These Baked Lentil Falafel taste just like traditional falafel but are made with lentils instead! These healthy, baked, fiber filled patties make a delicious sandwich filling and vegetarian meal.
We love falafel around here but the deep fried version isn't the healthiest option! That's why we started making these Baked Falafel with Lentils instead. Packed with all the flavor of take-out falafel but baked in the oven for a healthier treat. Serve them alongside some Artichoke Hummus and an Israeli Salad for a delicious meal.
When I first came across baked lentil falafel, it was almost like someone had switched on a light bulb in my head. The first thought that came into my mind was “I could make this at home.” And that's exactly what I did—kind of.
Turns out, there's a lot of intricacy behind the humble falafel. My first few batches ended up crumbling to pieces, while others turned out overly dense. I think Murphy’s law was particularly strong with this one. But, after plenty of trial and error to turn me into a falafel aficionado, I've finally come up with the best baked lentil falafel.
Deliciously crunchy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside— this baked falafel recipe is simply heavenly! Not only are they much healthier than the traditional deep-fried falafels, they also come together quickly and are perfect for meal prep.
The best part is that this vegan dish can be customized based on what you like and what you have at home. Spice things up by adding jalapenos or crushed red pepper flakes, swap out the basil for cilantro, or go the classic Mediterranean route by serving them with pita bread and a side of hummus. Simple, easy, and delicious!
What You’ll Need
This lentil falafel recipe is so easy to make that you’ll start wondering why you didn’t make it sooner! All you need is a food processor, your oven, and the key ingredients listed below.
- Lentils: For really moist falafel, I prefer using canned lentils. However, feel free to swap them out for home-cooked lentils instead. For a more authentic take on falafel, you can swap in canned or cooked chickpeas.
- Fresh Herbs: Fresh basil and parsley add a ton of bright, herbaceous flavor to this Mediterranean-inspired dish. You can swap them out for cilantro or chives if you prefer.
- Olive Oil: This helps the falafel to crisp up and get that nice, crunchy exterior we’re going for.
- Whole Wheat Flour: Canned lentils tend to have little-to-no starch and crumble apart easily. Adding some whole wheat flour brings in the much-needed starch needed to help the lentil falafel hold its shape. Any flour will work.
- Garlic: Make sure to opt for fresh garlic cloves if possible. Otherwise, garlic powder will work in a bind.
- Lemon: By using both lemon juice and lemon zest, we enhance the flavors of the ingredients while brightening up the overall dish.
- Spices: I like to keep things simple by seasoning my baked falafel with salt, pepper, and cumin. Feel free to add a pinch of cayenne for an extra kick.
Ways to Serve Baked Lentil Falafel
There are so many ways to serve this delicious baked lentil falafel that I don’t even think that I can name them all! Falafel is commonly served on mezze plates alongside hummus and pita, but why limit ourselves? There are plenty of other ways to get creative with this delicious gluten-free falafel recipe.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use falafel:
- Burgers. Falafel with pita is delicious, but have you ever had falafel as a burger? Substitute the patty of any of my burger recipes with this falafel and you have an explosion of flavors waiting for you! I especially love it with these Portobello Burgers (in place of portobello) because the contrast between the creamy avocado and crunchy falafel is texture heaven.
- Wraps. Falafel wraps are ultra-popular throughout the Middle East for a reason… They’re delicious! All you need is a lavash wrap, tahini dressing or hummus, red onion, lettuce, tomatoes, and your falafel for a mouth-watering healthy lunch.
- Salads. Swap out the protein on any of your favorite Mediterranean-inspired salads for this falafel recipe and you won’t be disappointed. For example, substitute the chickpeas in this Easy Mediterranean Salad for some falafel patties and drizzle on some tahini dressing. Mmm, I can feel my mouth watering already!
- Mezze plates. Go the traditional route and serve up a delicious mezze plate with this lentil falafel recipe as the star of the show! Pair with sides like pita bread, raw veggies, hummus, and tzatziki. Perfect for dinner parties and afternoon snacks!
How can I use leftover falafel?
If you have any leftover falafel, congratulations. Around my house, I find there is rarely any leftover, unless I make a huge batch. Leftover falafel is great for:
- Sandwiches. Where you'd typically put the meat, add falafel and fun toppings and condiments instead.
- Add diced falafel to cold pasta with some feta, red onions, and black olives. Make a tahini dressing and pour that over the top. Mix together and enjoy!
- Falafel quesadillas! Try feta (I know, I know, but I really can't get enough of that delicious, salty cheese!) or goat cheese instead of your typical shredded cheddar.
- You know how you'd usually use mashed beans on a tostada? Instead, mash up the falafel with a little olive oil and use that as your base for a new kind of tostada topped with all the other goodies.
- Just warm it up and eat it!
How do you cook dried lentils?
Lentils are easy to cook. They don't require any pre-soaking like other beans, either, so you can take them from the pantry to table in about 30 minutes. Not bad, not bad!
First, though, you should rinse them and pick out any little rocks or shriveled lentils that may have gotten into the bag. Then, add lentils, water (the ratio is two-to-one, water-to-lentils, like rice), a bay leaf, and garlic to a pot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook them uncovered for 20-30 minutes until they are nice and tender. If they aren't finished cooking but are getting dried out, you can add a little more water as you go.
When they are finished cooking, allow them to cool before adding them to your other falafel ingredients. If they make the mixture too wet, add more flour until they are easier to patty up.
Homemade Falafel Storage Tips
If you end up with some leftovers (lucky you, my kids can demolish an entire batch in one sitting), storing falafel is a breeze. Simply allow them to cool to room temperature, then transfer them to an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Wondering how to freeze falafel? It’s easy! I recommend first placing them in the freezer while they’re still on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes or so. Once they’ve chilled, separate each of the falafel patties with parchment paper to prevent sticking and place them in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this baked lentil falafel recipe:
I would advise against it for two reasons: flavor and crumble factor. Canned chickpeas tend to have a briny, tinny flavor, while dried chickpeas offer a more straightforward and pure flavor.
Additionally, canned chickpeas are already cooked, which means they've lost all the starch that binds them together. So when you try to bake falafel, they tend to just fall apart. That's why I prefer using dried chickpeas in my recipes instead.
The most major reason for you to get dense, dry falafels is because they've been over-baked in the oven. Or if you're using dried chickpeas or lentils, you might not be cooking them long enough.
Unfortunately no, raw lentils won’t work in this falafel recipe. The dried lentils aren't cooked yet and won't work well for falafel and will result in your falafel patties crumbling. They also are not easy to digest.
Baked Lentil Falafel
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- 2 cups canned lentils, rinsed and drained (you could use traditional chickpeas)
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 2 tbsp. basil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon (zest and juice)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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