Easy Falafel with Canned Chickpeas (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Have I mentioned I have a bit of a rebellious streak? If you tell me I can’t do it, you can BET I’m going to try.

Conventional wisdom holds that one must prepare falafel using chickpea flour or soaked dry chickpeas. But, I know my readership prioritizes convenience, and truth be told, I usually buy my chickpeas in a can as well. When I want to make a chickpea recipe, I want to make food NOW, not a couple of hours from now.

The problem is that canned chickpeas have too much moisture. The result is a dough that doesn’t quite stick together, and tends to spread or flatten out in the pan. This is sad falafel and we don’t want that.

How to replace chickpea flour with canned chickpeas

The solution to your canned chickpea falafel woes is to partially roast the chickpeas before cooking. Just 20-25 minutes in a hot oven removes enough water to make a stiff dough that doesn’t even need much rest to firm up. Plus, roasting enhances the flavor of the chickpeas. It’s a win-win situation.

This vegan, gluten-free falafel is hearty, crispy, and packed with smoky, savory seasoning. Serve in a sandwich, on a salad, or in place of meat with some fresh vegetables. These falafels pair beautifully with red onion, Kalamata olives, and tomatoes. I topped my falafel with the creamy jalapeno dressing found in this vegan buddha bowl recipe. If you do start with dry chickpeas, you will want to soak them for about four hours before use, and skip the roasting. In any case, I hope these golden-brown beauties make an appearance on your plate in the near future.

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Easy Falafel with Canned Chickpeas Recipe

These ultra-simple falafels rely on the convenience of canned chickpeas, and are finished in a flash.

Makes: 4 servings, or 8 falafels Easy Falafel with Canned Chickpeas

Prep time:

Cook time:

  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup quick-cook oats (use certified gluten-free if desired or necessary)
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 handful spinach or dark salad greens (we used kale), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 3-4 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped (any mild nut will do)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. On a large, oven-safe pan or dish (use a sheet with a rim if not using a pan), spread chickpeas in a single layer. Coat with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and about half the cumin and Italian seasoning.
  3. Roast the chickpeas for 25 minutes in the oven until slightly crisp, but not totally dried out. If you've had crispy roasted chickpeas, you're aiming for the halfway point between that and uncooked.
  4. While the chickpeas roast, create a flour with the oats by running them through a food processor or blender. Remove the oat flour from the food processor or blender and set aside.
  5. Add the roasted chickpeas, remaining cumin, remaining Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, onion, greens, garlic, and almonds to the food processor or high-powered blender and blend until well-combined. Add oat flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together, and is stiff enough to form a ball (you may not need all the oats).
  6. Remove the dough from the food processor or blender and form it into a ball. The dough will be slightly easier to work with if you allow it to rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, but you can skip this step if you're in a hurry.
  7. Form the dough into eight evenly-sized patties. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat.
  8. When the oil shimmers, add the patties and lightly fry for two-three minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown.
  9. Serve the falafels and enjoy.

Notes and Nutrition Information

  • These falafels will keep about four days in the refrigerator, and up to six months in the freezer. They’re an excellent choice for meal prep.

  • I saved a dirty dish by roasting the chickpeas in the same large oven-safe (metal-handled) pan that I used to fry the falafels. Just use caution because the handle will get very hot.

  • One fourth of this recipe as written contains approximately 233 calories, 15 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 364 milligrams of sodium.