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Buffalo Falafel Bites

Cook Time:
10 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins
4 to 6

Chef notes

Falafel is near-perfect as is. Virtuous and indulgent, this vegetarian main with Middle Eastern origins is made with smashed chickpeas, onions, herbs and spices, then fried until golden and crisp. Biting into the crispy exterior to reveal the soft, herby and flavorful chickpea center is one of life’s true joys. But what if I told you it could be even better?

In this creative spin by Elana Besser, traditional falafel are tossed in homemade Buffalo sauce, adding a little bit of spice. Think: saucy Buffalo wings meets crispy, crunchy falafel — a delightful mashup of Besser’s two favorite foods. Fun fact: she even has a framed photo of Buffalo wings hanging above her bed. Quite the muse! 

To save time, use canned chickpeas instead of dried (which would require an overnight soak). Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor until crumbly, then place in a bowl while you blitz shallot, garlic, chili flakes, parsley and garlic powder. Toss together with the chickpeas to form the falafel base. This recipe also calls for the use of potato or cornstarch, which ensures a crunchy, crispy exterior.  Fry them up or bake, depending on your preference.  

As for the simple sauce, whisk butter, hot sauce and garlic powder until melted and a gorgeous orange hue forms, then brush over each bite. Pair with a creamy, yogurt-based dill sauce for a fun play on ranch dressing. 

Get Ingredients: If you don’t have everything you need on hand, you can easily purchase all of the ingredients (just click the orange button below that says ‘Get Ingredients’). You can pick and choose exactly what ingredients you need based on what’s in your pantry and they’ll be on your doorstep before you know it. 


  • 1 cup hot sauce (preferably Frank's)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and dried
  • 1 medium clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 medium shallot (1 tablespoon minced, the rest roughly chopped)
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup cornstarch or potato starch, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups neutral oil, for frying (grapeseed, avocado or vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup full-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 2 medium whole dill pickles, thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 large carrots
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 pita breads, warmed, for serving
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Make the Buffalo sauce: In a small saucepan, combine hot sauce, butter and 2 teaspoons of garlic powder over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.


Prepare a wire rack-lined baking sheet or paper towel-lined baking sheet.


Add drained chickpeas to the food processor and pulse until they reach the consistency of ground nuts. Pour into a large bowl.


In the same food processor, combine fresh garlic, 1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped shallot (reserving the minced for later), 2 teaspoons garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed. Transfer to the bowl with the chickpeas and delicately toss with a rubber spatula to combine.


Sprinkle 1/2 cup cornstarch, baking powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper into the bowl and delicately mix until just combined. Do not press the mixture too hard or the falafel will lose its lighter texture. Portion and roll the dough into 1-ounce balls (about 2 tablespoons) and, using the palm of your hand, lightly flatten into pucks. If the falafel is looking very moist, place the remaining 1/2 cup cornstarch into a shallow bowl and coat the falafel in the cornstarch.


Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Delicately lower the falafel balls into the oil, about an inch apart and fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and transfer to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Season with salt while still warm from frying. 


Prepare the creamy dill sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, minced shallot (about 1 tablespoon), fresh dill, the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half the lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Prepare the carrot salad: Using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin slicer, peel carrots lengthwise into long ribbons. Toss carrots, julienned pickles and remaining parsley together in a large bowl. Squeeze reserved lemon half over the top of the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.


Plate and serve: Use a pastry brush to coat both sides of the falafel in Buffalo sauce. Serve immediately with warmed pita, creamy dill sauce and crunchy vegetables.