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Falafel Gyro

Want a vegetarian alternative to traditional gyro? Healthy homemade falafel gyro is just the recipe you’re looking for. Whether you serve them in a warm pita or eat them plain with tzatziki, toum, or hummus, they are delicious and perfect for meal prep. For more Mediterranean flavor, try tantuni next!

Falafel Gyro on a plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Middle Eastern falafels are a great building block for a plant-based meal.
  • Prepare a falafel gyro sandwich for a quick and easy lunch or weeknight dinner.
  • The ingredients come together quickly, and you can store them separately – making it a great option for those who meal prep

What is Falafel?

Traditional falafels combine chickpeas or fava beans with fresh herbs and warm spices. Then, they are deep-fried until nice and crispy. Many food historians attribute the flavorful dish to Egypt. Today, they are a popular street food throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. The protein-rich balls have gained popularity among vegans and vegetarians because they are a great source of plant-based protein.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chickpeas: I use dried chickpeas for this recipe to demonstrate how to prepare them. Plus, dry chickpeas soaked overnight have a better texture in the falafels than canned chickpeas. However, you can use canned chickpeas so you don’t have to wait for the chickpeas to soak.
  • Parsley: Fresh parsley adds a vibrant green color and flavor to the chickpea mixture. Parsley is the most traditional choice, but you can use cilantro, mint, or a combination of fresh herbs.
  • Onion: Combine finely diced yellow onions with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Lemon Zest: Use a small amount of lemon zest for a bright pop of acidity.
  • Flour and Baking Powder: Use a combination of chickpea flour or all-purpose flour and baking powder to make nice and crispy falafels. Including a small amount of baking powder helps the balls puff up and produces crispier falafels.
  • Spices: I love the combination of salt, ground cumin, ground cardamom, and cayenne pepper.
  • Egg Whites: Whip egg whites and fold them into the falafel mixture to prevent the balls from becoming too dense.
  • Pita: You will need four pita pockets split in two.
  • Tzatziki: Use store-bought tzatziki or make your own.
  • Toppings: Finish the falafel gyros with various toppings, such as thinly sliced red onion, tomato, and lettuce.

Additions and Substitutions

How to Make a Falafel Gyro

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

For the Falafels:

Step 1: Add the dried chickpeas to a large mixing bowl and submerge them in water. Cover and soak the chickpeas overnight.

Soaked chickpeas in a colander.

Step 2: Add the fresh parsley to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas and transfer them to the processor with the onion, lemon zest, water, flour, baking powder, and spices. Process until the ingredients combine.

Tip: Scrape down the sides as needed.

Greens in a food processor bowl.

Step 3: Add the egg whites to a mixing bowl and whip using a whisk or hand mixer until peaks form. Transfer the mixture to the food processor and fold it in. Cover and set it aside for 1 hour.

Whipped egg whites in a bowl.

Step 4: Set a wire rack into a rimmed baking sheet (or a plate with paper towels). Then, form the falafel mixture into small balls, about 1-2 inches in size.

Falafel balls on a plate.

Step 5: Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, use a slotted spoon to arrange the falafels into the hot oil – careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook them for 2-3 minutes or until the underside is golden brown.

Falafels frying in a skillet.

Step 6: Flip and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes until crispy. Transfer them to a wire rack (or plate) to remove excess oil and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Falafels frying in a skillet.

How to Assemble the Gyros:

Step 1: Warm the pita bread in a grill panskillet, or a rimmed baking sheet.

Step 2: Spread tzatziki over the pita and add a layer of lettuce. Top with tomatoes, red onions, 1-3 falafels, and more tzatziki sauce.

Falafel Gyro on a plate.
Falafel Gyro on a plate.

Expert Tips

  • Opt for dried chickpeas soaked overnight (12-24 hours) instead of canned ones. Canned chickpeas are softer and can result in a mushy falafel mix. I have tried this recipe with canned chickpeas, and they fell apart easier than falafels made with dried chickpeas.
  • You can skip whisking the egg whites, but the extra step gives the falafels a perfect texture. 
  • When blending the falafel mixture in the food processor, pulse the mixture in short bursts. You want a coarse texture, not a smooth paste. Over-processing results in a dense and heavy falafel.
  • Once the dough is chilled, roll the mixture into 1-2-inch balls. If you’re using them to fill pita bread, don’t make them bigger than 1 inch. I did this the first time I made them, and they kept falling out of the bread, making it difficult to eat. Use an ice cream scoop for more uniform balls.
  • Don’t forget to warm the pitas before assembling the sandwiches to prevent the bread from breaking apart when wrapping.

If you enjoy this meal, try one of these dinner recipes!  

Falafel Gyro on a plate.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the homemade falafels in a pita or lavash and top them with pickled vegetables like sumac onions and amba, hot sauce, yogurt, or a tahini-based sauce. Prepare a falafel platter like those served in Greek restaurants, and finish it with a small Greek salad and french fries or roasted potatoes. Use the falafel balls to top salads or bowls brimming with greens and tabbouleh.

One of my favorite ways to use the falafel balls is to create a Mediterranean grazing board called a meze, complete with hummus, dolmas, beetroot dip, crudites, dukkah, marinated olives, haydari, and pita chips.

More Tasty Side Dishes:

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Store leftover falafels in an airtight container for 3-4 days. I recommend storing any toppings and sauce separately.
  • Freeze: Let the falafels cool, and transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag. Falafels freeze for 2-3 months.
  • Thaw: Defrost the falafels in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat: My favorite way to warm falafels is in the oven at 350°F (176°C) or the air fryer for 5-10 minutes to help them become crispy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a falafel gyro?

Falafels and gyros are two very different meals. Falafels are typically made from ground chickpeas or fava beans and fried, while gyros refer to meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Falafel is a vegetarian dish, while gyro is made with meat like lamb or beef.

Since so many people think of a gyro as a pita or sandwich, we call this recipe a falafel gyro and replace the meat with plant-based falafels.

Can I make this recipe in the oven?

Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Then, prepare the falafel mixture and form it into 1-inch balls. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes.

More Vegetarian Recipes:

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Falafel Gyro on a plate.

Falafel Gyro

Tressa Jamil
This homemade falafel gyro recipe is a perfect vegetarian alternative to traditional gyros. Serve them as is or inside a warm pita with tzatziki sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 8 Pitas
Calories 304 kcal
Ingredients
  
For the Falafels:
For the Gyros:
  • 4 pitas, split in two
  • tzatziki sauce
  • 2 cups lettuce, Spring mix, or arugula
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
Instructions
 

For the Falafels:

  • Add the dried chickpeas to a large mixing bowl and submerge them in water. Cover and soak the chickpeas overnight.
  • Add the fresh parsley to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas and transfer them to the processor with the onion, lemon zest, water, flour, baking powder, and spices. Process until the ingredients combine.
    Tip: Scrape down the sides as needed.
  • Add the egg whites to a mixing bowl and whip using a whisk or hand mixer until peaks form. Transfer the mixture to the food processor and fold it in. Cover and set it aside for 1 hour.
  • Set a wire rack into a rimmed baking sheet (or a plate with paper towels). Then, form the falafel mixture into small balls, about 1-2 inches in size.
  • Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, use a slotted spoon to arrange the falafels into the hot oil – careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook them for 2-3 minutes or until the underside is golden brown.
  • Flip and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes until crispy. Transfer them to a wire rack (or plate) to remove excess oil and repeat with the remaining ingredients.

For the Gyro:

  • Warm the pita bread in a grill pan, skillet, or a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Spread tzatziki over the pita and add a layer of lettuce. Top with tomatoes, red onions, 1-3 falafels, and more tzatziki sauce.
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • Opt for dried chickpeas soaked overnight (12-24 hours) instead of canned ones. Canned chickpeas are softer and can result in a mushy falafel mix. I have tried this recipe with canned chickpeas, and they fell apart easier than falafels made with dried chickpeas.
  • You can skip whisking the egg whites, but the extra step gives the falafels a perfect texture. 
  •  When blending the falafel mixture in the food processor, pulse the mixture in short bursts. You want a coarse texture, not a smooth paste. Over-processing results in a dense and heavy falafel.
  • Once the dough is chilled, roll the mixture into 1-2-inch balls. If you’re using them to fill pita bread, don’t make them bigger than 1 inch. I did this the first time I made them, and they kept falling out of the bread, making it difficult to eat. Use an ice cream scoop for more uniform balls.
  • Don’t forget to warm the pitas before assembling the sandwiches to prevent the bread from breaking apart when wrapping.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Pita | Calories: 304 kcal | Carbohydrates: 43 g | Protein: 12 g | Fat: 10 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g | Sodium: 813 mg | Potassium: 623 mg | Fiber: 9 g | Sugar: 6 g | Vitamin A: 2799 IU | Vitamin C: 45 mg | Calcium: 137 mg | Iron: 5 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)
Recipe Rating