These savory, fat-free sweet potato falafel taste great stuffed into pita bread or a wrap, topped with yogurt-tahini dressing. Bake in the oven or air fryer.
I don’t exactly know how I came to have about a dozen sweet potatoes in my pantry. I seem to remember buying a few for a casserole that I never got around to making, but I’m not quite sure how the others got there. My secret suspicion is that while behind closed doors, they’re multiplying like little vegetable bunnies. But whatever the explanation, I’ve had a surplus of sweet potatoes on my hands, so lately I’ve been slipping them into unconventional dishes, like this one.
These brilliantly colored falafel are a tasty treat, but I’m not going to lie to you: If you’re expecting the crispy, crunchy deep-fried delicacy, then you’ll be disappointed. I almost didn’t call them “falafel” because of that, but since I served them and ate them like falafel, falafel they shall be called.
If you prefer, think of them as savory, lightly spiced (or highly spiced, if you’re so inclined) sweet potato croquettes that taste great stuffed into pita bread or wraps, topped with yogurt-tahini dressing.
I made these in three different sizes: small patties, double-sized patties, and little balls. The small patties were so much better than the rest that I’m going to insist that you make them that way; the larger patties and balls are too dense inside and lack the crunchiness of the small patties. They’re easy to make uniform in size and shape if you use a cookie dough scoop to form them and then flatten them with your fingers or a spatula. (The scoop I use holds just over a tablespoon.)
Two of these small patties are just the right amount of filling for an average sized pita half. And don’t forget to serve them with the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce; though it’s higher in fat, it really complements the falafel–though it’s so delicious that it would improve just about anything!
Sweet Potato Falafel
- 1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 2 tbsp hot water
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 18 ounces, total)
- 2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 cloves garlic , minced or pressed
- 1/8–1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup chickpea flour or besan
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- sesame seeds (optional)
- Mix the flax seeds with two tablespoons hot water and set aside to thicken.
- Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a fork and place on paper towels in microwave. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, turn over, and then cook for another 2 minutes. Check for tenderness, and if not cooked all the way through, cook in increments of 30 seconds until tender. Set aside to cool until easy to handle; peel and place in a large bowl.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Mash sweet potatoes well with a masher or a fork. Add the flax mixture, seasonings (including parsley), and lemon juice and stir well. Mix the chickpea flour with the baking powder and add it a little at a time to the sweet potato mixture. Stir until well-combined. Batter should be stiff; if not, add chickpea flour a tablespoon at a time until batter is thick. (If the batter is too stiff to blend in all the flour, add water a tablespoon at a time.)
- Oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Use a cookie scoop or rounded tablespoon to make about 20-22 little mounds of dough on the baking sheet (dipping the scoop in water every now and then will help prevent the dough from sticking to it). Flatten the balls to about 1/2-inch thick and 1 1/2-inches wide. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bottoms are medium brown. Serve hot with yogurt-tahini sauce. These keep well and can be reheated briefly in the microwave.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Preheat the air fryer to around 375F. Make sure the basket is hot before placing the falafel in it in a single layer (you may need to cook in batches if your air fryer is small.) Check after 10 minutes to see if the falafel are beginning to brown. Check every minute and remove when they are medium brown.
Nutritional info is approximate.
- 1/2 cup soy yogurt or other plain non-dairy yogurt
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic , pressed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch red pepper
- 4 teaspoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons water
- Mix all ingredients well in a small bowl. Add additional seasonings to taste.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Jen havardAugust 30, 2012 at 6:30 am
These were excellent, such a treat! Served on a healthy pita bread, stuffed also with chopped romaine and grape tomatoes from the garden. Yum.
Marian GleasonJanuary 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm
Can’t WAIT to make these, Susan – I’ll post a pic on FB when I do! HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013 to you & yours!!! xxMarian (& Bill too – he LOVES your recipes!!)
JarafelFebruary 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm
Hi Susan, I made these today and I added little bit of red onion and instead of flax seeds I used psyllium husk powder to keep things together, since it is fat free. falafels are very tasty, heavy a bit but tasty 🙂 thank you for the recipe 🙂
Katherine BakerJanuary 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm
Hi! I’d love to try your recipe for sweet potato falafel. I do not have a microwave and have no intention of purchasing one. Could the sweet potatoes be baked for one hour or, alternatively, boiled (cooking time less long). Thanks! 🙂
Susan VoisinJanuary 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm
As I said in the recipe, cooking the sweet potatoes in the microwave is a real time saver, but feel free to bake or steam them instead. The moistness of sweet potatoes varies, so you may need to add a little more flour to achieve the right texture.
Katherine BakerJanuary 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm
Thanks! No way will I purchase a microwave.
BeckyJanuary 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm
Why don’t I know this? When you say a pinch of red pepper, do you mean red pepper flakes? Is there another form?
Susan VoisinJanuary 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm
I meant ground red pepper (cayenne), but I’m sure flakes would be good, too. I should have been more specific. Thanks for pointing that out.
AmyJanuary 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm
I made this for dinner tonight and it turned out so yummy! The only change I made is I used chia seeds in place of the flax. They were delicious! Thanks for all of the great recipes. I am constantly bookmarking recipes on your blog. 🙂
LauraFebruary 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm
All I have on hand is vanilla coconut yogurt so I don’t think that will work so well for the sauce. Would vegan sour cream work instead?
Vanessa Sain-DieguezJanuary 4, 2015 at 8:15 pm
Just made these and they’re delicious!!! Hoping my toddler will gobble them up. Do they have to be kept in the refrigerator? I’m assuming yes… Best advice for make ahead and keeping?
Diane YoungJanuary 8, 2016 at 3:42 pm
I cannot get any dairy free yogurt in my area. I can get dairy free sour cream – do you think that would make a good substitute to make the yogurt tahini sauce?
Sharon HerbitterNovember 17, 2016 at 6:10 pm
I’ve made these before (heck, I might’ve commented on this before!), but I made them again tonight and, man, are they good. And filling! And low calorie! Just a gem of a recipe. Thanks — as always.
LydiaSeptember 5, 2017 at 5:14 am
Made these and the sauce last night – two thumbs up!
SaraSeptember 9, 2017 at 9:37 pm
Made these the other night, and I love this recipe! I didn’t have any yogurt on hand so I substituted vegan sour cream for the Tahini Sauce. It worked out great & I have used the falafels over rice and with veggies, as well as in a salad.
dmitriFebruary 27, 2019 at 11:35 am
Hi! I´m making these and was just wondering: when you say “batter should be stiff”, how stiff are we talking? Banana bread batter? cookie dough? somewhere in between? I love falafel, so can’t wait to taste these! and for the record, I think “falafel’ is fully justified seeing as there’s garbanzo flour in them 🙂
BTW, I love the new pic!
Susan VoisinFebruary 27, 2019 at 11:58 am
Thanks! I would say more like cookie dough than banana bread batter. You should be able to mold it into balls or patties.
NatalieJanuary 21, 2020 at 9:25 pm
Going to make these tomorrow. Because there is only two of us, could you please tell me if they can be frozen after they are baked?
Susan VoisinJanuary 21, 2020 at 10:21 pm
Yes, I can’t think of any reason why they couldn’t be frozen. Enjoy!