching chopped online. How’d you do?No don’t tell me i wanna be surprised.

  5. Sarah S on March 29, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Great now I’m hungry. lol.

  6. Sock Hawk on March 29, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    This looks awesome!! These sound an awful lot like Middle-Eastern Hushpuppies! Too bad I can’t eat cilantro, jalapenos, or chickpeas. I fixed them for other people though and they fell in love so I gave it 5 stars! (Some times I wonder why I’m in Mexico!)….for these though. I looked down your recipe and opted to just fry up some avocados and slam them down with a glass of corn oil followed by a hit of lime. Wait a minute, maybe that wasn’t corn oil!

    On the more serious side…congrats for getting on the show…You were so awesome! You’ve come so far since the beginning back in Austin.

    Sock Monkey wants to know if we’re still subscribers to anything or is all that gone now?

    • Hilah on March 30, 2017 at 9:21 am

      Haha! That’s a great way to think about falafel! 😉 Fried avocado and cold beer sounds good, too
      As long as you don’t un-subscribe to anything, it’s all still there. We may do some more food videos on the channel in the future
      Thank you!! 😀

  7. Marsha Riti on March 29, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Loved you on Chopped, and thank you for bringing attention to the Southern Poverty Law Center. You rock!

    And I’ll be making these falafel soon with sprouted chickpeas.

    • Hilah on March 30, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Thank you, Marsha! 🙂 Sprouted chickpeas area great idea!

  8. Kjartan on July 17, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Awesome! I really enjoyed this dish. The avocado tahini sauce literaly blew my mind. However my kids hated it. So I’ll definitely be making this again next time I want to treat myself and punish the kids.

    • Hilah on July 17, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Hahaha! I like your style, Kjartan 🙂 I think tahini is a weird flavor for kids; it’s really kind of bitter, although I think the avocado mellows it out a little bit.

  9. GWonder on November 16, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Awesome recipe Hilah! I’ve made your recipe quite a few times and tweaked it to my taste (quite spicy) ?! It’s a no fail recipe and I can’t thank you enough! I noticed that they do fry crispier and stay crispy when I fried in vegetable oil, I also use a cookie scoop instead of my falafel scoop my mother got me years ago. I also add cayenne pepper, extra fresh jalapeños, more garlic, additional parsley and cilantro and whatever else tickles my fancy at the moment, lol. Realistically though, your original recipe is perfect! Truly takes me back to grandparents home in Palestine and memories of running to the falafel guy!!

    • Hilah on November 19, 2018 at 7:12 am

      I’m so happy to hear that! 🙂 I love these falafel, too, and in fact I have some chickpeas soaking right now to make them this week!

  10. Jasmine Clark on January 14, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Can you use canned chickpeas? Or do they have to be dry?

    Thanks. Can’t wait to make

    • Hilah on January 14, 2019 at 3:10 pm

      Hey Jasmine,
      You can use canned chickpeas, but the texture won’t be as crunchy. You may need to add additional flour to get them to stick together. I would drain them and also pat them dry before using to get as much liquid off as possible.

  11. Stephen H on August 12, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Love, love, love this! My go-to falafel spot has shut down temporarily due to COVID, so I tried these and was blown away by how easy great falafel is to make! I also threw in added 2 habaneros 1 for the falafel mix and one for the tahini dip. Also, smushed the falafel into little discs and went the air fryer route cooking at 400 for ~17 mins, flipping half way. I find the little discs like to sit inside pita better rather than the spherical route.

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