Vegan Lentil Meatballs

These savory vegan lentil meatballs are easy to make and so full of flavor. Serve them over spaghetti or with any of your favorite dishes. You can also use them to prepare Vegan Meatball Sub Sandwiches.

Vegan lentil meatballs sit atop spaghetti and red sauce on a white plate.

Having meatballs on-hand can make such a difference in your vegan meal prepping. Having them in the freezer means you can heat them quickly while cooking some spaghetti.

How to Make Lentil Meatballs

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

  1. Cook the lentils in water until tender.
  2. Cook onions in an oiled skillet until tender.
  3. Add garlic and cook for one minute. 
  4. Stir in the chopped walnuts, bouillon, and Worcestershire sauce until combined.
  5. Then stir in ground flax, oats, seasonings, and yeast flakes.
  6. Add the drained lentils while they’re still hot.
  7. Use a spatula or potato masher to press the lentils, leaving some texture. 
  8. Test the batter. If it stays together when you press it between your fingers, then it’s good to go. But if it’s dry, stir in a tablespoon or two of water.
  9. Once the batter is ready, roll it into 1-inch balls.
  10. See below for cooking the meatballs.

Key Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Lentils — I recommend using brown lentils as they produce the best texture. It’s a bonus that they’re readily available and affordable, too!
  • Onion — I used a yellow onion, but you could substitute a red or white onion.
  • Garlic — You’ll need 3 cloves of garlic.
  • Walnuts — You’ll need a half-cup of chopped walnuts.
  • Bouillon — This recipe calls for Better than Bouillon.
  • Magic Sauce — I call this “magic sauce” but really it’s just vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • Oats — We’ll be using instant oats. If you only have old fashioned or rolled oats, I recommend churning them in a food processor first to make them softer. You can substitute an equal amount of bread crumbs.
  • Seasoning — I use Italian seasoning, but you could substitute what I refer to as “sausage” seasoning. Learn more about adding sausage flavors to plant-based ingredients.
  • Nooch — Sometimes referred to as nooch, nutritional yeast flakes add a cheesy flavor. I consider nooch one of the essential ingredients in my vegan kitchen.

Cooking Lentil Meatballs

You have options when it comes to cooking your meatballs. I like to bake them, but you can also cook them in the skillet or the air fryer.

  • Skillet Method: Spray cooking spray over a skillet. Place over medium to medium-high heat. Place meatballs in the skillet, leaving a little space between them. Sprinkle the tops of each with freshly ground pepper. Cook for several minutes until the bottom side is golden brown. Use tongs to turn them and cook the other side as well. Place cooked meatballs in a heated oven or toaster oven set at 250°F/120°C while repeating this process with the rest of the lentil batter.
  • Oven Method: Heat your oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place meatballs equally spaced apart on the baking sheets. Give them a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. Sprinkle the tops of each with freshly ground pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, using tongs to flip them half-way through.
    Lentil meatballs are on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Air Fryer Method: Add uncooked meatballs to the air fryer heated to 375°F/190°C. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes on one side, then use tongs to turn the meatballs and cook for another 5 minutes or so until browned on all sides. Once the meatballs are firm enough, you can shake the basket to flip them.
Looking down on a plate of spaghetti topped with lentil meatballs.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Using brown lentils keeps the meatballs firm and not mushy.
  • Adding chopped walnuts creates texture and healthy fats.
  • The right seasoning, including bouillon and Italian spices, makes these plant-based meatballs meaty and delicious.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Can you freeze vegan meatballs?

You can freeze vegan meatballs. Bring them to room temperature first, then transfer them to a freezer bag or container. They can be frozen safely for up to 2 months.

Are lentil meatballs gluten-free?

You can make lentil meatballs gluten-free by using instant oats in place of bread crumbs. Alternatively, you can use gluten-free bread crumbs, but it may take more to create the same texture.

Serving Suggestions

Serve meatballs over marinara sauce and cooked spaghetti and vegan roasted vegetables on the side. However, you don’t have to stick with the Italian theme. You can also prepare lentil meatballs with your favorite sauces, such as cheese sauce, BBQ sauce, buffalo sauce, and more:

Storage Tips

Store meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They can be frozen in freezer-safe containers for up to 2 months.

A fork holds a lentil meatball on top of spaghetti and red sauce. It hovers over a plate of more of the dish.

Vegan Italian Meals

These vegan lentil meatballs are perfect to make your plant-based spaghetti and meatballs dish. If you love Italian food, here are more vegan Italian dishes to try:

Lentil meatballs sit on top of red sauce and spaghetti on a plate.

Vegan Lentil Meatballs

These savory vegan lentil meatballs are easy to make and so full of flavor. Serve them over spaghetti or with any of your favorite dishes.
5 from 3 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 20 meatballs
Calories: 82kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable Better than Bouillon (see notes for substitutions)
  • 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup instant oats (see notes for substitutions)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the Lentils:

  • Add lentils to a saucepan. Add the water. Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
  • When the lentils are done (they should be tender), drain any excess liquid using a strainer.

For the Meatball Mix:

  • As the lentils are cooking, add oil to a skillet over medium heat. Cook until it's shimmering, then add the chopped onions. Cook until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for one minute.
  • Stir in the chopped walnuts, bouillon, and Worcestershire sauce until combined. Then add the ground flax, oats, seasonings, and yeast flakes. Stir until combined.
  • Add the cooked and drained lentils while they're still hot. Use a rubber spatula to stir the meatball mix throughout the lentils. Then either use the spatula or a potato masher to press the lentils. You want to leave some of the lentils whole for texture, but mashing a good part of it.
  • Test the batter. If it stays together when you press it between your fingers, then it's good to go. But if it's dry, stir in a tablespoon or two of water. Here is where you can also add more salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once the batter is ready, roll it into 1-inch balls.

For Cooking Meatballs:

  • Skillet Method: Spray cooking spray over a skillet. Place over medium to medium-high heat. Place meatballs in the skillet, leaving a little space between them. Sprinkle the tops of each with freshly ground pepper. Cook for several minutes until the bottom side is golden brown. Use tongs to turn them and cook the other side as well. Place cooked meatballs in a heated oven or toaster oven set at 250°F/120°C while repeating this process with the rest of the lentil batter.
  • Oven Method: Heat your oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place meatballs equally spaced apart on the baking sheets. Give them a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. Sprinkle the tops of each with freshly ground pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, using tongs to flip them half-way through.
  • Serving suggestions: Serve lentil meatballs in sauce like marinara sauce or BBQ sauce. Use it to create a plant-based spaghetti and meatballs dish or a vegan meatball sub sandwich. It's great to serve a few on salads, too.
  • Transfer meatballs to an airtight container where they will last 4 to 5 days in the fridge. Place them in a freezer-safe container where they will keep for 2 months in the freezer.

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Notes

You can substitute soy sauce for the bouillon and/or the vegan Worcestershire sauce.
If using rolled or old-fashioned oats, I recommend running them through a food processor first to break them down. This helps them to become a similar texture to instant oats and they will be more absorbent. 
Calories: 82kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 7IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

4 Responses to Vegan Lentil Meatballs

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyBarb Reply

    5 stars
    Very tasty recipe. I used quinoa flakes in lieu of oatmeal. I used BBQ sauce in lieu of Worcestershire sauce, but I am from Memphis!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyVicki Reply

    I’m allergic to Flax. Is there a substitute I can use instead?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      I like using ground chia seeds. Have you ever tried that? Alternatively, you can just leave it out.

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJanee Reply

    5 stars
    Cool recipe. I like using lentils because its easy.

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