Keto Falafel (Paleo & Gluten-free)
Finally! A falafel that is low-carb, paleo and chickpea free! These healthy little balls of deliciousness are made from basic ingredients like cauliflower, walnut meal, coconut flour, eggs and spices. They perfectly replicate the taste and texture of traditional falafel but without the carbs or legumes.
The recipe comes together in about 30 minutes and makes enough to serve two to three people. Enjoy these falafels as an appetizer, on a bed of lettuce as a salad, or in a pita as a sandwich. They’re packed with flavour and nutrition and are sure to be a huge hit with the whole family!
Traditional falafel, while delicious, is neither paleo nor keto friendly. Falafel can also be hard to digest for those with a chickpea sensitivity or intolerance (yours truly included!). This can cause unpleasant reactions like bloating, skin issues and more.
When I found out I had a sensitivity to chickpeas, I was pretty disappointed. Middle Eastern food has always been one of my favourite cuisines, and chickpeas are an integral part of so many of the dishes. So, to accommodate my own diet, I set out to create a falafel that was entirely chickpea free without compromising on taste or texture!
Cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable and a great substitute for grains and legumes in gluten-free and/or low-carb cooking. After successfully creating a low-carb, gluten-free pizza crust from cauliflower, I opted to use it as the base for my falafel as well. For texture, I used walnut meal and sesame seeds, and for binding I used coconut flour, flax and eggs. For flavour, I used a combination of spices and herbs that are often used in traditional falafel recipes.
These ingredients come together to create a delicious falafel that is low-carb, paleo, gluten-free and packed with flavour! If you’re following a strict keto diet, I recommend a serving size of three falafel balls. Three falafels have a total of 16g of fat, 9g of protein and just 5g of net carbs.
Making these keto falafel balls is neither difficult nor time consuming, but they do require a little bit of patience.
Using a food processor or blender, you’ll pulse about 170g of cauliflower florets until they have a riced texture. Next, add the cauliflower, walnut meal, sesame seeds, coconut flour, flax, spices and herbs to a bowl and mix well. Fold in the beaten eggs until the mixture starts to stick together, as pictured below.
Using a tablespoon, scoop 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture into the palm of your hand and roll into a ball. You should end up with about ten evenly sized falafel balls.
To cook these keto falafels, you’ll need to use an oil with a high smoke point. My favourite oil for frying is avocado oil. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add your falafel to the pan once its ready. The falafel will cause the oil to splatter, so a splash guard is definitely recommended!
Every few minutes, gently rotate the falafel balls to ensure each side is cooked and crisped. Be careful when handling the falafel as they will be quite malleable until they’ve completely cooked. I recommend using a small spoon to roll the balls around in the pan.
Once all the falafel balls are cooked on all sides, place them on a paper towel to cool. The paper towel will pull out any excess oil and keep the falafel from becoming soggy.
One of my favourite things about falafel is just how many ways it can be served. Middle Eastern restaurants often offer falafel on its own as an appetizer with a bit of tahini or some dip on the side. If serving these keto falafel balls as an appetizer, try pairing them with my Roasted Beet and Walnut Dip.
Falafel balls also go well in pita bread as a sandwich and make for a nutritious, filling lunch. Try adding tomato, onion, pickled cabbage and a spread such as tahini, labneh or baba ganoush to the sandwich.
My favourite way to enjoy these keto falafel balls is atop a Middle Eastern inspired salad, as pictured. Add any of the following ingredients to build the perfect falafel salad:
- pickled cabbage, pickled onion
- parsley, mint
- labneh, baba ganoush, tahini, hummus (if not following a low-carb diet and not sensitive to chickpeas), Roasted Beet and Walnut Dip
- grilled halloumi cheese
Leftover falafel balls should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container and will stay fresh for 2-3 days. I don’t recommend freezing these falafel balls as cauliflower can become soggy when thawed.
Leftover keto falafel balls can be enjoyed at room temperature or warmed. If you want to reheat them, add a few tablespoons of oil to a pan and refry the falafel over medium-high heat. This method will warm the falafel through while maintaining a perfectly crisp texture on the outside.
If you make these Keto Falafel balls, please rate them and add your comments below. And tag @thebespokebites in your photos and videos on Instagram for a chance to be featured!
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Keto Falafel (Paleo & Gluten-free)
- 1 cup cauliflower florets (about 170g)
- 1/2 cup walnut meal
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons oil for frying (avocado oil is a good option because of its high smoke point)
- Pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor or high-speed blender until it resembles a riced texture.
- Add the cauliflower, walnut meal, sesame seeds, coconut flour, flax, cumin, coriander, salt, garlic powder and parsley to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Fold in the beaten egg and stir until the mixture binds together. Form mixture into 10 equal balls (about 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture for each ball) and set aside on a plate.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high until quite hot. Drop a small crumb of the mixture onto the pan. If it sizzles, the pan is ready.
- Place the falafel balls in the pan and cover with a splash guard. Cook for a few minutes before rotating the falafels to another side*. Repeat this process until they have been browned all the way around.
- Remove falafel balls from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb any extra oil. Let them cool slightly before serving- they will be quite hot inside!
- *Handle the falafel balls gently when rotating them in the pan. They will be quite malleable until they’ve been fully cooked.