Spicy Falafel Butter Lettuce Tacos

I recently participated in the Better Butter Lettuce Contest by Hollandia Produce, and I am trilled that my recipe took third place in the main dish category.  I’ve been using Live Gourmet, Hollandia’s living fresh butter lettuce for years in my dishes because it makes a handy and pretty, no-carb, no-fat, crunchy wrap for all kinds favorites.   I’ve used it in place of a bun for hamburgers, as a handy shell for a low-carb BLT, and for traditional Chinese chicken lettuce wraps.   Because the lettuce is still connected to it’s roots when you buy it, it couldn’t be more fresh.  If I have any leftover, I like to throw it into salads, or stuff it with avocado and tomato for a healthy snack.

I knew that my yummy homemade falafel would taste delicious wrapped in this crunchy lettuce.  I gave it a Mexican twist by turning it into a spicy taco, but retained it’s Middle Eastern roots by using a tangy yogurt sauce and keeping the falafel itself traditional.


Falafel is one of those things that people love to enjoy in restaurants but they tend to think they can’t make it at home.  That is a huge myth!  Let me take the mystery out of falafel for ya, so you can start enjoying it in your kitchen!  The best way I can describe falafel, is that it’s a Middle Eastern fritter or hushpuppy.  It’s basically made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and herbs, and fried until golden brown.  If you are making the Egyptian version, you’d use Fava beans.  Traditionally, it’s stuffed into pita bread and dressed with shredded lettuce and tomatoes and either a tahini or a yogurt sauce.  I have eaten my share of falafel sandwiches in my lifetime, and let me tell you, they are craveable!

Please for the love of all that is holy, don’t bake falafel.  It yearns to be FRIED!  It’s made from chickpeas and herbs, I totally think you are ok if you go ahead and fry it.  The texture will just not be right if you don’t.

The garbanzo beans are not even cooked before you fry the falafel at the final step.  All you do is soak them in the fridge in water overnight.  Then you move them to your food processor and mix them with the rest of the ingredients.  Once that’s done, you form them into balls.  I like mine about an inch and a half  in diameter.  This is what they look like raw.

falafel ball

Simply fry them in canola or vegetable oil, and let them drain on paper towels before folding them into the lettuce with some tomato, yellow bell pepper, red onion, and a yogurt Sriracha dressing!

Make sure you don’t have your oil so hot that it burns the outside before the inside cooks through.  If you don’t cook the falafel through you will taste raw flour and they won’t be light and fluffy.   Just let them bob in the oil for a good three to five minutes and then check one by cutting it in half to make sure it’s cooked through.

I promise you will fall in love with falafel, so hurry up and make some!

Spicy Falafel Butter Lettuce Tacos


  • For the Tacos:
  • 1 head butter lettuce, 1 Cup grape tomatoes, sliced, ½ red onion sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper diced fine, Hot sauce
  • For the Yogurt Sauce:
  • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt, 1 tsp hot sauce, 1 scallion
  • ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp white pepper, juice and zest of ½ lemon, ½ Tbs honey
  • For the Falafel:
  • 1 Cup dried garbanzo beans, ¼ red onion, 3 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley)
  • 1/4 tsp each dried red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt, ½ tsp each ground cumin and coriander
  • 1 tsp baking powder, 6 Tbs all-purpose flour, Canola oil for frying


  1. Place beans in a bowl and cover with cold water. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor place the soaked beans and all other ingredients for the falafel, except the oil. Pulse to combine thoroughly but don't puree. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls, and refrigerate 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, make the yogurt dip by combining all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot until it’s about 350 to 375 degrees. Reshape falafel balls as you drop them into the oil a few at a time. Cook for about three minutes until golden brown and heated through.
  5. Assemble the tacos by spooning some yogurt sauce onto each lettuce leaf. Add a generous amount of vegetables and a ball of falafel. Finish with hot sauce.



  1. This sounds lovely. Going to give this a go. thanks for sharing this recipe.


  2. I need to put this on my menu next week – Hannah loves it and so does Jacob and it could be a nice meatless dinner for her – I keep telling Jacob all the time that it would be so much easier to meal plan if Hannah loved meat like we do!

    • It’s true, Biz, it’s hard sometimes to please the vegetarians and the meat eaters at your table, but this one will do it for sure! I hope you like it :)

  3. I wish I could jump through the page and eat that. It looks phenomenal!

  4. What a great idea . Great job!

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