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best vegan lentil meatballs

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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.

best vegan lentil meatballs

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.

best vegan lentil meatballs

Why you’ll love these vegan meatballs

  • Crazy delicious!
  • Firm and meaty texture
  • Simple nutritious ingredients
  • Oil-free
  • Easy-to-make
  • No equipment required
  • Great for meal prep, & freezable

best vegan lentil meatballs

How to make vegan meatballs

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. Form the lentil mixture into meatballs and cook!
  5. 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.
  6. Serve the meatballs with your favorite tomato sauce, over mashed potatoes, with pasta, in a vegan meatball sub, or over a salad. 

best vegan lentil meatballs

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Other meaty lentil recipes you’ll love:

Lentil Meatloaf

Better-than-Chipotle Burrito Bowl

Easy Lentil Tacos

4.71 from 37 votes

The Best Vegan Meatballs

By: Jenné Claiborne
These hearty, lentil-based Vegan Meatballs make the perfect Italian-inspired appetizer or topping for freshly cooked pasta. Made with simple plant-based ingredients, this recipe is easy to prepare and incredibly versatile!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

Vegan Meatballs

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups cooked green lentils, or brown lentils
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp fennel seed
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch dried thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • ½-⅔ cup breadcrumbs

For Serving (Optional)

  • marinara sauce
  • hot pasta

Vegan Parmesan "Cheese" (Optional)

  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted or raw
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine the flaxseed and water in a small mixing bowl. Set aside to thicken for 5 minutes.
  • Combine the cooked lentils, garlic, nutritional yeast, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt, black pepper, chili flakes, and breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl. Stir a few times until just combined.
  • Add the flax "egg", and stir well to combine the ingredients. If the batter isn't coming together, use clean hands to mix it.
  • Scoop and roll the lentil mixture into 2-tablespoon-sized balls.
  • Place the lentil meatballs on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until slightly browned on the outside and tender inside.
  • If using, make the vegan parmesan cheese. Place the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until a chunky crumble remains.
  • If desired, toss the meatballs with warm marinara sauce, serve over pasta sauce, and garnish with the vegan parmesan cheese.

Notes

Storage Directions
  • Refrigeration: Allow leftover meatballs to cook completely before transferring to an airtight container and refrigerating for up to 5 days. 
  • Freezing: Place cooled meatballs on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid, about 2-3 hours. Transfer frozen meatballs to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze them for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Warm refrigerated meatballs in the oven at 350ºF on a prepared baking sheet for 10-15 minutes or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Reheat frozen meatballs in the oven at 350ºF for 20-25 minutes or until warmed through. Note: Cover frozen meatballs with foil for the first 10 minutes of reheating to speed up the warming process.
Recipe Pro-Tips
  • Properly cook lentils. Cook the lentils until tender but retain their shape to give the easy lentil meatballs the right texture. Avoid overcooking them or they will be mushy! 
  • Let the flax egg sit. Give the flaxseed and water enough time to form a gelled consistency—at least five minutes (or longer if you have the time)—to create a proper binding that holds the meatballs together.  
  • Adjust the meatball consistency as needed. If the mixture seems too wet, gradually add more breadcrumbs until you achieve the right consistency – the mixture should be firm enough to hold its shape when rolled into balls. 
  • Mix well. Ensure all ingredients in the vegetarian meatballs recipe are thoroughly mixed for the most cohesive texture. Use your hands as needed to mix, ensuring even distribution.
  • Don’t overcrowd the baking sheets. Place the prepared meatballs with space between them on the baking sheets. This allows the heat to circulate and helps them cook evenly and brown well.
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About Jenne

I’m a Georgia Peach living in Los Angeles (by way of NYC), with an insatiable love of sweet potatoes, travel, animals, and cooking. On Sweet Potato Soul you’ll discover hundreds of delicious and easy-to-make vegan recipes.

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