Vegan Oil-Free Baked Falafel Tacos (Easy & Healthy)

by Alena
Apr 21, 2020
bright surface with three homemade healthy baked falafel tacos and some limes

If there are two cuisines that we’re positive most people love, it’s Mexican and Mediterranean. Both manage to achieve top tier comfort food with easy-to-make recipes! Our easy baked falafel tacos meet somewhere in the middle by celebrating both of these cuisines.

Naturally gluten-free, really wholesome and even budget-friendly, homemade falafel tacos are soon to become one of your go-to meals.

They are an easy-to-please family-friendly meatless lunch or dinner option that honestly doesn’t require much work in the kitchen.

Falafel tacos may look kind of fancy, but it’s actually a great beginner recipe for anyone curious about making their own plant-based meals at home.

If you’ve never tried falafel before, you’re in for a treat! The protein-rich patties are really satiating, nutrient-dense and jam-packed with flavor – a big win all around.

Honestly, just give us some bean-based patties and we’re happy with whatever is served. Falafel are one of those foods everyone loves, and it’s available in so many countries.

We didn’t exactly grow up eating falafel, but shortly after going vegan, we found that it is one of the easiest-to-find options when we are out and about! Even though falafel might not always be labeled as “vegan,” they often are since they are mainly made from chickpeas.

But grabbing a falafel wrap or sandwich at a restaurant or food stand means that, most of the time, you’re in for a pretty fatty meal. 

Personally, we haven’t been using any oil in our home cooking for years, and we appreciate the lack of greasy aftermath in our mouths after a hearty meal like falafel tacos.

Yes, there is a way to make falafel without the added calories and fat – if you know what to look out for.

Because getting baked falafel just right can be tricky! They are usually deep-fried, which gives them a super crunchy exterior with a tender, moist interior.

Luckily, we really, really love baked falafel – which means we’ve had no problems going on a quest to refine our recipe and create perfectly crispy yet oil-free oven-baked falafel. You can put them in anything from salads and bowls to wraps and, you guessed it – tacos!

Top 25 Vegan Pantry & Freezer Staples
corn tortilla on a cutting board filled with vegan sour cream, avocado, tomato, lettuce and baked falafel

Images by Logan Ink

The Best Vegan Falafel Tacos!

  • Made with cheap staple foods
  • Kid-friendly and suitable for meat-lovers
  • Almost no kitchen skill required
  • Great for batch cooking & freezing
  • Easy to please family-friendly meal
  • Healthy and delicious sans the deep-frying
  • Whole food plant-based beginner recipe
  • Scrumptious & versatile
  • Gluten-free, oil-free, dairy-free
  • Perfect in salads, bowls, wraps and tacos

These protein-packed little patties aren’t just versatile and easy to make; our recipe for vegan falafel tacos is also incredibly healthy and nutritious! Keep on reading for some quick facts.

Let’s Look at Falafel Nutrition 101

This traditional Middle Eastern recipe is mainly made from chickpeas seasoned with a bunch of spices and deep-fried in oil – a process that can make them rather fatty and high in calories.

We’ll quickly share more about the nutritional benefits and breakdown of falafel according to Ryan Raman, MS, RD.

close up of seven freshly baked vegan falafel that are oil-free and golden brown on some parchment paper

Is Falafel Healthy?

Compared to deep-fried animal products, falafel is certainly healthy. Made from mainly whole plant-based foods, they offer a good amount of protein, fiber and some essential nutrients (e.g. vitamin B6, manganese, folate, magnesium, zinc and iron).

If you eat falafel with a lot of vegetables and not just a white pita wrap, your plant-strong meal is pretty much as nutritious as it gets! Just shoot for making your own oil-free vegan falafel to get the most health benefits possible out of these flavorful little gems.

Honestly, our oven-baked and oil-free version has pretty much nothing to envy from the deep-fried falafel, and as a healthier alternative, they are definitely worth a try. Studies consistently show that people who regularly consume deep-fried foods have a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

6 Reasons Oil Isn’t Healthy

Is Falafel Plant-Based or Vegan?

Falafel is naturally gluten-free and oftentimes accidentally vegan. They are made with chickpeas, onions, garlic, herbs and spices, all of which are plant-based.

Moreover, falafel is often served with bread, salad, pickled vegetables and a tahini sauce, making them a go-to choice for vegans. Just make sure to ask that there is no yogurt added to your falafel dish!

two taco shells on chopping board that are being filled with oil free falafel, avocado, leafy greens and tomatoes

How Much Protein & Calories are in Falafel

Depending on how you prepare your homemade falafel, you can end up with a more or less calorie-rich meal. Usually deep-fried in oil, falafel can have up to 333 calories per 100 g serving. And that doesn’t include the wrap or any other fillings!

The protein content of falafel is pretty consistent thanks to the traditional chickpea base and comes down to 13 g per 100 g.

Our falafel tacos (including avocado and sour cream!) are lower in overall calories than your average falafel pita – each taco only has 376 calories.

You can adjust this to your needs and make them even more weight loss-friendly by using romaine lettuce leaves instead of taco shells!

What’s In Oil-Free Falafel?

Falafel are the perfect easy and budget-friendly accompaniment to any flavorful lunch or dinner! Here are the main ingredients to make oil-free falafel.

  • Chickpeas – some claim that canned chickpeas make for bad falafel, but we couldn’t disagree more! They get extra points for convenience but feel free to cook chickpeas from scratch if you’re so inclined.
  • Aromatics – really important for good falafel; use plenty of onion, garlic and fresh parsley for the authentic Middle-Eastern experience!
  • Seasonings – we’ll keep it to the falafel basics like cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne; adjust them to your taste.

These sound simple enough, right? Let’s see how quickly your falafel can be made and ready to devour.

two tortilla on parchment paper that are being filled with leafy greens, tomatoes, oil free baked falafel and cashew sour cream

How to Make Baked Falafel Tacos

In addition to your chickpeas, aromatics and seasoning, you will also need a food processor to make the perfect baked falafel. An immersion blender might also do in times of need, but hey, we want this recipe to be really accessible!

Add all ingredients to a food processor and start pulsing until the mixture is finely ground and comes together nicely. To see if you’ve achieved the right consistency, try to make a ball out of the batter using your hands – if the mixture is too wet and sticky, add a pinch of flour and process again. Adjust with more water and flour until you can easily form the little falafel balls.

Here’s a little tip: you can also form the falafel using a medium-sized cookie or ice cream scoop instead of your hands! Just dip it into the batter and fill with your delicious chickpea mixture. Remove any excess batter, then release the little falafel ball onto a lined baking sheet.

We personally like to get our hands dirty when making falafel, so we have no problem using them. This can be a great step to get kids involved, by the way!

Now, the vegan falafel balls need to go into the oven for 20 minutes until they are crispy and golden brown on the outside – no oil needed for this!

Next, gather the rest of what you need to put this meatless meal together.

Ingredients for Falafel Tacos

  • Corn tortillas
  • Tomatoes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream (or hummus)

Once the falafel have been baked and slightly cooled, you can place them in your toasted corn tortillas along with chopped tomatoes, avocado and leafy greens.

In our recipe below, you can find an easy homemade cashew sour cream that you can use to drizzle over your falafel and veggie-stuffed tacos – but if you’re short on time, simply use some hummus from the fridge or a few tablespoons of creamy tahini.

two taco shells that are filled with fresh veggies, baked falafel and drizzled with homemade vegan cashew sour cream

Tips for the Best Vegan Falafel Creations

Ready for Taco Tuesday? Now that you know the basics of how to make your own baked falafel and what the other ingredients for falafel tacos are, we thought we’d answer just a few more questions.

What to Serve with Baked Falafel

Vegan falafel are often served in a wrap, pita pocket or, in this case, in a taco. Together with ingredients like hummus, spicy tahini, sour cream and pickled, fresh or grilled vegetables, they make for a great and satiating plant-based meal!

Here are some recipes to try:

close up of a small bright bowl that's filled with creamy homemade vegan hummus
several oil-free baked falafel made from chickpeas on some parchment paper

How to Make Falafel Wraps

One of the most common ways to enjoy these little chickpea patties are in the form of falafel wraps! Warm and soft lavash bread, crunchy fresh veggies, some hummus plus our oil-free baked falafel – pure heaven.

Falafel wraps are pretty similar to falafel tacos, so they are made in very much the same way (except for the wrapping at the end).

Can you Refrigerate & Freeze Falafel?

Oven-baked falafel are great for batch cooking! They can be refrigerated for 4-5 days when stored in an airtight container.

If you want to freeze them for up to 3 months, let the baked falafel cool completely before placing them in a ziplock bag. Once you are ready to eat them, let the frozen falafel thaw before reheating them at medium temperature in the oven for around 10 minutes.

bright surface with three homemade healthy baked falafel tacos and some limes

More Delicious Vegan Dinner Recipes

We have many more plant-based, oil-free and easy vegan recipes like these on the blog! Here’s what you can try next.

Let’s move on to our baked falafel tacos – they’re so easy you can whip them up in about half an hour! Hopefully you appreciated our extra tips for this recipe and you’re now ready to enjoy this nutritious comfort food.

Have you made our vegan falafel tacos? Did you enjoy it or customize it in any way? Feel free to share in the comments below, rate the recipe or Pin it for later. You can also tag us on Instagram if you made it – we’d love to see your creations!

Baked Vegan Falafel Tacos

Baked Vegan Falafel Tacos

Yield: 5 tacos
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Made from scratch with budget-friendly staple foods, these easy oil-free baked falafel tacos are ready in about 30 minutes! Protein and flavor-packed, they are a plant-based family-friendly dinner option that’s easily thrown together and customizable to your needs.

Ingredients

  • 5 corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 2 cups leafy greens, chopped (60 g)

For the Falafel

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas (240g), drained & rinsed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp flour of choice*
  • Pinch cayenne pepper and ground black pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt

Cashew Sour Cream

  • ¾ cup cashews (85g), soaked & drained
  • ¼ cup water (60 ml)
  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp dill
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper

Instructions

Make the Falafel

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Put all ingredients for the falafel in a food processor (or blend with an immersion blender) and pulse until finely ground without any large pieces remaining.
  3. With your hands, form small balls (around 1-1.5 inch or 3-4 cm diameter) and gently flatten them into falafel shapes if you like. Then, put them on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet so that they are not touching each other. 
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the falafel balls over and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown on both sides.

Make the Cashew Sour Cream

  1. In the meantime, prepare the sour cream. Once the cashews have soaked for at least 20 minutes, drain them. 
  2. Then, put the soaked cashews in a blender together with all other sauce ingredients and blend until creamy.

Make the Falafel Tacos

  1. Prepare the corn tacos by following the instructions on the package. Usually, you can either toast them lightly in the oven for a few minutes on each side or heat them up in a nonstick skillet until they become hot but still soft.
  2. Fill the tacos with the falafel, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and sour cream, evenly distributing the ingredients among all tortillas. Enjoy warm!

Notes

  • *We usually use chickpea flour or ground oats; these are healthy and gluten-free choices, but you can use whatever flour you have on hand
  • For a lower calorie version, simply use romaine lettuce leaves instead of the corn tortillas
  • Instead of homemade or store-bought sour cream, you can also top these falafel tacos with hummus or drizzle with tahini
  • Feel free to use more add-ins such as pickled or grilled vegetables for more colorful tacos!
  • The falafel taste best fresh from the oven but can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days and even frozen for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 376Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 810mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 12gSugar: 8gProtein: 14g

Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed. Just focus on whole plant-based foods and eat until satiety!

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Alena enjoying a bowl of fresh plant-based food and coffe in a restaurant
Alena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist (CPD) who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.
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