You’ve prepared your falafel mixture, shaped them into balls and added them to the oil – only to see your falafel falling apart. And with that, your efforts are in vain.
So, why do falafel fall apart? And is there any way to fix it, or better, to avoid it in the first place?
In this article, I’m going to walk you through the main reasons why falafel falls apart. I’m also going to share with you some tips on how to save your falafel mixture, and how make the perfect falafel that won’t fall apart.
What’s the Perfect Falafel Like?
Crispy on the outside, airy on the inside, that’s how falafel should be. Falafel are traditionally deep fried in oil which results in the best texture and taste. They are shaped into balls, by hand or with a falafel shaper.
Modern alternatives include air fried falafel and oven baked falafel. These are essentially low calorie versions. They are less crispy than the original, and also taste slightly different (especially the oven baked ones).
No matter how you cook falafel, all three methods should result in delicious falafel that won’t fall apart when cooking.
By the way, authentic falafel are vegan and gluten free. That said, you won’t need flour or any other stabilizer to get the right texture. More on this later.
Why Does My Falafel Fall Apart?
There are multiple reasons why your falafel are falling apart. Let me guide you through the most common ones.
- You used canned chickpeas: For authentic falafel, you have to use dried chickpeas. These are simply soaked overnight and ready to use the next day. No cooking and no dehulling needed. Canned chickpeas are essentially cooked chickpeas. While they are great for hummus, they won’t work for falafel. Unless you add flour, which is NOT the authentic way of making falafel. So, if you want to make it the traditional Middle Eastern way, start by using dried chickpeas.
- Your oil was too cold: You need to heat your oil to the right temperature before adding the falafel balls into your deep fryer. The perfect temperature is 190°C (375°F). Most deep fryers let you choose a temperature and will indicate when it’s reached. That’s why frying falafel in a deep fryer is much easier than in a saucepan.
- You added too many falafel: Even though you might have a large deep fryer, don’t add too many falafel at once. The reason is essentially the same as the previous point. By adding too many falafel into the oil, the oil cools down and the temperature drops below 190° / 375°F which makes falafel fall apart.
- You turned the falafel too fast: You should let your falafel fry for about 2 minutes before you flip them over. If you turn them before the crust starts to get crispy, they will most likely fall apart.
- The falafel mixture was too wet: Make sure to let your soaked chickpeas drain properly. If you’re short in time, pat dry with a kitchen towel. Same applies for the parsley and coriander: don’t add wet herbs (right after washing) into the mixer, but be sure they are dry.
- The falafel mixture didn’t rest: After mixing chickpeas and herbs to a fine mixture and adding the spices, the mixture should rest in the fridge for about 30-60 minutes. Skipping this step will likely make your falafel fall apart already when shaping.
- Too much baking soda: Baking soda adds to a fluffy texture of falafel. But don’t overdo it. Adding too much baking soda has a similar effect like yeast: it will make your mixture expand which results in falafel falling apart.
The perfect falafel recipe is the first step to keep falafel from falling apart. Check out my falafel recipe to create delicious falafel at home following the authentic Middle Eastern recipe. With the right mixture and the above tips, you should be able to make falafel that stick together perfectly!
Are you in the process of making falafel and see them falling apart? Let me give you some tips on how to fix it. No guarantee this will work (because it really depends on your falafel mixture and the way of cooking them), but it’s worth trying to fix them rather than throwing away the mixture.
- Let the mixture cool: Is your mixture too wet? If you’re not yet starving, put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then try again. Usually, you can already see if your mixture is too wet when shaping the falafel. They won’t only fall apart when frying, but already when shaping them.
- Add flour: I don’t like to say this, because it’s not part of the authentic recipe. But it’s a solution to fix your mixture if things went wrong (again, this shouldn’t happen in the first place with the right falafel recipe). If your mixture is too wet and you don’t have time to cool it, or it’s still too wet even after cooling: add a bit of flour. The flour will stabilize the mixture which makes shaping and frying easier. You can use conventional wheat flour, or chickpea flour (gluten free).
- Heat oil properly: If your oil wasn’t hot enough and your first falafel ball has fallen apart, panic not. First, take the falafel pieces off the oil. Then, heat the oil to the right temperature (190°C / 365°F), and add the falafel. Depending on the size of your fryer, add 2-3 falafel and fry for 30 seconds, then add another 2-3.
- Be patient before turning: When deep frying falafel, I recommend that you flip them over after a few minutes to ensure they are evenly cooked. Allow 2 minutes before turning. That way, the texture will be firm and you can turn easily.
Learn Middle Eastern Cooking
Are you a new to Middle Eastern cuisine? Then this Middle Eastern cookbook is what you need! In addition to a varied choice of recipes, the cookbook offers plenty of insights on ingredients, cooking techniques and Middle Eastern food culture.
Any Questions or Feedback?
Have you ever tried making falafel at home? I’d love to hear about your experience! In case you’ve any questions, please also leave me a comment down the page. I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home!