Food/ How-To/ Main Dishes/ Vegan/ Vegetarian

Crispy Baked Falafel With Spinach

Last week, I brought homemade tzatziki to the blog. Just for the heck of it. I somehow managed to strike a fierce tzatziki craving in many of my readers because everyone and their mothers went bananas over it. (No really, some of my friends mom’s commented.)

It only made sense to finish the job and bring you something to slather that glorious tzatziki over: homemade falafel.

The first time I tried falafel it was awful—but that’s because I’d purchased some sort of pre-packaged garbage and didn’t know what I was doing. (Rest assured this was a long, long time ago.) I’m forever grateful that I decided to give it another shot, because now I can’t get enough of the stuff—the herbaceous flavor from the ground fresh herbs, the warming punch from the cumin, and the nutty flavor from that creamy tahini…

The moral of the story: in the name of all that is secular and non-vulgar, don’t ever buy a pre-packaged mix of anything if you know whats good for your tastebuds.

And maybe try a new food elsewhere first, so you at least know what it is you’re aiming for…

Crispy Baked Falafel With Spinach

I’ve always viewed falafel as a healthier choice. Truth is, most restaurants fry it. (Fuhhh… ck.)

Last year, I started baking my eggplant parmesan. I never thought it would be possible to get that wonderful crisp without glistening oil and a frying pan, but with a few hacks, I did it. So why couldn’t I do the same with falafel? Ideally what I wanted to get out of this recipe was a crisped exterior with a tender and moist almost-crumbly-but-not-falling-apart emerald green center.

Tah-dah! I’m happy to say it all worked out—no hacks necessary.

Don’t use canned chickpeas.

I always have a can of chickpeas kicking around my pantry because I’m obsessed with making hummus and, if the craving hits, I need to make it stat. But in researching falafel recipes, I learned a few important things—one of them being that dried chickpeas are crucial to a proper falafel.

Some recipes out there do call for canned chickpeas and the “saving grace” is the use of flour to act as a binding agent, because grinding up cooked chickpeas and frying them will have them falling apart otherwise. But cooked chickpeas + flour = dense and starchy balls. So, your best bet is to give dried chickpeas a good soak overnight and grind them with your other ingredients while they’re raw. (It’s ok, they aren’t dangerous like raw kidney beans.)

If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you’ll get a chance to be featured in my monthly newsletter.

5 from 14 votes
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Crispy Baked Falafel With Spinach

This Crispy Baked Falafel With Spinach recipe skips the frying pan and goes straight to the oven. They're baked to perfection with a crisp exterior while remaining tender within.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried/uncooked/raw chickpeas soak these overnight, but don't cook them
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 TBSP tahini
  • 1.5 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • A few cranks of cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 375° F.

  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; if you don't have parchment, you can lightly grease the baking sheet with 2-3 TBSP of olive oil.

  3. To a food processor or high-powered blender, add the soaked and drained chickpeas, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, parsley, spinach, cumin, tahini, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth. If you're using a high-powered blender as opposed to a food processor, this makes it a bit of a tedious task (I know because this is how I did it). Just be sure to have your accelerator handy to press the ingredients down. You may have to stop every couple of runs and, with a spoon, stir the mixture around. But within 5 minutes, you'll get the texture you're looking for.

  4. With a tablespoon, scoop out some of the mixture and shape the falafel into small patties, about 1 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. (You can make larger patties if you'd like, but cooking times may vary.) Place each falafel onto your lined or greased baking sheet.

  5. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until the underside of the falafel patties are a light golden brown. Then, carefully flip the falafel and bake for another 10-13 minutes, or until the falafels are lightly golden on each side.

Recipe Notes

Though this recipe only takes 30 minutes from start to finish, it calls specifically for dry chickpeas which you have to soak overnight. So take that into consideration when planning this recipe.

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21 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan Marlowe
    April 16, 2018 at 1:44 pm I had falafel for the first time a few months ago awhile vacationing in the Bahamas. It was amazing! I am yet to replicate it at home, guess I'll just have to go back there (darn!) but I am looking forward to making yours. They are packed with flavor, yet simple and seem so easy to make. And that tzatziki sauce looks amazing!! I'm starving just thinking of the two together!
  • Reply
    Amy Nash
    April 16, 2018 at 9:32 am I had no idea not to use canned chickpeas in falafel! I'm so, so glad you mentioned that and explained why! Pinning this and making it soon!
  • Reply
    Amanda
    April 16, 2018 at 8:13 am I saw these on Instagram, and wanted to claw through my screen to get one! :) The texture looks absolutely divine. I have a bag of dried chickpeas in my pantry, and I know what I'm going to do with them after reading your recipe! I love that these falafel are baked, and they sound so easy to make. These are happening for lunch this week!
  • Reply
    Sarah
    April 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm I love love love falafel, but I usually avoid it because it seems to be always fried. This is brilliant- I'm going to have to try this. The hubs will be so happy!
  • Reply
    Marisa Franca
    April 14, 2018 at 4:30 pm Okay, I am totally fascinated by this recipe. I've got to make it. I already have some of the ingredients on the grocery list. Some ingredients I already have. I can't wait to try it out -- my oldest son loves anything Mediterranean.
  • Reply
    Colleen
    April 13, 2018 at 10:36 pm Hi Dana! I adore flafels, and I love that you baked these, AND, added spinach, too. They look awesome. I've made them with chickpea flour, which works really well, but it's really hard to find, so I love this method of using dried and soaked chickpeas. Gotta try, thanks for sharing!
  • Reply
    Tina
    April 13, 2018 at 7:09 pm Your method is brilliant! I have had falafel in restaurants and tried a mix from a box. It was dry and not very tasty. I think the thinner, flattened shallow fried is the way to go. Yours looks amazing, thanks for sharing this!
  • Reply
    Carmy @ carmyy.com
    April 13, 2018 at 1:22 pm These look AMAZING! I always love sneaking in greens wherever I can and I love how they're in these falafels. I'm going to need around 10 of these ASAP! Thanks for sharing such a great recipe Dana!
  • Reply
    Jess @choosingchia
    April 13, 2018 at 12:26 pm These falafel look so perfect! Love the addition of spinach to them for a little extra hidden veg :)
  • Reply
    Leanne | Crumb Top Baking
    April 13, 2018 at 10:10 am And the 5 star rating didn’t show up! Trying again!;)
  • Reply
    Leanne | Crumb Top Baking
    April 13, 2018 at 10:09 am Love the crispy edges and soft middle! And thanks for the tip on using dried chick peas. I’ve always used canned with some chick pea flour for binding, but I will definitely give dried chick peas a try now!
  • Reply
    Gloria
    April 12, 2018 at 5:13 pm These look fantastic. I always have chickpeas in the cupboard. I have purchased falafels, but have never tried to make them at home. Love the crispy outside and soft middle. I know these would taste much better than store bought any day.
  • Reply
    Lisa | Garlic & Zest
    April 10, 2018 at 9:53 am Fuhhh… ck... I almost fell out of my chair! First - your tzatziki looks absolutely perfect -- and I want to slather it on everything (TMI?) While I've never tried making falafel, I do enjoy EATING them. You really burst my bubble with that whole fried thing -- but then you saved the day with your healthier baked version... Thank you. Your recipe is so packed with flavor, I'm really looking forward to making a big batch -- just gotta pick up on garbanzo beans!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      April 12, 2018 at 5:29 pm Hahaha. Thanks, Lisa! You're a hoot. I'm with you—I'll slather that shit on everything giving zero cares about judgement. (Truthfully, I've been scooping whats left of it up with saltines whenever I'm feeling snacky.) Let me know if you give this a whirl! I hope you love it.
  • Reply
    Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine
    April 9, 2018 at 8:13 pm What beautiful little patties -- but those radishes are killing me! So pretty.
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      April 12, 2018 at 5:30 pm Watermelon radishes are the unicorn of the produce aisle, I'm tellin' ya.
  • Reply
    Lisa Bynum
    April 9, 2018 at 8:09 pm That seriously has to be the pretties falafel I've ever seen. Everything on that pita is just gorgeous!
  • Reply
    Sarah
    April 9, 2018 at 7:33 pm I love falafels! They bring back so many memories of college and I love enjoying them still to this day! Can't wait to make these and walk down memory lane!
  • Reply
    Deepika
    April 9, 2018 at 6:10 pm First of all, I am in love with those gorgeous pictures. Baking the falafels is amazing. I will try this for my family soon.
  • Reply
    Patty K-P
    April 9, 2018 at 4:45 pm Falafels are a favorite of mine! Love you baked it so I don't have to feel so guilty about eating the deep fried ones :)
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      April 12, 2018 at 5:31 pm Right? Now you can just eat more of them :)

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