These lentil meatballs are perfectly tender on the inside, firm on the outside, and loaded with so much flavor! Enjoy these easy vegan meatballs with a big bowl of spaghetti for the ultimate comfort food meal!
These lentil meatballs have so much flavor and they have the best texture! The inside is perfectly tender and moist but the outside is firm but not dry. Instead of meat, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and eggs, vegan meatballs are made with a hearty combo of legumes, oats, nutritional yeast, a vegan egg to hold everything together, veggies, and lots of seasonings for flavor!
These delicious meatballs won't fall apart on you and they have the perfect consistency. Serve the meatballs with your favorite noodles and tomato sauce for the ultimate vegan comfort food dinner!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- French Lentils - You can use brown or green lentils, just not red. You can use (1) 14 oz can of drained lentils in place of the cooked lentils if necessary.
- Raw Hulled Sunflower Seeds - Walnuts can be used instead of sunflower seeds.
- Cremini Mushrooms - Button or portobello mushrooms can also be used.
- Tomato Paste (This is my favorite brand because it's in a glass jar, it's organic, and has no added salt.)
- Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
- Nutritional Yeast - This adds a tangy, cheesy flavor.
- Flax Egg - This helps to hold it all together.
- Dried Seasonings - The seasonings add so much flavor! Fresh basil can be used instead of dried.
How to Make Vegan Meatballs
Step #1 - Start by cooking the lentils and quinoa together in 1 pot.
Step #2 - Make the flax egg.
Step #3 - Pour the lentils and quinoa into a large food processor. Add the mushrooms, onion, oats, sunflower seeds, tomato paste, vegan Worcestershire sauce, nutritional yeast, dried seasonings, garlic cloves, and the flax egg.
Step #4 - Pulse the filling on high for 1-2 minutes or until all the ingredients are broken down into small chunks and combined. The mixture will be sticky but that's normal.
Step #5 - Use a large spoon to scoop the filling out of the food processor into your hand and then use your palms to roll the filling into golf ball-sized vegan meatballs. The filling will make 14-15 large vegan meatballs.
Step #6 - Bake the meatballs. Serve with tomato sauce and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (or vegan parm) over pasta.
I usually serve the vegan meatballs over spaghetti or zucchini noodles and serve it with a side of roasted broccoli, garlic balsamic brussels sprouts, or avocado arugula tomato salad.
If you have leftover meatballs and are tired of spaghetti, you can use the leftovers to make a vegan meatball sub or you could toss the meatballs in BBQ sauce for an easy vegan appetizer!
Frequently Asked Questions
Try to roll the filling into golf ball-sized meatballs that are 1 ½ inches wide by 1 ½ inches high.
I've found it at most regular grocery stores lately, but if you can't find it locally you can buy vegan Worcestershire sauce, here.
The filling is so versatile! You can also use it to make veggie burgers or vegan meatloaf.
- Use ground flaxseed (not whole flaxseeds) to make the flax egg.
- Give the flax egg enough time to thicken before adding it to the mixture. I usually put it in the fridge to help it along while I'm making the rest of the recipe.
- The blended mixture may seem wet, but that's good! A wet batter makes moist meatballs. If it were too dry, then the meatballs would be dry after you baked them.
- If you accidentally blend the meatball filling too much and it's totally turned to mush, just add more oats to the mixture until you can shape it into solid balls.
Want More Vegan Lentil Recipes?
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Vegan Lentil Quinoa MeatBalls
- Food Processor
- Medium-Sized Pot
- Large Baking Tray
- 3 cups water
- ¼ cup uncooked quinoa rinsed & drained
- ¾ cup uncooked french lentils rinsed & drained
- 5 oz cremini mushrooms (about 5 large mushrooms)
- 1 cup red onion diced (one small onion)
- 1 cup gluten-free old fashioned oats (or gluten-free bread crumbs)
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 3 tbsp water
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds or walnuts
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 garlic cloves minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 tbsp Italian seasonings
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp sea salt add more to taste
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Start by boiling 3 cups of water in a medium-sized pot. When the water boils, season it with salt and add ¾ cup of rinsed and drained uncooked french lentils. Reduce the heat to medium and set a timer for 24 minutes.
- When there are 12 minutes left on the timer, add ¼ cup of uncooked quinoa to the pan with the lentils and give it a stir to combine. Let the lentils and quinoa continue cooking together until there is no water left in the pot. It should take a total of 23-24 minutes to cook the lentils and quinoa.
- Let the cooked lentil quinoa mixture cool for a few minutes. While it’s cooling, add 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp of water to a small bowl. Mix it together and put it in the fridge to thicken for 10 minutes.
- Pour the lentils and quinoa into a large food processor. Add the roughly chopped cremini mushrooms, diced red onion, oats, sunflower seeds, tomato paste, vegan Worcestershire sauce, nutritional yeast, Italian seasonings, garlic powder, dried basil, dried parsley, salt, pepper, and the flax egg.
- Pulse the filling on high for 1-2 minutes or until all the ingredients are combined and broken down into small chunks. The mixture will be sticky but that’s normal.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- While the oven is heating up, line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Use a large spoon to scoop the filling out of the food processor into your hand and then use your palms to roll the filling into golf ball sized meatballs. The filling will make 14-15 large vegan meatballs.
- Arrange the meatballs on the tray and bake them for 15-18 minutes or until browned on the outside. Serve with tomato sauce and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (or vegan parm) over your favorite pasta.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days or you can freeze them for a future meal.
I tried this recipe the results are amazing it tastes like real meatballs I totally recommend you to try it even if you are not a vegan.... I actually didn't have any mushrooms at home and I made it without this ingredient I also added some peppermint and they were still amazing and tasty AF :)))
I'm so glad you liked it, Anastasia! Thanks for the feedback =)
I am not a vegan and I was very skeptical about trying this. I absolutely loved this thank you so much for sharing
I'm so happy you liked it! Thank you for telling me <3
Hello Stacy I'm a very new vegan. I find your site EXTREMELY HELPFUL. I'm trying a lot of your recipes one my one month menu plan. This recipe being the first one I'm trying. Is it possible to freeze the balls before i bake them? Would it affect the taste if I freeze raw and cook later?
Hi Martika! I'm so happy to help! Unfortunately, I haven't tried freezing the balls before baking, only after they've been baked. I don't see any reason why freezing before baking would impact the flavor, but if you try it, please let me know how it works out for you! Let me know if you have any other questions!
Thanks for this recipe.
Can I substitute walnuts or pecans for the sunflower seeds?
Yes, either will work just fine!
Thanks for the recipe! Is there anything that I can sub the mushrooms for?
Hey Alvin! You can make the meatballs without the mushrooms if you prefer. I've made them multiple times without the mushrooms and they still taste delicious, they're just a little bit firmer. If you do make the meatballs without the mushrooms, I recommend that you rotate the meatballs halfway through when you bake them. Enjoy!
What is flax egg?
When you mix ground flax and water together to form a paste. It helps hold everything together like an egg would.
Made these today and they were awesomely, My family loved them! Will definitely be maing them again and again...
Yay!! That's awesome, I'm so happy you and your family enjoyed the recipe!
Made these today....thery were awesome! My family loved them...Will definitely be making them again and again....
I made these for dinner last night, and my husband and I both loved them. I do have a question for you. I baked them as the recipe says, but the cover description says sauteed, and the picture looks sauteed -- and very appealing, too. Maybe you just changed it to go"no added oil", but I thought I'd ask you. Thank you for a very nice recipe.
Super Yummy! I make a lot of different meatless meatballs, and the best way I have found to keep them together is letting all the ingredients get nice and cold in the fridge before you attempt rolling them. I also use an ice cream/ cookie scoop, you get the benefit of consistent sizes and gunk free hands!
That's a great tip, thank you! I'll definitely try that next time I make them. I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe!
I made these and they turned out very good. To avoid the sticky rolling process, I used an ice cream roller and they all turned out perfectly round in shape and size. When they were all baked, I added them
to my homemade tomato sauce. Delicious!
Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Using an ice cream roller is a great tip!
I made these with plain brown lentils, and I had sunflower seeds, but I smelled my pumpkin seeds and somehow they seemed more Italian. (I know, weird.) I toasted them before grinding. It all turned out really nicely, they are simmering in a pot of sauce now. I have to stir very gently, but they seem to be holding up. BTW, I used this cute spring-loaded mini scoop, and got about 25 balls. Perfect.
Hi Andrea! Thank you so much for the feedback, I'll add a note about the pumpkin seeds to the recipe notes. Enjoy your dinner! =)
Do you think this would work without the quinoa? Don’t like it that much and trying to shorten prep time.
Hey Judit! I'm not sure, I haven't tried it. Could you use something else, maybe rice? Do you have anything already cooked that you want to use up? If you try it let me know how it turns out without the quinoa.
I read the comments and answered my own question above sorry! (about dry vs. cooked lentils & quinoa)
These looked so good I had to make them even with a lot of risky substitutions and no food processor! 🙂
They came out great! I used real garlic, almond flour in lieu of sunflower seeds, oats for bread crumbs. I parsed it out in smaller portions to fit my magic bullet (had to be quick with the mixing) and while it was messy, was delicious!
Thank you so much! a new fave.
Hello! I'm so sorry I missed your original comment but I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe! I'll update the notes with your substitutions, I love that you used oats and almond flour-- that will be so helpful because some people have had problems finding gluten-free breadcrumbs. Thank you so much for leaving feedback about the recipe, I appreciate it!
oops sorry- dumb question: is the measured amount of quinoa and lentils the cooked or dry measure?
Not dumb at all, I need to update the recipe to make it clear. The ingredients listed are uncooked.
Hi, we made this tonight and it was really tasty but I think I must have done something really wrong because it just turned into a paste in the food processor. Had to glob the mixture onto the baking tray, and it did firm up once it was baked, but it was really difficult to work with.
I was just wondering how you make it less of a wet mixture when you're cooking the lentils and quinoa and they're holding a fair bit of water?
Sorry if I sound like an absolute idiot 😂
There shouldn't be a lot of liquid in the mixture--only the flax egg. Did you drain the lentils really well after cooking them? Both the quinoa and lentils should be cooked but dry before adding them to the food processor.
The only other thing I could think of that would affect the consistency would be if you accidentally over-blended the meatball mixture. I've done that before.
I hope you give it another try! Thank you for the feedback =)
Just bookmarked this so I can try it out, these look really good!
Julia // The Sunday Mode
Thank you, Julia! I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Hi Stacey, This recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it out when my sister comes to visit this weekend. Have you ever tried the recipe with brown lentils rather than green lentils? Any idea if it will make a big difference in texture or flavor? The reason I ask is because I plan to use pre-cooked lentils to save time and I’m not sure that they’re available in the green variety. Thanks in advance for your response!
Hello! I haven't tried brown lentils in this recipe but I think it would be fine. Brown lentils hold their shape pretty well just like green lentils. The only lentils I would say not to use would be red lentils because they would be way too mushy! I hope you have a great time with your sister!
Is there a substitution for the breadcrumbs? I am currently going flour-free (all types of flour).
Hi Melanie! I haven't tried making the meatballs without the bread crumbs but maybe rolled oats would make a good substitution? Let me know if you try it!
Hi Melanie!! I used chickpea crumb! Chickpeas are the ONLY ingredient, so no flour and added protein! WIN, WIN!! I'm sure there are other brands, but I use WHATUSEE FOODS...organic, made in the USA, and non-GMO! (: Hope this helps!
I made these meatballs and they were AMAZING. I was hoping to double or triple the recipe the next time I make them, and just throw some in the freezer for later. Have you ever tried this? Do you have recommendations on how to reheat them from frozen?
Hi, Beth! I'm so happy you like the recipe! Thank you for letting me know! I never have enough leftover to freeze, my hubby gobbles them up, so I'm not 100% sure how they would turn out. However, I don't see why they wouldn't keep for a few months frozen and then reheated in the oven until warmed through. If you try it, let me know and I'll update the recipe with your results! Thank you! =)