Recipes > Lunch/Dinner > Vegetarian Meatballs Base Recipe

Vegetarian Meatballs Base Recipe

These tasty vegetarian meatballs are a much healthier choice than their greasy counterparts. Unlike beef, beans provide fiber and no saturated fat. The featured ingredients in this recipe are beans, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs.
vegetarian meatballs base recipe

This is one of our base recipes. Plant-forward diets should not be restrictive or boring, which is why we created this delicious vegetarian meatballs base recipe! This easy recipe provides plenty of flavor, moisture, and quality protein to satisfy your plant-based meatball cravings!

Three Must-Know Cooking Skills

For recipe success, learn how to:

Learn how to slice and dice like a pro in our knife skills 101 course!

Culinary Tips for the Best Vegetarian Meatballs

Drain and rinse the beans to remove excess sodium. Mash to the texture you like. You can leave them slightly chunky or keep mashing to resemble refried beans.

If you have picky eaters, dice the onion or shallot finely so that they don’t notice them. 

Do not overcook the meatballs or they will dry out! Once the edges are brown, remove them from the oven.

This recipe easily scales up. Simply double or triple the ingredient quantities. You may have to use two baking sheets to cook the meatballs; overcrowding the pan will prevent the meatballs from getting a delicious golden exterior.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Oil for the Pan: substitute cooking spray.
  • Beans: use any low-sodium beans or lentils of your choice – black, pinto, chickpeas, cannellini, kidney, etc. You can also use 1 ½ cups of leftover beans from our stovetop or Instant Pot beans base recipes.
  • Panko Bread Crumbs: substitute plain, whole wheat, or seasoned bread crumbs, but cut back on the added salt if you do. Panko is typically very low in sodium. 
  • Fresh Herbs: use any herb or combination of herbs, keeping in mind the final flavor or cuisine that you want. Basil, chives, cilantro, dill, Italian parsley, and rosemary are all great choices. Don’t have fresh herbs on hand? Substitute ½ Tablespoon dried herbs. Note that some herbs, like sage and dill, have stronger flavors, so start with 1-2 teaspoons. You can also substitute pesto, but if you do, omit the extra virgin olive oil.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: substitute canola or avocado oil.
  • Shallot or Onion: use white, yellow, red, or green onions. You can also substitute ¼ teaspoon onion powder.
  • Eggs: if vegan, substitute 1 flax egg. Stir together 1 Tablespoon ground flax with 3 Tablespoons water and let rest for 10 minutes or until mixture has thickened.

Base Recipe Variations

Remember that this is a base recipe, so the goal is for you to customize it to your taste! Keep it simple or spice it up!

Use these additional ingredients for even more flavor and texture.

  • Pesto: use homemade or store bought. Use in place of the chopped fresh herbs.
  • Tomatoes: use diced fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, or rehydrated from dried.
  • Cheese: we recommend strongly flavored cheeses because just a little bit goes a long way. Asiago, blue, feta, goat, gorgonzola, and parmesan are some of our favorites.
  • Green Chiles or Chipotle in Adobo: substitute ¼ diced jalapeño pepper or ⅛ serrano pepper, seeds removed.
  • Garlic: substitute ½ teaspoon pre-minced garlic, ½ teaspoon garlic flakes, ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic, or ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Spices or Dried Herbs: use chili powder, coriander, cumin, paprika, or your favorite spice blend. Dried herbs such as rosemary, dill, oregano, and thyme also complement meatballs well.

When selecting ingredients, it can be helpful to think of a cuisine or flavor profile you are trying to achieve. Italian, Mediterranean, Greek, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, and Latin are just some cuisines to consider. Use your creativity and imagination! 

Want some meatball flavor inspiration?

Use these other burger and meatball recipes for inspiration, then have fun exploring other flavors and ingredients!

Equipment Recommendations

Use these kitchen tools for recipe success:

Find all of our favorite kitchen tools here!

Are these vegetarian meatballs healthy?

These tasty vegetarian meatballs are a much healthier choice than their greasy counterparts. Unlike beef, beans provide fiber and no saturated fat. The featured ingredients in this recipe are beans, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs.

Beans

Beans of all varieties contain plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients promote gut health, decrease risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and promote a healthy weight. Beans are a key component of longevity diets around the world.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean Diet. It contains high amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols which may reduce inflammation. In this recipe, it replaces the saturated fat typically found in 100% beef meatballs.

Fresh Herbs

Not only do fresh herbs add a pop of freshness and flavor to a dish, but they add nutrition too! Herbs are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that promote health and help fight diseases.

Learn more about health benefits of different foods in our book, To Your Taste!

Serving Suggestions

Serve vegetarian meatballs as an appetizer with a dipping sauce or build a meatball sub, salad, or wrap. Depending on the flavor combinations you choose, serve meatballs in sauce with pasta or with gravy over brown rice.

Pair with roasted vegetables and a salad to make a beautiful Whole Life Plate.

How to Store and Reheat Bean Meatballs

Cool leftover vegetarian meatballs completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. 

Leftover meatballs can also be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 1-4 hours. Once partially frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before heating.

To reheat, place bean meatballs on a pan and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to heat to 350ºF. Once the oven hits 350° F, your bean meatballs should be warmed and ready!

Want more bean-based dinner recipes?

Try out these delicious recipes!

Hummus Pizza Base Recipe

Baked Tostadas Base Recipe

Healthy Burrito Bowl Base Recipe

Bean Burgers Base Recipe

vegetarian meatballs base recipe

Vegetarian Meatballs Base Recipe

This is one of our base recipes. Plant-forward diets should not be restrictive or boring, which is why we created this delicious vegetarian meatballs base recipe! This easy recipe provides plenty of flavor, moisture, and quality protein to satisfy your plant-based meatball cravings!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 12 -15 meatballs

Ingredients
  

Base Recipe

  • ½ Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or cooking spray
  • 15-ounce can low-sodium beans, drained and rinsed (~1 ½ cups)
  • ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced onion or shallot
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Dash pepper

Mix-ins to YOUR taste

  • 2-3 Tablespoons pesto (replace oil and herbs)
  • 2 Tablespoons diced fresh or sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons shredded or crumbled cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons green chiles or
  • 1 Tablespoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced (~½ teaspoon)
  • ¼-1 teaspoon spices and/or dried herbs

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425ºF. Brush a baking sheet with the oil.
  • Place beans in a large mixing bowl and mash until almost smooth or leave slightly chunky.
  • Add bread crumbs, herbs, onion, extra virgin olive oil, egg, salt, pepper, and additional mix-ins. Mix until combined.
  • Use a portion scoop or spoons to create meatballs and place on the pan, spaced ~1” apart.
  • Cook 8-10 minutes or until cooked through and slightly brown on the edges. Serve with desired sides and toppings. Enjoy!

Notes

Do not overcook the meatballs or they will dry out! Once the edges are brown, remove them from the oven.
Keyword Vegetarian Meatballs

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating




Did you make this recipe?

Let us know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment above and share a picture on Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #totasterecipes! And don’t forget to share it with all of your friends and family!

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate and Share-a-Sale affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. If you click on those links and make a purchase, we will earn a small percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you. 

Hey there! We are To Taste – a team of registered dietitians, chefs, and culinary medicine specialists.

We’re here to teach you how to cook confidently, simplify nutrition, and feel better (no BS)!

Our Recipe Promise

Healthy eating shouldn't be complicated. Period.

Meet the only meal plan you'll ever need.

Improve your kitchen efficiency! Learn how to slice, dice, and chop 20 common ingredients

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Never miss a beet! Sign up for updates, recipes, and course offerings!

Is your kitchen set up for success?

Find all of our go-to kitchen tools, books, and accessories here!

Need some recipe guidance?

Learn how to cook confidently to your taste using our base recipe concept.

Want to know which ingredients to buy?

Download our free ingredient guide for helpful tips on which ingredients are best.

Latest Recipes

Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter so that you never miss a beet!

Healthy eating shouldn't be complicated.

Learn how to cook and eat well for your whole life in our new book, To Your Taste.