fried falafel on plate

How to Make Dutch Oven Falafel Without Splattering

Homemade falafel is a surprisingly easy cooking project that allows you to customize the flavors in the crunchy chickpea patties to suit your palate. Although some recipes encourage you to bake falafel in the oven, the best way to get an authentic, crunchy exterior and fluffy interior is to fry them on the stovetop. You can shallow fry falafel in a skillet to avoid having lots of used cooking oil to dispose of after cooking, but the resulting splatter around your stove is messy to clean. A great solution is to use your Dutch oven for the frying — the high walls keep those pops of oil contained for easier cleanup.

A deep, heavy Dutch oven is one of the best cookware investments you can make. It’s not only great for braises and stews, but it’s also a great substitute for frying of all kinds. In this case, just an inch or so of oil should be enough to cook your falafel, but you could even deep fry your falafel (or virtually any other food) with a few more inches of oil, and those high sides of the pot will keep the oil off your stove.

Putting your Dutch oven to good use

yellow dutch oven on board

To easily fry falafel with minimal mess, simply add oil to your Dutch oven and place it on medium heat. It’s always a good idea to use a cooking thermometer to check the oil temperature when you fry, but if you don’t have one, check for the right heat with the handle of a wooden spoon. You’ll know the oil is ready when you see bubbles around the handle. Once it is ready, use tongs to place the falafel in the oil. This will help prevent your fingers from getting too hot as you drop the falafel into the pot for cooking. Turn your falafel with the tongs for even browning on both sides.

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The trick to good pan (shallow) frying is maintaining an even temperature in the oil, and the heavy bottom and sides of a Dutch oven will also help stabilize the heat on your stove. Once the oil is at the right temperature, you can reduce the stove setting to prevent overheating, and the Dutch oven will buffer the changes to even out that heat. The result is crispy, golden brown falafel, perfect for stuffing into a pita, making a vegan falafel burger, or eating as is with a side of hummus or lemon tahini.

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