For these hearty and healthy vegan meatballs, we've swapped out the traditional ground beef and pork for protein-packed chickpeas and quinoa--without skimping on any of those Italian flavors that you look for in a classic meatball. Mushrooms up the umami factor, and a simple tomato sauce completes the picture. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Breana Killeen
Source:, March 2019


Recipe Summary

40 mins
1 hr 10 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

  • Pulse cauliflower, mushrooms, onion and 1 garlic clove in a food processor until finely chopped, about 15 pulses. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower mixture, 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool, stirring a few times, for 5 minutes.

  • Add chickpeas to the food processor; puree until smooth. Add the chickpea mixture to the large bowl along with quinoa and tamari (or soy sauce); stir to combine. Form the mixture into 24 balls (about 2 1/2 tablespoons each) and place on the prepared baking sheet.

  • Bake the meatballs until heated through and firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining garlic clove. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, tomatoes, crushed red pepper and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer. Cook until the flavors have melded, about 5 minutes. Serve the meatballs with the sauce, sprinkled with basil.


To make ahead: The sauce can be made 3 days ahead and the meatballs can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate separately.

Learn more about how to make these vegan meatballs.

Nutrition Facts

394 calories; protein 12.7g; carbohydrates 45.7g; dietary fiber 10.1g; sugars 12.4g; fat 17.1g; saturated fat 2.4g; vitamin a iu 1865.2IU; vitamin c 47mg; folate 101.6mcg; calcium 59mg; iron 5.9mg; magnesium 82.7mg; potassium 1271.8mg; sodium 433.9mg; thiamin 0.2mg.

Reviews (4)

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4 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 2
  • 4 star values: 2
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
We are pretty staunch meat-eaters, but are looking to change that, so I ventured to try these vegan meatballs. All I can say is WOW! The flavor is uncannily close to my favorite italian real meatballs, they're just a little softer. My husband, who is a little less food-adventurous than I am, called it a home run. Everything about this recipe is spot-on. My only tweak was to use portobello mushrooms instead of white because to me, they are a little more flavorful and meatier. These are very hearty, so I served mine over spaghetti squash to save calories, and my husband enjoyed his over pasta. I have 24 quarts of homemade marinara sauce in my pantry so needless to say, we will be making these on a regular basis. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
I made this exactly as described the flavor was amazing!! They were easily shaped into meatballs but the problem was after they were baked they crumbled when touched. I will freeze half and see if that helps and the remainder I will crumble and use in tacos and spaghetti sauce. Since I'm not vegan I will use a couple eggs and some gluten free panko in the next batch to see if they will remain "meatballs". Yes I will make again! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Really delicious. Good texture and flavor although it was a touch on the bland side could use more "umami" flavor. The tomato sauce was out of this world! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Ummm...loved these meatballs! Very nice creation. I have been plant-based now for about 10 weeks and my husband is still hard core carnivore. But the meatballs were something we both enjoyed. I did add more sea salt and garlic but that is a personal preference. Thank you! Read More