Mouthwatering vegan meatballs filled with protein, iron and veggies. These are so versatile and perfect for pasta, sandwiches, as an appetizer or alone!
This recipe was originally published on 9/19/16
A meatball is really a round burger in my book. And since I am burger obsessed, I needed a good vegan meatball go-to in my back pocket. So here we go, filled with goodness, easy to throw together and perfect for the freezer!
There are many processed fake meat products out there that make vegan meatballs, but since we like to mostly focus on a more whole foods based diet, I needed to find a way to get a texture and flavor we loved with whole foods.
Because we are Italian food fanatics, I made these with an Italian flair (kinda like my husband ;)) and they turned out so good! We love the texture just as much as the flavor!
The idea for this recipe came from my lentil veggie burger recipe. It's simple with actual veggies and I love how it is easily made gluten free using gluten free oats. The combination of oats, lentils and mushrooms give these a great texture. And the added sunflower seeds give them a little extra oomph!
Can you freeze vegan meatballs?
This is what I love most, how great these freeze and can be pulled out for quick meals on busy nights. You can freeze them raw, but I found I like them best if I partially cook them, then freeze.
Here is how I prep them for the freezer after I allow them to cool completely:
- wrap them in parchment paper
- then wrap in tin foil
- store in a ziplock freezer bag or airtight container
How do you cook frozen veggie meatballs?
Once you are ready to eat the frozen meatballs, take them out of the freezer and allow them to defrost to room temperature. Then cook them the rest of the way like it says in the instructions.
I like to write the date I froze them and how long they still need to cook and at what temperature so I have it easily ready to go!
What should I serve with meatballs?
These vegan meatballs are so versatile! You can do so many things with them. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- over pasta
- as an appetizer dipped in marinara
- in a vegan meatball sandwich
- in a wrap
- sprinkled with my famous grateable vegan parmesan
- as a slider in mini slider buns
- cut up over pizza
- as the meat portion in vegan lasagna
- mixed in with red pepper pasta
How to Make Vegan Meatballs
These meatballs are fairly simple to make and can be made without a food processor if you prefer and don't mind the chunkier texture.
- Saute the veggies
- Pulse everything in a food processor (or simply mash with your hands)
- Shape into balls
The Best Vegan Meatballs Recipe
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms
- 1 ½ cups chopped kale
- ¾ cup chopped yellow or sweet onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- drizzle of your favorite oil for sautéing veggies ,or veggie broth if not using oil
- 1 ½ cups precooked lentils
- 1 cup rolled oats , gluten free if needed (see note)
- ½ cup almond flour
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 4 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C
- Saute mushrooms, kale, onion and garlic in a drizzle of oil or veggie broth until soft and no liquid remains. Set aside to cool.
- Once cooled a bit, add them to a food processor and pulse a few times to get them chopped into small pieces. If you chopped them pretty finely before, you can simply add them to the processor and move to the next step.
- Put lentils, oats, almond flour, sunflower seeds, oregano, smoked paprika, salt and pepper in the food processor and pulse until crumbly. Be careful not to overdo it. You can also skip the processor all together and just use your hands to mash them up and have a chunkier texture.
- Allow mixture to set about 5-10 minutes so the oats can soak in some liquid (you can also do this after you shape into balls as well). I use this time to clean up a bit
- Shape into 2-inch balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes, flip and bake 10 more minutes, or until they are browned on top.
- Allow to cool so the texture settles and serve with almost anything!
- This recipe makes about 16 balls, serving size is 4 meatballs.
- You may need a little bit more oats if your mixture ends up too wet, which can happen depending on how much liquid is in the veggies you saute. You want most of it to evaporate.
- If there is a nut allergy, you can sub more oats for the almond meal.
- You can also use spinach or swiss chard in place of the kale.
- To freeze for the best result, I half bake them, then freeze wrapped in parchment paper, then foil then put them in an airtight container. Once ready to eat, I defrost to room temperature then bake them the rest of the way. You could also freeze raw but you may have to reshape them a bit once they defrost.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.
Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.
Jen @ sweetgreenkitchen.com
I just found your site and this recipe for kale and lentil balls is right up my alley! One of the few foods I miss and loved as a meat eater were meatballs, so since switching to a vegetarian lifestyle (over 20 years ago!), I am forever searching for a great vegetarian "meatball". Your version looks great and I can't wait to try it as a vegan alternative to my lentil & quinoa balls which are vegetarian but not at all vegan, if you're looking for an option with eggs and dairy feel free to check these out - http://sweetgreenkitchen.com/2014/03/31/lentil-meatballs/. I'll definitely be making yours soon!
Thank you so much Jen! I love these with pasta or even in a sandwich like my beanball sub. Let me know if you give them a try and how you like them! I don't cook with eggs or dairy but I'll definitely check yours out. Thanks so much for following!
Reblogged this on Incredible-Edible-Veggies.
We had these for Christmas dinner and they were a big hit! So delicious and everyone absolutely loved them! They are going in my "Go-To Recipe Box" and will be enjoyed often. Thanks so much!
Thank you so much for the feedback! Glad you loved them as much as we do. We use them in so many ways!
Hi, what can I use instead of a flax egg? Can I sub breadcrumbs for oats also?
Hi Kseniya! The flax egg is a binder that holds the balls together, if you aren't vegan you can definitely use an egg, but if you want to keep these vegan you can use another egg substitute like a chia egg (the same as a flax egg but using chia seeds) or you could try egg replacer, although I have never used it. Also, if you are using breadcrumbs instead of the oats, which you can do but it may change the texture a bit, you can try just using more breadcrumbs and take out the "egg" all together. I'd start with an extra few tablespoons of breadcrumbs then mix the bean ball dough and continue adding a tablespoon at a time until they seem to hold together well. Let me know what you do and how it works out since I haven't tried it and I'm sure others would love to see! Thanks for following!
hi! what can i use as a sub for almond meal? im allergic
Hi Danielle, you could do many things. You can grind up some sunflower seeds and use that, you can use extra oats, or grind oats into a flour or use another flour, use extra flax meal on it's own, or add another type of ground-up nut if you have some you're not allergic to. The almond meal helps with the texture and to keep the beanball together. Let me know if you use any of those ideas and how they turn out!
The Vegan 8
What I love about this recipe is it is SO easy and such few ingredients!! I have every single ingredient except eggplant, Score! That is an easy recipe, whoop! Definitely making it soon, thanks Sophia!
Thank you so much! I try and keep things easy but still flavorful and exciting. Plus being able to make ahead and freeze is key for us! I've got a two and three year old so I don't have time for 6 hour meals. Lol!
tried these recipe last night and these were so tasty - i really enjoyed them. i used green lentils and about a teaspoon of each spice. i tend to go for foods with a lot of texture and these were perfect albeit a little bit crumbly. the best part: my companion who hates legumes and beans said these balls were great! whoa, never thought i'd gear that. anyhow, i couldn't find where to add the flax egg, so I added it after the spices were combined. thank you!
Hi Angelica! I'm so glad you liked them! If you want them less crumbly next time, maybe add a touch less oats. I also like the texture of these a lot! And I love that someone who hates beans likes them! They are a favorite in our house too. Thanks for the heads up about the flax eggs, I added it to the list of things to add. You can really add them anywhere and be fine, but it's all fixed now! Thank you for following!
Sophia, these are delicious! There was silence as my picky kiddos ate them all up!!!
Ok, this comment made my day! It's so amazing when kids eat your food! I feel that way when the 2 year old actually eats something without complaining, so so happy you had a successful night of dinner! Thanks for all your continued support!
What is good to replace mushrooms?
Hi Kayla, I answered this question above for another reader but I'll copy and paste here for you too! Thanks for following and let me know if you try any of these alternatives out!
The mushrooms in the bean balls help with the texture, both making it just moist enough but not mushy. If it’s just the taste you don’t like, you honestly can’t taste them here. My husband is not a mushroom fan and loves these. If you want to try something else due to an allergy or you really just don’t like mushrooms, my suggestions would be either zucchini, eggplant or cauliflower. Also tofu if you are ok with soy since it has a similar consistency. The overall consistency of the beanball may be a little different but I’m sure it will still be good! Let me know what you try and how it works. I love hearing people’s changes and I know other readers would too! Thanks for following!
Melinda Amato (@melinda_amato)
What could be substituted for mushrooms in this recipe? Looks delicious!
Hi Melinda! The mushrooms in the bean balls help with the texture, both making it just moist enough but not mushy. If it's just the taste you don't like, you honestly can't taste them here. My husband is not a mushroom fan and loves these. If you want to try something else due to an allergy or you really just don't like mushrooms, my suggestions would be either zucchini, eggplant or cauliflower. Also tofu if you are ok with soy since it has a similar consistency. The overall consistency of the beanball may be a little different but I'm sure it will still be good! Let me know what you try and how it works. I love hearing people's changes and I know other readers would too! Thanks for following!
This has EVERYTHING I love. Lentils, kale, oats...these balls are right up my alley.
Thank you so much Angie! They are one of our favorites too. I love that you get protein, iron and veggies all in one bite!
I've seen lots of veggie meatball recipes but these definitely look like the heartiest ones I've seen! Next time zucchini noodle time rolls around I will be sure to add some of these meatballs in 🙂
Thank you so much! They are very hearty! And that sounds like an awesome way to eat them. I think I'm going to make zoodles for them too!!
I've seen a couple of these meatless meatball recipes - cannot wait to try them.
Thank you! They are a great alternative to meat balls! Let me know how you like them if you get the chance to try them out.
Seems fitting I'm making your read sauce as we speak!
Read "red" sauce...
Thank you! Yes, they go perfect with the Crockpot Red Sauce! That's how we eat them. And they are very filling so I always freeze half of the balls I make for a later time.