Figuring out how to make vegan matzo balls was a surprisingly challenging process. The secret is to bake rather than cook them.
I first started to explore ways to make vegan matzo balls when I was developing recipes for my book, Vegan Holiday Kitchen. What I found all over the web were recipes for vegan matzo balls made with tofu.
Ashkenazi Jews don’t use tofu during the Passover week. For many Ashkenazis, even nonreligious ones, tofu isn’t allowable as a Passover food, since beans and bean products (and tofu, of course, is derived from soybeans) aren’t consumed during Passover week. Sephardic traditions don’t forbid beans and many grains, on the other hand.
When I tried the tofu-based matzo balls recipes, just out of curiosity, they fell apart when cooking in broth, resulting in an unappealing slurry at the bottom of the pot.
Make ahead or when you need them: You can make these ahead of time; otherwise, you can start making the soup while they’re in the oven — head on over to the recipe for Vegan Matzo Ball Soup. And … there’s even a gluten-free option in the recipe, though in that way, there’s nothing “matzo” about them. They’re still really good, though!
You can make these with quinoa rather than quinoa flakes, too: A few people have asked me whether these can be made with regular quinoa rather than quinoa flakes. For the GF version, it would be hard to make these without that product, but I realized that it’s not as easy to get hold of, especially at the last minute.
And while the brand I like, Ancient Harvest®, is Kosher rather than Kosher for Passover, the straight-up grain quinoa is naturally an allowable food for Passover according to the authorities! So you will find that new variation in the recipe.
Not Bubbe’s fluffy matzo balls — but still so good
Vegan matzo ball recipes on the web have evolved since my initial research, thanks to the explosion of food blogs run by curious and determined vegan cooks. Some use potato starch (fine for Passover), which seems like a good solution and one I’d like to experiment with.
But for now, I’m sticking with my quinoa-based matzo balls. And since I’m already being non-traditional, they’re baked rather than cooked — I’m still nervous about the falling apart factor. And truly, they’re so easy to make.
I’ll admit that these aren’t like your Bubbe’s big, fluffy matzo balls. But neither are they cannonballs. They’re easy to make and quite tasty, adding a huge comfort factor to any kind of broth-y soup.
- 1 cup quinoa flakes + 2 cups boiling water, or 2 cups overcooked quinoa + 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup matzo meal (or see gluten-free variation in Notes)
- 1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- A few grindings of black pepper
- Pinch each: onion and garlic powder
- For the quinoa flakes option: In a large mixing bowl, cover the quinoa flakes with the boiling water. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes. For the quinoa option: Combine 2 cups overcooked quinoa (about 1/2 cup raw grain cooked with 2 cups water until absorbed) with 1/2 cup water in a food processor and process until it looks like a kind of mushy slurry. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in the matzo meal along with the remaining ingredients, and mix with the soaked quinoa flakes or blended quinoa until well combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Just before baking, preheat the oven to 275º F.
- Roll the mixture into approximately 1-inch balls; don’t pack them too firmly. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 25 minutes, carefully turning the matzo balls after 10 minutes, until firm to the touch; don’t let them brown.
- If making ahead of time, let the matzo balls cool completely, then cover until needed. Warm them briefly in a medium oven and distribute them among the soup bowls, allowing 3 or 4 matzo balls per serving in the recipe for Vegan Matzo Ball Soup.
To make these gluten-free, substitute 1 1/4 cups quinoa flakes for the matzo meal. Don’t add them to the original quantity of quinoa flakes; this is a separate measure to use dry. A bit more is needed than the quantity of matzo meal for the purpose, as the quinoa flakes are less dense.
These go very quickly and everyone usually wants more, so if you’re increasing the amount of soup to accommodate a larger crowd, or serving more than 8 people, you would do well to double this recipe!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 70mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g
Nutrition data is always an estimate depending on program used to calculate and exact products used.
If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy …
And a selection of Jewish vegan recipes