Crispy falafel balls served with tahini sauce or tzatziki make delightful snacks. Stuff the small patties into warm pita bread with hummus and hot sauce for a sensational falafel pita sandwich. Or make an easy falafel salad with golden brown homemade falafels on Israeli salad or tabbouleh with extra leafy greens.
Whatever your falafel goals, we have you covered with a list of the best side dishes, dips and sauces for the ultimate falafel platter, snack or delicious meal.
Keep reading for what to serve with falafel pita sandwiches or falafel balls.
Try these sides and sauces with falafel
Jump straight to the side dish or sauce you are interested in, or keep reading for everything you need to know about the perfect falafel dinner.
What is a falafel?
Falafel are deep-fried chickpea fritters. They are sold on street corners throughout the Middle East. Vendors shape the falafel mixture of ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and fresh green herbs into a small ball or patty before deep-frying it in hot oil.
In Egypt, falafel can also contain fava beans (broad beans).
A golden brown falafel ball has a crispy exterior and a soft and fluffy centre, tinted green from the fresh herbs.
You can typically buy freshly fried falafel in a paper cone for a snack, stuffed into a pita pocket for breakfast, or as a falafel platter with hummus. It is a popular street food across the Middle East.
How to serve falafel
I always keep small balls of uncooked falafel mix in the freezer. You can fry the falafel straight from frozen for good-as-fresh homemade falafel.
Falafel are best when freshly fried and still warm. But you can also let them cool to room temperature. Fresh falafel always beat the pre-cooked and chilled falafel from any local grocery store.
Serve your falafel as:
- a snack with dips and tzatziki or tahini sauce,
- a falafel sandwich stuffed into a warm pita pocket with creamy hummus, chopped tomatoes and cucumber, fresh parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a generous drizzle of tahini sauce,
- a vegan falafel burger with a large falafel patty stuffed into a hamburger roll with relish, crunchy lettuce and pickles,
- a falafel plate or mezze spread alongside more Middle Eastern sides like lemon hummus, labneh balls and sumac onions,
- a vegan falafel bowl with bulgur wheat salad and tahini dressing, or
- a falafel salad with a zesty Arabic chopped salad, or a fresh green salad, topped with crispy falafel.
Try some of these perfect falafel sides and sauces for your falafel meal.
What to serve with falafel: the best side dishes and sauces
Whether you serve falafel as a sandwich, a salad, or a mezze spread, pick at least one sauce and some fresh vegetables or pickles to serve with your falafels.
It is no surprise that this popular street food is delicious with classic Middle Eastern food. Try these Middle Eastern side dishes and sauces to turn a simple falafel into a feast.
1. Tahini sauce
Creamy tahini sauce is the ultimate falafel sauce. This traditional lemon tahini sauce consists of tahini, lemon juice, garlic and water. Use it as a dipping sauce for falafel balls, or drizzle the smooth sauce over falafel patties stuffed into a warm pita sandwich.
For a twist, try a green tahini sauce for even more fresh herbs. This vegan green tahini sauce has classic nutty sesame flavours with loads of fresh herbs. And it takes only 5 minutes to make.
Or, if you are in no mood to make a sauce, simply drizzle your falafel with generous spoonfuls of tahini. Buy good quality Israeli tahini or make your own tahini from sesame seeds using a strong food processor or blender.
Tabbouleh is a popular Levantine salad. The simple salad consists of finely chopped parsley, cooked bulgur wheat, tomatoes, mint and onion, seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.
Serve your falafel with traditional tabbouleh salad, or try this bulgur wheat salad with green tahini sauce.
The bulgur wheat salad contains everything you want to serve with falafel. And it’s the easiest way to upgrade simple falafel balls or patties into a hearty vegetarian meal.
3. Israeli salad
This Middle Eastern salad goes by many names. Salata arabieh (Arab salad), salata mafrumeh, salata na’ameh, salata baladi (Egyptian salad), or salata fallahi (Persian salad) to name a few.
But whether you call it an Israeli salad, a Lebanese salad or a Jerusalem salad, it’s the same chopped fresh vegetables that make up this zesty fresh chopped salad.
It is a simple salad of fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, green onion and lots of fresh green herbs, spiked with chilli and lemon.
Israeli chopped salad is a great side dish for fresh falafel. Or stuff it into pita pockets with crispy falafel and tahini sauce.
Don’t feel like all the herb chopping in a Middle Eastern salad?
Serve falafel with a simple green salad and grilled veggies for an equally delicious meal.
The creamy chickpea and tahini dip is a traditional Israeli accompaniment to falafel. Middle Eastern street vendors serve falafel plates of crispy falafel on hummus, drizzled with tahini sauce.
A falafel plate is healthy snacking at its convenient best. But it also makes a terrific vegan centrepiece for your next mezze spread.
Buy store-bought hummus if you are short on time, or try this lemon hummus recipe for the creamiest homemade hummus possible.
5. Baba Ganoush
Baba ganoush, also baba ghanoush or baba ghanouj, is a Levantine appetizer of finely chopped smoky eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini.
The eggplant (or aubergine) is cooked over an open flame before peeling, rendering the pulp soft and smoky.
Try the epic baba ganoush recipe (via cookie and kate).
6. Pita bread
Falafel pitas are ubiquitous in Middle Eastern street food.
Heat your pita bread in a preheated oven for a few minutes. Slice each pita in half to create two pita pockets.
Stuff your pita pockets with chopped tomato, onion and fresh parsley. Add a few cooked falafel patties and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice for a quick and easy falafel pita sandwich.
You can also serve falafel pita drizzled with lemon tahini sauce, smeared with hummus or labneh, and dressed up with Middle Eastern pickled vegetables.
Or pick any falafel side dish from this list of Middle Eastern sides and sauces.
For a falafel snack platter, cut the warm pita into triangles or pita chips, and serve it with dips and sauces, like baba ghanoush, tzatziki, hummus and tahini sauce.
7. Yoghurt flatbread
If you don’t have time to make homemade pita bread and are in no mood to head to the shops, this quick yoghurt flatbread (without yeast) is another great option to serve with falafel balls.
Spread a medium-sized flatbread with creamy hummus, top it with a fresh green salad and follow with crispy falafel. Finish the falafel stack with a generous drizzle of tahini sauce and hot sauce. Or stick to olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Enjoy it as a stacked falafel flatbread, or fold the soft flatbread around the falafel for a homemade falafel wrap.
8. Hot sauce
I adore some zing with my falafel (and most other food, if I’m being honest). And whether you enjoy your falafel as a pita sandwich, a party snack, or a falafel platter, a good hot sauce is perfect if you also love some heat.
You can use any hot sauce you prefer, but I always opt for a homemade spicy Middle Eastern sauce like shatta sauce or zhoug.
Shatta is a delicious Middle Eastern hot sauce made from green or red chillies, olive oil and vinegar. This shatta recipe includes instructions for fermented or quick and easy Middle Eastern hot sauce.
Green zhoug is a vibrant Middle Eastern sauce with cilantro, green chillies, garlic, spices and olive oil. It is delicious with sandwiches, shwarmas, falafels, and more. You can adjust the heat to your liking, and it only takes a minute to make with a food processor.
Onions are another versatile topping for your falafel salad or a falafel sandwich. Sprinkle falafel with diced red onion, roughly chopped green onion or quick-pickled onion. Or try this easy sumac onion recipe.
You can even stuff sumac onions into falafel balls before frying as Sami Tamimi does in Falastin.
I once had a pita sandwich served alongside a raw onion wedge and a green chilli with the instructions to take bites of each and chew them together.
It sounds odd – taking a bite straight out of a raw onion?
But it was utterly delicious and equally surprising. It is an adventurous way to enjoy your falafel pita if you like living on the spicy side of life (and don’t want to do any dishes).
If you are in no mood to finely chop tomatoes for an Israeli salad or tabbouleh, slice Roma tomatoes in large wedges. Drizzle the tomato wedges with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaked sea salt and ground black pepper. And stuff the tomato wedges into a warm pita pocket with crispy falafel.
Alternatively, grate whole tomatoes on a box grater and discard the skins. Place the grated tomato in a small bowl and top it with zhoug – without mixing. Scoop the grated tomato with zhoug over the falafel pita, or serve it as a vibrant red and green condiment in your mezze spread.
Tzatziki is a delectable dip of salted strained yoghurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil and fresh herbs such as dill, mint, parsley or thyme. It also sometimes contains vinegar or lemon juice.
It is creamy and refreshing. Tzatziki sauce is the perfect dip for freshly fried crispy falafel. Or spread it over your flatbread before topping it with falafel and salad.
Try this creamy tzatziki recipe (via love and lemons).
Labneh is a thick and creamy, deliciously tangy, strained yoghurt. It is easy to make labneh from greek yoghurt.
Smear the inside of your pita pocket with labneh, as you would cream cheese, before spooning in your salad and fresh falafel patties.
Or spread fridge-cold labneh on a shallow plate, and top it with warm falafel balls and a drizzle of spicy zhoug sauce. Serve it alongside pita wedges or flatbread.
Alternatively, serve garlic and herb labneh balls in olive oil as part of a falafel platter or mezze spread.
13. Feta cheese
The creamy texture and salty flavour of feta cheese pair perfectly with crispy falafel patties in a falafel salad or stuffed into warm pita pockets.
Or serve marinated feta with falafel in a mezze spread.
Opt for vegan feta cheese if you prefer to keep your meal plant-based.
14. Lettuce wraps
For a lighter alternative to pita pockets, serve falafel with crisp salad leaves – like romaine or cos lettuce. Use the leaves for quick and easy lettuce wraps with fried falafel.
Serve it with all the trimmings, such as muhammara (red pepper and walnut dip), creamy homemade hummus, lemon tahini sauce, roasted eggplant and a Middle Eastern hot sauce like shatta or zhoug. Let everyone construct their own delicious falafel lettuce wraps around the table.
15. Roasted eggplant
While roasted eggplant has its own Middle Eastern pita sandwich called Sabich (or Sabih), it is also delicious in a falafel pita.
Stuff roasted eggplant (aubergine) cubes into a falafel pita along with creamy hummus, Middle Eastern chopped salad and tahini falafel sauce.
Or make an easy roasted eggplant side salad by tossing grilled eggplant wedges with fresh garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Top it with crumbled feta cheese, za’atar, flaked sea salt, and a good grind of black pepper.
16. Pickled vegetables
Authentic Middle Eastern pickled turnips are great with falafel. But you can use any pickled vegetables to add acidity and crunch to your falafel bowls and sandwiches.
From quick-pickled onions and dill pickles to fermented cabbage, these veggies bring freshness to your falafel plate. Though it’s certainly not traditional, why not try some kimchi?
Any acidic, spicy, crunchy veg will be perfect.
Let your imagination go wild and turn deliciously crispy falafel into the perfect snack, breakfast or plant-based mezze spread.
Let me know in the comments below if you try one of these delicious falafel sides or if you have a favourite way to eat falafel.
Middle Eastern street vendors sell falafel plates of crispy falafel with hummus and tahini sauce. And freshly fried falafel stuffed into pita bread with a choice of salad items, hummus and tahini sauce. Typical filling options include cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, fried eggplant and pickled vegetables.
Falafel sauce consists of tahini (ground sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic and water. It is the traditional sauce served with falafel throughout the Middle East.
To turn falafel balls into dinner, serve it with a grain salad like tabbouleh or bulgur wheat salad, a fresh Middle Eastern chopped salad, creamy hummus and lemon tahini sauce with warm pita bread on the side.
Easy recipes to serve with falafel:
- Lemony Hummus Without Garlic (3 Ways)
- Easy Lemon Tahini Sauce
- Green Tahini Sauce
- Arabic Chopped Salad (Salata Arabieh)
- Bulgur Wheat Salad with Tahini Herb Dressing
- Garlic and Herb Labneh Balls in Olive Oil
- Shatta Sauce (Middle Eastern Hot Sauce)
- Zhoug Sauce (Zhug, Skug, Sahawiq)
- Easy Yoghurt Flatbread (No Yeast)
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