Tender and delicious, these are the Easiest Vegan Meatballs ever, and they’re also gluten-free! Made of wholesome ingredients, these little bean balls are great in any kind of sauce, whether it’s part of your entree or you’re sticking toothpicks in them and serving them at a party!
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Hey Internet, I’ve been avoiding making vegan meatballs for the longest time and I honestly don’t know why. I was afraid they’d fall apart, or be mushy, or bland.
Well, these little bean balls aren’t any of those things.
They’re delicious, easy to make, aren’t mushy, and hold up well, even when being simmered in a sauce like with my vegan Swedish meatballs.
I mean if I’m being honest, that recipe was the impetus to create my own vegan meatballs, but I definitely can’t wait to serve these in a spaghetti recipe with marinara, or even a rigatoni bake. Oh wait, what about a meatball sub!!!! Okay that’s next.
Anyway. We’re here to make these meatballs today, and luckily they don’t take much time at all. No day old rice needed, these babies are quick to throw together with minimal ingredients.
You will notice I recommend throwing the “batter” in the fridge for just a little bit to make it firm up, but this just makes rolling easier, so you don’t have to. You could even throw it in the freezer for a few minutes instead.
Finally, these vegan meatballs are totally customizable, so you could use any bean you want, any herbs or spices you want, or even throw in things like sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms--as long as it’s chopped small enough, it should work!
But before we customize, let’s talk about the basic recipe first.
What You’ll Need
The base of these awesome vegan meatballs is beans. You can use any you like--chickpeas would be really good. I used kidney beans because I liked the color, the texture, and they have a lot of nutrients.
Also you can use canned beans or cooked from scratch, just make sure you drain them. If canned, I’d recommend rinsing them too.
Next up, you’ll need a nice hearty flour to bind it together. I used oat flour, which I made from grinding rolled oats in my blender (easier than you think!), but you could also use store-bought oat flour or chickpea flour (also called garbanzo bean flour, besan, or gram flour).
For a binder, I used ground flaxseed. Flax is packed with nutrients too, most importantly omega 3 fatty acids. Mix this ground flaxseed with a bit of water and let it sit for a few minutes--it will gel into a kind of homogenous, glue-y consistency perfect for binding our meatballs.
I used a fair amount of nutritional yeast here because it gave the meatballs a lot of flavor but it also helped dry out the mixture. If you don’t like nutritional yeast, simply substitute more oat or chickpea flour (same ratio).
Speaking of flavor, I used garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, and an Italian herb blend to season my vegan meatballs, but you can use whatever you like! Any herbs would be great in here too.
I actually order all my spices from The Spice House. You can get your spices cheaper if you order a flat pack (cheaper to ship as well) and refill your existing spice jars. <>
Tips for Making Perfect Vegan Meatballs
- Before we do anything else, let’s mix those flax eggs. Mix the indicated amount of ground flaxseed (if you have whole flax seeds, you’ll need to grind them in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or blender first) and water in a small bowl. Stick in the fridge to make it gel faster.
- Now take the kidney beans and add them to the food processor, pulsing them a few times. You could also use a blender or a fork and a bowl (just mash them up). Add the gelled flax egg, nutritional yeast, spices, and HALF of the oat or chickpea flour. Blend or mix well.
- Now if you mixed in a food processor or blender, transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Sprinkle on the remaining oat or chickpea flour and mix with a fork until thick and well combined.
- Cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or throw it in the freezer for about 10 minutes or so. This step is optional, but it does make the meatballs a lot easier to roll, and it helps them keep their shape while they bake.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (or 218 degrees Celsius).
- Make meatballs with about 2 tablespoons each of the mixture. This is a nice sized meatball, but you can use a smaller or larger amount according to your preference. I used a 2 tbsp cookie scoop to make this process a lot easier. Scoop out each meatball, roll between your hands to get a nice sphere, and place on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper lined baking tray. If your meatballs are cracking or not staying together well enough, you need a bit more moisture. Stir in 2 tablespoons of water at a time if needed.
- Repeat until all mixture is used up. This makes a LOT of meatballs, so you can freeze half when you’re done cooking them for a quick meal later on. You could also freeze the formed balls before baking them… Freeze them on the tray first, then when frozen you can place them in a freezer bag or container.
- Bake them for about 20-24 minutes, flipping halfway through. I’d also recommend rotating the trays at that halfway point. Alternatively, you can air fry them, but I’d recommend only a single layer at a time, and give them a little room to breathe around each other.
- If you really want to brown them, you could finish in a skillet, but I just like to add them to whatever sauce I’m using and simmer for a bit to infuse the flavor of the sauce into the vegan meatballs.
- Refrigerate leftover meatballs in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
More Vegan Meat Alternatives
I don’t really miss meat at all, and neither does my husband. But sometimes you want something that resembles something you used to eat. It may or may not taste exactly the same, but it can definitely satisfy that craving.
It’s also really nice to make these meat alternatives at home, so you know exactly what goes in them and you can customize the flavors to your liking.
I hope you’ll check out one or two of these recipes, they’re actually some of the most popular on my blog!
- Vegan Philly Cheesesteak (my most popular recipe!)
- Vegan Sausage
- Lentil Mushroom Loaf
- Vegan Pastrami
- Vegan Drumsticks
- Meatless Crumbles
- Vegan Gyros
- Vegan Brisket
- Instant Pot Seitan
- Vegan Chicken Nuggets
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do and so does Mr. Zardyplants, who is vegan but occasionally misses the flavor of meat (but not the cruelty–he insisted I add that line).
These vegan meatballs are:
- “Meaty” (hold the cruelty)
- Chewy yet tender
- Packed with flavor
- and great for any dish, especially one that someone would normally use meatballs for.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!