Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern fritter made from ground chickpeas, herbs, and spices. It is a staple food for many following plant-based or gluten-free diets. Traditionally, falafel is made with chickpea flour, which contains gluten. However, there are several easy substitutes that allow you to make gluten-free falafel at home.
The base of most falafel recipes is chickpea flour, also known as gram flour or besan. This flour is made from ground raw chickpeas and contains a significant amount of gluten. For a gluten-free alternative, you can use:
- Chickpea flour made from garbanzo beans that have been soaked and sprouted, which reduces the gluten content
- Gluten-free chickpea flour made from chickpea starch
- Other gluten-free flours like rice flour, almond flour, or oat flour
Sprouted chickpea flour will provide the most authentic taste and texture. But any gluten-free flour can work in falafel as long as you use a binder like eggs or xanthan gum. The flours should be combined to provide protein, fiber, and nutrients.
Herbs and Spices
Falafel gets its trademark green color and flavor from fresh herb and spice blend. A typical mix includes:
- Chili powder
These ingredients are naturally gluten-free. So feel free to add them liberally to your falafel mix. Cumin, coriander, parsley and garlic are essential for getting the authentic falafel flavor.
To hold the falafel mixture together since you are not using glutenous chickpea flour, you will need to add a natural binder. Options include:
- Chia seeds or flaxseed
- Xanthan gum
- Guar gum
- Beans or chickpeas
- Nut butter
Eggs work well to bind gluten-free falafel. Some vegans opt for chia or flax eggs instead. And xanthan or guar gum only requires a small quantity to bind the ingredients. Beans and nut butter also provide additional protein and nutrients.
Baking vs. Frying
Traditionally, falafel is deep fried for a crisp exterior. But you can also bake gluten-free falafel to make a healthier version. To bake, form the falafel mixture into balls or patties and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through. They will come out crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.
If you do want to fry your falafel, you can use a high heat oil like avocado, coconut, grapeseed or peanut oil. Don’t use olive oil as it has a low smoke point. Let the oil heat up to 375°F before frying. Then fry a few balls at a time for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
Serving Gluten-Free Falafel
Here are some delicious ways to serve your freshly made gluten-free falafel:
- In a pita or gluten-free flatbread with veggies and tzatziki sauce
- Over a salad of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese
- Wrapped in lettuce leaves for falafel lettuce wraps
- As a filling for sandwiches or burgers
- Skewered on kebabs with peppers and onions
- Topped with tahini lemon sauce
- Alongside rice or quinoa with minted yogurt
- As an appetizer with homemade hummus
The possibilities are endless! Falafel is very versatile, so you can get creative with your toppings and preparation methods.
Gluten-Free Falafel Recipe
Here is a basic recipe to make tasty gluten-free falafel at home:
- 1 cup soaked, sprouted chickpea flour
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp mint, chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
- In a food processor, combine the flours, herbs, spices, baking powder and salt. Pulse to mix.
- Add the onions, garlic, and eggs and process until a smooth, thick batter forms.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Use a small ice cream scoop to form balls, then flatten into patties.
- Fry the falafel 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through.
- Enjoy the falafel fresh or cooled with your favorite gluten-free toppings and sauces.
This easy gluten-free falafel recipe makes around 20 patties, depending on the size. You can adjust the flavorings to taste by adding more herbs or spices. And the chickpea flour, rice flour, and almond flour can be substituted for any gluten-free flours you prefer.
With these simple tips and tricks for ingredients, binders, and cooking methods, you can easily make delicious falafel that is safe for gluten-free diets. Falafel makes a quick, protein-packed meal for lunch or dinner. And it can be used in so many different ways in salads, sandwiches, bowls and more. So whip up a batch of gluten-free falafel to enjoy all of the flavor without the gluten.