Even meat eaters will enjoy these vegan meatballs! They’re delicious, healthy, and bound to become one of your favorite vegan recipes. They are not just vegan, but also gluten-free!
What’s spaghetti without the meatballs? I just shared my recipe for Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce (stovetop instructions included) and decided I needed to make one for meatballs too. Just noodles and sauce can be boring, and not as satisfying. The meatballs add flavor and keep you full. The difference between these meatballs and others is that they’re completely plant-based!
Store-bought meatballs can have a long list of ingredients, some of which I’ve never even heard of! I don’t know about you, but I like to know what I’m putting in my body. These vegan meatballs are made with real ingredients that are good for you.
A lot of vegan meatball recipes have a base of black beans or lentils, but I decided to keep these bean-free and use walnuts as the main ingredient. I also was able to make them gluten-free by omitting the breadcrumbs most meatball (vegan or otherwise) recipes have. A good amount of nutritional yeast worked as a stand-in beautifully. It also adds deep umami flavor!
Not only does this vegan meatballs recipe taste delicious, but they’re also full of nutrients. The flaxseed meal and walnuts contain lots of protein, and are full of healthy fats. Both are considered anti-inflammatory foods so these are great if you’re trying to follow the anti-inflammatory diet. The nutritional yeast contains a number of antioxidants and B vitamins, and the garlic is great for boosting your immune system.
If you’re on a vegan diet, and having a hard time not eating meat, this recipe is perfect for you. They look just like regular meatballs, have lots of flavor, and even a meaty texture. Even my husband, who LOVES meat, likes these meatless meatballs.
- Serve these vegan meatballs over spaghetti noodles or spaghetti squash and my Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce. It makes such a delicious, healthy, and satisfying meal the whole family will love.
- Make sure when you process the onions and walnuts in the food processor, you don’t process it too long to where it will become mush.
- If you have extras, or decide to make a double batch and save it for another time, heat the meatballs with the sauce. Just stir the meatballs and sauce together, and let it simmer in a pot or pan until it’s done. Be gentle when reheating so the vegan meatballs hold together. If you aren’t serving them with sauce, bake them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes.
Flaxseed Meal- Flaxseed is full of healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, and protein. It makes a flax egg when mixed with water which is a great vegan egg substitute and helps hold these together.
Avocado Oil- Avocado oil also contains loads of healthy fats and antioxidants. You could also use olive oil if you would like.
Yellow Onion- Not only does yellow onion add delicious flavor, but it’s also full of nutrition. They can help fight inflammation, and reduce cholesterol levels.
Garlic Cloves- Garlic adds incredible flavor to these meatless meatballs. It can help lower blood pressure, boost your immune system, and lower cholesterol.
Walnuts- Walnuts add the perfect texture. They’re full of healthy fats, protein which helps keep you full, and are a great plant-based source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Nutritional Yeast- The umami flavor nutritional yeast brings to this recipe is incredible. It contains antioxidants, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a delicious, vegan cheese substitute. This also helps keep the meatballs gluten-free as it takes the place of breadcrumbs. It works well!
Basil and Oregano-I used dried so this recipe is all about pantry staples, but you can substitute fresh herbs, too.
Salt and Black Pepper- Just a little bit is all you need to bring out the flavors here.
How to Make Vegan Meatballs
- First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ground flaxseed meal and water. Set aside.
- Next, heat 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or olive oil) in a cast iron or other oven-safe large skillet or frying pan. Add the minced onion and cook a few minutes over medium-high heat, until softened and browned. Add the garlic cloves and continue to cook another minute or so. Remove from heat.
- In a food processor, process the onion mixture and walnut pieces until they are broken down, but not complete mush.
- Add the onion and walnut mixture to the bowl with the flax egg. Add the remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper), and stir to combine well. The mixture will seem like it’s not going to stick together, but you should be able to form it into balls.
- Form the meatball mixture into 12 balls.
- For best results, add more oil and heat it over medium heat if your skillet is dry. Gently add the balls to the hot oil and pan fry them to get a sear on each side. Carefully turn them as they are cooking so they are browned.
- Next, transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. You don’t need to use parchment paper when you cook them in the oven. They won’t stick to the skillet since there’s already oil.
- Lastly, add Instant Pot spaghetti sauce and serve over spaghetti squash or spaghetti noodles. Enjoy!
Vegan Meatballs FAQS:
What should I serve these with?
These vegan meatballs would go great with my Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce (or marinara sauce) and spaghetti or penne noodles. They’re fantastic with spaghetti squash, too. You could also make a meatball sub, or just eat them on their own with your favorite sauce.
Can I substitute the flax seed meal?
Yes. The flax seed meal combined with the water makes what you call a flax egg. Since flax eggs are just vegan egg replacements, you can use 2 regular eggs instead. You’ll still have vegetarian meatballs if you choose to do this.
How should I store these vegan meatballs?
You can store them in the fridge in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days. If you choose to freeze them, just make sure you store them in a freezer-safe container. I would not recommend refreezing them.
How should I reheat these vegan meatballs?
If you’re having them with sauce, I would recommend heating them in a pan or pot with the sauce. You can just let the meatballs and sauce simmer until it’s done. If you’re not having them with sauce, I would recommend heating them up in the oven.
Do these vegan meatballs still taste like meat?
Since these meatballs are completely plant-based, you will be able to tell a difference between them and real meat. The flavor and texture will be different. They aren’t like some of the meat substitutes you find at the grocery store that aren’t made with real food ingredients. They still appear similar, and have a “meaty” texture. Don’t worry, they’re still delicious and packed with protein!
Can I use olive oil instead of avocado oil?
Yes, you can use olive oil in place of avocado oil. Be mindful of the temperature as avocado oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which is why I tend to use it in cooking more than olive oil. Both are healthy choices for oils.
What does nutritional yeast taste like?
Nutritional yeast is generally used as a vegan cheese substitute. It has a unique, savory flavor. Some people even think it has a bit of a nutty taste. It adds delicious flavor to this recipe.
How do you mince an onion?
Mincing onions is basically just chopping up an onion into really tiny pieces. For the best results, you can start by dicing them, and then just lay one hand flat on top of your knife, and use a rocking motion to chop.
Are these vegan meatballs healthy?
This recipe contains lots of nutrients. It’s full of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. The ingredients are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
How many meatballs does this recipe make?
This recipe makes 12 meatballs which is usually about 4 servings. If you like more meatballs on your pasta or are feeding more people, you could always make a double batch.
If you make this recipe or any of my other healthy recipes, please share it on Instagram and I’ll feature you! Also, if you try it, please leave a comment with a star rating below! Those star ratings are so helpful in helping my recipes get discovered. I appreciate you!Print