Culinary Institute of America Recipe
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Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce

Athletes and their coaches know that what you eat before going out onto the playing field can make a difference in how well you perform. Working closely with coaches at Stanford University, The Culinary Institute of America developed recipes to help their athletes maintain their stamina, including this falafel.

Falafel came from the Middle East, and the original recipe contained ground fava beans. Fry the falafel in batches without crowding the pan, which can lower oil temperature and increase the amount of oil each piece will absorb. Stuff the crispy, high-protein chickpea patties into a pita filled with lettuce, tomatoes, and olives. Top it off with our tzatziki sauce, and you’ve got a nutritious meal that will keep you going the distance. Used throughout the Mediterranean, the versatile yogurt and cucumber dish that Greeks refer to as tzatziki is used as both a sauce and a salad.

Watch our video on how to perfectly (and safely) fry falafel >

Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce recipe by The Culinary Institute of America




Makes 10 servings (4 patties per serving)

  • 16 ounces dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 6 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil (for frying), as needed
  • 5 each 6 1/2” pita breads
  • 5 leaves romaine lettuce, torn in half
  • 2 plum tomatoes, sliced and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup niçoise olives, sliced
  • Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)

Tzatziki Sauce

Makes 1 1/4 cups

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup peeled, grated cucumber, squeezed dry
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves or fresh dill
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed



  1. Drain the chickpeas, then purée in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in the onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, coriander, cumin, and pepper.
  3. Divide and shape the mixture to form 40 patties (1 3/4-inch by 1/2-inch). Fill a skillet with olive oil to a depth of 1/2 inch, and heat to 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the patties until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on absorbent paper towels.
  4. Heat the pitas and slice in half to form a pocket.
  5. To assemble, place lettuce, tomato, and olives in a pita half, along with falafel patties and Tzatziki Sauce.
  6. Serve on a heated platter.

Tzatziki Sauce

  1. Combine the yogurt, sour cream, cucumber, and garlic in a food processor and purée until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the olive oil, mint or dill, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir until combined and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
 Per serving (one 6 1/2” pita with 4 patties and 2 tablespoons Tzatziki Sauce): 515 CALORIES, 17 g PROTEIN, 68 g CARBOHYDRATES, 10 g FIBER, 18 g TOTAL FAT (4 g saturated fat), 899 mg SODIUM, 15 mg CHOLESTEROL

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