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Meaty Vegan Meatballs – Connoisseurus Veg

Get ready for the most delicious, most satisfying, meatiest vegan meatballs ever! These meatballs are easy to make, full of flavor, and a must-have for pasta night!

White wooden surface set with skillet and plate of spaghetti and Vegan Meatballs.

I recently set out on a mission: create the best vegan meatballs ever.

See, I have a little bit of a thing for meatless meatballs, and there are lots of ways to make them. But I wanted these meatballs to be the absolute best, most convincing meatballs…you know, the kind that even meat-eaters would love.

I took some inspiration from these meaty vegan burgers I created a few years ago. The combination of oats, black beans, and walnuts gave those burgers a really hearty texture. Would that mix of ingredients be just as convincing in vegan meatballs? I had to give it a try!

It turned out that yes, these beanballs had just the texture I was going for. I added in some of my favorite Italian seasonings — pretty much the same seasonings you’d use in a batch of conventional meatballs. And it worked! These things were amazing. They’ll be a pasta-night staple in my house from now on!

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Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Rolled oats. Quick oats will probably work, but the texture of your meatballs might not be as great, so I recommend going with rolled if possible.
  • Chopped walnuts. Pecans, hazelnuts, or sunflower seeds should work as substitutes.
  • Black beans. We’re using canned black beans. You can substitute dried black beans, but you’ll need to soak and cook them before getting started. Try this method.
  • Onion.
  • Garlic.
  • Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos can be substituted if needed.
  • Tomato paste.
  • Spices. We’re using oregano, thyme, fennel and red pepper flakes. If you normally buy Italian seasoning blend, feel free to substitute it for the oregano and thyme.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Olive oil. You can leave this out if you prefer to cook oil-free.

How They’re Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Place your rolled oats in a food processor and blend them to a coarse powder.
  • Add the walnuts to the food processor and blend again, until the nuts are very finely chopped.
Side by side images showing whole oats, then blended oats and walnuts in a food processor.
  • Add the beans, chopped onion, minced garlic, soy sauce, tomato paste, and spices to the food processor.
  • Pulse the machine until everything is well-mixed and finely chopped. Make sure you don’t overblend the mixture or your vegan meatballs will turn out mushy.
  • Taste-test the mixture and season it with salt and pepper to taste.
Side by side images showing ingredients for Vegan Meatballs in a food processor before and after blending.
  • Roll the mixture into 1 ½ inch balls and arrange them on a baking surface. I’m using a cast iron skillet, but a parchment paper-lined baking sheet will also work.
  • Give the balls a light brush or spritz with olive oil.
Skillet of unbaked Vegan Meatballs on a white wooden surface.
  • Bake the beanballs until they’re lightly browned and crispy on their outsides. Make sure to turn them once or twice so they bake evenly.
  • Smother your vegan meatballs with sauce and serve them how you like! I like to enjoy mine over spaghetti with some homemade marinara sauce, fresh parsley and vegan Parmesan cheese.
Wooden spoon scooping a Vegan Meatball from a skillet.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover vegan meatballs will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about 4 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

You can also refrigerate or freeze the bean mixture straight from the food processor before baking. I like to divide mine into single serving-sized portions before doing this, then when I’m ready I can thaw (if frozen), roll and bake the meatballs according to the recipe.

If you’ve stored your veggie balls in sauce, the microwave is the best way to reheat them. If you stored them dry you have the option of using the microwave or popping them back into the oven until they’re hot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are these meatballs gluten-free?

They are if you use gluten-free tamari and certified gluten-free rolled oats.

How are vegan meatballs served?

They’re great over pasta with tomato sauce. You can also stuff them in a sandwich — they make awesome vegan meatball subs. They even work as appetizers on a platter with cute little toothpicks!

Can I substitute a different type of bean?

You can! Black beans give these balls the meatiest appearance, but the recipe will work just fine with chickpeas, pinto beans, kidney beans, or black-eyed peas, among others.

Can I place these vegan meatballs in my pasta sauce while it cooks?

I don’t recommend it. They hold up fine if you serve or even store them in sauce, but I’d be afraid they’d fall apart in simmering sauce.

Close up of half a Vegan Meatball on top of spaghtetti.

More Vegan Italian Recipes

Plate of spaghetti topped with Vegan Meatballs.

Meaty Vegan Meatballs

Get ready for the most delicious, most satisfying, meatiest vegan meatballs ever! These meatballs are easy to make, full of flavor, and a must-have for pasta night!

Ingredients

  • ¾
    cup
    rolled oats
  • ¾
    cup
    chopped walnuts
  • 1
    (14 ounce or 400 gram) can
    black beans,
    drained and rinsed

  • cup
    chopped onion
    (about 1 small onion)
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
    minced
  • 2
    tablespoons
    soy sauce
  • 2
    tablespoons
    tomato paste
  • 1
    teaspoon
    dried oregano
  • ½
    teaspoon
    dried thyme
  • 1
    teaspoon
    fennel seed
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    red pepper flakes,
    or more to taste
  • Salt & pepper,
    to taste
  • Olive oil,
    for spraying or brushing

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and either line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil an oven safe skillet.

  2. Place the oats into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade. Blend to a powder.

  3. Add the walnuts and blend again until they’re finely chopped.

  4. Add the beans, onion, garlic, soy sauce, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, fennel and red pepper flakes. Pulse the machine until the ingredients are finely chopped and well mixed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  5. Taste-test the mixture and season with salt and pepper if needed. Pulse again.

  6. Roll the mixture into 1 ½ inch balls. You should get about 18 to 20 of them.

  7. Arrange the balls on the baking sheet or in the skillet and lightly brush or spray them with olive oil.

  8. Bake the meatballs for about 30 minutes, turning them once or twice to achieve even browning.

  9. Serve with tomato sauce, or sauce of choice.

Nutrition Facts

Meaty Vegan Meatballs

Amount Per Serving (4 meatballs (⅕ of recipe))

Calories 254
Calories from Fat 122

% Daily Value*

Fat 13.6g21%

Saturated Fat 0.9g5%

Sodium 375mg16%

Potassium 416mg12%

Carbohydrates 25.1g8%

Fiber 7.6g30%

Sugar 2.2g2%

Protein 11.3g23%

Calcium 50mg5%

Iron 3mg17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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