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As a private chef in NYC, these delicious vegan meatballs were one of my most requested meals from clients. They are nutritious, hearty, and totally delicious. They’re also very easy to make, and require no special equipment. When I make these, my family and I very rarely have any leftovers. They’re that good. Lick-the-plate amazing! Luckily, they freeze well, so don’t hesitate to double the recipe. You very likely have all of the necessary ingredients already, so let’s get to that recipe.
The ingredients don’t lie!
Lentils are the main ingredient in these vegan meatballs. They’re one of my favorite foods because they are so nutritious, filling, and versatile. Lentils can be used to replace meat in a wide variety of recipes, including these lentil meatballs. Like meat they are high in protein, making them the perfect hearty replacement. Lentils are so much better than meat because not only are they full of protein, they’re also a wonderful source of fiber (meat has zero fiber).
I use ground flaxseed as an egg replacer. Mixed with water, flaxseed expands and turns gelatinous, and has the power to bind ingredients. You won’t taste the flax in the final meatballs, but it does add heart healthy omega-3s, as well as more fiber and protein.
Nutritional yeast adds satisfying umami richness and savoriness. This one ingredient will take a vegan meatball from good to amazing! Look for it at your local grocery store in the spice section. I’m a big fan of nutritional yeast, aka nooch, so I buy mine in bulk. Nutritional yeast is actually very nutritious. It is an inactive yeast that is high in protein, and fortified with B vitamins.
Why you’ll love these vegan meatballs
- Crazy delicious!
- Firm and meaty texture
- Simple nutritious ingredients
- No equipment required
- Great for meal prep, & freezable
How to make vegan meatballs
- Make your flax “egg” first. Simply combine ground flaxseed and water in a small bowl, and set it aside to thicken for about 5 minutes while you prep the other ingredients.
- Start with cooked green lentils. Green lentils or brown lentils are my favorite choice for this recipe because they are soft, but not mushy. Red lentils are too mushy, and black or French lentils are not soft enough. Cook 1 cup of lentils and allow them to cool before using in this recipe for best results. You should have about 2 cups of cooked lentils for the meatballs. I usually make these vegan meatballs with leftover lentils, or with lentils I cook in the morning in my Instant Pot.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the lentils, minced garlic, nutritional yeast, and other ingredients. If your lentils are very soft you might want to let the batter sit in the fridge to firm before forming the meatballs. If your lentils are very firm or undercooked, they may not stick well. Pulse half of the batter in a food ––if you have one–– the help it stick together.
- Form the lentil mixture into meatballs and cook!
- Since getting an air fryer, it has become my favorite way to cook these lentil meatballs. Air fry them at 350° for 10 minutes, and dinner is served. Alternatively, you could bake them in the oven, pan fry, or cook in tomato sauce.
- Serve the meatballs with your favorite tomato sauce, over mashed potatoes, with pasta, in a vegan meatball sub, or over a salad.
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Other meaty lentil recipes you’ll love:
Better-than-Chipotle Burrito Bowl
The Best Vegan Lentil Meatballs
- Lentil Meatballs
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with ⅓ cup water
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 2 cups cooked green lentils brown lentils work too. Cook them until soft, but not overly mushy
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp fennel seed
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
- Pinch of dried or fresh thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2-1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
- ½-⅔ cup breadcrumbs
- Walnut Parmesan
- 1 cup walnuts toasted or raw
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp mellow miso
- Preheat the oven to 350° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If you plan on cooking them in an airfryer or on the stove, you can skip this part.
- Combine the flaxseed and water and set aside to thicken for 5 minutes.
- Combine the other meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the flax "egg", and stir well to blend all of the ingredients. If the batter isn't coming together, use your clean hands to mix.
- Form the lentil mixture into balls. Each should be about 2 tablespoons.
- If baking: Place them onto one baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, until they are slightly browned on the outside and tender inside.
- If cooking in an airfryer: fill the air fryer basket, keeping 1" between meatballs. Cook on 350° for 10 minutes.
- Walnut Parmesan
- Place the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until a chunky crumble is remaining.
- Transfer to a serving bowl to serve over the spaghetti.
Lo / August 14, 2022 at 12:35 am /
I am soo impressed with this recipe! Great flavor and pretty easy to make. These will be on repeat in my house.
CeaCea / December 4, 2021 at 7:22 pm /
Ok so I was excited to try and I keep coming back to read the instructions and ingredients 2 understand why mine were flavorless … I followed all directions except the walnut Parm. Is that essential?
Heather / December 29, 2021 at 1:11 pm /
I don’t use the walnut parm. And tend not to have fennel on hand, so I use whatever Italian seasonings I have…oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary…any combination of those. Recently I made them and only estimated the salt and they were bland, so I probably underestimated. I also eat them smothered in marinara that I make. They definitely fill that need for meatballs for me.
Michelle / August 27, 2021 at 5:28 pm /
Hi and thank you for the recipe! I want to try making these meatballs as my first foray into using/eating lentils. I’ll be using regular eggs but am not sure how many to put. I googled and it looks like I’d use two eggs based on the amount of flax egg in the recipe. Does that sound right?
Giftbasketworldwide / August 23, 2021 at 4:45 am /
Excellent!! Will try it for sure.
Carolyn Hill / July 11, 2021 at 4:29 pm /
This is a phenomenal recipe! I really enjoyed it. It was easy to make and the best lentil meatball recipes I’ve tasted.
CeaCea / December 2, 2021 at 9:52 pm /
Ok so I was excited to try and I keep coming back to understand why mine were flavorless … I followed all directions except the walnut Parm. Is that essential?
Kirsten / May 24, 2021 at 8:55 pm /
This was really easy to make and my family loved it! Thanks for a great recipe!
Julie Polyanski / May 11, 2021 at 1:34 pm /
Hi, can these be frozen before they’re cooked?
Jenne / May 20, 2021 at 11:11 pm /
Yes indeed 🙂
Linda / May 8, 2021 at 11:34 am /
Does anyone know if these would work with beluga lentils? Thanks!
Jenne / May 10, 2021 at 6:26 pm /
Yes, it will, but cook them a little longer than usual to soften more.
Jennifer / April 21, 2021 at 9:54 pm /
Looks like a great, easy recipe for winter. Thanks!
Jean Heath / August 31, 2019 at 10:04 am /
These really are the best – past this recipe to friends and they all agree. Put them in the freezer and add the sauce later.
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / September 6, 2019 at 10:59 pm /
Thank you soooo much! I’m so glad you enjoyed 🙂
Mathilde / July 31, 2018 at 12:26 pm /
Can I use oats instead of breadcrumbs? Or something else? Thank you!
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / August 2, 2018 at 7:07 pm /
Hi! Yes, that will work too. I would grind the oats first though to make a rough flour. Do less oats than breadcrumbs, then add more as you think you need it. Oats absorb a lot of moisture, so you don’t want them to be too dry 🙂
Mathilde Christjansen / August 3, 2018 at 3:21 pm /
Thank you so much for answering!
Thai Tea / December 14, 2017 at 2:42 am /
Thank you Jenne for making it an easier process to become vegan. I was lost until i found your youtube and website. I have cooked several of your recipes (this one several times) and girl your “doin the damn thang!” 😉 I have shared with many friends and family and again THANK YOU. What a blessing you are to those who are waking up.
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / December 17, 2017 at 11:57 pm /
Thank you so much for sharing!! Wow, that is so nice to hear. I’m honored 🙂
Jackie Hardwick Noor / November 3, 2017 at 8:29 pm /
This is such a gift to get this recipe imade the meatballs and read the recipe wrong, I put one and a third cup of water with the flax seed..anyway I had to use a ton of bread crumbs and I made into balls and flattened them they came out so. Good! This is now my go to “meat”for my grain dishes and legumes I can’t hardly tell I’m not eat8ng meat. Tomorrow I’m making more of these but using the correct amount of water.
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / November 4, 2017 at 1:45 am /
I’m glad you made it work out!! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Maria Concepcion / October 15, 2017 at 11:47 pm /
My boyfriend and I love your recipes!! We became vegan about 2 mths ago and have tried several of your recipes…Delicious!! He looks forward to meals especially when he knows I’m making something you’ve posted. 🙂
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / October 16, 2017 at 10:00 pm /
That’s so great! Thank you for sharing that with me 🙂 Enjoy!!
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / September 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm /
I haven’t tried another egg replacer other than ground flax seed. Shouldn’t be a problem 🙂
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / September 11, 2017 at 8:27 pm /
Yes, you can do that. They’re great after being frozen.
Tammie K / September 11, 2017 at 2:06 am /
Looks great! Do you think chia egg would taste good instead of flaxseed egg as a binder? It’s just what I have on hand. Thanks!
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / September 11, 2017 at 8:25 pm /
Hi Tammie! Yeah, chia would be fine. In my experience you have to add more water to make a chia egg than flax. Otherwise it gets too thick. Try about 1 tbsp more water. Good luck!
Stephanie Levendoski / March 9, 2017 at 4:57 am /
I made these meatballs for dinner last night. I’m always looking for a meatball or burger recipe that isn’t soggy and these were perfect!. I cooked the lentils down until they nearly stuck to the bottom of the pot ensuring they wouldn’t be soggy, added the remaining ingredient and baked. My house smelled so amazing the rest of the evening! I shared this recipe and the video with family and friends last night. They were a hit!
Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul / March 10, 2017 at 4:03 pm /
Wonderful! I’m so glad you and your friends enjoyed them 🙂