Lentil Meatballs are a cheaper, healthier, vegan-friendly meatball recipe that results in tender, flavorful meatballs that are surprisingly delicious and easy to make.
Made with tender lentils and spiced to perfection, these Vegetarian Meatballs even win the seal of approval from meat-eaters, especially when served over pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce.
Meatballs have long been one of my favorite foods ever. Whether served over pasta or used to create a Meatball Sub, I simply love the texture and flavor of Italian meatballs.
I must say, I was VERY skeptical. While I love vegan recipes like Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili and Vegetarian Fajitas, I didn't think that I would be able to enjoy a vegan meatball as much as traditional meatballs. But this is one simple plant-based recipe that nails it!
Made with lentils, these vegetarian meatballs, have a nice hearty texture and are filled with protein, fiber, and nutrients. The lentils are blended with oats and spices to create a vegan-friendly meatball that is also gluten-free.
Baked until tender and a bit crispy on the outside, these Lentil Meatballs are full of flavor and incredibly simple to make.
While the texture is not a replica of Baked Italian meatballs, these Lentil Meatballs won me AND my picky husband and kids over. And that is saying something!
Notes on Ingredients
These vegan meatballs are made with pantry staples. There is no need to purchase tempeh, tofu, or stabilizers, making these meatballs economical and the perfect go-to recipe when you have nothing fresh on hand.
- Lentils: Be sure to use green or brown lentils for the best texture.
- Oats: To keep these meatballs gluten-free as well as vegan-friendly, I use oats in place of bread crumbs. By all means, you can use bread crumbs instead, but I love the texture that the oats provide in these meatballs.
- Flax Egg: Instead of eggs, mix ground flaxseed and water, which will help be the glue to keep these meatballs together.
- Spices: Spices are KEY in these vegetarian meatballs. And I add in A LOT of dried spices, along with minced garlic.
How to Make Vegan Meatballs
Step One: Prepare Lentils
Either use leftover cooked lentils or prepare lentils on the stovetop before preparing the meatball mixture.
- Place the dried lentils in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan and cover with water.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat until tender.
- Drain off excess liquid and let the lentils cool slightly.
Step Two: Make Flax Egg Substitute
While the lentils are simmering, use this time to prepare a flax egg, which helps to bind these meatballs together, while keeping them egg-free and vegan-friendly.
- In a small bowl, mix together one tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water. Let sit for 15 minutes to thicken.
Step Three: Process Meatballs
Once your lentils have been cooked and your flax egg made, these meatballs come together easily in a food processor.
- Place the lentils, flax egg, spices, and oats in the base of a food processor fitted with an s-blade.
- Pulse the ingredients together until the mixture just comes together. You don't want to overprocess, as you want there to still be some texture to the meatballs.
Step Four: Form Meatballs
To keep meatballs even, so that they bake up at the same time, use a medium cookie scoop or tablespoon to portion out lentil meatballs.
- Scoop 1 tablespoon of the meatball mixture out, and then roll the mixture into even balls. It helps to have slightly damp hands to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.
- Place the shaped lentil meatballs on a greased baking sheet.
Step Five: Bake Meatballs
Lentil Meatballs bake quickly. We just want to slightly crisp up the exterior of the meatball, while warming through the center.
- Bake for 15 minutes until the meatballs are browned and the outside is crispy.
More Recipes Using Lentils
Lentils are a great substitute for meat in so many dishes, as they are full of protein and have a great hearty texture. Lentils also come with the added benefit of being gluten-free, and full of fiber and iron. Check out some of my favorite Lentil Recipes Below.
If you tried this recipe for Lentil Meatballs, please leave a review and comment below.
- 1 cup dry green or brown lentils
- ¼ cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 flax egg
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxmeal
- 3 tablespoons water
- Place the lentils in a medium saucepan and cover with cold tap water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 17 to 20 minutes or until tender. Drain off excess water and let cool.
- While the lentils are simmering, prepare the flax egg by mixing together the flax meal with water and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly brush the sheet pan with olive oil or cooking spray.
- Process the cooked and cooled lentils, oats, flax egg, red pepper flakes, oregano, parsley, onion powder, pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon of garlic together in a food processor until just combined.
- Shape the meatball mixture into 1-inch balls and place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until just browned.
- Serve meatballs as desired.