Ultimate Falafel Sandwich

Here’s how to make the very best falafel sandwich! The ultimate vegetarian sandwich, this recipe tastes just like restaurant style.

Falafel sandwich

The falafel sandwich is the stuff dreams are made of. The crunch of the fried chickpea fritters, the soft herby interior, and the sauces that dribble down your chin….it’s our ultimate meal. After Alex and I had the best falafel of our lives, we’ve spent years trying to re-create the magic. Might we present the ultimate falafel sandwich! It features crunchy fritters, ultra soft flatbread, crunchy veggies and creamy, garlicky sauces. Here’s how to make it at home!

How to make a falafel sandwich: an overview

An authentic falafel sandwich is epic: not quick and easy to make. This recipe is all about big flavor and time-honored traditions: not shortcuts! Alex and I have researched for years to create this version that honors the best of this Middle Eastern delicacy. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to do to make a falafel sandwich:

  • Soak the dried chickpeas: Overnight or at least 6 hours
  • Make the falafel: 25 minutes active, 20 minutes inactive
  • Make the sauces & prep veggies: 10 minutes active
  • Optional: Make the flatbread 30 minutes active, 30 minutes inactive*

The flatbread is easy to make in advance and stores well. Or, you can make it with purchased pita or flatbread (which is how we do it on the regular). You can make the sauces and do other prep work while the falafel dough chills.

Falafel in pita

How to make falafel: a few tips

Making homemade falafel is something every cook should try. Head to Classic Falafel recipe has all the tips and tricks you need. But here are a few basic tips:

  • Falafel uses dried chickpeas. Do not even think about using canned or cooked chickpeas! They make the perfect texture that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
  • Don’t forget to soak! The night before (or at least 6 hours), throw those chickpeas in water.
  • You need a large food processor to blend the dough; a blender just doesn’t do it. Note that the dough has a wet crumbly texture; it’s not like cookie dough!
  • You can fry it or bake it! See the recipe for both methods. Frying makes balls and baking makes disc shapes.
Falafel

Best bread for a falafel sandwich: flatbread!

Alex and I have strong opinions on the best bread for a falafel sandwich. Most recipes call for pita pockets: but we’ve found that most store bought pita bread is dry and brittle. When we buy it, it usually ends up breaking and crumbling when we stuff it. So why not make a falafel sandwich like they do in restaurants? Try soft, chewy pocketless Greek pita bread. Here are a few options:

  • Make our easy flatbread! It’s easy to make this Flatbread recipe at home, and it results in soft, chewy pita bread you can use to wrap your sandwich.
  • Buy any pocketless flatbread (even naan). Rather than buy a pita pocket, we recommend any storebought flatbread without a pocket. You can even use naan bread, which is easy to find. Though it’s Indian not Middle Eastern, to us it’s better than a dry brittle pita pocket.
Easy flatbread recipe

Sauces for a falafel sandwich

Arguably the best part of a falafel sandwich is the sauces! Several types of falafel sauces are traditionally served with this sandwich:

  • Tahini Sauce Often a creamy Tahini Sauce is drizzled over the crispy fritters and crunchy vegetables.
  • Yogurt Cucumber Sauce Another traditional option is a Cucumber Sauce (like authentic Tzatziki) with yogurt, cucumber, and fresh herbs (often dill).
  • Cilantro Sauce A green sauce with cilantro is also often used. Try this Cilantro Sauce. Both this sauce and the tahini sauce are vegan options.
  • Hummus (optional): We like adding a layer of hummus to the bottom of the sandwich, then adding one of the sauces over the top. It adds just the right creaminess and nuance.

Add crunchy veggies: lettuce or cabbage, tomato, and red onion: and it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Cucumber sauce

Ways to take it over the top

The best falafel sandwich that Alex and I have ever eaten was at a restaurant in Paris called L’as du Falafel (here’s a write up by New York Times). This sandwich had a few elements that put it into epic range. Try these if you really want to have your mind blown.

  • Harissa: Try a mild, storebought harissa sauce, or a medium if you’d like to add some heat to your sandwich.
  • Pickled vegetables: Adding pickled vegetables to your sandwich makes a briny tang; the epic sandwich we tried had pickled red cabbage. Try our Pickled Onions or Pickled Radishes.
  • Roasted eggplant: Our favorite falafel sandwich had fried eggplant, a unique addition. Try our Roasted Eggplant: it adds so much garlicky, savory umami, it will blow your mind. (Really.)
Best falafel in pita bread

Alternate quick and easy options!

Want the epic version, or ready to wimp out? Don’t worry, there are a few easier options that use the flavors of falafel to make a quick and easy dinner. Here are some ideas:

  • Falafel Burger Make it as a burger instead! This burger uses canned chickpeas as a shortcut to get similar flavors.
  • Raw Falafel Buddha Bowls Or, make raw falafel! This recipe uses sunflower seeds and herbs to make a raw version of falafel. Eat it as a salad with tahini dressing.

This falafel sandwich recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy free (using the vegan sauce options).

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Falafel sandwich

Ultimate Falafel Sandwich


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 sandwiches 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Here’s how to make the very best falafel sandwich! The ultimate vegetarian sandwich, this recipe tastes just like restaurant style.


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Make the falafel. (Note: The dried chickpeas must be soaked overnight.) Use the refrigeration time for the falafel dough to do the steps below.
  2. If using homemade bread, make the flatbread (or make it in advance: it stores well!). If using store bought bread, warm the bread before serving in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes until pliable.
  3. Make the sauce: either Quick Cucumber SauceCilantro Sauce, or Tahini Sauce.
  4. Chop the tomatoes, lettuce, and red onion.
  5. Slather the bottom of the pita with hummus or some of the sauce, then add the falafel, chopped vegetables, and chopped herbs. Liberally spoon over the sauce.

Notes

*While you can use pita pockets and stuff them, we prefer a pocketless pita bread or even naan bread to use as a wrap. Feel free to wrap in foil, as it can get messy!

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Fried
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Keywords: Falafel Sandwich

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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