For the Best Gluten-Free Waffles, Take a Cue from Falafel

September 28, 2018

Can you waffle it? has become a sort-of joke, but I still take it seriously. After all, this question has led to a lot of important discoveries, like waffled grilled cheese or waffled puff pastry. So what about falafel? Can you waffle that?

The short answer is: no and yes.

I started with a super-simple falafel batter: overnight-soaked chickpeas pulsed in a food processor with some onion and garlic, plus baking powder, salt, and ground cumin. A lot of falafel recipes go harder on the spices and add fresh herbs, too, but I wanted the chickpeas to shine.

This didn’t go well. Despite how very generously I greased the waffle iron, the falafel batter stuck like cement. And I need not tell you how frustrating it is to clean a waffle iron when you could be eating waffles instead.

Somewhere between the first and 14th Q-tip (Did you know Q-tips are really helpful at cleaning cooled-down, clogged-up waffle irons?), I started wondering about eggs. Could they be the missing ingredients? Could they clean my waffle iron for me?

Photo by Jenny Huang

Well, no, they couldn’t clean it for me. But yes, they made all the difference for the recipe. One egg made a nonstick waffle (huzzah!). Two eggs made a fluffier, lighter center. Three eggs made an almost-falafel, crispy chickpea waffle that I couldn’t stop eating.

Of course, it wouldn't be a waffle without maple syrup. Just kidding. It wouldn’t be a waffle without some sort of topping. In this case, we’re doubling down. First, an extra-herby take on Israeli salad, or chopped cucumbers and tomatoes with parsley and lemon. My version adds cilantro and mint. And to go with, a harissa-spiked tahini sauce that you could, would, and should pour with abandon.

Like any waffle, these are best eaten still-warm from the iron. But if you happen to have any leftovers, just toss in the toaster tomorrow morning for breakfast on the go.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever waffled?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Allison Brummet
    Allison Brummet
  • laura h
    laura h
  • Jasmine
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Allison B. October 7, 2018
Hi there! I’d like to know your thoughts on using flax eggs or another substitute for the eggs. Thank you!
Emma L. October 7, 2018
Hey! Since the batter uses a fair amount of eggs, I'm honestly not sure how a substitute, such as flax, would work out... If you give it a try, please report back!
laura H. October 6, 2018
Two questions. 1) can u used canned chickpeas? 2) Can I cook these in a pan like pancakes?
Emma L. October 7, 2018
Hi Laura! 1) I wouldn't recommend using canned chickpeas, as they're pretty different from soaked dried chickpeas. 2) I haven't tried cooking these like pancakes, but hopeful it would work just fine! Just grease the pan generously and flatten scoops of batter with a spatula (they won't spread on their own).
Jasmine September 29, 2018
Can I substitute chickpea flour, if so how much?
Emma L. September 30, 2018
Hi Jasmine! I haven't tried that substitution and wouldn't recommend it. Here, the dried chickpeas are soaked, then processed, so they act differently than a flour.