The tempting flavor note of this recipe for easy vegan meatballs is provided by a double dose of barbecue flavor — sauce and seasoning blend. And because they’re baked, only a little bit of oil is needed. Serve with your favorite pasta dishes or even as a protein-boosting side on the plate with marinara or extra BBQ sauce.
I’ve made these with great success using all of the options listed in this recipe. I’ve tried the whole foods options of lentils, beans, or tempeh; and I’ve also made them with plant-based ground. They’re all good!
If you choose to use a packaged plant-based ground, make sure that it’s a moist ground (like Beyond ground, for example) rather than something with a crumbly texture. the latter will result in meatballs that don’t hold together as well.
Why DIY? With so many good (really good!) packaged plant-based meatballs, why do it yourself?
- They’re more economical, especially if you use beans, lentils, or tempeh.
- The whole foods options like the aforementioned beans and lentils are great for those who aren’t great fans of the plant-based meat alternatives.
- And finally, there’s the quantity — plant-based meatballs come in packages of 10 or so; with this recipe, you get 36. If you don’t need them all at once, they freeze well.
Recipe adapted from Plant-Powered Protein: 125 Recipes for Using Today’s Amazing Meat Alternatives © 2020 by Nava Atlas. Reprinted by permission. Photographs by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
Try these meatballs in:
- Pasta Puttanesca with Vegan Meatballs
- Vegan Italian Wedding Soup
- Budget-Friendly Vegan Pasta Primavera
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 slice fresh whole grain bread, torn into a few pieces
- 1 tablespoon barbecue seasoning blend (see Note)
- 2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 cups cooked or canned lentils, red beans, crumbled tempeh, or packaged plant-based ground
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats (oatmeal)
- 1/2 cup flour (unbleached or pastry) or almond meal
- 1/2 cup bottled or homemade barbecue sauce (see link in Notes)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.
- Place the bread in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse on and off until it’s finely crumbled.
- Add the onion mixture and the remaining ingredients and pulse on and off until well blended, being careful not to over process — leave a little texture.
- Scoop the mixture out in rounded tablespoons, form into balls, and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray the lentil meatballs with cooking oil spray before placing in the oven for a crispier exterior.
- Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden on the underside, turn over, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the underside is golden as well.
To make your own, see Easy No-Cook Vegan Barbecue Sauce.
Look for barbecue seasoning blends in the spice section of most supermarkets. The most widely available brand is McCormick, which offers Smoky Maple and lots of other flavor varieties.
Variation: As a change of pace from tomato-based try Korean BBQ sauce for an Asian spin.
Here’s another take on homemade easy vegan meatballs …
See more ways to veganize classic dishes.