These Greek-Style Falafel Gyros are an easy and satisfying meal that is both make-ahead and freezer-friendly. Crispy falafel, creamy tzatziki sauce, and fresh veggies are tucked into soft pita bread to create a vegetarian gyro that is jam-packed with flavor.
These falafel gyros are out of this world good.
As someone who is obsessed with falafel, I honestly think I could eat a falafel gyro for lunch every single day. The crispy, authentic-tasting falafel have the perfect texture. The creamy tzatziki sauce is tangy and full of flavor. Wrap it all in a soft, warm flatbread and top it with veggies? I’m in heaven.
I love making falafel because it’s so easy. The hardest part is waiting for the chickpeas to soak. But, with a little planning, that’s no problem at all. The falafel mixture is made entirely in a food processor in just a few minutes, then shallow-fried to crispy perfection.
You can even make the falafel mixture a few days ahead of time or freeze uncooked falafel balls for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Authentic Tasting Falafel- The falafel in this gyro recipe are the real deal. No canned chickpeas. No store-bought falafel mix. You’ll take the time to soak dried chickpeas to achieve a perfectly textured falafel right at home.
- Make-Ahead- Both the falafel mixture and the tzatziki can easily be made ahead so you can whip up a batch of fresh falafel gyros whenever the mood strikes. Great for meal prep!
- Healthy- Falafel are made from chickpeas, which are full of fiber and plant-based protein. Pair that with the protein-packed tzatziki sauce and you have yourself a well-rounded vegetarian meal. These falafel gyros are a fantastic option for a meatless lunch or dinner.
- Allergen-Friendly- The falafel themselves are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. You can easily pair them with your favorite allergen-friendly toppings and flatbread for a delicious meal that everyone can enjoy.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Chickpeas- While canned chickpeas are great for many things, falafel is not one of them. Falafel is a Middle Eastern street food made using dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight. Using soaked chickpeas is essential to achieving the right texture in this falafel recipe. If you use canned chickpeas, your falafel will likely turn out too soft and mushy.
- Baking Soda- Just a pinch of baking soda in the soaking water helps soften the chickpeas.
- Fresh Herbs- Falafel are jam-packed with fresh, flavorful herbs. I love the combination of fresh parsley and dill in my falafel.
- Spices- Cumin gives the falafel a warm, earthy flavor. A little kosher salt and black pepper round out the falafel seasonings.
- Baking Powder- Just a bit of baking powder added to the falafel mixture helps to create a light and crispy falafel.
- Tahini- I like to add a small amount of tahini to my falafel mixture. The sesame paste helps bind the falafel and gives it a slightly nutty flavor.
- Pita Bread or Naan Bread- I love making fresh naan bread for these falafel gyros. My Sourdough Discard Naan Bread recipe is an easy place to start, especially if you have sourdough discard you’re looking to use up.
- Tzatziki Sauce- Cool, creamy, and flavorful, tzatziki is the perfect condiment for a falafel gyro. And it’s super easy to make at home!
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make these homemade falafel gyros with tzatziki sauce.
For the Falafel
Step 1: Soak the chickpeas (one day before). Place the dried chickpeas and baking soda in a medium-sized mixing bowl and cover with cold water (the chickpeas will expand as they soak so make sure to cover them by several inches). Stir to dissolve the baking soda and set aside for 18-24 hours to soak.
Step 2: Make the falafel mixture. Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then add them to the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, dill, spices, baking powder, and tahini to the bowl as well. Process on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the ingredients are well-combined and the mixture resembles coarse sand. Shape the falafel into approximately 15 round balls about the size of a golf ball.
Step 3: Fry the falafel balls. Fill a deep cast iron skillet or stainless steel skillet with about 1-2 inches of oil. Heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. To test if the oil is ready, drop a small piece of falafel mixture into it – if it starts sizzling immediately, it’s ready. Fry the falafel balls until golden brown and crispy, about 3-5 minutes per side. Be sure not to overcrowd the falafel, frying in batches if necessary. Transfer the finished falafel to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
For the Feta Tzatziki Sauce
Step 4: Make the tzatziki. Stir together the yogurt, cucumber, feta cheese, garlic, dill, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in a small mixing bowl. I recommend peeling, deseeding, and dicing the cucumber before adding it to the tzatziki sauce to prevent the sauce from becoming watery.
For the Falafel Gyros
Step 5: Assemble the gyros. Warm the pita or naan bread, if desired, and spread a few tablespoons of tzatziki sauce on each. Top each flatbread with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and 3 falafel balls. Enjoy!
Tips For Success
- Plan ahead. Chickpeas need to soak for 18-24 hours before they can be used to make falafel. Remember to plan ahead so that they’re ready to go when you are.
- Make ahead. The falafel mixture and the tzatziki can both be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Perfect for a fresh and flavorful weeknight dinner.
- Give the falafel a gentle squeeze. When forming the falafel balls, I find it helpful to squeeze the falafel mixture together just a little bit. If you’re really struggling to get the mixture to hold its shape, you may need to process it for a bit longer. Otherwise, try refrigerating the mixture for an hour or sprinkling in a tablespoon of flour.
- Ensure the frying oil is hot. You want the oil to sizzle immediately when it comes into contact with the falafel. Otherwise, your falafel could end up absorbing too much oil. To test the oil, drop a small piece of falafel mixture into it. If it sizzles right away, you’re good to go.
- Don’t overcrowd your pan. Give the falafel plenty of room in the pan. Crowding the falafel too much will lead to uneven frying.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can customize these falafel gyros to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Chickpeas- Falafel can also be made from dried fava beans, which is more common in Egypt. Other recipes use lentils, mung beans, or even almonds to make a variation of falafel.
- Onion- You can use any type of onion you have on hand, including scallions or shallots. If you’re completely out of fresh onion, use a teaspoon of onion powder in its place.
- Garlic- Swap the fresh garlic for ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Fresh Herbs- I like to use a combination of parsley and dill, but you can also add cilantro and mint.
- Cumin- You can substitute the ground cumin for ground coriander or whole toasted cumin seeds.
- Tahini- Try cashew butter, sunflower butter, or almond butter in place of the tahini. You could also leave it out altogether and add a tablespoon of all-purpose flour or chickpea flour to help bind the falafel.
- Pita or Naan Bread- Roti, chapati, lavish, or tortillas can be used in place of pita or naan bread. For a low-carb alternative, serve the falafel and tzatziki on lettuce wraps.
- Tzatziki Sauce- Try swapping the tzatziki for hummus or tahini sauce instead.
- Gluten-Free- Both the falafel and the feta tzatziki sauce are naturally gluten-free. So, for gluten-free falafel gyros, use your favorite gluten-free pita bread or naan bread and you’re all set. However, I always recommend reading all labels to ensure each ingredient is truly gluten-free before using.
- Vegan/Dairy-Free- The falafel in this recipe are naturally dairy-free and vegan. To make a vegan tzatziki sauce, use your favorite dairy-free Greek yogurt or sour cream and either leave out the feta cheese or use a dairy-free alternative. Otherwise, use hummus or tahini sauce in place of the tzatziki.
- Lower-Carb- Serve the falafel gyro with tzatziki sauce on a lettuce wrap instead of on naan bread or pita bread.
- Spicy- Make the falafel spicy by adding minced jalapeño or a few shakes of cayenne pepper to the mixture. You can also add diced jalapeño to the tzatziki sauce.
- Herbed- While the falafel mixture already has a little parsley and dill, you can ramp up the herbaceous flavor by adding in some mint and cilantro too.
- Lemon- Add a bit of lemon zest to the falafel mixture for a bright, citrusy flavor.
What to Serve with Falafel Gyros
Deciding which toppings you want to use on your falafel gyro is half the fun. Here are a few of my favorite falafel gyro toppings and side dishes to serve with a falafel gyro sandwich.
- Shredded Lettuce, Arugula, or Spinach
- Diced Tomatoes
- Sliced Red Onion
- Cucumber-Feta Tzatziki Sauce
- Tahini Sauce
- Roasted Potatoes or French Fries
- Pita Chips or Potato Chips
- Ancient Grain Salad, Pasta Salad, or Potato Salad
Quick Tip: Looking to make something different for your next party? Try making a build-your-own falafel gyro platter or table. Set out flatbreads, falafel, sauces, spreads, and toppings for a tasty and fun way to serve your guests.
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
Both the uncooked falafel mixture and the cooked falafel can be stored easily in the refrigerator or freezer. Perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner!
- Refrigerator- Store uncooked falafel mixture in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Cooked falafel should be cooled completely before being stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freezer- To freeze uncooked falafel, roll the mixture into balls and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag and store for up to 6 months. Similarly, cooked falafel should be fried, then cooled completely. Once cooled, follow the same method you would use to freeze uncooked falafel.
How to Reheat
If your falafel are frozen, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a few hours before reheating. Uncooked frozen falafel can be cooked directly from frozen.
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 400°F and arrange the leftover falafel on a baking sheet. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 5-10 minutes or until fully warmed through.
- Stovetop- Heat about 1-inch of oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Fry the falafel for 1-2 minutes per side.
- Microwave- Place falafel on a microwave-safe plate and wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Then, continue heating in 10-second intervals until fully warmed through.
- Air Fryer- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F and cook the falafel for 3-5 minutes. (Note: I found this method of reheating falafel to be drying.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, make baked falafel gyros by baking the falafel on a greased baking sheet in a 375°F oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through. For air fryer falafel, brush the falafel balls with oil and cook for 3-5 minutes per side in an air fryer set to 400°F.
There’s nothing better than hot and crispy fresh falafel straight from the frying pan. Falafel can be eaten cold, but I don’t generally recommend it. Cold falafel tends to be a little dry and crumbly. Try reheating them using one of the methods mentioned in the “How to Reheat” section above.
While anything fried in oil isn’t exactly the healthiest thing you can eat, falafel has plenty going for it. Made from chickpeas, falafel are high in fiber and a good source of plant-based protein. Plus, the addition of onion, garlic, and herbs means they’ve full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Tzatziki sauce is made from Greek yogurt, which is another good source of protein.
To make these Greek falafel gyros a little healthier, serve them on a whole wheat pita or in a lettuce wrap.
The falafel in this falafel gyro recipe are naturally vegan and gluten-free. If you want to make gluten-free falafel gyros, serve the falafel and tzatziki sauce on gluten-free pita bread. For vegan falafel gyros, make the tzatziki with dairy-free yogurt or use hummus instead.
More Recipes You May Enjoy
For the Falafel
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ large yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup parsley roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon dill roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ tablespoon tahini
- Oil for frying
For the Feta Tzatziki Sauce
- ½ cup Greek yogurt plain
- ¼ cup cucumber peeled and diced
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ½ clove garlic grated or finely minced
- 1 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Gyros
- 5 naan bread or pita bread
- 2 ½ cups lettuce shredded
- ½ cup tomatoes diced
- ½ cup red onion sliced
For the Falafel
- (One Day Before) Place the dried chickpeas and baking soda in a medium-sized mixing bowl and cover with cold water (the chickpeas will expand as they soak so make sure to cover them by several inches). Stir to dissolve the baking soda and set aside for 18-24 hours to soak.1 cup dried chickpeas, ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then add them to the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, dill, spices, baking powder, and tahini to the bowl as well. Process on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the ingredients are well-combined and the mixture resembles coarse sand. Shape the falafel into approximately 15 round balls about the size of a golf ball.¼ large yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic, ¼ cup parsley, 1 tablespoon dill, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ tablespoon tahini
- Fill a deep cast iron skillet or stainless steel skillet with about 1-2 inches of oil. Heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. To test if the oil is ready, drop a small piece of falafel mixture into it – if it starts sizzling immediately, it's ready. Fry the falafel balls until golden brown and crispy, about 3-5 minutes per side. Be sure not to overcrowd the falafel, frying in batches if necessary. Transfer the finished falafel to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.Oil for frying
For the Tzatziki Sauce
- Stir all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.½ cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup cucumber, ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese, ½ clove garlic, 1 tablespoons fresh dill, ½ tablespoon lemon juice, ½ tablespoon olive oil, ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Gyros
- Warm the pita or naan bread, if desired, and spread a few tablespoons of tzatziki sauce on each. Top each flatbread with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and 3 falafel balls. Enjoy!5 naan bread or pita bread, 2 ½ cups lettuce, ½ cup tomatoes, ½ cup red onion
- Quick Tip: When forming the falafel balls, I find it helpful to squeeze the falafel mixture together just a little bit. If you’re struggling to get the mixture to hold its shape, you may need to process it for a bit longer. Otherwise, try refrigerating the mixture for an hour or sprinkling in a tablespoon of flour.
- Make ahead. The falafel mixture and the tzatziki can both be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
- Storage: Store leftover falafel in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.