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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Ann Arbor, MI!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali See what I'm eating this week

Healthy Baked Falafel

healthy baked falafel recipe

Falafels are truly a comfort food of mine.

I’m a sucker for all types of Mediterranean food: give me a platter with some whole wheat pita, hummus, feta, olives, veggies and other delicious dips and I’m a happy camper.

I’m also a sucker for cheese plates, but that’s a different story πŸ™‚

When I was a kid, we used to go to the “Falafel Drive-In” near my house in Cupertino, California. They’re a little hole-in-the-wall joint, but they make the best falafels I’ve ever had.

Of course, since falafels are deep fried chickpea patties with a pretty heavy sauce and served in a white pita, they’re not exactly the healthiest meal. But they are great for a treat once in a while. The husband also loves falafels, but he’d always ask me to make them at home – which I was hesitant to do because I wasn’t really trying to deep fry anything in my kitchen.

But then I realized that this was my opportunity to makeover the traditional falafel, by baking them instead of frying them, and they turned out GREAT.

My healthy substitutions included:

  • Using a whole wheat pita instead of a white one
  • Adding spinach and tomatoes for more veggies
  • Making my own “sauce” using hummus and a bit of water – it tasted so close to tahini sauce but was much lower in calories!
  • Using Hungry Girl’s recipe for the patties
The Ingredients – Falafel
  • Whole-wheat pitas (~130 calories and at least 4g fiber per pita)
  • One 15-oz. can chickpeas, well drained
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (you could also try using panko breadcrumbs or whole wheat breadcrumbs. Note: to make this gluten-free, use chickpea flour)
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika, or more to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil nonstick spray
  • Baby spinach (toppings – not to be included in the falafel mixture)
  • Diced tomatoes (toppings – not to be included in the falafel mixture)

The Ingredients – Sauce

  • Option 1: Store bought hummus (I like Trader Joe’s Organic Hummus) mixed with a few tbsp water (directions below)
  • Option 2: Low fat yogurt mixed with Tahini (you’ll have to play with the proportions to figure out what combination works for you!)

The Directions

Step 1:Β Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Β Place all ingredients forΒ falafelΒ (except for the pitas, spinach, tomatoes, baking powder, and nonstick spray) in a food processor, and give them a good chop.

Step 2:Β Transfer into a bowl, add the baking powder and stir together. Using a potato masher, mash any big chunks that remain – Mixture should remain slightly chunky, not smooth.

Step 3:Β Spray a baking sheet thoroughly with olive oil nonstick spray.Β One at a time, take spoonfuls of mixture in your hands and form 15 balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball, and gently place them on the baking sheet. Spray the top of each ball with olive oil nonstick spray, for a total of about a 2-second spray.

Step 4:Β Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (note – depending on your oven, this might take longer – up to 20-25 minutes – but be sure to check on them to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn!). Meanwhile, combine 2 parts hummus to 1 part water, and stir until blended (add more water to taste depending on how watery you like your sauce). Season to taste with salt / black pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Step 5:Β While your falafel patties are baking, chop your veggies and warm up your pita bread.

Step 6:Β Remove baking sheet from the oven, and carefully turn each ball over, gently reshaping if the bottoms have flattened.

Step 7:Β Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes (or longer, depending on your oven), until golden brown and slightly crispy.Β Allow to cool and set for at least 5 minutes.

When they’re done they’ll look like this:

Step 8:Β Cut the whole pitas into halves, fill with spinach, 3 falafel balls, diced tomato, and top with spinach and sauce. Enjoy!

This is truly a guilt-free falafel makeover.

1 pita half with 3 falafel balls and 1-3 tbsp dip has about 200 calories, 2.5g fat, 8.5g fiber, 37g carbs, 5g sugars, and 10g protein! I had two pita halves for dinner, which was hearty and filling (the husband had 4 pita halves and was very full).

The baked falafel balls were perfectly crispy, the sauce was creamy and cool, the whole wheat pita was nutty and flavorful, and the veggies added a nice texture and extra crunch.

It is so delicious, it’s hard to believe it’s good for you too.

Healthy Baked Falafel

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 5 servings (or 15 falafel patties)

Serving Size: 3 patties + 1/2 pita per serving + 1-3 Tbsp dip

Calories per serving: 200

Fat per serving: 2.25g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 200 Calories, 2.25g Fat, 8.5g Fiber, 37g Carbs, 5g Sugar, 10g Protein

Ingredients

    Falafel
  • Whole-wheat pitas (~130 calories and at least 4g fiber per pita)
  • One 15-oz. can chickpeas, well drained
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (you could also try using panko breadcrumbs or whole wheat breadcrumbs)
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika, or more to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil nonstick spray
  • Baby spinach
  • Diced tomatoes
    Sauce
  • Store bought hummus: I like Trader Joe’s Organic Hummus
  • A few tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place all ingredients for falafel (except for the pitas, baking powder, and nonstick spray) in a food processor, and give them a good chop.
  2. Transfer into a bowl, add the baking powder and stir together. Using a potato masher, mash any big chunks that remain – Mixture should remain slightly chunky, not smooth.
  3. Spray a baking sheet thoroughly with olive oil nonstick spray. One at a time, take spoonfuls of mixture in your hands and form 15 balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball, and gently place them on the baking sheet. Spray the top of each ball with olive oil nonstick spray, for a total of about a 2-second spray.
  4. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 2 parts hummus to 1 part water, and stir until blended (add more water to taste depending on how watery you like your sauce). Season to taste with salt / black pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. While your falafel patties are baking, chop your veggies and warm up your pita bread.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven, and carefully turn each ball over, gently reshaping if the bottoms have flattened.
  7. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool and set for at least 5 minutes.
  8. Cut the whole pitas into halves, fill with spinach, 3 falafel balls, diced tomato, and top with spinach and sauce. Enjoy!
http://www.pickyeaterblog.com/healthy-falafel-recipe/

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Place all ingredients forfalafel(except for the pitas and nonstick spray) in a large bowl, and give them a good stir. Using a potato masher, mash well. Mixture should remain slightly chunky, not smooth.Spray a baking sheet thoroughly with a 2-second spray of olive oil nonstick spray.One at a time, take spoonfuls of mixture in your hands and form 15 balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball, and gently place them on the baking sheet. Spray the top of each ball with olive oil nonstick spray, for a total of about a 2-second spray.Bake in the ove n for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for dip in a blender or food processor, and pulse until just blended. Season to taste with black pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.Remove baking sheet from the oven, and carefully turn each ball over, gently reshaping if the bottoms have flattened. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool and set for at least 5 minutes.Cut the whole pitas into halves, toast or warm all pita halves slightly, and then fill each with threefalafelballs and 3 tbsp. dip. Enjoy!

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142 responses to “Healthy Baked Falafel”

  1. hum… I have to say that looks fantastic! I was just actually walking in front of the “Falafel CafΓ©” in Cleveland, and was thinking how good that would be… I will definitely make these some time soon!

    • Yay thanks Janice!! Can’t wait to hear whether you think it matches up to Falafel Drive In standards πŸ™‚

    • It’s such a perfect solution honestly – you cut out all the extra fat and calories, but the patties are still crispy and flavorful. Hope you like this recipe!

  2. I love these–but seem to not make them very often because I tend to not have pitas on hand–this rendition looks tempting (pitas on the list now)! Thank you for the great recipe!

    • no problem! also – if you don’t use pitas often, you can buy them and freeze them (that’s what I usually do). They can last up to 6 months in the freezer and still taste great!

  3. Love falafel. But, I’d agree that the restaurant version is usually packed with fat and devoid of the nutrition you really want when eating chickpeas! We often bake our falafel — and I think it’s just about as good as the fried version!

    • Exactly! The restaurant version tastes great, but is just not so great for you. This way you can get the flavor without the guilt and you get all the nutritional benefits too!

    • Hahaha that is so true! It does smell, and I honestly don’t feel comfortable with a big pot of hot oil in my small kitchen. This way it’s much easier – you can bake them all at once – and you don’t have to fry anything!

  4. Wow this looks great! I’m making this tomoz (and have put a link in my blog – I’m new to this blog stuff, hope I’m doing it right!) I’ll let you know how it turns out πŸ™‚

  5. These falafel had SUPERB flavor! However I blended mine too long so they didn’t hold a ball shape… woops! But they were still absolutely delicious and I will definitely make them again!! πŸ˜€

  6. Hey do you know if this would work if we use a gluten-free/wheat-free flour? I’m intolerant but LOVE falafel. It’s my favourite food ever and everytime i’ve tried to make it it hasn’t worked πŸ™

    • you could probably make it work with gluten free bread crumbs, spelt flour or quinoa flour πŸ™‚ hope that helps! If you do try it – let me know how it turns out!

  7. I made these tonight and they were DELICIOUS! I substituted fresh rosemary for the parsley/cilantro because I didn’t have them on hand. Also, your yogurt/hummus sauce was a real hit as well! An excellent meal!

  8. I’ve just finished my first portion of these and am delighted that I get another 2 meals of these! Really delicious, thanks so much for posting the recipe!

  9. I used your recipe to make falafels for the first time & they turned out delicious! Thanks so much for this super healthy recipe. I can’t wait to check out the others!

  10. I couldn’t belive you mentioned Falafel Drive-In, it is also my favorite. I was raised in San Jose and have been living in Australia for 18 years and have been trying to find falafels that taste like their’s. I will definitely try your recipe and let you know how I went.

    • Haha! That’s awesome – I love that place – I wish I could visit there more often honestly πŸ™‚ Hope you like this recipe, let me know if it lives up to your Falafel Drive-In memories!

    • Thanks Lindsey! It really is simple and clean – it doesn’t even take that long to make! Putting everything in the food processor takes 5 minutes, and shaping the balls / putting them in the oven takes another 5 minutes. Then you just have to wait for the baking time, where you can multitask and do other things πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy it when you try it!

    • I was kind of scared to make them from scratch at first, but thanks to my food processor, it was actually super easy. You should definitely try this soon! I’m sure you will love it!

  11. Oh my gosh did you say a Falafel Drive-In, I want one of those near me. I love these little patties of goodness and no eggs, cool. Great recipe.

    • Yesss – it is seriously the greatest place ever. It’s such a tiny shop but sometimes has a line out the door. And yeah! I liked that this recipe didn’t have eggs in it either – the flour + chickpeas hold the patties together really well, they work as a binding agent so you don’t need an egg!

  12. I feel like I like the same foods you do because that Falafel Drive-In is one of my fav places too & I always crave Mediterranean/Lebanese food! This is why I always come straight here for recipes :)) thankssss!

    • haha! that is awesome – we definitely have the same taste in food!! And isn’t the Falafel Drive-In the best?? πŸ™‚

    • Exactly! The falafel patties taste just as great, but you achieve the same texture without all of the fat/etc. that frying brings to the dish. I can’t wait to hear what you think about my hummus/water sauce! Make sure you get really high quality hummus – because that’s the trick to having the sauce be rich and creamy. Enjoy!

    • Aw thank you so much!! I hope my photos made you hungry πŸ™‚ And I hope you like this recipe!

  13. I just tried a baked falafel recipe very similar to this one, only it calls for chickpea flour instead whole wheat. That small change not only makes it gluten-free, but it amps up the chickpea flavor and protein. Quite tasty, all in all! I’m also loving the idea of the hummus sauce – I did make a tahini sauce that’s quite delicious, but alas, filled with fat. πŸ™ Next time, it’s hummus sauce to avoid the guilts! πŸ™‚

    • Ooooh great idea Derek! I LOVE the substitution of chickpea flour for whole wheat – it’s so much better on all levels (higher in fiber/protein, gluten-free, etc.). Thanks for the suggestion! And I can’t wait to hear what you think about my hummus sauce – hope you like it! πŸ™‚

  14. I just made these, with chick pea flour as well and it turned out well. I also mis-read the recipe and so added the spinach to the mix in the food processor, so my falafel had spinach in it, but they tasted great and my toddler son ate them…haha!!

    They did take much longer to cook than you suggested – about 45 minutes. But that may just be my cooker.

    Thanks…I loved these and they were guilt free!!

    • Glad to hear the chickpea flour worked for you! I’ve added it as a note to the recipe since a couple people have mentioned it now as a gluten-free option. That is so great that you added spinach into the mix!! I’m totally going to try that next time – I’m all about sneaking in extra veggies, especially for kids! Good to know about the cooking time – I’ve updated the recipe to note that as well. I think it definitely depends on your oven – mine happens to cook things ridiculously quickly, which is probably why my cooking time was shorter. I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe! Doesn’t it feel great when it’s delicious and guilt free? πŸ™‚

  15. Can we use the same recipe to make falafel, but fry them instead? I cannot go with the healthy baked ones, maybe because I’m Arab and falafel has to taste just right to me. But when they are deep fried they are left till the extra oil drips off so its not a greasy hamburger or anything. πŸ™‚

    • You can definitely use the same recipe to fry the falafel balls instead! Instead of deep frying them, try pan frying them. You’ll get the same “deep fried” flavor, but you’ll save on some of the fat and calories! Either way – I can’t wait to hear how you like them! πŸ™‚

  16. Hi
    I made baked falafels and also read somewhere that broiling them a bit makes them crispy.I tried that and yes it worked.
    I wonder how this could be packed into a kid’s lunch box.If I assemble it,will it hold up for 3-4 hrs?
    Thanks
    Geetha

    • Hi Geetha! Yes you are right – broiling them after baking them does make them crispier! So if you were to assemble the whole falafel with the sauce, I think it would get soggy after 3-4 hours. But if you put all of the parts in your kid’s lunchbox (so maybe keep the falafel in the pita, but put the veggies and sauce in separate packets on the side), and let your kid assemble it during lunch, I think that would work well. Let me know how it goes!

  17. Hey,
    I am following my diet closely and i was wondering if you could tell how many calories are in one ball of falafel.

    Thanks a lot <3

    • Hi Ines! So I’m not sure exactly, but I would say each falafel ball has about 30-40 calories max. Hope that helps!

    • Thanks Lisa! Honestly, if you follow the steps in this recipe exactly, I promise your falafel will turn out to be delicious πŸ™‚ Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions about any of the steps in the recipe!

    • Yaaay!! I’m so excited you posted here while you were trying this recipe! How did the falafel turn out? So nice to meet you!

  18. I’ve been looking forward to making this and I finally got to it last night! My problem: I had to use a Magic Bullet so I ended up pureeing the mixture instead of just chopping it up – whoops! I added some extra flour to try to compensate but it didn’t help much, lol! I cooked the patties anyway and, while a little mushy in the middle, they were still delicious πŸ™‚ I’m going to try making this again once I have a better food processor. Thanks for the great recipe as always, Anjali!

    • Hi Casey! Haha oh no! I actually have made that mistake before as well πŸ™‚ One other option – if you don’t want to get a new food processor – you can always mash these ingredients together using a potato masher. It takes a few minutes longer, but you get a really great consistency for the patties by doing that. Hope that helps!

  19. I am SO happy I found this blog. I made Falafel tonight for my very first time, and it turned out perfect!
    Thank you! I can’t wait to try a ton more of your recipes!

    • Yaaay!! Thanks for letting me know Betsy! I’m so glad you liked this recipe – and it’s so great to “meet” you through my blog!

  20. Wow, the pictures look incredible. Thanks for this great recipe… I was looking for inspiration on how to present different falafel recipes on my site and I really like the idea of a “healthy” falafel. But seeing the pictures, there’s still a lot to learn for me. Thanks again!

    • Hi Kathy! Thank you so much! I’m so glad you like my photos and this recipe πŸ™‚ Let me know if you end up trying it and how it turns out!

  21. Great recipe and it is delicous. I have made this recipe several times. I did make one little adjustment though. I used two cans of Garbanzo beans but left all other measurements the same. I felt the flavors were too overwhelming with just one can of beans. Turns out perfect every time! Thank you for this great healthy version of Falafel.

    • Hi Diana! Thank you so much – I’m so glad you liked this recipe! The flavors in this recipe are definitely strong and it totally depends on your palate – so I’m glad you modified it to suit your taste! πŸ™‚

    • Hi Devashni! Yay! I’m sure you will love this recipe! And yes, I am vegetarian – so all of my recipes are veggie friendly!

  22. Do you think it would work to freeze them before of after baking them? I love them but I am the only one in my house who eats them so I would like to freeze them instead of eating them for a few days in a row. What would you recommend?

    • I think you could definitely freeze the patties and reheat them in the oven! It’s worth a try especially if you are the only one eating them πŸ™‚ Let me know if it works!

    • Hi Niki! Yes – these have 37g carbs per serving. I’ll add that info to the post as well. Hope it helps!

  23. I made these last night and they were fantastic! My husband just raved about them, too. Thank you so much for all of these great recipes!

  24. Hi
    Just wondering,if I could make this with dried chickpeas?If yes,do I have to cook them before I grind them up or just soaking would do?
    Thanks
    Geetha

    • Hi Geetha! If you make this with dried chickpeas, you will have to cook them before you grind them up – otherwise the consistency will be all off (and so will the proportions!) Hope that helps, let me know how it turns out!

  25. This falafel is great! To mix it up the second time I made this, I used half the amount of chickpeas and replaced that with sweet potato cooked with some indian spices. It tasted awesome!

    • Ooooh that’s a great idea! I’m definitely going to have to try that next time. So glad you liked this recipe Aalok πŸ™‚ Hope you’re doing well!

  26. Omg! I love falafels but hate to eat them too often since they are fried πŸ™ I will most definitely be running to the grocery store to get the ingredients to try this out. It sounds so easy and tasty! Thanks for sharing! Great blog you have πŸ™‚ Hope to find some more great recipes on your site.

    • I’m the same way!! I love love love falafel but it’s totally an indulgence when I’m eating the fried version. I love this recipe because it’s super guilt-free! Can’t wait to hear how you like it after you make it at home πŸ™‚

  27. I made this recipe last night and hubby and I loved it! I made a few adjustments though… for the two of us, I used one can of garbanzo beans and 1 medium russet potato, boiled together and mashed. I substituted whole wheat flour with 1/4 cup of chickpea flour (besan) instead. Then followed the rest of your recipe. I found that I had to cook them at 375 for about 25 minutes, and then at 425 for 8 minutes to get them crispy. Someone suggested broiling, which would have been a better solution (duh!). I didn’t have hummus so I made a thin Greek yogurt mix with dried mint and oregano to dip the pitas into. We liked it quite a bit. Will have to try the hummus trick next time.

    Oh, and I live just a few blocks from Falafel Drive-in, and it is awesome!! Thank you for this healthier version though!

    • That’s so cool that you live so close to Falafel Drive-in! And I love the modifications you made to this recipe for just two people πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for sharing and for letting me know! So glad you liked it!

  28. I’ve been making this recipe for about 4 weeks now, and I absolutely love it. The only thing I do differently is I add everything, including baking powder, to the processor, and since I don’t use cooking sprays, I just brush each falafel with a bit of olive oil. Delish!! Thanks!

    • Oh that’s awesome!! Thanks for the tip btw — the way you do it probably saves a bunch of time! Oh and yes, brushing with olive oil totally works too. I’ll have to try that next time!

  29. Just discovered your recipe via Pinterest and I will be trying it tonight. I had my first falafel at the falafel drive in! I have moved away from that area but try to go there when I go home for a visit! Yum.

  30. Wow! I randomly googled “healthy falafel recipes” and your site was the first one and you’re from the Bay Area! How random! Loved the Falafel Drive-in! Anyway, great post. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh wow! That’s awesome – thanks for letting me know! πŸ™‚ Hope you like this recipe if you try it!

  31. These were awesome. My husband’s response when I told him I was making a healthier version of falafel-“and what will I be having for dinner?” After the first bite, “I’m pleasantly surprised,” at the end of the meal, “you should definitely make that again.” And he usually doesn’t consider a meal without meat a meal!

    • Yay! That is so awesome Charlene! I’m so happy your husband enjoyed this healthy meatless recipe πŸ™‚ Woohoo!!

  32. I love falafel I am so excited to try your version its baked and not fried. My mouth is already watering…. Thank you so much for this recipe and wonderful idea. Bravo!!!!

    • Hi Jackie! You need a binding agent – so substituting vegetables for the flour wouldn’t work. You could grind quinoa up in your food processor (making quinoa flour) and use that. But essentially you need some sort of flour/breadcrumbs/etc. to help hold the patties together. Hope that helps!

  33. I was so glad to see this recipe. I am fasting for the next three weeks and have to stay away from fried foods. This looks perfect. Will be making them this week! Thank you!

  34. I’ve shopped around for a good falafel recipe and found one here! Great flavor and consistency, and they don’t fall apart! I love them with a homemade cucumber yogurt dill sauce!

    • Thanks so much Becca! This is one of my favorites too! Love the idea of the cucumber yogurt dill sauce πŸ™‚

  35. I always just bought the baked ones from the vegetarian section at my local grocery store…but now I want to try and make them! Oh and you should try Josephs low carb flax seed pitas (they are only 60 cal for the whole pita) I get them believe or not from Walmart.

    • Hi Sarah! I can’t wait for you to make these at home! I use to buy pre-made falafels too but I think these taste way better (and are healthier for you πŸ™‚ ). Good tip on the flax seed pitas! I’ll see if I can find them next time I go grocery shopping!

  36. Thank you for the recipe!! I tried it last night and it took a lot longer than I thought. I have a question about the baking process… When I was baking them, I left them in the oven for 25 minutes on each side, but the inside was still moist and uncooked. so I put them back in the oven for another 25 minutes and the inside would not cook. am I doing something wrong, or are they supposed to be uncooked? I didn’t make them thick, I made 11 patties from this recipe. I ate them still semi uncooked on the inside (since it was all veggies), and they were still very good, but I’m pretty sure they were supposed to be cooked…

    • Hi Soha! There could be a few things going on: This recipe is supposed to make 15 falafel balls — so it could be that your patties were a little too big and required more cooking time. Also — these patties will not get super firm on the inside – they will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. So it could just be that you interpreted the softness for being undercooked? The only other thing I can think of is that your oven doesn’t get as hot as mine, and so it required more cooking time. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

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