What are falafels made from?

Posted · 25th September 2023
Falafels with salad

What are falafels?

Falafels are deep-fried balls traditionally found in Middle Eastern cuisine. They are mostly made from chickpeas, fava beans or a combination of the two. Most recipes contain a range of herbs, spices and other ingredients, such as onion, parsley, coriander, garlic purée, cumin, black pepper, flour and vegetable oil.

A textbook falafel is hot and crunchy on the outside and fluffy and herby on the inside. Getting hungry just thinking about them, right? Us too!

Traditionally falafels are served inside a pita, wrap or flatbread or as part of a mezze platter. Today they’re a super popular addition to a wide range of amazing dishes that suit veggies, vegans and flexitarians alike!

Nutritional Value

If you’re wondering whether these delicious fried balls of flavour are good for you, let us break it down.

Chickpeas are naturally rich in proteins and soluble fibres and are a complex carbohydrate. There are a number of health benefits associated with high-fibre foods – they help lower blood lipid levels such as cholesterol, reducing risks of heart diseases, as well as lowering your risk of colon cancer. Falafels are also packed with a number of key nutrients, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin B and folate.

When falafels are fried (as in the traditional cooking method) they will have a higher fat content, but if you’re making them at home you can reduce this by choosing to bake them instead.

The Origins of Falafel

The exact origin of the falafel is unknown and open to debate. One theory is the dish was invented in Egypt using fava beans, with the recipe then exported to other areas across the Middle East.

It is thought the dish later found its way north towards the Eastern Mediterranean, where chickpeas were used instead of the original fava beans.

The use of chickpeas is still prominent in most Middle Eastern countries today – it’s this version that is also most popular in the UK, (all our falafel products are made using chickpeas – in case you were wondering). In Egpyt, falafels mostly still use fava beans as the core ingredient.

Preparing & Cooking Falafel

When making falafel the traditional way, the first step is to soak the chickpeas overnight.

Sometimes they are soaked with baking soda to raise the pH levels of the chickpeas and help them to cook through. This helps to give them the classic light and fluffy texture we all know and love.

The soaked chickpeas are then ground together with other ingredients like parsley, spring onions, garlic, cumin and coriander (to name just a few).

The mixture is then shaped into balls or patties. This can be done by hand or with a tool called an aleb falafel – which is a mould for shaping into balls. The mixture is usually deep-fried, but it can be oven-baked.

Typically, falafel is ball-shaped, but it is also commonly made in a doughnut shape as well (It’s true! And yes, we want to try it immediately as well).

There are loads of ways of serving falafels, from mezze platters to wraps to falafel burgers and salads and all sorts!

Falafel Recipes

If you’re looking for some tip-top falafel recipes to get stuck into, we have you covered!

Here’s a taste of a few classic and some more creative falafel recipes to get you started:


Middle Eastern Mezze Platter
Moroccan Falafels with Harissa Couscous


Maakouda-Inspired Moroccan Falafel Sandwich
Falafel Poke Bowl

Explore all of our amazing falafel recipes on our recipes page.

Need some side dish inspo?

See our favourite sides to serve with falafel in our blog: What to serve with falafel.

Our Falafel Range

If you don’t have time to make your own, we have two delicious falafel products available in all major supermarkets.

Middle Eastern Falafels

Our Middle Eastern Falafels are inspired by the classic Middle Eastern recipe made with chickpeas and a blend of herbs of spices, including cumin, coriander, parsley, black Pepper, garlic and coriander.

Find out more

Moroccan Falafels

Our Moroccan Falafels combine chickpeas, agave, apricots and a touch of chilli, all mixed together with a selection of fragrant North African spices including paprika, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and ginger.

Find out more

All our falafels are ready to eat – they can be eaten cold as a snack straight from the pack, warmed through and added to a dish or shared as part of a tempting mezze with friends!

Hungry for more? Check out our other falafel-focused blog posts:

How to Serve Falafel | Healthy Falafel Recipe Ideas | The Rise of the Mighty Falafel


Recent blogs