Flavor-packed, healthy, customizable, easy-to-make vegan falafel wrap recipe with baked falafel, crispy fresh vegetables, creamy sauce, wrapped in a soft tortilla - phew, say that in one breath!
What is a Falafel?
Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern dish traditionally made from ground chickpeas or fava beans mixed with herbs, spices, and onions. The mixture is then shaped into balls or patties and traditionally deep-fried, resulting in a crunchy exterior and a flavorful, tender interior. It is a staple food in many vegetarian and vegan diets due to its high protein content.
Origin of Falafel
Falafel is often considered a gift from Egypt. It has a history that stretches back to the times of the pharaohs. Originally, falafel was made using fava beans. As they gained popularity and spread across the Middle East, it was like a culinary game of telephone.
Each region put its own twist on the recipe. Lebanese falafel recipes, for example, traditionally use chickpeas, while Egyptian falafel still uses nutrient-rich fava beans. This recipe will use the best of both - chickpeas and fava beans. By combining the two, you achieve a desirable moist and crumbly texture.
This recipe makes about 32 falafel balls, making it great for batch cooking. Having pre-chopped vegetables and wraps on hand further simplifies the process of making this an easy, speedy meal option during the week. See the FAQs for storage instructions.
Is Falafel Vegan?
Falafel is vegan! With chickpeas and fava beans as the main ingredients, they are ground and mixed with a variety of spices. The mixture is then shaped into balls or patties and traditionally deep-fried, but this recipe is baked for a healthier alternative. No dairy or animal products are used in the recipe, making falafel a perfect choice for those following a plant-based diet!
Making the Falafel
While fava beans are readily available in many grocery stores, I couldn't find any nearby. Fortunately, I managed to get mine from Amazon. If fava beans aren't accessible in your area, you can easily substitute them with chickpeas.
- fava beans
- baking powder (optional but recommended)
- black pepper
Instructions for Falafel
Soak the beans overnight to achieve the right texture. You can find fava beans at some Whole Foods stores or from Amazon. Dried chickpeas can be found at most major grocery stores. Alternatively, you can use all chickpeas or all fava beans for this recipe, but I like the combination of beans for the flavor, texture, and binding properties I get in the falafel.
Make the falafel mixture:
Drain the beans well and add them to a food processor.
Blend until they become a coarse mixture. Remove from food processor and set aside.
Process the remaining falafel ingredients. Add the onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper to a food processor
Mix until combined.
Then add the blended beans back in and mix until all combined. The mixture should be well combined but not smooth.
Place the mixture in a large bowl and mix in the baking powder (optional). I found that adding baking powder helps the falafel become a little lighter and fluffier in texture.
Form balls or patties
The mixture should be moist but still able to hold its shape. The moisture content is important to ensure the patties are soft and tender on the inside while developing a crispy exterior when fried.
The ideal consistency is a slightly sticky and cohesive mixture that can be easily shaped into patties without falling apart.
This batter makes about 32 falafel weighing between 30-35 grams (the size of ping pong balls).
Air Frying the Falafel
This is my preferred way of making falafel. Air-fried falafel is perfect for an easy, quick meal without heating a large oven for just one or two servings. It bakes the falafel to a perfect golden-brown, crispy exterior, and a moist, flavorful interior, all without a drop of oil.
Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C). If your air fryer requires preheating, make sure you do this step. Air fry for 8-10 minutes or until the falafel is golden brown and crispy on the outside.
Halfway through the cooking time, shake the basket to ensure even cooking and avoid sticking. Check them often, as air fryer cooking times may vary.
Alternative Cooking Directions
Oven directions: For cooking larger batches, I recommend using the oven preheated to 375°F (190°C). Place falafel on a tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and lightly brush with olive oil, if desired. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping each ball halfway through cooking. Broil at the end for about 4 minutes on the top rack to get them to a nice golden color. Let them cool to firm up.
After cooking, falafel will have a crispy, medium-brown exterior while maintaining a fluffy and light green interior.
Making Vegan Falafel Wraps
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
- red onions
- Kalamata olives
- vegan tzatziki or tahini dressing
Assembling the wrap
Spread hummus on the tortilla evenly. Place a row of red onions, shredded carrots, avocados, spinach, olives, and crumbled falafel across the tortilla.
Be careful not to overfill it, as this can make wrapping difficult and may make the wrap too large for a regular-sized bite. Drizzle with vegan tzatziki or tahini dressing.
How to wrap a tortilla
Fold in the sides of the tortilla over the filling. Start rolling the tortilla from the edge closest to you (the rows of filling should be horizontal to you; see pic), tucking in the sides as you go.
Continue rolling until the tortilla is fully wrapped around the filling.
Place the tortilla seam-side on the plate or pin it with a toothpick before cutting or eating to help it hold its shape. The hummus on the edge helps seal the wrap closed.
Feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices like mint and cayenne pepper. Add it to the falafel mixture or in the wrap. You can also top the falafel with some sesame seeds before baking.
Before adding in the processed bean mixture, you should process the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, and spices in the food processor.
This step guarantees a uniform breakdown of herbs (particularly the stems - I leave them on) and vegetables. If you try to do everything simultaneously, you might get chunks of unprocessed beans and veggies while simultaneously getting over-processed parts of the falafel mixture. Not worth the headache to save a step.
I've often played with the ratio of cilantro to parsley in falafel recipes. The ratio can be adjusted to suit your taste, balancing the most enjoyable flavors. Play with the ratios to find your preference. If you do not like cilantro, leave it out and just use parsley or add another herb like mint for variety.
Falafel is gluten-free. This can easily be made into a gluten-free falafel wrap using gluten-free tortillas or wraps. Ensure all other ingredients, like sauces, are also gluten-free.
Now, what if you've made too many falafels? Well, the good news is falafel freezes beautifully! Place the cooled falafel balls in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze until solid, and then transfer to a freezer bag or airtight container.
When ready for a quick and easy vegan falafel wrap, reheat it in the air fryer or microwave (it won't be as crispy, but still delicious). When time is tight, this is particularly handy for whipping a quick falafel wrap, salad, or bowl.
You can also store the batter in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
I would not recommend using canned chickpeas for this recipe as it can result in a higher moisture level, lead to a different texture, and no crunchy outside. It is best to use dried chickpeas that have been soaked to achieve a more authentic falafel experience.
Baked falafel is a healthier option than deep-fried ones, requiring less oil, resulting in lower calories and fat. Baking also helps retain more nutrients without nutrient loss from oil immersion. I also prefer the lighter texture and cleaner taste of baked falafel. Give them a try, and let me know in the comments what you think.
- 1 cup fava beans (dried; soaked overnight)
- 1 cup chickpeas (dried; soaked overnight)
- 1 cup fresh parsley (medium packed)
- 1 onion (yellow or white)
- ¾ cup fresh cilantro (medium packed)
- 6-8 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (optional but recommended)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 4 tortillas
- ½ cup hummus (to taste)
- ½ cup red onions (diced or sliced)
- 1 cup carrots (shredded)
- 1 avocado (sliced)
- spinach (handful)
- 8-10 falafel (crumbled)
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives (sliced)
- vegan tzatziki (or tahini dressing (optional))
Make the falafel
- Soak beans: Soak the fava beans and chickpeas in plenty of water for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Combine beans: Drain them well after soaking them and add them to a food processor. Blend until they become a coarse mixture. Remove from food processor and set aside.
- Combine remaining ingredients: Add the onions, garlic, cilantro, parsley, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper to a food processor and mix until combined. Then add the blended beans back in and mix until all combined. You want some texture, so don't overprocess it into a smooth paste.
- Add baking powder: Place the mixture in a large bowl. Add the baking powder (if using) and mix until combined.
- Preheat: Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C). If using an oven, preheat to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Form balls: Form the mixture into small patties or balls, about 1.5 inches in diameter. This batter makes about 32 falafel at 30-35 grams each (about the size of ping pong balls). Make as many as you would like, and see FAQs for storage suggestions.
- Bake: Bake the falafel in the preheated air fryer for 10 minutes or oven for 30 - 35 minutes.
Flip each one carefully using a spatula or tongs halfway through cooking. If baking in the oven, you must broil the falafel at the end of cooking for 4 minutes on the top rack to get a nice brown color. Watch them carefully for burning.
- Let cool: Remove from the air fryer or oven and let the falafel cool slightly.
Assemble the wraps
- Heat tortillas: Place them on a microwavable plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Heat the tortillas in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds so they are a little more soft and pliable.
- Add ingredients: Spread a thin layer of hummus on the tortilla evenly. Place a row of red onions, shredded carrots, avocado, spinach, olives, and crumbled falafel across the tortilla. Be careful not to overfill it, as this can make wrapping difficult and may make the wrap too large for a bite. Add Kalamata olives over the top, and drizzle with vegan tzatziki or tahini dressing if using.
- Roll: Start folding the sides of the tortilla over the filling (filling should be horizontal to you, see pic in post).
Start rolling the tortilla from the edge closest to you, tucking in the sides as you go.
Continue rolling until the tortilla is fully wrapped around the filling. Place the tortilla seam-side on the plate or pin it with a toothpick before cutting or eating to help it hold its shape. The hummus on the edges should help seal the wrap. You're ready to eat!
Use dry, soaked beans for this recipe. Canned beans are already cooked and will not have the same taste and texture.
Do not grind the beans into a smooth paste. You're aiming for coarse texture (see pic in post).
Authentic falafel can be a little dense in the center, so I use baking powder to make the inside of the falafel a little lighter and fluffier in texture. However, it is an optional ingredient.
Before adding the bean mixture, ensure you process the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, and spices in the food processor. This step guarantees a fine breakdown of herbs (particularly the stems - I leave them on) and vegetables, resulting in a more uniform distribution within the falafel mixture.
The ratio of cilantro to parsley can be adjusted to suit your taste, ensuring a balance of the most enjoyable flavors for you. Play with the ratios to find your preference. If you do not like cilantro, leave it out and just use parsley or add another herb like mint for variety.
The falafel mix should be sticky enough to shape into patties but not too sticky and not super damp (a little damp is okay; you should easily be able to make a ball). Add more flour or chickpea flour to ensure consistency if it feels too wet. If it feels dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time to reach desired consistency.
Store any leftover batter in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
While the falafel can be made beforehand, I do not recommend making the wrap too far before eating as they may get soggy.
This recipe makes about 30 - 35 falafel, way more than you will need to make 4 wraps. Store them in an air-tight container for up to 3 days and reheat them in the microwave or at a low temperature in the oven.
Nutritional information is only an estimate based on 1 wrap. Use a nutritional app like Cronometer to get information on the exact ingredients and amounts you are using.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Soak Beans: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Dinner, Lunch
- Method: Air Fryer, Oven
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern-Inspired
- Diet: Vegan
- Serving Size: 1 wrap
- Calories: 511
- Sugar: 8
- Sodium: 1783
- Fat: 16
- Saturated Fat: 3
- Carbohydrates: 55
- Fiber: 15
- Protein: 20
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: air fryer, healthy meal, wrap, fava beans, garbanzo beans, chickpeas