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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Healthy Baked Falafel

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healthy baked falafel. quick easy recipes, healthy food for picky kids, healthy food for picky husband, healthy tasty food, healthy food on a budget

Falafels are truly a comfort food of mine.

I’m a sucker for all types of Mediterranean food: give me a platter with some whole wheat pita, hummus, feta, olives, veggies and other delicious dips and I’m a happy camper.

I’m also a sucker for cheese plates, but that’s a different story 🙂

When I was a kid, we used to go to the “Falafel Drive-In” near my house in Cupertino, California. They’re a little hole-in-the-wall joint, but they make the best falafels I’ve ever had.

Of course, since falafels are deep fried chickpea patties with a pretty heavy sauce and served in a white pita, they’re not exactly the healthiest meal. But they are great for a treat once in a while. The husband also loves falafels, but he’d always ask me to make them at home – which I was hesitant to do because I wasn’t really trying to deep fry anything in my kitchen.

But then I realized that this was my opportunity to makeover the traditional falafel, by baking them instead of frying them, and they turned out GREAT.

My healthy substitutions included:

  • Using a whole wheat pita instead of a white one
  • Adding spinach and tomatoes for more veggies
  • Making my own “sauce” using hummus and a bit of water – it tasted so close to tahini sauce but was much lower in calories!
  • Using Hungry Girl’s recipe for the patties
The Ingredients – Falafel
  • Whole-wheat pitas (~130 calories and at least 4g fiber per pita)
  • One 15-oz. can chickpeas, well drained
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour (you could also try using panko breadcrumbs or whole wheat breadcrumbs. Note: to make this gluten-free, use chickpea flour)
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika, or more to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil nonstick spray
  • Baby spinach (toppings – not to be included in the falafel mixture)
  • Diced tomatoes (toppings – not to be included in the falafel mixture)

The Ingredients – Sauce

  • Option 1: Store bought hummus (I like Trader Joe’s Organic Hummus) mixed with a few tbsp water (directions below)
  • Option 2: Low fat yogurt mixed with Tahini (you’ll have to play with the proportions to figure out what combination works for you!)

The Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place all ingredients for falafel (except for the pitas, spinach, tomatoes, baking powder, and nonstick spray) in a food processor, and give them a good chop.

Step 2: Transfer into a bowl, add the baking powder and stir together. Using a potato masher, mash any big chunks that remain – Mixture should remain slightly chunky, not smooth.

Step 3: Spray a baking sheet thoroughly with olive oil nonstick spray. One at a time, take spoonfuls of mixture in your hands and form 15 balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball, and gently place them on the baking sheet. Spray the top of each ball with olive oil nonstick spray, for a total of about a 2-second spray.

Step 4: Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (note – depending on your oven, this might take longer – up to 20-25 minutes – but be sure to check on them to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn!). Meanwhile, combine 2 parts hummus to 1 part water, and stir until blended (add more water to taste depending on how watery you like your sauce). Season to taste with salt / black pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Step 5: While your falafel patties are baking, chop your veggies and warm up your pita bread.

Step 6: Remove baking sheet from the oven, and carefully turn each ball over, gently reshaping if the bottoms have flattened.

Step 7: Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes (or longer, depending on your oven), until golden brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool and set for at least 5 minutes.

When they’re done they’ll look like this:

Step 8: Cut the whole pitas into halves, fill with spinach, 3 falafel balls, diced tomato, and top with spinach and sauce. Enjoy!

This is truly a guilt-free falafel makeover.

1 pita half with 3 falafel balls and 1-3 tbsp dip has about 200 calories, 2.5g fat, 8.5g fiber, 37g carbs, 5g sugars, and 10g protein! I had two pita halves for dinner, which was hearty and filling (the husband had 4 pita halves and was very full).

The baked falafel balls were perfectly crispy, the sauce was creamy and cool, the whole wheat pita was nutty and flavorful, and the veggies added a nice texture and extra crunch.

It is so delicious, it’s hard to believe it’s good for you too.

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Healthy Baked Falafel

Falafel is often deep-fried, but baking still gives you that amazing texture without the added fat. I also lightened up the sauce a bit to make a delicious meal.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 15 patties
Calories: 200kcal

Ingredients

Falafel:

  • Whole-wheat pitas ~130 calories and at least 4g fiber per pita
  • 15 oz chickpeas, well drained 1 can
  • 1 red onion very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour you could also try using panko breadcrumbs or whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika or more to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil nonstick spray
  • Baby spinach
  • Diced tomatoes

Sauce:

  • Store bought hummus: I like Trader Joe’s Organic Hummus
  • A few tbsp water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place all ingredients for falafel (except for the pitas, baking powder, and nonstick spray) in a food processor, and give them a good chop.
  • Transfer into a bowl, add the baking powder and stir together. Using a potato masher, mash any big chunks that remain – Mixture should remain slightly chunky, not smooth.
  • Spray a baking sheet thoroughly with olive oil nonstick spray. One at a time, take spoonfuls of mixture in your hands and form 15 balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball, and gently place them on the baking sheet. Spray the top of each ball with olive oil nonstick spray, for a total of about a 2-second spray.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 2 parts hummus to 1 part water, and stir until blended (add more water to taste depending on how watery you like your sauce). Season to taste with salt / black pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • While your falafel patties are baking, chop your veggies and warm up your pita bread.
  • Remove baking sheet from the oven, and carefully turn each ball over, gently reshaping if the bottoms have flattened.
  • Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool and set for at least 5 minutes.
  • Cut the whole pitas into halves, fill with spinach, 3 falafel balls, diced tomato, and top with spinach and sauce. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 3patties | Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 2.25g | Fiber: 8.5g | Sugar: 5g
healthy baked falafel. quick easy recipes, healthy food for picky kids, healthy food for picky husband, healthy tasty food, healthy food on a budget
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.Place all ingredients forfalafel(except for the pitas and nonstick spray) in a large bowl, and give them a good stir. Using a potato masher, mash well. Mixture should remain slightly chunky, not smooth.Spray a baking sheet thoroughly with a 2-second spray of olive oil nonstick spray.One at a time, take spoonfuls of mixture in your hands and form 15 balls, each about the size of a ping pong ball, and gently place them on the baking sheet. Spray the top of each ball with olive oil nonstick spray, for a total of about a 2-second spray.Bake in the ove n for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for dip in a blender or food processor, and pulse until just blended. Season to taste with black pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve.Remove baking sheet from the oven, and carefully turn each ball over, gently reshaping if the bottoms have flattened. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool and set for at least 5 minutes.Cut the whole pitas into halves, toast or warm all pita halves slightly, and then fill each with threefalafelballs and 3 tbsp. dip. Enjoy!

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141 responses to “Healthy Baked Falafel”

  1. Thank you for the recipe!! I tried it last night and it took a lot longer than I thought. I have a question about the baking process… When I was baking them, I left them in the oven for 25 minutes on each side, but the inside was still moist and uncooked. so I put them back in the oven for another 25 minutes and the inside would not cook. am I doing something wrong, or are they supposed to be uncooked? I didn’t make them thick, I made 11 patties from this recipe. I ate them still semi uncooked on the inside (since it was all veggies), and they were still very good, but I’m pretty sure they were supposed to be cooked…

    • Hi Soha! There could be a few things going on: This recipe is supposed to make 15 falafel balls — so it could be that your patties were a little too big and required more cooking time. Also — these patties will not get super firm on the inside – they will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. So it could just be that you interpreted the softness for being undercooked? The only other thing I can think of is that your oven doesn’t get as hot as mine, and so it required more cooking time. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. I always just bought the baked ones from the vegetarian section at my local grocery store…but now I want to try and make them! Oh and you should try Josephs low carb flax seed pitas (they are only 60 cal for the whole pita) I get them believe or not from Walmart.

    • Hi Sarah! I can’t wait for you to make these at home! I use to buy pre-made falafels too but I think these taste way better (and are healthier for you 🙂 ). Good tip on the flax seed pitas! I’ll see if I can find them next time I go grocery shopping!

  3. I’ve shopped around for a good falafel recipe and found one here! Great flavor and consistency, and they don’t fall apart! I love them with a homemade cucumber yogurt dill sauce!

    • Thanks so much Becca! This is one of my favorites too! Love the idea of the cucumber yogurt dill sauce 🙂

  4. I was so glad to see this recipe. I am fasting for the next three weeks and have to stay away from fried foods. This looks perfect. Will be making them this week! Thank you!

    • Hi Jackie! You need a binding agent – so substituting vegetables for the flour wouldn’t work. You could grind quinoa up in your food processor (making quinoa flour) and use that. But essentially you need some sort of flour/breadcrumbs/etc. to help hold the patties together. Hope that helps!

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