Have you ever had falafel?
Then you know how delicious those balls of chickpea goodness are!
Yet, if you’re following Trim Healthy Mama… you may also know that deep-fried balls of chickpea goodness aren’t necessarily “on plan”.
I’ve got great news for you, though! Air-fried Green Falafel is totally THM-friendly!
Air fryers make low or no fat “frying” possible, and they work surprisingly well! These green falafel balls have zero added fat.
This means you have room in your THM:E meal for the full allowance of fat somewhere else on your plate.
Tips For Making Green Falafel
I’ve been making regular falafel in my air fryer for a while now, and every time I’m amazed at how well they turn out.
The outside is nice and crispy, the inside is soft and moist. That’s just how falafel should be.
Here’s a few tips I’ve learned while experimenting with this Middle Eastern classic.
#1 — Don’t Overdo The Herbs
Adding fresh green herbs to the chickpea mixture is one way to give green falafel its lovely color. I learned the hard way, though, that more is not always better!
The first batch I made just did not taste that great — it pretty much tasted like parsley. My chickens loved them, though!
While parsley is not a disagreeable flavor, you want to taste more than that when biting into hot, crispy falafel balls! You want to taste the chickpeas and all incredible spices, too.
#2 — Use A Food Processor
While making these green falafel balls for taste-testing I wondered, “How in the world did they make these things without a food processor?”
Falafel history apparently began in the days of the ancient Pharaohs, long before the invention of electric kitchen appliances. Thankfully, we do have food processors these days.
You can also use a blender but be careful to not make hummus. 😉 You’ll likely need to manipulate the mixture in the blender jar to keep it moving evenly.
When making green falafel, I found it worked best to process the herbs, garlic, and green onion first. Chop larger herbs, like mint leaves, roughly before adding to the bowl.
Then press or slice the garlic and slice the green onions.
Make sure everything is about the same size so it’s easier to process.
Next, pulse the herbs, garlic and onions together until broken down into small pieces — not a paste since you still have to process the chickpeas.
Finally, add the soaked chickpeas and seasonings. You’ll pulse this for a few minutes and once the mixture starts to “climb” the side of the bowl you’re close to the right consistency.
You want something a few steps away from a paste — very small pieces that hold together when you pinch the mixture between your thumb and finger.
Note: Depending on the capacity of your food processor you may need to process the mixture half at a time. Then simply combine well in a bowl.
Making The Falafel Balls
After a couple hours of chill time in the fridge you’re ready to start making your falafel. Be sure to preheat your air fryer for a few minutes before you start forming the falafel balls.
One easy tip I picked up while learning to make them is to have wet hands. I keep a bowl or glass of water on the counter to dip my hands in as needed. It really does make it easier to form the balls.
A small cookie scoop is also a great tool to use since it helps get consistently sized falafels, and does most of the work in shaping the mixture. However, if you don’t have one, a spoon works just fine.
After scooping some mixture into your wet hand, wet your other hand and start gently pressing the mixture into a round ball. Resist the urge to really press hard, though; gentle, but firm, pressure is all that’s required.
If the mixture seems too dry, add water a tiny bit at a time as needed. If it seems too wet, add a tiny bit more flour as needed.
Place the falafel balls into your air fryer as you make them. Handling them too much might make them fall apart. Fry for 12 minutes, gently turning over at the halfway point. If you forget, no worries. You’ll just likely have one side a bit darker but they should be fine.
Alternatively, you can bake your green falafel balls in the oven (see recipe notes). We found that they weren’t quite as good — they tended to lack that crispy outside/fluffy inside combination that really makes a good falafel.
Instead, the outside was kind of tough and the inside seemed more dense. They were still delicious, we just preferred the air fried over oven baked.
Air Frying Means Less Fat, Less Mess, And Less Odor
Besides the fat factor in deep frying, there are two other drawbacks.
One is the mess (and potential for burns) with oil. The other is the way it stinks up your whole entire house.
With air frying you don’t have to worry about messy oil, dangerous burns, or your house smelling like a greasy spoon joint. You will have the lovely aroma of spiced green falafel lingering but that is far more pleasant than oil-fried anything!
Finally, the best part of air frying falafel balls is that they are THM-friendly! They make a fabulous E snack or meal.
They’re also a great way to go meatless now and then, or cater to vegetarian friends, too. Paired with a cool, creamy, low (or no) fat tzatzkiki sauce and plenty of fresh veggies, you’ve got a healthy, delicious feast that’s on plan.
Air Fryer Green Falafel & Tzatziki Sauce (THM:E)
Wondering what to eat for dinner? Why not take chickpeas for a spin with air fryer green falafel? Air fryers make low fat "frying" possible so you can enjoy this easy Middle Eastern recipe and stay on plan (if you're a Trim Healthy Mama)! Seasoned with herbs like turmeric and parsley, with a healthy tzatziki sauce made from Greek yogurt, this is the stuff homemade THM:E meals are made of! Plus, a baked option if you don't have an air fryer!
For the falafel...
- 1 pound chickpeas dry, about 2-1/2 cups
- 7-1/2 cups pure water
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley large stems removed
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh dill large stems removed
- 6 cloves garlic sliced, pressed, or minced
- 6 green onions sliced
- 2 tablespoons sprouted flour any kind
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or more for spicier falafel
For the tzatziki sauce...
- 1/2 cucumber peeled, seeded, and grated
- 1 cup yogurt fat-free or low-fat
- 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill minced
- 1 clove garlic minced or pressed
- sea salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
Combine chickpeas and water in a large cooking pot or bowl.
Let soak for 24 hours.
Then rinse, drain, and pat dry.
Add herbs, garlic, and green onion to bowl of food processor, in batches if necessary.
Pulse or process on low until broken down into small pieces.
Add chickpeas, spices, and sprouted flour.
Pulse for several minutes, stopping and using a spatula to help the mixture circulate evenly if necessary. When the mixture starts to climb the side of the bowl, you are close to the right consistency.
Stop when you've achieved the consistency of very small pieces that hold together fairly well when pinched.
Put the mixture into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours (preferably 2).
When ready to make the falafel balls, preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using a cookie scoop, form the mixture into balls and place into the basket or tray of your air fryer, leaving a little room between each of them. I can fit 8 or 9 into my 6.5 quart Ninja Foodi basket, for reference. It's best to put them directly into the air fryer instead of making all the balls, putting them onto a tray, and then putting them into the air fryer. Handling them too much can make them fall apart.
Air fry for 12 minutes, gently turning over after 6 minutes, then remove from the air fryer.
Repeat until all the mixture has been used.
While falafels are air frying, make the tzatziki sauce.
Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl.
Chill for at least 30 minutes for best flavor.
If the falafel mixture seems too dry, add water a tiny bit at a time, as needed. If it seems too wet, add a tiny bit more flour, as needed.
If you don't have an air fryer, bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes, or until done to your liking.
This recipe makes about 36 falafel balls, and 1-1/4 cup of tzatziki sauce.
Will you try this green falafel with tzatziki sauce?
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Can’t wait to try this! My only change would be to use FULL FAT plain Greek yogurt for the sauce. Thinking that low-fat is healthy is not correct since low-fat almost always means more sugar content!
Thanks for a great recipe!
Can I use canned chickpeas instead of dried?