Filling but also light and nutritious, this falafel wrap makes a perfect healthy vegetarian lunch or even dinner. It’s stuffed with crunchy falafel, fresh vegetables, pickled red cabbage, and topped with creamy tzatziki sauce. So good!
This recipe was originally published on March 12, 2014, and was republished in May 2020 to add better quality photos, re-test the recipe, and add more helpful tips.
Have you ever had a falafel wrap or pita from a take-away and thought it seemed way too hard to make at home? It’s not! You do need to plan a day in advance, but this is absolutely something you can make at home for an awesome vegetarian lunch.
I first had a falafel wrap in Paris. While it is an Eastern Mediterranean street food, it is ridiculously popular in Le Marais, the Jewish quarter of Paris. I learned later that lots of people travel there just for the falafel. Of course, it is near impossible to find it in Lithuania (we miss out sometimes), so I must make my own.
My falafel wraps are all about combining the crunchy falafel with nice fresh veggies and creamy tzatziki in a healthy, wholemeal wrap. It is perfect when you want something filling, but also light and nutritious, just like my vegetable halloumi wrap. And if making a wrap is too messy for you, this is a dish that is super easy to turn into a salad bowl – it’s basically a salad already!
What is falafel?
Falafel are deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas, onion, and spices. A bit like a vegan version of meatballs, but deep-fried. You would never know they are vegan though. They are so meaty and satisfying.
Traditionally they are served in a pita bread with shredded lettuce, onion, and some other vegetables. Usually cabbage, cucumber, and tomatoes. For my version I chose to leave out the cucumber (since there is cucumber in the tzatziki anyway) and use a pickled cabbage. I like the tangy flavor it brings to the wrap.
Making tzatziki sauce
For the best results, you really need to make sure you eliminate as much excess liquid from cucumbers as possible before mixing them with everything else. Drain the cucumbers through a fine-mesh sieve overnight or for at least an hour or a few. Otherwise, the sauce will be thin and soak into the falafel rather than sitting on top.
Since you also need to start your chickpeas soaking the day before, that is a good time to start your tzatziki sauce too.
If you make more falafel then you need right away or want to deep fry them ahead of time, you can. Falafel balls freeze well once fried, and you can reheat them in the oven. They won’t be as crispy, but they are still tasty.
To freeze them:
Once they are cooked, drain any excess oil. Allow them to come to room temperature before sealing them in a freezer container. When you freeze them, keep them in a single layer. This will prevent them from sticking to each other and make it easier to reheat them later.
Don’t put the fried falafel in a sealed container while they are still hot, as this will create moisture. The moisture will soak into them as they cool and they will lose their amazing crunchiness. Allowing them to cool without being covered will help preserve their crunchy exterior.
Can I use canned chickpeas?
It might be tempting to use canned chickpeas – but don’t! Canned chickpeas change the texture a lot in falafel. Using dried chickpeas that are soaked overnight keeps most of the starch intact in the bean, which is what you need to form the structure of the falafel. Canned chickpeas have been cooked and that starch broken down, preventing your falafel from holding their shape.
If you are not certain where to get dried chickpeas versus canned, well, most stores have them with all the other dried beans. Usually near the rice. Or sometimes you can find them in the bulk goods section (if your store has one).
If you haven’t worked with dried chickpeas before and don’t want to end up with a whole bag that you don’t know what to do with, bulk is a great way to go. You can get just enough for this recipe, so you don’t end up with extra that just sits in your cupboard. Or you could just assume that you will love falafel and want to make it again really soon.
Because I can guarantee you, once you’ve had it, you will absolutely want it again! Such a perfect combination of healthy fresh vegetables, crunchy, high protein falafel, and creamy tzatziki sauce. It’s not exactly quick and requires a bit of forward planning, but it is so worth it.
Falafel Wrap with Tzatziki Sauce
For the tzatziki sauce:
- 1/2 large English cucumber , unpeeled
- 1 1/2 cups full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 garlic cloves , finely minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp minced fresh dill
For the falafel balls:
- 1 cup dried chickpeas , soaked in cold water overnight
- 1/2 red onion , chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1 big handful of fresh parsley , chopped
- black pepper , to taste
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- canola oil , for deep frying
For the falafel wrap:
- large tortilla wraps , I used whole wheat but any work
- shredded lettuce
- red onion , thinly sliced
- pickled red cabbage
- cherry tomatoes , halved
- tzatziki sauce
- Grate the cucumber and drain through cheesecloth sprinkled with a pinch of salt overnight or at least a few hours.
- In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Stir in the fresh dill and grated cucumber. Taste and add more salt, if desired. Store in the refrigerator and serve chilled.
- Drain the chickpeas well and place on paper towel to remove the remaining exterior water. Transfer drained chickpeas, red onion, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, paprika powder, parsley, salt and black pepper to a food processor and pulse until roughly mashed.
- Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl. You should achieve a paste-like consistency, but it doesn't need to be perfectly smooth – mixture should remain slightly chunky.
- Spoon the mixture into a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder and sesame seeds, and stir until well combined. If the mixture is too moist or sticky at this stage, add a little bit more flour, until the mixture holds together. Then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Once the falafel mixture has chilled, shape it into small balls (I made 18 balls). Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, until the oil is hot (350 F). Fry the balls in batches, without crowding, until nicely browned, turning as necessary (about 2-3 minutes) and set aside on paper towels to drain.
- Heat tortillas in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until warm. Place desired amount of lettuce on the tortilla. Layer the red onion, pickled red cabbage, falafel balls, halved cherry tomatoes, and top generously with tzatziki sauce. Roll up the tortilla. Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.