Learn how to make the best vegan meatballs using protein-rich beans, natural spices and herbs. These meatless meatballs are not only healthy, but also super flavorful, tender and delicious. Serve them as a appetizer, snack or side dish with Greek tomato rice, Italian pasta and tomato sauce or in wraps or sandwiches!
The Best Vegan Meatballs Ever!
Enjoy this lighter and healthier version of the classic meatballs that we all love! These hearty plant-based balls are ready in less than 20 minutes, cook well without falling apart, and are packed with amazing flavors. Plus, they are so easy to customize, have a meaty texture, and taste just unbelievably delicious! This popular recipe has been on my blog for many years, but it’s still a hit! So once again it was time for a recipe update with new pictures, more text and a video so that even beginners can try these delicious bean balls without effort!
I used red kidney beans to make them, but you can use black beans too or replace them with other plant proteins like how I made my Vegan Swedish Meatballs, Indian Lentil Meatballs or German Tofu Meatballs. I prefer to cook the balls in the pan, but they can also be baked on a baking sheet in the oven – whatever you like!
Bean balls as a healthy meat substitute
Just like classic meatballs, you can also serve these vegan bean balls. They are delicious as a snack with your favorite dip, but you can also eat them on bread or use them for wraps, kebabs and burgers. If you want more variety, you can also serve them with Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce, or a creamy Indian Masala Sauce. However, these meatless balls are also totally delicious with rice and Creamy Mushroom Sauce or in a casserole. Here are lots of ways you can use them!
- Kidney beans: alternatively, you can use black, pinto, or cannellini beans. You can also use this same recipe but replace the beans with lentils, chickpeas, or tofu.
- Olive oil: you can use other types of vegetable oil like canola or sunflower.
- Aromatics: I used garlic and onion as a savor base.
- Tamari: this will give the vegan meatballs a savory taste. You can also use soy sauce as a substitute but it will not be GF-friendly.
- Sunflower seeds: this will give the meatballs a great texture. If you do not have this, you can use other seeds or nuts like walnuts or pumpkin seeds.
- Quick oats: this will help bind the ingredients together while giving the vegan meatballs a meatier texture and moisture. Instead of oats, you can use breadcrumbs or gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Tomato paste: gives the bean balls a rich umami flavor! This thick paste will also help you form the balls easier as it acts like an egg substitute.
- Yellow mustard: I like to use medium hot for a tart, tangy and spicy kick!
- Italian herbs: a ready-mix of basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, and thyme to provide a warm and earthy flavor. You can try using other herbs too like parsley, cilantro, or chives.
- Paprika powder: I like to use sweet paprika, but you can also use smoked paprika if you want a subtle smoky flavor. Of course you can add other spices like cumin, curry powder, fennel seeds, chili powder or smoked salt.
- Salt and pepper: to taste.+
As always, I recommend watching the recipe video and checking out these step-by-step instructions first. Then you can then find the full recipe with the exact measurements in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Mash beans and sauté aromatics
Start by roughly mashing the beans with a potato masher, spoon or food processor. Next, heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Deglaze with tamari and reduce briefly. Finally, add the mixture to the beans.
Step 2: Make the bean mixture
Finely grind the sunflower seeds in a blender, then add to the bowl of beans an onion mixture along with the oats, tomato paste, mustard, herbs and paprika powder. Mix until combined and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then form about 12 balls from the bean mixture.
Step 3: Cook bean balls
Now heat some oil in a large pan and pan-fry the bean balls until crispy on all sides. (Alternatively, you can bake them like lentil balls or my other vegan meat ball recipe in the oven). That’s it! Find serving suggestions here.
- Add mushrooms. Adding sautéed chopped mushrooms will make the vegan meatballs even more flavorful and meaty!
- Use other vegetables. Make them even more nutritious by loading them up with veggies like bell peppers and carrots.
- Make them cheesy. Sprinkle a bit of vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes for an instant flavor boost! It’s especially delicious when you serve these in a marinara sauce.
- Fill ’em up. If you like stuffed meatballs, you can also fill the bean meatballs with vegan feta, spinach feta cream, tomato cashew cream, or vegan mozzarella!
You can enjoy these delicious bean balls in different ways!
- Rice or other grains: Make a colorful Buddha Bowl with brown rice, quinoa, spelt, millet, couscous or cauliflower rice and any vegetables you like. Or toss the bean balls in a creamy mushroom sauce or flavorful Indian curry sauce.
- Pasta: Enjoy them with homemade pasta and different sauces – depending on what you’re in the mood for. I personally love the classic: meatballs with spaghetti and tomato sauce!
- Potatoes: like hasselback potatoes, potato wedges, croquettes, fries, spiral potatoes or pan-fried potatoes.
- Sandwiches, burgers or subs: bean balls are the perfect on-the-go snack with your choice of veggies and tzatziki sauce or vegan mayo and ketchup between homemade bread or burger buns!
- Wraps: Use tortillas, flatbread, naan or pita bread or lettuce leaves for a low-carb version with any sauces and fresh veggies.
- On skewers / toothpicks: vegan meatball skewers are the perfect appetizers for your party platter!
- Mash the beans roughly to give the balls more texture. You might find them too soft and mushy if you mash them too much.
- If the mixture is too soft, you can add more rolled oats or bread crumbs to make them firmer and not fall apart.
- The cooking time will depend on the size of the meatballs. This recipe makes 12 medium-sized ones. Cook them until the outside is golden and crisp.
- Before cooking: To reduce the prep time, you can make the bean mixture ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Then, later or the next day, all you have to do is shape the bean mixture into balls and cook them. You can also shape the bean balls in advance and freeze them for later use. Place the vegan meatballs on a tray or board, leaving enough space between each, and freeze them in this way for 1-2 hours. Once the meatballs are frozen and firm, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Then, if needed, you can simply remove the desired amount and let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frying or baking.
- After cooking: both classic and vegan meatballs always taste best just out of the pan! However, if there are any meatballs left over, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Reheat in the microwave or in a 392 °F (200 °C) oven until warmed through.
These Meatless Meatballs are:
- Easy to make
- Perfect for meal prep
More Recipes for Vegan Meatballs, Nuggets & Burgers
- Lentil Balls
- Crispy Falafel
- Vegan Swedish Kottbullar
- Vegan Königsberger Klopse
- Chickpea No-Meat Balls
- Vegan Cevapcici
- Tofu Nuggets
- Broccoli Cheese Tots
- Quinoa Patties
- Lentil Patties
- Millet Patties
- Farro Cakes
- Tofu Patties
- Vegan Fish Cakes
- Bean Burger
- Pumpkin Quinoa Burger
- Beet Burger
- Veggie Burger
If you try this best vegan meatball recipe, feel free to leave me a comment and a review! And if you take a picture of your Vegan Meatballs and share it on Instagram or Facebook, please tag me @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka because I love seeing your remakes! 🙂
Bean Balls - Vegan Meat BallsAuthor:
- 1 14 oz (400 g) can kidney beans 8.5 oz (240 g) rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- ⅓ cup (50 g) sunflower seeds or other seeds or nuts
- ⅔ cup (60 g) quick oats gluten-free as needed
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp yellow mustard medium hot
- 1-2 tsp Italian herb mix or other herbs to taste
- 1 tsp paprika powder
- salt and pepper to taste
*Note: Check out the recipe video + step-by-step instructions above!
- Rinse and drain the kidney beans. Then place in a bowl and roughly mash with a potato masher or spoon.
- Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Deglaze with tamari and reduce briefly. Then add to the beans in the bowl.
- Finely grind the sunflower seeds in a blender, then add to the bowl along with the oats, tomato paste, mustard, herbs and paprika powder. Mix everything together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then form about 12 balls from the bean mixture.
- Heat the remaining oil in a large pan and cook the bean balls until crispy on all sides. (Alternatively, you can bake them like these lentil balls in the oven).
- Ingredients: Instead of oats, you can use breadcrumbs or gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- The seasonings can be varied to taste. You could also use parsley, thyme, cumin, curry powder, chili powder or smoked salt.
- Variation: If you like, you can make the vegan meatballs even more flavorful and meaty by adding sautéed mushrooms or other vegetables (see this recipe).
- More information and helpful tips, including make-ahead, storing, freezing, and serving suggestions, are mentioned in the blog post above!
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