These crumbled falafel bowls are easy to make with crispy “falafel” crumbles, your choice of rice or greens, and lots of fun toppings!
My new favorite thing…crumbled falafel bowls! ♡
A few months ago, I had a major falafel craving but couldn’t summon the energy to make the mix, form it into dozens of little patties, and fry each one until perfectly crispy. So I decided to test out a little shortcut instead, simply adding the crumbled falafel mix directly to a skillet with a bit of oil and giving it a slow toss until all of those crumbly bits turned golden and crispy. And not only did the method work well…the crumbled falafel was absolutely delicious.
We’ve made this recipe many times since, especially since our toddler has turned out to be a big fan of this recipe too, and it has quickly become a new family favorite. The key is, of course, to begin with a delicious falafel mix. I’m partial to loading mine up with lots of garlic, fresh herbs and seasonings, and a hint of lemon. If you have the time, dried chickpeas soaked overnight will also yield a better texture, but canned chickpeas can work too if needed in a pinch. Then the key is to let the falafel mix sauté in a few tablespoons of hot oil until the bottom layer is golden and crispy, then toss and wait for the new bottom layer to crisp up, toss and wait, toss and wait. It’s quite easy and comes together much quicker than a traditionally-shaped batch of falafel, yet you still get some of those crispy golden bits that we all love. A win-win!
I love piling this crumbled falafel into rice bowls with lemony-sumac veggies (so fast and yummy), crumbled feta, and a generous drizzle of tahini sauce. But there are about a million variations you could try with these bowls, so please don’t hesitate to get creative and add whatever greens, grains, veggies, toppings, or sauces sound good. Let’s make some!
Crumbled Falafel Bowl Ingredients
Here are a few notes about the ingredients you will need to make this crumbled falafel bowl recipe:
Chickpeas: Falafel is traditionally made with dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight, which definitely gives them the best texture once cooked. I’ve tested out this recipe two ways — using the traditional overnight soak method, or a quick shortcut using canned and drained chickpeas — and both are delicious! I personally much prefer the texture that comes with the dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight, which have less moisture and have more of a firm bite. But the canned chickpeas actually worked better in this recipe than I was expecting, because they tend to form yummy little clumps (in a good way) while cooking.
Onion: Feel free to use white or red onion in the mix, whichever you prefer.
Fresh herbs: I love using a mix of fresh parsley and cilantro, which brightens up the flavors and pairs well with the dried seasonings.
Dried seasonings: I recommend a mix of dried cumin and coriander, plus plenty of sea salt to bring out the best of these flavors.
Garlic: It’s helpful to roughly slice or chop the garlic before adding it to the food processor in order to avoid large chunks.
Lemon: We will add the zest of one lemon to the falafel mix and use the juice for the sumac veggies.
Olive oil: We use basic olive oil for frying the falafel mix, but feel free to use whatever oil you prefer.
Sumac veggies: Just toss together some red onion and English cucumber (or any other veggies you love best) with lemon juice, ground sumac, sea salt and black pepper, and let the mix soak while you prepare the falafel mix. SO good!
Rice/grains/greens: We’ve found that we enjoy using rice as a base for these bowls, since it’s easy to whip up a quick batch in the Instant Pot while we prepare the rest of the recipe. But any other grains or greens that you love best could work well as a base too.
Tahini sauce: I absolutely love adding a generous drizzle of tahini sauce to each bowl, made with a simple mix of tahini, garlic, lemon, cumin and salt. But if you’re pressed for time, a drizzle of plain tahini would be delicious too!
Toppings: The more the merrier! Anything from feta cheese to tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried), nuts or seeds, olives, pickles or spicy peppers would be delicious here. I recommend serving each bowl with an extra lemon wedges for squeezing, plus an extra sprinkle of fresh herbs and sumac too.
Crumbled Falafel Tips
Full instructions are included in the recipe box below, but here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when making these crumbled falafel bowls:
Be sure to thoroughly dry the chickpeas. Whether you are using soaked dried chickpeas or canned chickpeas, it’s important to thoroughly dry them with a clean tea towel (or paper towels) before adding them to the recipe in order to eliminate excess moisture.
Don’t over-purée the falafel mix. As you’ll see in the photo above, I found that a coarse crumbly texture was ideal for this recipe. If you over-purée it in the food processor, it can quickly turn to mush and won’t crisp up as easily while cooking.
Use a nonstick sauté pan. The falafel mix can tend to stick to a pan, so if possible, it’s best to use a nonstick pan.
Don’t over-stir. The key to getting those crispy browned bits is to let the falafel mix sauté undisturbed in the oil for a minute or two until the bottom layer caramelizes a bit. So resist the urge to stir constantly while it is cooking at let the bottom of the pan work its magic.
Enjoy immediately. While the crumbled falafel will still taste great as leftovers, it will definitely lose some of its crispy texture the longer it sits. So I recommend serving and enjoying this one immediately.
Here are a few variations that you are welcome to try with this falafel recipe. As always, please note that you may need to adjust the seasonings if you add extra ingredients to the recipe.
Make it spicy: Add a pinch or two of dried chili (such as crushed red chili flakes or cayenne), fresh chili slices (such as jalapeño or serrano peppers), or your favorite hot sauce to the falafel mix.
Use different dried seasonings: Use different dried seasonings in the falafel mix to taste. For example, curry, garam masala, smoked paprika, or blackening seasoning would all be delicious in this recipe.
Add extra herbs: Add fresh mint, chives or dill to the falafel mix.
Add extra veggies: Add fresh carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach to the falafel mix.
Add nuts: Add nuts (such as walnuts, almonds or pine nuts) or seeds (such as sunflower or pepitas) to the falafel mix.
Add cheese: Add crumbled feta or goat cheese to the falafel mix.
Add an extra sauce or dip: Add a scoop of tzatziki, hummus, garlic sauce, harissa or plain yogurt.
toppings: feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, lemon wedges, extra fresh parsley or cilantro
Prepare the rice and tahini sauce.Cook the rice according to package instructions and prepare the tahini sauce.
Prepare the sumac veggies.Toss all ingredients together in a mixing bowl until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Blend the falafel mix.Drain and thoroughly dry the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas, onion, parsley, cilantro, cumin, salt, coriander, garlic and lemon zest to a food processor. Pulse briefly 5-10 times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. (Don’t overdo it or the mixture will turn into a paste.)
Sauté the falafel mix.Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the falafel mix in an even layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the bottom of the mix reaches a golden brown color. Then give the mix a good stir, spread it out evenly in the pan, and cook again until the bottom of the mix reaches a golden brown color. Repeat this process 3 or 4 more times until the mix is toasted to your liking.
Serve.Layer up serving bowls with rice, falafel mix, sumac veggies, and any other toppings you would like. Drizzle with tahini sauce, add a few twists of black pepper or a sprinkle of sumac, serve and enjoy!
Chickpeas: To soak the chickpeas, place them in a large mixing bowl with water, making sure the water covers the chickpeas by at least 2 to 3 inches. Soak for 12-24 hours. If you don’t have time to soak dried chickpeas, you can use 2 (15-ounce) cans of rinsed, drained and thoroughly dried chickpeas instead. The texture will be different, as canned chickpeas hold much more moisture, but they will still be delicious in this recipe.