Winner: Pan-Fried Falafels with Smoky Tahini Sauce (vegan, gluten-free)

I must admit, when I started this recipe poll, I thought that either the Chai Peanut Butter Ice Cream or the Gingery Cookies might take it. You surprised me with the Falafel win!

Smart choice! You will LOVE these Falafels (I do!), for a few reasons…

(1) They are scrumptious!  Full of flavor without the fat!

(2) They are low-fat.  When I say “pan-fried”, I mean pan-fried, not oil-fried.  You can literally wipe your non-stick pan with a dot of oil to give these patties a nice golden crust.  Or, if you have a good quality non-stick pan that has no wear, you won’t even need the wipe of oil, just pop on and cook up.

3) They are wheat-free (with GF option), made with whole oats instead of breadcrumbs for firmness.  At first I wasn’t sure if the oats would work with the spicy mixture, but I was so pleased when I added them.  I think they allow the flavors of the beans and herbs and spices to shine through rather than tasting very ‘bread-y”.  And, if you can use gf-oats, then falafels offer a gluten-free option!

Panfried Falafels with Quinoa Tabbouleh and Smoky Tahini Sauce, photo by Hannah Kaminsky

Panfried Falafel Patties wheat-free, optionally gluten-free, soy-free

RECIpage link to print/share

Falafels are scrumptious, flat out. But most are deep-fried. Here, I take falafels in a new, fresher, and lighter direction. The ingredients are all swiftly combined in a food processor and then lightly dusted with flour to panfry in just a wipe of oil. Here, all the flavor comes from the herbs, aromatics, and seasonings—rather than the oil!

2 cans (14 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (see note)

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, packed (not chopped, just torn from stems)

1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (and tender stems), packed

1/2 cup green onions, chopped (mostly white but some green portion)

1/4 cup celery, chopped

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

2-3 medium-large cloves garlic (use 3 large if you love a garlicky kick)

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp (rounded) freshly ground black pepper

1/4 – 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I use 1/4; use more if you like things spicy)

3/4 cup – 1 cup rolled oats (use certified gf oats for gluten-free option; see note)

1/3 cup millet, chickpea, or other flour (for dusting patties), seasoned with a couple pinches sea salt

wipe of oil (for pan-frying; can use less/more per personal preference)

*Chickpea Note: If using chickpeas you’ve cooked yourself from dry, they can sometimes have less moisture and therefore make the blended mix too dry.  If it is not coming together before adding the oats, is too crumbly, add a smidgen of water – a teaspoon at a time until it just comes together.  With canned chickpeas, you should not need to add extra water.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, onion, celery, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, and spices, and process until the mixture is well incorporated and starting to smooth out, scraping scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Then add the oats and pulse a few times to work them in. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes if possible (refrigerating will make it firmer and easier to shape).

Take small scoops of the mixture, 11⁄2 to 2 tablespoons (using a cookie scoop is helpful, but you can use your hands, rinsing when needed to keep the mixture from sticking to your palms) and form into balls. Once finished, place the seasoned millet flour in a bowl. Add the falafel balls to the bowl and lightly toss, then toss a moment in your hand to remove any excess clumping of flour.

Prepare a nonstick skillet over medium or medium-high heat (wipe surface with oil, use a good non-stick). Place the falafel balls in the pan, flattening them slightly with a spatula, and cook for 6 to 9 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crisped on the outside, working in batches, if needed. Serve.  Makes 20-24 patties.

If This Apron Could Talk: You can also bake these falafels. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 20 to 22 minutes, flipping once through the baking process, until a little browned and crispy in spots.

Ingredients 411: I like these falafels soft and tender. Feel free to add another 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup of oats (and another pinch of salt) to make a little firmer.

Serving Suggestions: Serve in pita with fixings, or on their own drizzled with tahini sauce (try Smoky Spiked Tahini Sauce or Peanut Tahini Sauce). Up the ante by making a falafel platter, including Quinoa Tabbouleh with Olives (shown in photo, also from LTEV), and roasted potatoes!

 Smoky Spiked Tahini Sauce wheat-free, gluten-free, soy-free

Once smoked paprika entered my ingredients “hit list,” I had to try it out in tahini sauce. It did not disappoint!

1/2 cup tahini

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ – 2/3 cup water (or more for a thinner sauce, if desired)

1/4 tsp (lightly rounded) smoked paprika (see note)

¼ tsp (rounded) sea salt (about 1/4 + 1/8 tsp)

3/4 – 1 1/4 tsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar (or more to taste, see note)

Using a standing blender or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 1⁄2 cup of the water, 1⁄4 teaspoon of the paprika, and 3⁄4 teaspoon of the agave) until smooth. Add additional paprika and salt to taste; maple syrup to balance any bitterness, if needed; and water to thin, as desired.

Ingredients 411: I like the amount of smoked paprika at just a lightly rounded 1⁄4 teaspoon, but you can try adding more if you love the flavor. Try 1⁄2 teaspoon and see how it works for you.  I always like a touch of sweetener in tahini sauce to offset the slight bitterness of the tahini. The amount you use de- pends on personal preference and also the brand of tahini used. Start with 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 teaspoon, and add more if needed.

Serving Suggestions: This sauce is an absolute must as part of a falafel dinner platter. Serve alongside Panfried Falafel Patties, Quinoa Tabbouleh with Olives, and whole-grain pita bread. So satisfying and delicious! This sauce will also add a punch of flavor to wrap sandwiches and roasted vegetables.


Before I sign off, in case you missed the announcements on my fb page, this past week or so was chock-a-block with LTEV publicity, including recipe posts, reviews, giveaways, and even a video demo.  To recap, you can check out these links, starting with the most recent:

Heather Nauta of Healthy Eating Starts Here shares her video making my “Kale-Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing” – and the clip is full of tips!

Hannah Kaminsky (who photographed all the food images in LTEV) shares a review, a recipe post (of my Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping)… and a giveaway of LTEV!

Nava Atlas shares a review on VegKitchen, as well as TWO recipes.  Go get them!

Brittany Mullins shared a review, giveaway (now closed) and recipe post on Eating Bird Food.

Susan Voisin shared a review and the recipe for my “No-Fu Love Loaf” on FatFreeVeganKitchen.

Angela Liddon shared a review, giveaway (now closed) and the recipe for my “Jerk Chickpeas” on Oh She Glows.


  1. Janelle says

    I am really loving your recipes. Traditional falafel (which I used to make often) is 1/2 chickpeas and 1/2 fava beans, the addition of onion and green pepper processed in the food processor help keep these nice and moist. Thanks again for all the great recipes and ideas!

  2. Colette says

    These are amazing. Will be making some for dinner tonight :-) thanks your recipes are always spot on

  3. D'Anna says

    Made these tonight. OMG! AMAZING! Thanks so much for posting. Ran out of Tahini so subbed in unsalted almond butter. Worked like a charm! xox

  4. Jane says

    Oh. My. Goodness! i have just made (and eaten) the pan-fried falafel with smoky tahini sauce and me and my 11 year old daughter can hardly believe how utterly divine they are!!
    I oven baked them and Served with curly kale stir-fried with ginger, and potato and celeriac mash.
    I arrived here via Hannah’s Bittersweet blog by the way.
    I have ordered LTEV, but have a question – are the other recipes above in the book or were they a ‘special’ for winners of your comp? Only i love the sound of all of them too!
    Recently i purchased veganomicon but was a little disappointed as there are a lot of recipes with seitan which we all hate in our vegan family. But your book sounds much more the kind of thing we love to eat – veggies and grains done well and with unthought of twists!
    Thank you and i look fwd to reading more of your blog and book!

    • Dreena says

      Hi Jane! OH, that is wonderful to read! Thank you. I love the falafels too. :) I love your idea of serving with a potato/celeriac mash. Celeriac can be really yummy, right?!

      Glad you found me via Hannah. The other recipes are new ones, but rest assured there are MANY recipes in LTEV. It’s a pretty big book, and you’ll find so much to enjoy. And, the new recipes, I’m trying to figure out what to do with them myself, whether an ebook or a new project… just have to figure that out. I might be posting one or more as well in time.

      And, there is no seitan in my book, as it is a complete wheat-free/gluten-free book. Also, seitan has never been my area of expertise, I just don’t enjoy working with it, so I took a pass long ago. So, you’ll find lots of beans/grain/nut/veg combos in the book.

      Thanks for your e-mail too, my web gal is unavailable right now but we’ll sort it when she returns. Thanks!

  5. says

    Ohhhh I haven’t tried the Pan-Fried Falafels yet – definitely need to do that soon. They sound delicious. Thank you for the link Dreena. I am already in love with every recipe I’ve made from LTEV! I can’t wait to try more.

  6. Lisa Jachimiec says

    Any thought on a substitute for the oats? These sound amazing but I am also oat intolerant …:( even the ggoner kind….

    • Dreena says

      Lisa, I haven’t tested it with this sub, but you could try quinoa flakes or gf bread crumbs. With quinoa flakes, sometimes the flavor can be bitter if too much, so that’s why I also suggest gf bread crumbs. If there is gf bread you like, whiz it into crumbs – AND, I’d maybe lightly toast them first – will help them absorb more moisture, plus give a little nuttier flavor. That help?

  7. Audrey says

    Yum! I am loving these oil-free recipes, Dreena! I’m hoping to have my review of LTEV up soon. I’ve made many recipes and have been really enjoying the book! :)

    • Dreena says

      That’s wonderful to hear, thanks Audrey. And, no rush on the review, doesn’t hurt to have them spaced out a little either. thx!

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