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. For example, I love adding vegan meatballs to my vegan spaghetti squash casserole.

    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: You can cook lentil meatballs in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook on all sides until golden brown. I find transferring the cooked meatballs to a heated oven or toaster oven helps them firm up.
    • Oven Method: Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for around 20 minutes. C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place meatballs equally spaced apart on the baking sheets.
      Lentil meatballs are on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
    • Air Fryer Method: You can add uncooked meatballs to the air fryer and “fry” for 5 to 10 minutes on each side until golden brown and firm.
    Looking down on a plate of spaghetti topped with lentil meatballs.

    Why This Recipe is a Winner

    • TEXTURE — Using brown lentils keeps the meatballs firm and not mushy.
    • HEALTHY — Adding chopped walnuts creates texture and healthy fats.
    • FLAVORFUL — Bouillon and Italian spices make 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 for making your plant-based spaghetti and meatballs dish. If you love Italian food, add some meatballs to your vegan spaghetti pie. 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.
      Cooked lentils in a saucepan.
    • 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.
      A hand holds a spatula, reaching into a skillet with lentils and cooked onions.
    • 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.
      Lentil meatballs are on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

    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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