These tender lentil vegan meatballs are a total dinnertime winner and are so filling and flavorful. This recipe comes together quickly using ingredients that you most likely already have in your pantry. So it is a great choice for a weeknight dinner that the whole family will love.
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What Are Lentil Meatballs?
Lentil meatballs are of course meatless meatballs made with lentils. These lentil meatballs are vegan, easy to make and are a great way to use up leftover lentils. Not to mention that lentils are literally less than $2 per pound so they make a really economical meal if you’re looking to stretch out the family food budget.
Another great feature of this vegan meatball recipe is that it is highly nutritious. On a vegan diet it can sometimes be a challenge to get enough protein and fiber. But don’t feel you have to be a vegan or vegetarian to enjoy these lentil meatballs, because they are delicious and family-friendly!
Lentils are high in fiber, protein and folate which are essential to an overall healthy diet. In fact, one cup of cooked lentils is equivalent to about 220 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber. How’s that for a nutrient powerhouse? Lentils also make you feel full longer which is perfect if you want to manage your weight of fill up hunry tummies.
These lentil meatballs make for a great weeknight dinner and any leftovers are just as good the next day for lunch.
How to Make the Best Vegan Meatballs
These healthy vegan meatballs are tender and moist. At first glance, you might not even be able to tell that they’re completely void of meat and dairy. I served these over some saucy pasta and they were a hit.
The key to making great meat substitutes is to ensure that the flavors are on point. I recommend seasoning them the way you would their meat counterparts to somewhat replicate the flavors well.
For these lentil meatballs, I seasoned them with dried herbs, salt, pepper and some nutritional yeast. If you aren’t familiar with nutritional yeast it is a dehydrated yeast product that is popular within the vegan community. It has a savory cheese-like flavor and is packed with Vitamin B12 and a good amount of protein.
Add your cooked (and cooled) lentils to a mixing bowl and add in all of your seasonings then mix everything together very well.
When everything is well combined, proceed to form your meatballs using a tablespoon and rolling them between your hands. The mixture will be sticky so I recommend slightly wetting your palms to help you out a bit during the process.
Once the meatballs are formed give them a quick browning in a hot skillet. This crust helps to keep them sturdy. Then bake them in the oven before allow them to cool slightly (to help keep their shape) before coating them with your favorite sauce.
Substitutions and Alternatives
Flax Egg – Flax egg is a great vegan egg substitute and works well in most recipes. If you’re not a fan of flaxseed then you can also use chia seeds or your favorite vegan egg replacement that equals one egg.
Oat Flour – I wanted to make these vegan meatballs gluten-free so I’ve used oat flour. You can also use coconut or almond flour as a substitute gluten-free option. But if you’re happy not to use gluten-free flour, then Panko Breadcrumbs is a great subsitute to help bind the lentil meatballs.
Dried Lentils – you might be wondering if you can used canned lentils for this recipe. The answer is yes, though the texture and flavor won’t be as nice and you will have to add in more dried and binding ingridents to help them stay together.
What to Serve With Vegan Meatballs
Meatballs and spaghetti go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can serve these tender vegan meatballs with spaghetti – which is my family’s favorite, spiralized zucchini noodles or sauced up by themselves.
You can even take things a step further and make a meatball sub with all of your favorite fixings.
How to Store Vegan Meatballs
Lentil meatballs are great to have on hand for those days when you want to enjoy a meatless lunch or dinner. They’ll keep in the fridge for around 3-4 days.
And these vegan meatballs keep well in the freezer when stored properly. After you’ve finished baking the meatballs allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, add them to an airtight and freezer-safe container and place them in the freezer where they will keep for 1-3 months. When you’re ready to eat them, simply reheat them in the oven.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Stop Vegan Meatballs From Falling Apart?
Although these “meatballs” aren’t made from meat, they still hold up well when coated or tossed in a sauce. The key to stop vegan meatballs from falling apart is to use enough binding ingredients.
In this case, I used a flax egg and some oat flour which work well. You can add a couple more tablespoons to your batch if necessary and it won’t affect the flavor at all. You can also add any of your favorite cooked grains such as brown rice or quinoa as extra reinforcement.
Remember to allow the meatballs to cool slightly before coating or tossing with the sauce as well to further keep them from falling apart.
How to Cook Lentils
This recipe assumes 2 cups of cooked and cooled lentils. Here’s a quick breakdown on how to cook dried green or brown lentils and the quanties of dried lentils to water used for 2 cups of cooked lentils.
For 2 cups of cooked lentils = 1 cup dried lentils. To cook dried lentils, add 3 cups of water to 1 cup of dried lentils in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer, covered for 25-30 mins, stiring occasionally, until cooked through. Drain off excess water.
Ingridents for Vegan Meatballs:
- Ground Flaxseed
- Lentils (cooked and cooled)
- Nutritional Yeast
- Oat Flour
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Basil
- Black pepper
- Olive Oil
Optional Serving Suggestions: Spaghetti and Pasta Sauce and a sprinkle of chopped fresh Parsley.
Vegan Meatballs Recipe (Lentil Meatballs)
Optional Serving Suggestions
- Pasta Sauce
- Garnish with fresh chopped Parsley
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F (180 °C) and prepare a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
- Make the flax egg by mixing the ground flaxseed with the water and set aside to thicken for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the cooked lentils and remaining ingredients to a bowl and mix together until all of the ingredients are well combined.
- Once the mixture has formed, use a tablespoon and your hands to gently form the meatballs.
- When the meatballs are formed, heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Gently place the meatballs into the pan and allow them to brown on each side – repeat with the remaining oil until finished. Place the meatballs onto the baking tray as they are finished browning.
- Once all the meatballs have been browned, place the baking tray into the oven and allow the meatballs to finish cooking through for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove meatballs from the oven and allow them to cool slightly (about 5 minutes) before serving. From here you can cover them with your favorite sauce and serve with your favorite pasta.