White plate filled with spaghetti, vegan meatballs, and marinara sauce on a blue background.

Vegan Meatballs

  • Author: Cassie Johnston
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 36 1"-meatballs 1x


At last, meatless meatballs that don’t call for any specialty ingredients! These Easy Vegan Meatballs are relatively simple and perfectly meaty, and you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen.



  • 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (toasted is great, but not necessary)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (wild rice is great, too)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Additional spices, if desired (see notes)
  • Avocado oil (or other high heat oil), for pan-frying


  1. In the basin of a food processor, pulse together the chickpeas, onion, garlic, walnuts, and oats until it forms a coarse meal about the texture of ground beef. Don’t overmix. You should still see a few small chunks.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, and add in the rice, soy sauce, chili powder, ketchup, salt, and any additional spices you’re using. Stir until well-mixed.
  3. If you like a meatball with smoother texture, transfer half of the mixture back into the food processor, and pulse until very smooth and pasty—add back to the other half of mixture and stir well to combine.
  4. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the meatball mixture into 1” balls and fry in skillet until golden brown on all sides—about 10 minutes total. Don’t overcrowd the pan—you’ll probably want to work in 2-3 batches.


This is great base recipe, but you can doctor these up with spices however you see fit—add two tablespoons of Italian seasoning plus two tablespoons of nutritional yeast for great spaghetti and meatballs. Add Montreal Steak Seasoning for great cocktail meatballs. The possibilities are endless!

If your meatballs aren’t holding together, feel free to add either an egg (if you’re not vegan) or a flax egg (mix one tablespoon ground flax meal with three tablespoons warm water and let thicken for five minutes) to the meatball mixture. I didn’t find this necessary for my meatballs to stay together well.

For an extra boost of flavor, cook your brown rice in veggie broth or even not-beef broth.

If you want to skip pan-frying, you can just put the formed meatballs directly on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and firm.

Add these meatballs to your sauce right before serving. The longer they swim around in the sauce, the more tender they become.

  • Category: Vegan
  • Method: Baking

Keywords: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, meatballs