What to Serve with Falafel: 13 Sides for the Perfect Meal
Falafel can be rolled and deep fried, or it can be flattened into a patty and baked. It can be served in a pita, flat bread, tortilla, or just on its own without a bread product surrounding it.
It can be the protein on a salad in the middle of a table, or it can be a mobile meal on the street.
Falafel wears many hats – and it does it well.
It’s a perfect party or picnic food because it can be served either hot out of the fryer or comfortably at room temperature. If you want to impress the soccer team, show up with a platter of falafel and watch their eyes light up in excitement.
Falafel is good like that.
It uplifts the palate and makes a boring Wednesday just a wee bit better. And how could it not? It’s loaded with cumin and coriander, and both of those spices tickle the olfactory sense to virtually make your nose twitch like a hungry rabbit.
When it comes to what to serve with falafel, we love to pair it with classics like tzatziki – which makes it bounce out of the pita with pure exuberant joy.
We also love to pair it with an updated tabouli that switches out the bulgur for a more non-traditional quinoa-based salad that rollicks in pure lemon and parsley joy.
And what about a grilled naan that comes together without being kneaded but has all the flavor one could ever want?
We’ve got that too.
We also really, really, love to pair falafel with sides you may not have thought to pair it with before, but when you try them together your brain yells, “bazinga!” And you’ll never think of falafel without chimichurri again.
What to Eat with Falafel: Our List of Sides to Rock the Meal
So, brace yourself for a world of flavor revelations and side dish delectability to bring out the best in your next falafel dish. Let’s delve into all the goodness.
1. Green Pea Hummus
Falafel adores peas. The delicate sweet flavor of baby peas plays incredibly well with the earthiness of the chickpeas and they swirl in synchronicity on the plate in harmony.
Especially when the peas have been combined with chickpeas into a hummus that metaphorically *mic drops* in bright flavor.
Now, picture falafel slathered in green pea hummus, and your mental palate will breakdance in joy.
Check out Julia’s recipe over at Happy Foods Tube for all the hummus goodness.
There’s something extraordinary about the combination of lemon and cucumber enveloped in a creamy dipping sauce.
And the dill stands straight up and announces itself like a surprise movie star posing as an audience member at a talk show.
“Oh, my gosh. Is that who we think it is?”
“Oh, yeah. It’s me. It’s dill, baby.”
Sarah over at Live Eat Learn has a simple recipe for tzatziki that will make you pile copious amounts of it next to your falafel.
It’s okay. Feel free to indulge. Your falafel is worth it.
3. Lemon Rice
We love a good rice dish. Not just toasted in a little oil before adding the broth and calling it a day.
No, we love rice with some unexpected ingredients – like peanuts and curry leaves, and maybe a touch of heat from a chili pepper.
And then, if there’s lemon too? Well, we call that heaven.
Falafel calls it “pure deliciousness.”
We caught this recipe from Veggie Recipe House and thought it sounded too good not to share.
If you want to really turn falafel into a showpiece for a dinner party, you can do that pretty easily.
Just picture platters overflowing with add-ons, fresh vegetables, and different types of bread and sauces. If you’re stuck for how to serve falafel, this is one of our favorites.
So, why not take a little bit of time to really up the wow factor by pulling together a homemade kimchi?
The lightly funkadelic flavors of this fermented bad boy of the food world pairs amazingly well with falafel.
Grab Sylvia’s amazing recipe from Feasting At Home.
5. Avocado Dipping Sauce
We love, love, love avocado and falafel together. So, when we pile falafel high on a savory flatbread, we look to our bowl of avocados for inspiration.
Sliced avocado? Nah. What about diced avocado? No, that won’t always cut it either.
What about a creamy avocado dip that’s loaded with garlic, cilantro, and citrus?
Well, that sounds pretty spot on.
Grab Nichole’s recipe over at Wonky Wonderful for an avocado dip that longs to be drizzled on falafel.
6. Pickled Onions
If there’s anything prettier in a jar than pickled onions, we can’t think of what it could be.
In terms of what to serve with falafel, pickled onions are near the top of our list, for both bold, bright flavors and colorful beauty.
What is more eye catching than these bad boys?
They’re bright pink, full of flavor and panache, and they’re filled with briny goodness.
Which, of course, makes them the perfect plate mate for earthy falafel.
Chris over at Shared Appetite hands us a simple recipe for the most eye-popping side around.
7. Stuffed Grape Leaves
While stuffed grape leaves may have a variety of monikers, to us they’ll just always be known as “I Would Love to Eat You Up, Please.”
Sure, that may not roll off the tongue as easily as “Warak Enab” or “Dolmades” or “Dolma,” but we think it’s a perfectly fine name for the little bundles of flavor and deliciousness.
It’s impossible to deny the amazing flavor of grape leaves stuffed with rice, beef, and potatoes. (If you like stuffed peppers, you’ll love these!).
Oh, there’s lemon too – which makes these guys the perfect pairing for falafel.
Grab Yumma’s recipe for them at Feel Good Foodie.
Bright and lemony tabouli is the perfect pairing for falafel.
Typically, we adore the way the grains of bulger absorb the flavors of lemon and are the perfect vehicle for mint.
But we were thinking it might be fun to mix it up a little bit. What if we left the bulger on the shelf, and brought quinoa in to star in the dish?
Yes. That would work perfectly.
We found a recipe from Kristen over at Kristine’s Kitchen Blog that brings quinoa front and center to hang out with falafel on a platter for an eye-popping meal.
9. Greek Stuffed Tomatoes
We thought a fun play on what to eat with falafel would be stuffed tomatoes.
You see falafel with tomatoes when they’re served on a platter, so why not up the tomato game and make them a flavor bomb on the plate too?
We’re big fans of loads of piquancy, colors, and textures – so a Greek tomato just seemed to take hold in that place in our brain and left us saying, “Ah. Yes.”
And Sophia at Veggies Don’t Bite has a recipe that we think will be the perfect powerful side to stand up to a fully loaded-with-flavor-meal, like falafel.
10. Mediterranean Lentil Salad
We love to give our falafel all the lentil love it deserves. The textures between the two are simpatico, which makes them luxuriate on a plate together.
And a good lentil salad tends to play up the flavors that are already paired with falafel. A little cucumber, some slices of tomato, a touch of a tang for brightness – oh, yes.
Falafel and lentil are meant to chill on a plate together.
Check out Danae’s recipe at Recipe Runner and start rinsing those lentils!
11. Grilled Naan
Naan, naan, naan. Oh, how we love you.
Lightly crisp on the outside and oh-so-pillowy on the inside, naan loves falafel.
And falafel loves naan right back.
We like a good hands-off recipe whenever we can find one, so we were psyched to discover a no-knead naan recipe that can be simply grilled to boot.
Grab Stephanie’s recipe over at Girl Versus Dough and be prepared to grab a whiff of grilled magic.
Chimichurri is the sauce you see across the room and – it lock eyes with. Time stands still. You know you’ve found your soulmate.
You fall in love, and chimichurri makes it so easy.
The bright, slightly spicy and complex flavors of chimichurri belie the simplicity of its creation.
Just take a group of ingredients, throw them into a food processor and call it a night.
Falafel adores the herbaceousness of this sauce and it’s the side dish that will be passed around the table the most – so make sure to double the batch.
Sarah over at Broma Bakery has a fantastic recipe for this classic.
13. Cumin Cauliflower
We remember the first time we took a heady whiff of a bottle of ground cumin and how our collective eyes rolled into the back of our heads.
You remember the feeling. The aroma is enough to make you swoon and have to reach for a table to steady yourself.
It’s just that good.
So, when coming up with a list of what goes with falafel, we knew were going to round out the list with something earthy – and dare we day – cumin-ey, because that’s one of the base of flavors in our favorite chickpea fritters.
And we found a recipe from Dara over at Cookin Canuck that fills the bill perfectly.
What to Serve with Falafel: Hmmm, We Hadn’t Thought of That
So far, we’ve covered a whole host of ideas for falafel accompaniments that toe the line pretty close to more traditional flavor combinations. But what if we play around with traditional pairings a little bit to find alternative ideas?
When it comes to pairing falafel with exuberant flavors, contrasts, and colors, sometimes your brain will draw a linear line from the tried and true to just a slight adjustment that makes all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
A cucumber salad is a traditional accompaniment to these little chickpea fritters, so why not serve them with dill pickles instead?
A cucumber salad is often comprised of cukes, tomatoes, dill, and a vinaigrette. So, a bowl filled with actual pickled dill cucumbers makes all the sense in the world.
Or, what about quick pickled cherry tomatoes? Or even turnip? David Lebovitz has a great recipe for rosy pickled turnip.
Briny. Wonderful. Goodness.
Top of the Toppers to Ya!
Don’t hesitate to explore the market to find the right accompaniment for your falafel.
Fresh radishes, scallions, chives, arugula, cilantro, parsley are all great toppers.
And while they step outside of falafel’s Middle East origins, Asian sauces like sriracha and sambal oelek can add a welcome contrast and burst of heat.
And they’d all work well together if you really wanted an explosion of colors and textures.
Hmmm, We Hadn’t Thought of That: Part Deux
Speaking of textures, you don’t just need to serve falafel in a ball or a patty.
You can go small and crumble the falafel over salads or sandwiches, or you could go large by taking balls of falafel mashing them, and forming them into a thin toast and baking them.
There are many different answers to the question of how to serve falafel, and each variation lends itself to different accompaniments.
However you want to reinvent the wheel in terms of falafel shapes – well – you’re not going to go wrong.
Color Us Shocked!
We think of falafel’s primary color as being green because it’s so loaded with herbs.
But, you can have fun with the hue of falafel by adding in turmeric for a sunny yellow ball of goodness, or beets for a sunset hued patty.
How about carrots for a golden orange, or adding in some cooked sweet potato for an even more vibrant orange.
It’s all up to you. Consider falafel to be the canvas for the colors your eyes want to see and your palate wants to taste.
Wait, What’s the Secret Ingredient in There?
Your falafel can be loaded with veggies as well as herbs.
Picture hot smoked paprika with jalapenos for a south of the border spin.
How about a touch of ground fennel with diced onion?
Or even, just something as simple as a little za’atar and sumac.
There’s a whole world or spices and herbs to explore to bring falafel or your side dishes to life.
Falafel is one wide ranging star component that welcomes all comers to the plate – or just the simplicity of piece of bread.
So, don’t fool yourself into feeling like what to serve with falafel is some esoteric mystery. It’s the perfect party food, it comes together quickly, and it’s a great host for a world of different flavors..
How you want to round it out, is up to you. Enjoy!