The Ultimate Vegan Meatballs

The Ultimate Vegan Meatballs ~ hearty, meaty and bursting with Italian-style flavors! They bake up perfectly and they won’t fall apart! (Air Fryer instructions included)

What are Vegan Meatballs made of?

Well, there are lots of ways to make them with various grains, veggies, beans, and legumes. To get the perfect meaty texture, I used a combination of mushrooms and chickpeas. This combo not only creates great texture, but it also adds moisture to prevent dry meatballs.

I sautéd onions, garlic, and mushrooms, together and browned them slightly for phenomenal flavor. Then I added Italian seasoning, fennel seed and crushed red pepper for a subtle kick. The fennel is optional, but I highly recommend it.

To bind everything up, I used a combination of rolled oats, breadcrumbs, and ground flax seed. They also create a nice texture too.

How to make tasty Vegan Meatballs? 

It’s really easy!! Here’s what you’ll need to do:
  • Sauté the onions until softened and browned. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Now add the seasoning and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté until they have reduced in size and are slightly browned. You want them to release their moisture and the pan to be mostly dry. Add the tamari sauce and cook for another minute.
  • Add the chickpeas to a large food processor container and pulse a few times to break down the beans.
  • Now add the cooked mushrooms, oats, breadcrumbs, flax egg, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, salt, and pepper to the processor. Process until well combined and it ALMOST forms a paste. You don’t want it completely smooth so leave texture. You just want the ingredients to bind together easily. Now place mixture uncovered in the freezer for 20-30 minutes (or in the fridge for 1-2 hours).
  • Remove mixture from freezer and form into smooth balls using your hands. Use about 1.5 tablespoons of mixture to keep them uniform. Place on baking sheet and repeat until mixture is gone. Spray with oil and place in the oven until golden brown and the outside is dry and firm (about 30-40 minutes).
  • Flip the meatballs midway through. Remove from oven and let them cool on the baking sheet so they firm up a bit. You can now serve them with warm spaghetti sauce or cook them in the sauce for 5 minutes to warm them up.

cast iron skillet filled with vegan meatballs and sauce. Garnished with basil.

Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal + 5 tablespoons water
    • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil , or preferred oil (+ more for baking)
    • 1 small onion , diced
    • 4 cloves garlic , minced or crushed
    • 12 ounces mushrooms , chopped (about 4.5 cups)
    • 2-3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
    • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seed , crushed (optional but recommended)
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 2 tablespoons tamari , low sodium (sub soy sauce)
    • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas , drained well but NOT rinsed
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs , Italian-style
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce (a vegan variety)
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • Salt and pepper , to taste

Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
    • Combine the ground flax and water in a small bowl. Set aside for 10 min. It will thicken and gel up a bit.
    • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened and lightly browned. About 3-5 minutes.
    • Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Now add Italian seasoning, crushed fennel, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 30-60 seconds until fragrant.

    • Add mushrooms and sauté until softened and slightly browned. Cook for 5-7 minuted until they reduce in size and release their moisture. You want the pan to be dry. Now add the tamari and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
    • Add the chickpeas to a large food processor container. Pulse a few times to break down beans.
    • Now add the cooked mushrooms, oats, breadcrumbs, flax egg,  Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, salt, and pepper to the processor. Process until well combined and it ALMOST forms a paste (about 30-60 seconds). You don’t want it completely smooth so leave some texture. You just want the ingredients to stick together well (see process photos above for example). Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Place mixture uncovered in the freezer for 20-30 minutes (or in the fridge for 1-2 hours).
    • Remove mixture from freezer and form into balls using your hands. Roll them until smooth. To keep the size uniform, use about 1.5 tablespoons of mixture (use a small cookie scoop or measuring spoon). Place on baking sheet and repeat until mixture is gone. Spray or brush with oil and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and the outside is dry and firm. Flip the meatballs midway through. Remove from oven and let them cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. This helps firm them up. You can now serve them with warm spaghetti sauce or cook them in the sauce for 5 minutes to warm them up. Enjoy!

Notes

    • If you don’t have a large food processor, you may have to work in two batches. You’ll need to combine the mixture in a mixing bowl first before doing this. Combine well.
    • If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make the meatballs. However, they will be more fragile and may crack a bit more. You won’t be able to warm them in sauce. You’ll need to mince the mushrooms, finely dice the onions, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher and you can pulse the oats in a blender (or use quick oats). Combine all ingredients well in a mixing bowl and follow the method in the recipe.
    • Yields about 30-32 meatballs.

Nutrition

Serving: 5meatballs | Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 287mg | Potassium: 408mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1.9% | Vitamin C: 5.6% | Calcium: 5.6% | Iron: 12.6%
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