Low Carb Falafel with Tahini Sauce (Gluten Free)

So it’s two for one day over here at IBIH!  Why are you getting a bonus post today?  Because I just couldn’t sit on it for another day, that’s why! 

Recently I posted this low carb hummus recipe, and in the post I mentioned having an idea for a cauliflower-based falafel.  Well I had so much caulifloqwe in my fridge that I finally decided to start testing it out this afternoon. 

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to go about it, just had a few theories on what might work and what wouldn’t.  I figured I’d at least start today but never dreamed that it would turn out as well as it did on the first try! 

It’s so good that I think it’s my best low carb creation to date.  It was all I could do not to burst into song like a Disney princess when I took the first taste of it. 

I wanted the crunchy texture of a chickpea-based falafel so I started with raw cauliflower, chopped, and then ground in the food processor.  I was worried that it would be too mushy still when it cooked, so to keep the chickpea-like texture, I thought maybe ground almonds might do the trick. 

I used the slivered almonds you can buy in the baking section of most grocery stores and ground them to a still slightly chunky texture in my magic bullet.  To that I added the classic flavorings of falafel, a little heavier on the cumin to hide any cauliflower flavor. 

To help bind it I used coconut flour and eggs.  When I formed them they held together well, but I never dredged them and I worried that they wouldn’t brown.  As you can see by the picture they DID and perfectly! 

Super crunchy like falafel should be!  And the interior texture was so good – the slight crunch of the nuts mimicked the chickpeas unbelievably well!  The real test though, was whether or not I could get them by my husband and four year old son.  Hungry Jr. pronounced them “delicious” and Mr. Hungry never even tasted the cauliflower! 

This is a major win for me because he HATES cauliflower and can sniff out even a hint of it like a cadaver dog in a cemetery.  So when he got home from work I’d already cleaned up the evidence and had him taste one.  He thought they were great except for the slight crunch of the nuts which is a weird thing he has. 

Never caught the cauliflower though and was surprised when I told him.  YYESSSS!  In your FACE!!!  (LOL, just kidding!  I didn’t really say that but I did think it and do a mental victory dance!)  They really are THAT good! 

I can’t wait for you guys to try them and tell me what you think!  If you like falafel, I think you’ll really enjoy them.  If you’ve never tried falafel, then you’ll really REALLY enjoy them!  Heck if you have a mouth, you are going to enjoy them!

Makes 8 three-inch patties

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cauliflower, pureed
1/2 cup ground slivered almonds
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp coconut flour

For the cauliflower you should end up with a cup of the puree.  It takes about 1 medium head (florets only) to get that much.  First chop it up with a knife, then add it to a food processor or magic bullet and pulse until it’s blended but still has a grainy texture.  You can grind the almonds in a similar manner – just don’t over grind them, you want the texture. 

Combine the ground cauliflower and ground almonds in a medium bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well blended.  Heat a half and half mix of olive and grapeseed (or any other light oil) oil until sizzling.  While it’s heating, form the mix into 8 three-inch patties that are about the thickness of a hockey puck. 

Fry them four at a time until browned on one side and then flip and cook the other side.  Resist the urge to flip too soon – you should see the edges turning brown before you attempt it – maybe 4 minutes or so per side.  Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain any excess oil. 

Serve with tahini sauce and a tomato & parsley garnish if desired.

Tahini sauce:

2 Tbsp tahini paste
4 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt

Blend all ingredients in a bowl.  Thin with more water if you like a lighter consistency.

Approx nutrition info per 2 patties with sauce: 281 calories, 24g fat, 5g net carbs, 8g protein

Comments

  1. says

    I almost want to go make them right now, but it’s nearly 11 pm and I would wake others up. So, I will have to wait until tomorrow. I am also probably going to do your cookies, and make a pizza tomorrow. It’s going to be featst time, and all your recipes!!!

    Thanks, Melissa. We are so blessed to have you!

  2. says

    Wow….not only does that look delicious and interesting but excellent writing. I’m going to clip this and try it sometime. Actually I have put out a call to my FB friends to see if any of them can cook it for me, and send me a serving. Do you think they would reheat ok?

  3. Jenny Yelle says

    This looks so yummy!!! Because I am Greek, I always cook a Mediterranean themed Easter dinner, and these will be the perfect compliment to the meal… Thank you! I love your blog & e-mails!

    • says

      Hey Paul! You are right that they are sometimes too dry and crumbly, and these definitely were not. I hope you try them because I’m interested in hearing what you thought. I liked them even better than the real thing which was a surprise to me!

  4. Anonymous says

    Mellissa, these sound outstanding! What a fantastic recipe. As usual, you’ve come up with an original and exciting idea. HOWEVER…..I have a theory on why Matt didn’t pick up on the cauliflower. You see, he stopped by our house on the way home last night. As he walked in, he nearly fainted as he let out a huge, “PHEW! What’s that sink?…cabbage?….cauliflower?” I had just roasted two large heads of cauliflower and the house was filled with it’s…uh……essence. So, my theory is that Matt’s nostrils experienced cauliflower sensory overload and didn’t have a chance to reset before tasting your falafel. Ha! Great job!! Can’t wait to try these…..when are you coming over? :o) XO Your mom-in-law

  5. says

    I just ate the falafel because you were excited and I didn’t want floor spice put into the things you make for me. Plus, you sabotaged my senses by adding the nuts and so I wasn’t focused on cauliflower detection. Well played……

    • says

      When we used to go to NYC and walk around it was one of my favorite things to get from the food trucks! Even if we had dinner plans I always got some! So crunchy and delicious! I really love this version though and I hope you will too! Let me know if it satisfies your craving!

  6. says

    Thanks for the recipe! Made these for lunch today and they were really tasty :) Cauliflower is pretty hard to get hold of where i live and i’m really glad i used it this way. Cheers

    • says

      Thanks for the feedback! Sorry for you that you can’t get cauli easily! I remember in CT a few years ago it was $4 per head and up. My mother in law called me the other day because she found it at a local Aldi’s down here in SC for 89 CENTS a head! I didn’t get any because I’d already stocked up at 2 bucks and thought that was a good deal! Going to try growing my own this year for the first time – maybe you can too. Love it! :)

  7. Leigh says

    So excited to find this blog. I can’t wait to make these. Do you think these could be made and then put in a freezer bag to be pulled out when you wanted to make a few? I am eating gluten free and trying paleo/low carb, and your recipes are a welcome change from most. Thanks! Oh I live in NC

    • says

      Hi Leigh and thanks! I think you probably could freeze them though I haven’t tried it. You could try freezing the patties formed but uncooked, or even fry them and then cool and freeze them and bake them for 10-12 minutes right out of the freezer to heat and crisp them up. In fact, I think I’m going to experiment with that theory myself! Let me know if you try it and if it works or not!

  8. Anonymous says

    WOW. I really mean it. I can’t believe how much that tasted like a true falafal. Many thanks! I served it with a cucumber and tomato salad and some Tzatziki sauce. Perfection!

  9. Anonymous says

    These are fantastic! I served these with a greek-ish salad on the side – yummorama. My 13 y/o just requested this to be her birthday dinner…and she hasn’t liked anything lately. anything. Thank you so much!!!

    • says

      This is pure speculation because I haven’t tried it, but I think it could work. The biggest issue I see with it is getting the nice crunchy crust on them. Maybe if you brush or spray them with oil first? They’d still be tasty either way, but the crunchy crust is where it’s at…

  10. Erin says

    OH my! These are so delicious! Thank you for creating such great tasting food using natural ingredients! My health depends on it! :)

  11. says

    Delicious! I have just started eating along the primal/paleo style and am having a hard time reconciling myself to all the meat, so this was perfect. My husband and I both liked it. We served it with a salad of chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, chopped greek olives with red wine vinegar and olive oil. It was great, so thank you!!

    • says

      Sounds like a yummy salad! Glad you enjoyed these, I don’t like to eat tons of meat either but it’s not easy to be low carb and not eat meat with every meal. I’m always looking for hearty alternatives and will work on more meatless recipes in the future. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  12. Hannah says

    Melissa you are a Goddess! These are SO DAMN GOOD. Next time I will have to make double the recipe because they were just inhaled at dinner.

  13. Anna says

    I finally tried these – YUM! Thanks for this brilliant and original idea! Some of them fell apart though. Nothing a bit of locust bean gum won’t fix.

  14. Anna says

    By the way – I happened to add 1/2 tsp tumeric and this made the faux-lafel yellow on the inside, just like the real ones!

  15. says

    i made 2 batches on sunday. one i doubled the almond portion and the other i made as the recipe calls for. i prefer the one with more almond as it is more ‘nutty’ and taste more like a falafel to me. the others without double almond taste a bit soft. i also froze the regular recipe and cooked from frozen which could also contribute to the texture?

  16. Debbie says

    I bookmarked this recipe months ago and finally got around to trying it. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that I am out of cumin and coriander until I started mixing the ingredients… oops! I compensated with extra parsley and added black pepper, sweet paprika, and spicy paprika. I figured it wouldn’t taste falafel-like without the cumin, but maybe it would still be salvageable as a vegetable patty? The result was fantastic! The texture is exactly like felafel (I live in the Middle East, so I know!). Even without the cumin and coriander it still tasted similar to its namesake. This recipe is a winner and was immediately copied down into my recipe notebook. They are very filling and you cannot taste the cauliflower at all (not that I would mind, I like cauliflower). The tehina complements this dish perfectly. Thank you for sharing this terrific recipe!

  17. Karen in Ithaca says

    I just made these faux-lafel and am really impressed with their texture and flavor. In addition, my carb- loving kids thought they were yummy.

    • says

      Hi Coral, I’m not really sure about making it egg free. Theoretically, mixing in 2 Tbl of flax meal (ground flax seeds) or chia seeds would act as a binder to replace the egg, but I’m not sure how much it would alter the flavor. If you try it, do let us know if it works or not and how the flavor is!

  18. Christina W says

    I just made these, and they are seriously amazing!! I’m so excited right now over the fact that I can have falaffel again!
    However, I think that the size of cauliflowers here in Denmark must be enormous, because I got FOUR cups of cauliflower-rice from one semi-small (imo) cauliflowerhead :D. Oh well, just had to make more falaffel ;)

  19. says

    These were awesome!

    I’ve made “falafel” before, chickpea and non-chickpea variations and these were definitely the best.

    Thanks :)

  20. Suzanne says

    I made these tonight for my family but wanted to share my substitution — we’ve got zucchini coming out of our ears from our garden so I actually substituted a cup of raw pureed zucchini instead of the cauliflower (also because I was already using cauliflower “rice” to make a grain-free tabouleh as a side dish). I had to add a bit more almond and coconut flour to account for the added moisture in the zucchini, but otherwise they were FABULOUS. We wrapped them in swiss chard leaves (also from the garden) to make them pita-esque, and topped with the tahini sauce, tomatoes, and red onion. Thank you SO much for this recipe — it was a huge hit!!!

  21. Colleen Stewart says

    I just tried these and they are amazing!!! I seriously was waiting to feel sick and gross afterwords finding it hard to believe these were not made with chickpeas ;) Happily I feel great :) Two filled me up! I’m looking forward to leftovers tomorrow. Thanks for a great recipe!!

  22. Aaron says

    This is seriously one of the most brilliant recipes that I have ever tried! This blows falafel out of the water. Thank you for being so smart.

  23. Wafaa Wali says

    I tried your recipe today but being a vegan, I decided to skip the patties part and just cooked it and added rice milk till it cooked and used it the way I would use couscous or lentils with salad. Great recipe, thank you.

  24. Sandi says

    Mellissa , this recipe is amazing!!! I haven’t had falafels for years because of my tummys dislike of chickpeas.Now I can have them whenever I want! Thank you ,thank you, thank you!
    I am new to your site and I am really enjoying it. The recipes I’ve made so far have all been very good. Keep up the good work, thanks again.

    • says

      Welcome Sandi, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the falafel! It’s one of my favorite recipes on the blog but it’s been ages since I’ve made it myself – really need to make these again soon! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  25. Gina says

    Not sure what I did wrong. :( I made the recipe, I thought precisely according to your directions. But I only came out with four 3-inch patties. There was no way that was going to make 8 of them. The only thing I was confused about was the amount of cauliflower. I used what I considered to be a medium head, pulsed it in the food processor as directed. But I came out with way more than one cup of pureed cauliflower. It was at least twice that. Maybe I didn’t puree it enough?? Maybe I should have just used all of it anyway?? What do you think? I have never had falafel before, but these taste great and the texture is exactly as you described. I am thinking that the cauliflower, eggs and coconut flour could work as a great binder in crab cakes and tuna or salmon patties. Oh the possibilities…… :) Thanks for all you do Mellissa. Want you to know that you are extremely appreciated!!!

    • says

      Thank you Gina! The recipe calls for the one cup so you did that right, but it’s been so long since I’ve made these that I’ll have to test it out again to see about the quantity. Glad you enjoyed the flavor and texture though, thanks for the feedback!!!

  26. April says

    I’m definitely going to try these. I’ve found all the recipes you have given for the menu’s are great. I’m only on week one; but I LOVE it!

    What could replace the Coriander? I’m also wondering about the Tahini paste as I don’t know if I will be able to find that.

    Thanks for all your work. I’m going to be able to “Make it” this time…I just know it!

    • says

      You can definitely make it April! There is really no replacement for coriander, but you could just omit it. The tahini paste is really critical to the authentic flavor, but if you can’t find it then let I suppose you could use almond butter – it will have a different flavor but would be somewhat similar. Let us know if you try it and how it comes out!

  27. Sarah says

    Phenomenal recipe! It really is exactly like falafel and completely cauliflower funk free. My teens ate all of the leftovers immediately after lunch. I served it in a Joseph’s low carb pita with lettuce tomato and Trader Joe’s tahini sauce, about 8 net carbs all together and the best and most filling lunch I have had in weeks. I made a double batch and still have a lot of riced cauliflower left, I may be making it again tomorrow.

    I thought the jerked ribs were my favorite of your recipes but they have been displaced.

  28. Stephanie Wagner says

    Great recipe!! I also had A LOT of cauliflower so I doubled the recipe. They freeze very well. Just thaw for 30 sec in the microwave and then pan fry to crisp them up again! Worked great!

    • says

      I haven’t tried it Kimi but in theory almond flour would also work fine, maybe an extra tablespoon or two since it’s not as absorbent as coconut flour. Hope you like them!

  29. chris says

    I added avocado, which gave them the green falafel color while also giving it a bit more body flavor wise, and they also held together better. I increased the salt by a tad and added some lemon juice. The falafel were fine when added with the zucchini hummus, but the lemon helped them stand on their own. I found they were better in bite sizes and I rolled them in the coconut flour, since coconut flour creates a crisp crust. I was able to achieve the exact color and consistency of a regular falafel this way. I also fried them at 350 and found anything towards the 375 range to give inconsistent results. Great concept, no one knew they weren’t normal falafel.

  30. Melissa says

    Hi there, thanks so much for this recipe! My sweetie is type 1 diabetic and can’t really have your typical falafel, since the chickpeas have too many carbs. Every time it would be offered to him, he would only eat one or two balls, and his blood sugar would sky rocket. He showed me this recipe today, and we teamed up to make it, a little unsure since he absolutely detests cauliflower. Let me tell you, we BOTH loved it! He even said it was better than the falafel we had last week made by the Middle Eastern lady down the street. Beating a Middle Eastern family falafel recipe is no easy feat, but you’ve done it. Thanks so much for giving my sweetie something to drool over. It’s hard for him to find treats he can have, so we will definitely put this one in our weekly rotation!

    – Melissa Rose

    • says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know Melissa (great name btw, lol!) To know that he hates cauliflower (so does my husband) and that he still thought it was even better than a truly authentic falafel recipe really makes my day! :)

      • Melissa says

        Yes, he loves them! So glad for this recipe, great work :) Actually making them again right now – which brought me back to this recipe! Great name as well haha :)

  31. JillS says

    Made these tonight- they were great! I substituted ground flaxseed with water for the eggs to make the recipe vegan. Fantastic! We loved them!

  32. brittany says

    I made this today (after finding the recipe about fifteen minutes before I decided to cook it haha) and it was really good! I was GOING to mention in my comment that the ‘batter’ was really watery and definitely couldn’t be preformed into hockey pucks. I was GOING to mention that for the second half of the batch, I put it through a sieve first and that helped make it more ‘shapeable’….then I got back on your site to comment and realized that I had skipped the coconut flour!! THAT’S why it was watery! Duh! Coconut flour would have sucked that moisture right up.

    But I decided to share my dumbness in the comments in case others are out of coconut flour or something — these still work great, let it sit for a little bit to release the moisture then put through a sieve or maybe a nut bag, and you should be good to go! :) Maybe they are fluffier with the coconut flour? I’ll try it that way next time! :)

  33. Sue says

    FYI. I baked mine and they came out pretty good. Not as dark and crunchy as your beauties, but I was happy. I dusted with a little flour and sprayed with cooking spray. Baked 15 minutes per side at 400.

  34. Christine says

    This has become an absolute favorite go to dish! So glad to have the recipe. I add a bit of yogurt to the tahini sauce as well. MMMMMM!

  35. Susan says

    I don’t know how I stumble upon this recipe, and was rather skeptical, but my husband hates cauliflower too so I thought I’d give this a go. SOOOOOO YUMMY! Neither of us could believe they were made of cauliflower! I made a double batch because my head of cauliflower gave me 2 cups when pureed. I’m glad I did because we had 1 batch for dinner (with a big salad) and the 2nd batch for lunch the next day, this time in wraps with lettuce and toms. Instead of the tahini sauce (didn’t have tahini on hand) I topped them with plain yogurt and chopped mint. I’m now going to go through the rest of your recipes – thanks!!!

  36. Sherrie says

    I made these the other night, they were delish. I added curry powder instead of cumin and corriander, just because. They were a little delicate in the pan but after being in the refrigerator overnight they had an even better texture. They were yummy for lunch the next day. Thanks so much for the recipe. Can’t wait to make them for my vegetarian daughter. Who knew a vegetarian and a low-carber eating the same thing!! Love it!

  37. Wendy says

    I love all of your recipes as so many of your followers do! I have recently made the faux-lafels and they really turned out amazing. The taste and texture were very comparable to the real thing, even better. I left my almonds very slivered like texture and my kids loved them. My only concern was my tahini sauce, it was very salty as the recipe called for 1 tsp of salt. Should I have used table salt instead of sea salt? In future I might even omit the salt altogether. What are your thought. Thanks again for all of your amazing creations!

    • says

      I use kosher salt which is flaky and probably not as dense as your sea salt, definitely experiment with using less next time – salt is a tough measurement in a recipe because people’s taste is so different and the different varieties can vary so much in how salty they are. Glad you enjoyed the recipe though and thanks for the feedback!

  38. niki says

    I really needed to comment on this recipe. I have a HATE HATE relationship with cauliflower. I LITERALLY have thrown it up every single time I have tried eating it, all of my life.

    it is offensive and disgusting. Cauliflower is the anti christ.

    However… in an attempt to add new vegetables, I braved it and made your recipe and I LOVED it!! My husband loved it as well and he is not a huge fan of cauliflower either.

    WELL DONE!

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