Air Fryer Falafel

Falafel made in the air fryer is crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Stuff them in a pita packed with veggies and tahini sauce for an easy, quick meal!

One of my top vegetarian cravings is falafel! Stuffed in a pita or tossed on a salad and served with veggies and sauce, these crunchy little spiced nuggets have only one downside: The Deep Fryer. To get them perfectly crunchy, you need to fry these guys, which can involve a lot of clean up.

Or you could air fry them.

Now, I don’t expect that there will be too many falafel street carts setting up with air fryers any time soon. It’s true that the falafel cooked this way doesn’t get 100 percent as crispy as a traditional deep fry, but it’s very close. Plus, the the easy clean-up and use of less oil make it totally worth it.

What Is Falafel?

Falafel is traditionally made by soaking dried chickpeas and mashing them with spices, garlic, and a few other simple add-ins. Shaped into balls or discs and deep fried, they are a great vegetarian option stuffed in a soft pita.

I like to make my falafel with canned chickpeas and pair them with crunchy veggies, lettuce, and a simple tahini sauce.

How to Shape Falafel for Air Frying

After you process your chickpeas together with your herbs, garlic, and spices, you need to shape them into a small unit. Typically, this takes the form of tablespoon-sized balls that get tossed in a deep fryer. For air frying, though, I think discs work better. They lay flat in the air fryer basket and don’t roll around as they air fry and cook evenly.

Plus, it’s a bit easier to stuff them in a pita if they are flat!

Ways to Serve Falafel

  • Sandwich them! For my money (and it is my money, because I buy the groceries and my kids don’t have jobs yet), it’s hard to beat this crunchy, air-fried falafel stuffed in warm pita bread.
  • Vegetarian salad! I’ve also enjoyed them tossed on a bed of greens as a salad, and used the tahini sauce as a salad dressing.
  • Bento box for lunch? You can also use leftover falafel as a bento box ingredient paired with other Mediterranean ingredients such as olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

Making the Tahini Sauce

Tahini is basically a nut butter but made with sesame seeds rather than peanuts. It’s incredibly smooth and savory.

This is an easy sauce to stir together right in a bowl, although you could use the food processor if you wanted to. I blend the tahini with some yogurt to lighten it up and add some lemon juice to balance out the richness.

The only note about this sauce is that it will be very thick with just the yogurt and tahini. You have to thin it considerably before it’s spreadable. I just use hot water for this and you’ll need anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of hot water to get it to the right consistency. The sauce should be easily spreadable and barely pourable. You can make this ahead of time—a day or so—and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Freezing and Reheating Falafel

If you have leftover falafel discs, which you probably will because each pita sandwich takes about 4 to 5 falafel and this recipe makes about 30 falafel, they keep great in the fridge for 5 to 6 days or you can freeze them for longer storage in airtight ziptop bags.

I recommend reheating them in a 350°F oven until they are reheated and crispy again, about 10 to 12 minutes. You could also reheat them in the air fryer a second time for a few minutes at a lower 300 F˚ if you want to bust it out again.


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