This homemade crispy falafel pita sandwich has lots of fresh herbs, golden brown falafel balls, and creamy hummus packed inside fluffy soft pita bread. Served hot or cold, this recipe makes a delicious vegan lunch or an easy weeknight dinner.
Why You’ll Love This Falafel Pita Sandwich
When it’s summer or hot out, I usually only want easy dinners or sandwiches in the evenings. This pita sandwich is so perfect for summer (or any time of year really) because it’s packed with fresh veggies. And it has homemade falafel that are SO crispy. They can be fried, air fried or baked which is always a bonus.
Here are a few more reasons I love this recipe:
- Flavor Packed – These falafel pita pockets are packed with fresh veggies and chickpeas with tons of flavor from the fresh herbs.
- Versatility – This pita sandwich is hearty and filling, perfect as a lunch, easy weeknight dinner, or even a snack. This post also has tons of pita bread filling ideas to mix and match to switch things up.
- Meal prep friendly – Make the falafel in advance, store in an airtight container, and you’re all set for easy meals throughout the week. This recipe is great for back to school or late summer afternoons!
For this recipe, you’ll need a few basic main ingredients that should be easy to find at your local grocery store. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chickpeas – The main ingredient in the falafel mixture. Chickpeas offer an authentic flavor and texture. Use dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked overnight, so your falafels have the perfect consistency.
- Fresh Herbs – A combination of parsley and cilantro gives the falafel patties a vibrant color and a fresh, herby flavor.
- Spices – Ground cumin and ground coriander are key in achieving a traditional Middle Eastern flavor.
- Garlic and Onion – These ingredients add a savory depth to the falafel mixture. A little yellow onion and a few cloves of garlic go a long way!
- For the Sandwich – High-quality soft pita bread, hummus, English cucumber, cherry tomatoes, arugula, pickles, and red onion create a balance of crunch, creaminess and acidity when combined with the crispy falafel.
If you don’t have one of the ingredients above, no worries! Here are a few simple swaps that you could try out instead:
- Store-bought Falafel or Sauces: Short on time? use your favorite store-bough fresh or frozen falafel instead of the homemade one.
- Fresh Herbs – No fresh parsley or cilantro? Dried herbs can work in a pinch. Remember, you’ll need less dried herbs as they’re more concentrated in flavor.
- Fresh Garlic – This can be substituted for garlic powder (about 1 tsp of garlic powder will do).
- Pita Pockets – If you’re out of pita, feel free to use a tortilla, flatbread, naan or your favorite wrap. Even a lettuce wrap would work well!
NOTE: I do not recommend substituting canned chickpeas for the dried chickpeas in this recipe. Falafel are traditionally made with dried garbanzo beans which helps prevent the mixture from becoming too soggy or wet. Canned chickpeas may fall apart when cooked without an additional binder.
Here’s what you’ll need to make both the falafel and the sandwich:
- Food Processor – For blending the falafel mixture.
- Large Bowl – To mix and chill the falafel mixture.
- Deep Pot, Air Fryer, or Baking Sheet – For frying, baking, or air frying the falafels until golden brown.
- Digital Kitchen Scale – For accurate measurements, especially when baking.
Step By Step Instructions
Exact quantities are in the recipe card below!
How to Make Falafel from Scratch:
STEP 1: Soak the dried chickpeas overnight (at least 12 hours) in a bowl covered with a few inches of cold water. Drain them when you’re ready to start making your falafel pita sandwiches.
STEP 2: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the drained chickpeas, onions, parsley, cilantro, salt, garlic, cumin, pepper and coriander. Process the ingredients until they are blended but not pureed.
STEP 3: Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover it, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
STEP 4: After the mixture has been refrigerated, add the baking soda to the chickpea mixture before cooking. Form the chickpea mixture into small balls, about the size of golf balls.
STEP 5: Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep pot or wok to 375°F (190°C). Once the oil is ready, fry about six balls at a time for a 1-2 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown. Drain the falafel on paper towels.
TIP: If your falafel mixture is too wet or sticky, add 1-2 tablespoons of chickpea flour. The mixture should be able to form a small ball that doesn’t stick to your hands. I recommend trying to fry 1 ball prior to mixing in the chickpea flour. If it holds together, you don’t need extra flour! If the ball falls apart, add the chickpea flour.
STEP 5: Slightly flatten the balls into a disc shape. Place each falafel on the prepared baking sheet. Spray or brush generously with oil. Bake at 385°F for 25-30 minutes, or until the falafels are golden brown and crispy on the outside.
For Air Frying
STEP 6: the falafels in the air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure they do not touch. Spray or brush generously with oil. Air fry at 380°F for 18-20 minutes, or until the falafels are crispy and golden brown.
How to Make a Pita Sandwich:
STEP 7: Cut the pita pockets in half and heat on a skillet or grill for 1-2 minutes on each side. This helps soften the pita bread. Next, spread a generous amount of hummus inside each pocket.
STEP 8: Fill the pita pockets with freshly made falafel (3-4 usually fit in the pockets). Then, add the diced cucumber, quartered cherry tomatoes, and a handful of fresh arugula into each pita pocket. Top with quick pickled red onion and salt brined pickles for acidity and flavor!
These vegan falafel sandwiches are best served immediately after assembly to enjoy the crispiness of the falafel and the freshness of the veggies. Garnish with fresh parsley, dill, and cilantro. Drizzle with vegan Tzatziki and harissa for extra flavor.
You can also prepare the falafel and veggies in advance, store them separately, and assemble the sandwiches right before serving.
Pita Bread Filling Ideas
In the recipe card below, I’ve listed a few of my favorite fillings. But the versatility of pita bread sandwiches means the sky’s the limit when it comes to filling options! Alongside the falafel and hummus, you can add avocado slices, roasted bell peppers, or even some baba ganoush.
The idea is to play around with flavors and textures to create your unique version of a pita bread sandwich. Here are a few more ideas:
- Roasted Veggies: Toss your favorite vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and onions in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast until they’re soft and sweet. You can also add a bit of balsamic glaze for an extra tangy twist.
- BBQ Jackfruit: Simulate the texture and flavor of pulled pork by slow-cooking jackfruit in your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Grilled Portobello Mushrooms: Marinate thick slices of portobello mushrooms in a blend of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic, then grill for a smoky, meaty filling.
- Hummus and Roasted Red Peppers: Slice roasted red peppers and mix them with your favorite flavor of hummus.
- Vegan Greek Salad: For more of Greek inspired pita sandwich, mix diced cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and Kalamata olives with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano. Add a bit of vegan feta cheese if you have it!
- Spiced Lentils and Spinach: Cook lentils with spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric, then mix with sautéed spinach.
- Buffalo Cauliflower: Toss roasted cauliflower florets in vegan buffalo sauce for a spicy kick. Top with vegan ranch or blue cheese dressing and shredded lettuce.
- Vegan Shawarma: Use tofu, seitan, or soy curls as the base, and spice it up with traditional Shawarma spices.
These falafel pita sandwiches are best eaten fresh, but if you need to store them, keep the components separate to prevent sogginess.
The falafel can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to three months.
Reheat in the oven or air fryer to regain crispiness before assembling your sandwich.
- Don’t over process the falafel mixture: The chickpeas should still have some texture and should not be mushy after processing them.
- Use dried chickpeas: Use dried beans rather than canned ones for a more authentic, crispy yet light falafel.
- Use fresh ingredients and herbs: For the best taste and flavor, use high quality produce and try to use high quality pita bread! I like to pick up fresh made pita bread from a local Mediterranean restaurant near me.
Did you make this Vegan Falafel Pita Sandwich recipe?
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