Try These Vegan Falafels With Smoky Tahini Sauce

These oil-free falafels are a tasty addition to your dinnertime roster - and they're jam-packed with plant-protein


2 Minutes Read

vegan, gluten-free, oil-free falafels made with chickpeas and topped with a tahini sauce Give these oil-free falafels a try, they're flavorsome and topped with a smoky tahini dressing - Media Credit: Dreena Burton

Are you looking for a wholesome dinner full of plant protein? Dreena Burton’s oil-free falafels from her cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan, offer a new twist on the classic Middle Eastern dish. You can make these falafels from a base of canned or dried chickpeas.

Chickpeas are rich in protein, fiber, and essential vitamins such as B6 and folate. The recipe combines chickpeas with a blend of fresh herbs, garlic, and spices, creating a flavorful and nutritious alternative to traditional fried falafels.

Versatile and easy to prepare, falafels can be served in various ways. They make a great addition to salads, wraps, or grain bowls and can be paired with a variety of sauces, such as tahini, hummus, or a vegan yogurt-based dressing. 

Read more: 8 Easy Vegan Egg Recipes, From Yolks To Omelet

What is tahini?

If you didn’t know, tahini is a creamy paste made from ground sesame seeds. It’s popular for its rich, nutty flavor and smooth texture. Its flavor profile makes it a versatile ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. Because of its unique taste, people enjoy tahini in dressings, dips (like hummus), and sauces.

Tahini is a good source of healthy fats, protein, and essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins. These nutrients support bone health, muscle function, and overall metabolic processes, making tahini a nutritious addition to many diets.

Read more: 20 High Protein Vegan Dinner Ideas

Oil-free falafels with smoky tahini sauce

If you're looking for a falafel that isn't deep-fried this recipe is for you. These fresh and light falafels are made with flavorful herbs and seasonings and are super easy to make on a non-stick pan. The smoky tahini sauce that accompanies the falafels and offer a unique flavor set against tangy lime and maple syrup.
vegan, gluten-free, oil-free falafels made with chickpeas and topped with a tahini sauce
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For the falafels
  • Two 14/15 ounce cans chickpeas rinses and drained
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves packed (not chopped, just torn from stems)
  • ½–¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, packed
  • ½ cup green onions chopped (mostly white but some green portion)
  • ¼ cup celery chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2–3 medium-large cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • tsp ground coriander
  • tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼–½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¾–1 cup rolled oats use certified gf oats for gluten-free option
  • cup millet chickpea or other flour for dusting patties seasoned with a couple pinches of sea salt
For the tahini sauce
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½–⅔ cup water for a thinner sauce if desired
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¾–1¼ tsp pure maple syrup or agave


For the falafels

  • In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, onion, celery, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, and spices, and process until the mixture is well incorporated and starting to smooth out, scraping scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Then add the oats and pulse a few times to work them in. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes if possible (refrigerating will make it firmer and easier to shape).
  • Take small scoops of the mixture, 11⁄2 to 2 tablespoons (using a cookie scoop is helpful, but you can use your hands, rinsing when needed to keep the mixture from sticking to your palms) and form into balls.
  • Once finished, place the seasoned millet flour in a bowl. Add the falafel balls to the bowl and lightly toss, then toss a moment in your hand to remove any excess clumping of flour.
  • Prepare a nonstick skillet over medium or medium-high heat (prepare surface with spray/wipe of oil, or use a good non-stick).
  • Place the falafel balls in the pan, flattening them slightly with a spatula, and cook for 6 to 9 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crisped on the outside, working in batches, if needed. Serve.  Makes 20-24 patties.

For the tahini sauce

  • Using a standing blender or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 1⁄2 cup of the water, 1⁄4 teaspoon of the paprika, and 3⁄4 teaspoon of the agave) until smooth.
  • Add additional paprika and salt to taste; maple syrup to balance any bitterness, if needed; and water to thin, as desired.
Chickpea Note: If using chickpeas you’ve cooked yourself from dry, they can sometimes have less moisture and make the blended mix too dry.  If it is not coming together before adding the oats, is too crumbly, add a smidgen of water – a teaspoon at a time until it just comes together.  With canned chickpeas, you should not need to add extra water.

Recipes reprinted from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton. Find more of her whole food plant-based recipes at You can find the original recipe here and her Instagram here.

Read more: 10 Vegan Dinners That Prioritize Whole Foods

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