Recipe Fail – Or Was It?

I host monthly dinners for my friends on Sunday afternoons.  Sort of a throwback to the family Sunday afternoon dinner between what we now consider lunch and supper, except since I don’t live near any family I invite friends and their families.  These dinners always have some sort of theme.  The most recent one was “Mediterranean.”  As part of the dinner menu I chose to make falafel, and as per my propensity to make dishes slightly healthier if I can, I found a recipe for baked (rather than fried) falafel.

Normally, when I make a dish it is usually a hybrid of several recipes or I substitute ingredients based on my experience and preference.  In this case I’ve never made falafel or anything like it, and never used dried chickpeas (that the recipe called for).  So I decided to follow the recipe exactly the first (and so far, only) time I made it.

Soaking the dried chickpeas.

I bought my ingredients, soaked the dried chickpeas for 24 full hours, and then made the falafel the day of the dinner.  And I am glad none of my vegetarian friends were able to come that day as they would have been stuck with hummus and veggies and salad as their only options to eat.  I’m not entirely sure what happened but the end result was, quite frankly, very dry.

After processing.
The uncooked patties.

My guests were kind enough to try at least one even though I voiced my concern about how dry they looked.  I quickly confirmed that they were indeed not very good and they were welcome to toss them.  I do this often, by the way, make something for the first time for guests, often without a Plan B.  This was the first time it went this much awry, but the good thing is my chicken and sides came out great so the loss of falafel wasn’t a big deal.

I decided to go ahead and box up the remainder and stick them in the fridge and see if I could salvage them for leftovers.  As I had leftover pita, tzatziki, tomato and onion, I decided to reheat some falafel for lunch during the week by sticking them in a non-stick pan with a little water and a lid.  Although they lost any exterior crunch they may have had, they did become nice and moist by essentially steaming. So the end result was a dinner party fail but leftover success!

The cooked, and very dry, patties.

My takeaway from this experiment was that I need to try this again and experiment with:

  1. Soaking the dried chickpeas more than 24 hours
  2. Using canned chickpeas instead, and letting them dry a bit before using
  3. Finding a different recipe.

Below is the recipe I used, along with my notes.  Please share your experience with baked (not fried) falafel, would love to know what ended up being successful for you!

Crispy Homemade Baked Falafel

A healthier (not fried) version of falafel.


Credit:  Just a Taste  


1 cup dried chickpeas (~2-1/2 cups after soaking)

½ cup fresh parsley leaves (packed)

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (packed)

½ cup chopped white onion

3 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)

1 tsp cumin

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

2 tsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp olive oil


1. Soak chickpeas (cover with 4” water) 12-24 hours.  Should easily break apart when soaked sufficiently

2. Drain chickpeas and add to food processer with all ingredients except olive oil.

3. Process until minced but not pureed.

4. Squeeze mixture into 1.5” balls and then flatten into patties.  I used a 1” meatball/cookie batter scoop.

5. Arrange on baking sheet greased with half of the olive oil. Use other half of the olive oil to brush tops of the falafel patties.

6. Bake at 375° F for 15 minutes.  Flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes.


My experience was that I likely over processed the ingredients and needed to add flour to the mixture to get it to bind.  I also feel like 24 hours was not sufficient soaking time for the dried chickpeas as they did not break apart easily.  This recipe ended up making ~15 falafel.

Recommended serving with pita or naan and tzatziki, tomato, lettuce, cucumber, onion.




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