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Mexican Vegan Falafel Balls (Gluten Free)

  • Author: Lindsay Cotter
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 12-16 falafel bites 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


These Mexican-inspired vegan falafel balls are super easy to make with just a few simple ingredients. Perfect for an appetizer, simple finger food, or wholesome snack!


Units Scale

UPDATED 3-2020 We added a baked falafel version which is below in the recipe card. Both baking and frying techniques work, but we recommend baking the falafel or using tapioca flour and the addition of flax meal for best results!

  • 1 1/2 cup chickpeas (canned works, drained)
  • 2 cups (~ 1/2 lb) broccoli florets (feel free to mix in cauliflower) see notes if using frozen
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (de-seed for less spice)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 Tablespoons tapioca flour or 3-4 Tablespoons gluten free flour of choice (see notes)
  • 2 Tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • sea salt/black pepper to taste
  • 24 Tablespoons oil
  • dip or salsa for serving


  1. First drain the chickpeas and rinse. Set aside.
  2. Next grind the broccoli/cauliflower so that it is “riced.”  Makes about 1 to 1 1/2 cups riced after placed in food processor or blender.
  3. Next add the chickpeas to the food processor. Pulse together until combined. Do not over mix. The batter should be thick and chunky.
  4. Add the onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, and spices in the food processor or blender and pulse until combined.  Note – if you don’t have a large food processor, you might want to work in batches blending the ingredients.
  5. Add the flour and flaxseed meal and pulse again until combined. Pour batter into bowl and mix again making sure everything is combined.
  6. Roll the batter into balls a little bigger than golf ball size.
  7. Place the falafel balls on a cookie sheet and chill in the fridge for 1 hour or freezer for 10 – 15 minutes to set. The longer the better if using the fridge. Once chilled, remove from fridge.
  8. If you don’t have a good non stick fry pan, we recommend the baking option to baking! Air fryer option in notes.

Baked Vegan Falafel instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400F. After the falafel balls have chilled on baking sheet, grease the pan or line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place them in the oven on center rack and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once halfway through baking. Bites will be golden brown once done. Season with more salt/pepper if desired. Serve right away or freeze for later.

Stove Top Option (Fry pan) instructions –

  1. Heat a large non stick pan on medium with a 2-3 tablespoons oil. Enough to coat the pan so falafel doesn’t stick.
  2. Place half the vegan falafel balls in the pan and fry on medium high, turning gently, for 4-6 minutes or until golden brown. Use lid of the pan to cover any oil splash if needed.
  3. Add more oil and repeat for the second batch.
  4. Place all balls on paper towel and blot off any extra oil if desired. Season with more salt/pepper if desired. Serve right away or freeze for later.


  • If you don’t have tapioca flour, try 3 tablespoons brown rice flour or all purpose gluten free flour.
  • If you are using previously frozen broccoli, I recommend baking option. OVEN BAKED option 
  • AIR FRYER OPTION – Place 7-8 chilled falafel balls in the air fryer and fry at 370F for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Turn falafels over half way through cooking. Best to work in two batches.
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Category: appetizer
  • Method: fry
  • Cuisine: mexican/greek


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 43
  • Sugar: 0.5 g
  • Sodium: 63.5 mg
  • Fat: 2.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.5 g
  • Fiber: 1.6 g
  • Protein: 1.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: falafel, vegan, mexican, gluten free, appetizer, healthy, dairy free snack, mediterranean