These flavourful, homemade mushroom lentil meatballs are vegan, gluten-free and so simple to make! A perfect meatless recipe to serve with spaghetti for a vegan take on a childhood favourite.
Vegan meatballs are a delicious addition to a comfort food meal. They are so easy to make from scratch with wholesome, easy-to-find ingredients. They can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for quick weeknight meals.
This is my favourite vegan “meat” recipe and the best tasting one I’ve tried. I’ll be sharing all the tips and tricks to making it.
The recipe is an adaption of My New Roots’ Wild Mushroom Lentil Burger Recipe. It’s one that I’ve also used for burgers and as a vegan substitute for meat crumbles.
What are vegan meatballs made of?
The main ingredients in these meatless meatballs are lentils, shiitake mushrooms, king oyster mushrooms and liquid aminos.
You’ll need 1 cup (75g) of cooked lentils for this recipe. For instructions on how to cook lentils perfectly, I wrote an in-depth article in my Quick Vegan Lentil Stew recipe post.
Be sure to drain lentils well after cooking and before using in this recipe. I prefer to make this recipe without a food processor and mash the lentils using a fork instead so to prevent the meatballs from becoming mushy.
Shiitake and king oyster mushrooms are great for giving vegan meatballs their savoury, “meaty” flavour and texture.
If you can’t find these mushrooms, you can use other brown mushrooms such as cremini, portobello or the smaller oyster mushrooms.
The trick to developing the meaty flavours of mushrooms is to brown them in a pan. I also like to add some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos to enhance the savoury flavours even more.
It’s usually considered a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. Coconut Aminos is also available if you’d rather a soy-free alternative.
How to make vegan meatballs stick together
In this recipe, I use almond flour to help with binding the ingredients. Almond flour also adds a mild sweet, nutty and rich flavour and it’s my (not-so) secret ingredient to making the best tasting vegan meatballs.
Grinding whole almonds works perfectly fine too if you can’t find almond flour. Grind the same amount of whole almonds in a blender or food processor to make almond flour.
Some nut-free substitutes include ground sunflower seeds, oats or cooked brown rice.
How do you make meatballs not stick to your hands when forming?
If the mushroom-lentil mixture sticks to your hands at any point, put a little water on your hands to make things less sticky. You can also try pouring a little oil in your hands too.
How to cook meatless meatballs
To cook the vegan meatballs in a frying pan, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil then fry the meatballs for about 10 minutes until nicely browned on all sides.
Alternatively, you can cook the meatballs in an oven. Preheat your oven to 375F (190C), place the meatballs on a tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until even and brown on the outside.
Cooking Tip: I find that baking is the best way to keep the vegan meatballs from falling apart while cooking.
It also helps to shape the meatballs smaller in size (about the size of a golf or ping-pong ball) as larger sizes break apart easily, especially after adding to a sauce.
What do I serve with vegan meatballs?
Vegan meatballs can be served with gluten-free spaghetti and tomato sauce for a meatless take on a classic dish. The recipe for a quick chunky tomato sauce is included in the printable recipe card below. Other ways to eat vegan meatballs include:
- in a sub or hoagie roll, topped with tomato sauce and vegan cheese for a delicious vegan meatball sub
- on their own with bbq sauce as an appetizer or game-day snack.
- with mini burger buns as sliders
- mashed potatoes
How to store the vegan meatballs
You can make-ahead and store the cooked or uncooked mushroom lentil meatballs in the fridge for 4-5 days in a container. The mixture can also be stored without shaping.
To make them last longer, the cooked or uncooked vegan meatballs can be frozen. Simply, place the meatballs on a tray without touching each other and place in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours until solid. Then transfer to a container where they can be kept for up to a month.
How to reheat frozen meatballs
You can put the meatballs on a baking sheet and place in a preheated oven at 375F (190C) for 20 to 30 mins. If you prefer to fry them, thaw slightly for about 10 minutes then cook in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Lower heat and cover pan to allow the meatballs to steam through for 10 to 15 minutes. Rotate the meatballs at different intervals to brown all sides.
Now you’re ready to cook!
Mushroom Lentil Meatballs with Quick Tomato Sauce
Mushroom Lentil Meatballs
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped (75g)
- 1 cup king oyster mushrooms, chopped (75g)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp basil
- 1/2 tbsp thyme
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsps gluten-free soy sauce or liquid aminos
- 1 cup cooked lentils, well drained (75g)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup almond flour, (96g)
Quick Tomato Sauce
- 1 tbsp oil
- 10 tomatoes, (about 900g)
- 1 large onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 roasted red bell peppers
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/4 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp sugar, optional
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in pan and add mushrooms and onions, cooking until browned. Turn off heat.
- Next, add lentils to a bowl and mash with a fork until the mixture starts to clump together. Try not to mash until completely smooth to add texture to the lentil balls.
- To mushrooms, add herbs, garlic, liquid aminos/soy sauce and lentils. Heat through and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in almond flour.
To cook lentil meatballs:
- Shape into 12 equal balls (2-3 tbsps of the mix) and place on a plate. Heat a frying pan and add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. Fry the meatballs for about 10 minutes until nicely brown on all sides.
- You can also bake the meatballs. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C), place them on a tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until even and brown on the outside.
To make the quick tomato sauce:
- Chop tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bell peppers and parsley. Heat oil in a sauce pan and add onion, carrot and celery, cooking until browned.
- Next, add the remaining ingredients and cook for about a minute. Then add 1 cup (250ml) water, cover pan and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.
- Serve meatballs and sauce with cooked gluten-free spaghetti.
- Other brown mushrooms such as cremini, portobello or smaller oyster mushrooms can also be used.
- Almond flour can be made by grinding the same amount of whole almonds in a blender or food processor.
- Storage: Store the cooked or uncooked mushroom lentil meatballs in the fridge for 4-5 days in a container. The mixture can also be stored without shaping.
- To make them last longer, the cooked or uncooked vegan meatballs can be frozen. Simply, place the meatballs on a tray without touching each other and place in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours until solid. Then transfer to a container where they can be kept for up to a month.
- Reheat: Put the meatballs on a baking sheet and place in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for 15 to 20 minutes until even and brown on the outside.
- To fry them, thaw slightly for about 10 minutes then cook in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Lower heat and cover pan to allow the meatballs to steam through for 10 to 15 minutes.
- More Vegan Lentil Recipes: Vegan Sausage Lentil Lasagna, Vegan Taco Salad Bowl, Vegan Rice Burger with Kinpira
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