Vegetarian Falafel Burgers Weight Watchers PointsPlus 4

A couple of weeks ago Katy asked me if I could send her some recipes for vegetarian burgers. Meat is very expensive in Spain and she is getting tired of a diet mostly consisting of fish and chicken. A couple hours of research turned up a handful of recipes that looked promising so I emailed them to her. Katy printed off the recipes and headed to the store to see if she could find the ingredients. She went with the Falafel burgers since she could get garbanzo beans and the appropriate spices. The recipe called for parsley which the store didn’t have so she subbed cilantro – which added a lot more flavor. She sent me an email letting me know that the results were outstanding! Katy couldn’t find a potato masher and she doesn’t have a food processor so she developed a wooden spoon mashing technique. Necessity is the mother of invention!

I decided to make myself some falafel burgers. I took Katy’s changes and added a few of my own to create a very pleasing falafel burger. Slightly crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside with all of the pungent flavors of cumin, ground coriander, garlic and cilantro coming through. Sandwiched between a whole grain sprouted bun and topped with tomatoes and organic baby greens it was fabulous! What a nice change of pace. Thank you Katy for the inspiration! Shown is my version of a falafel burger on an Alvarado ST. Bakery sprouted burger bun. These buns are sold at Whole Foods, Health Food Stores and some Health Food sections of grocery stores. I loved this burger!

Falafel (fuh-la-full) is a Middle Eastern food that is typically made with either ground fava beans or garbanzo beans and seasoned with cumin, ground coriander and garlic, made into balls or patties and deep fat fried. Often sold as street food in the Middle East, falafel are stuffed into pita bread or wrapped in a flat bread and topped with cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce  and drizzled with tahini or tsaziki sauce.

Skip the bun and serve it over salad greens with your favorite vinaigrette for a fiber packed lunch. If you are following the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program these little gems are only 3 points!

There are so many ways to eat falafel burgers. Put it on a bun, pack it into a pita, fold it up in a flat bread, chop it up in a salad, eat it over a whole grain like barley, farro, couscous or brown rice. Add some cucumbers, tomatoes, hummus, Greek yogurt or even some Ranch dressing!

Falafel Burgers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onions – minced
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder (I might use 1 Tablespoon  next time, I love the earthy flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup carrots – finely chopped (I put them through a food processor)
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini or peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (sub parsley if you don’t like cilantro)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or flour of your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh lemon wedges
  1. 1. In a skillet, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil, when hot add the onions and saute over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin. coridander and carrot, and cook until soft 3-4 minutes more. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  2. 2. Drain the garbanzo beans and process them in a food processor until they are chopped but not pureed.If  you process them too much you will have hummus! If you don’t have a food processor use a potato masher. Add the chopped or mashed beans to the onion mixture, add tahini or peanut butter and cilantro or parsley. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Add flour mixture to the bean mixture and stir well.
  3. 3. With floured hands, form eight patties from the chickpea mixture. If they are soft and too delicate to handle easily cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking.
  4. 4. Heat a skillet over medium-heat, add 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil and a spray on nonstick olive oil spray to pan, turn the heat to medium-low, and add 4 of the patties.
  5. When the first side is lightly brown (about 2-3 minutes) gently turn them over and brown the other side. About 2 -3 minutes. Remove from pan and repeat process with remaining    1 ½ teaspoons olive oil and the remaining 4 patties.
  6. Before serving squeeze each burger with a little fresh lemon juice.

Note: Katy said these freeze well and just need to be gently reheated in the microwave.

Yield: 8 burgers

Servings Size: 1 burger

Nutritional Information (per burger not including bun) updated and corrected as of 12/15/12

Amount Per Serving

Calories 147.41

Calories From Fat (34%) 50.2

% Daily Value

Total Fat 5.81g 9%

Saturated Fat 0.78g 4%

Cholesterol 0mg 0%

Sodium 554.81mg 23%

Potassium 215.8mg 6%

Total Carbohydrates 20.55g 7%

Fiber 3.84g 15%

Sugar 1.56g

Protein 4.3g 9%


Nutmeg Notes

I had my first taste of falafel and Middle Eastern food about 23 years ago. We lived in Iowa then and the pastor of our church offered to help my womens group make a Middle Eastern dinner. He had been to the Middle East and had a fondness for the food and wanted us to experience it as well.

As we were mixing up the falafel and making hummus I wasn’t too sure about how it was all going to turn out. The ingredients were all so foreign to me. I had never had anything like hummus before, never tasted cumin or cilantro.

As soon as I took my first taste I fell head over heals for it. The pungent earthy flavor of the cumin and the fresh taste of cilantro won me over! It was also my first time to taste a fresh fig which I found to be delightfully sweet. I remember taking home lots of leftovers and enjoying the new flavors again the next day.

This recipe is a wonderful way to enjoy the flavors of falafel with out all the fat and calories.

Happy Eating!


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  1. Karen says:

    I love falafel but usually it is deep fried so pretty unhealthy. I first tried it in Israel almost 30 years ago!

    1. Tami says:

      Karen I need to tell you that I sent Katy the link to the Quinoa burgers that you gave me. She tried them yesterday after she finally found some ricotta cheese and she said they were awesome! I am going to try them soon. Thanks for sharing the recipe with us!

  2. Helen says:

    I love falafel! I am lucky because my BJ’s sells all natural, pre-made falafel balls that can be baked in the oven or fried, whatever your preference. I often bake off two or three of the balls and put them over salad along with a homemade tahini dressing. So yummy.

    We are also lucky to have a Middle Eastern market right in the city where I live. The prepare all their food there as well as having the ingredients to buy if you want to make your own. I often stop there on the way to the beach and pick up a falafel salad or some hummus and pita and tabouleh to enjoy.

    1. Tami says:

      I will have to check at some local grocery stores to see if any have ready made falafel balls. We live in a very culturally diverse community and we have Asian, Indian and Hispanic specialty markets so I am sure there must be a Middle Eastern market. Thanks for giving me the idea to look for one.

      I love how you stop there on your way to the beach to get your lunch!

      Sure hope your snow weather and cold temperatures are gone soon.

  3. Dr. J says:

    This is great!! We have a local place, Falafel King, that makes all kinds of mideastern dishes.


    1. Tami says:

      Falafel King! That is so fun Dr J! Great for a vegetarian too.

  4. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    Falafel is pretty popular here, but I’m not fond of it. Maybe I’ll try it as part of a flavorful salad.

    1. Tami says:

      We can’t all like the same things and cumin and cilantro are those flavors that people either love or hate!

  5. Carol says:

    I’ve never had these but I’m sure willing to try! Good that they can be frozen as I would be the only one to eat them.

    I like to think I’m adventurous with trying new foods. I bought the red Quinoa today so that will be my next new food test.

    1. Tami says:

      Carol you will have to let me know how you like the red quinoa. I have not tried that yet!

      If you like hummus, cumin and cilantro then you are likely to enjoy the falafel burgers.

  6. Dawn says:

    I LOVE veggie burgers. I am putting this on the list to try!

  7. Erin says:

    Hi Tami! I just found your blog today and I love love love it! This is the first recipe that I’ve printed (and I can’t wait to try it this weekend), but I’m sure I’ll be back for more.

    Thank you for writing!

  8. Marlene says:

    I just made these and thought they were great! I made them smaller and stuffed them in a pita. Oh so good!! Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Tami says:

      You are so welcome Marlene! I’m glad you enjoyed them so much.

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