Meatless Meatballs

July 31, 2013

True story, I have no idea what a real meatball tastes like.  I’m not certain I’ve ever eaten a real meatball even before quitting meat at age 11.  All I know is meatless meatballs are where it’s at.  These have been a staple at family gatherings my entire life.  Granted, the family recipe is fried and doesn’t use  mushrooms or flax eggs, but I find this healthier version to be just as comforting.  Bonus points because baking = a million times easier than frying and your house doesn’t smell like oil for weeks.


Over the last 24 years, I’ve eaten these meatballs a million different ways, and I encourage you to do the same!  Throw them in a slow cooker with cream of mushroom soup or barbeque sauce and serve as appetizers at a party.  Add a couple to your plate of spaghetti and marinara sauce.  Even better yet?  Take the left overs and smash them between two slices of lightly toasted bread with some spaghetti sauce and cheese.  Best. Lunch. Ever.


If you’re not feeling these meatless meatballs, check out the chili meatballs or pumpkin meatballs.  Nothing like a traditional meatball, but still amazing and delicious.  Both recipes can be made vegan — doesn’t get any better than this.


Meatless Meatballs
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

  • ¾ c finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • ⅓ c cheese (I recommend mozzarella. Vegans use a cheese alternative or omit)
  • ½ c finely chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp. flax meal
  • 6 tbsp. water
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • ⅓ c breadcrumbs (GF: use GF bread crumbs or crushed gluten free crackers. I recommend crushing Glutino crackers. Corn meal based bread crumbs will work, but IMO don’t produce the desired texture)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the flax, water, smoke, and soy sauce. Let set for a few minutes until the flax egg has gelled slightly. Then combine with dry ingredients (all ingredients should now be combined). Add a little more water or bread crumbs, if necessary, to obtain a sticky texture.
  3. Press and roll into 16 balls. Set on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully roll (may stick a little!) after 10 – 15 minutes.

The mushrooms add more texture than taste, but if you aren’t a fan of mushrooms replace 50/50 with breadcrumbs and nuts.
These freeze wonderfully. Simply cook through as instruction and freeze in a freezer bag or storage container. Bake, microwave (may get a little soggy) or cook on the stove until warmed through.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 balls Calories: 220 Fat: 18 Carbohydrates: 12 Fiber: 4 Protein: 7



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    Vegetarian Mushroom Reuben | Hidden Fruits and Veggies Jun 13, 2014

    […] I knew I wanted to make a Reuben.  I’m no amateur when it comes to swapping out meat for mushrooms or blending in with a protein like lentils, so this challenge from The Mushroom Council is right up […] Aug 05, 2013

    Hmmmm, that would be a lovely recipe to test with vegan cheeze!

    Marcie Jul 31, 2013

    These sounds great! Mushrooms and cheese and nuts with those flavors sound like a win in my book!

    Christine @ 24 Carrot Kitchen Jul 31, 2013

    I use a frozen meatless meatball I get at TJ’s. I have been looking for recipes I can make myself too. The photos are gorgeous!

      Kelly Jul 31, 2013

      Thanks Christine. Let me know if you give these a try and how they compare to TJ’s!

    cleaneatingveggiegirl Jul 31, 2013

    Yum! I have been using packaged frozen meatballs (which are actually quite tasty and easy), but I don’t like that they are highly processed. Thanks for giving me a healthy and whole alternative! 🙂

      Kelly Jul 31, 2013

      I forgot to mention in the post, but these freeze beautifully! Just pop em in the oven, a pan, or the microwave (might get a little soggy in there) when you’re ready to eat.

    Alex @ Cookie Dough Katzen Jul 31, 2013

    Liquid smoke- interesting ingredient! I like this alternative, especially since I’ve never been a fan of actual meatballs!

      Kelly Jul 31, 2013

      I love liquid smoke! BBQ sauces and restaurants use it as a cheat to get things to taste more smokey and meaty, so I love to add it when making a mock meat. Most happen to be vegan and most grocery stores carry at least one brand, so it’s pretty convenient!

    makingthymeforhealth Jul 31, 2013

    I’ve actually never made vegetarian meatballs before! Nor have I seen any without beans before. Yours are so unique and they look delicious! They’re nothing more comforting than a big bowl of spaghetti with balls! 🙂

    jaclyn Jul 31, 2013

    I make a meatless meatball out of lentils, they make me so happy and satisfied! I’ll for sure try this recipe out as well.

      Kelly Jul 31, 2013

      Do you have a recipe you can link me to? I had a horrific, crunchy, messy experience with a lentil meatloaf so I have been afraid to experiment with lentils too much outside of my sloppy lentils. I think I’m ready to try again though!

    Em @ Love A Latte Jul 31, 2013

    I love pasta dinners and I always buy veggie Italian sausages to go with the noodles, but these would be SO MUCH BETTER and homemade! I have yet to use liquid smoke and I’m not sure I know where to find it in my store, but I’ll check. Also, I made your tvp tacos last night – delicious!!

      Kelly Jul 31, 2013

      My local grocery store has liquid smoke near the BBQ sauces. Most are vegan and the bottle will explicitly say it, but if you can’t find any labeled, the websites are all very good about pointing it out. If you can’t find any, just omit. It adds a little something extra, but both the tacos and these meatballs are delicious without. I’m glad you like the tacos! 🙂