vegan “meat” balls

I generally feel like Americans eat way too much meat. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good slab of bacon, but I think being a flexatarian is a much healthier food lifestyle. Flexatarians are occasional meat eaters that tend to gravitate toward a plant-based diet. Because we only eat meat a couple of times a week, that means we love to try out new vegetarian meals. And sometimes even vegan!

These vegan “meat” balls were sent to me by a friend from work and I am so, totally impressed with them! They are a blend of cooked lentils, brown rice, oats and lots of great spices and flavors. They taste great, look like traditional meatballs and have an incredible meat-like texture. We ate them on top of spaghetti, but I can’t wait to try them in a meatball sub. I love a good meatball sub.

This would be an excellent recipe to introduce vegetarianism to meat-lovers. These are packed with flavor, hearty and comforting. Anyone will love these! Don’t be afraid of the long ingredient list, it takes a lot of spices to make these yummy, yummy balls. I promise these come together in no time flat!

Vegan “Meat” Balls

(Adapted from My Vegan Cookbook)


  • 1/2 cup cooked lentil
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (could sub molasses)
  • 1 teaspoons dry mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 400ยฐ.
  2. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles texture and appearance of ground meat and most lentils are no longer whole. Do not over mix.
  3. Wet hands and form mixture into balls about 1-1/2″ in diameter. You should get around 16. Place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, turning once halfway through baking time. Let rest for 10 minutes after baking to firm up.

These are pretty much endlessly customizable. If you aren’t vegan, try throwing in a handful of parmesan cheese (yum!). Want more summer flavor? Add some fresh chopped basil and oregano. Looking for more of a cocktail meatball taste? Up the maple syrup and toss the meatballs in your favorite barbecue sauce. Let me know your variations!

Do you consider yourself a vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, flexatarian or some other class of eater? Or do you just eat what you like and not label it?




  1. Al says

    I like how the green leaves spell out “Al” on the top meatball.
    Love reading this BTHR, its my guilty pleasure.

    Hope all is well! Much love!

  2. says

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m going to have to try this one. I love cooking with lentils. I just made some lentil Sloppy Joe’s the other night they turned out pretty fab. They really do have the texture of meat and I actually enjoyed them more than I anticipated.
    I’m not a hardcore vegan but I follow mostly a vegan diet because I feel best when I eat that way. Combine lactose intolerance with a generally fussy digestive system and vegan eats are the way to go for me.
    But I agree with you, I think flexitarian is a very healthy choice. Most Americans eats WAY too much meat and dairy and I think there’s been a bit of a movement lately in the direction to follow a more plant-based diet. Have you seen the new documentary Forks Over Knives yet? I’m dying to see it!
    Anyway, that’s all for now. Great post! :)

  3. MegsFitness says

    Wow, good grief. These would cost me a fortune to try to make.. I’d have to buy Lentils, Wheat Germ, Wheat Flour, Kosher Salt, Balsamic Vinegar, Nutmeg, Mustard–whole packages of them even though I only need a little bit. Any ideas on how to sample recipes on a dime?

    • Cassie says

      Wow, that is so crazy because everything in this recipe are pantry “staples” for me. The only thing I had to buy are then lentils, and that was only because we were out!

      Do you have co-op or health food store nearby with bulk bins? That is how I test out recipes. You can buy 1 teaspoon of many of the spices (plus the flour, wheat germ and lentils) for only pennies. And then if you like it, you can invest in the full-size containers.

      • MegsFitness says

        Sweet! There’s a WholeFoods a few miles away. I’ll see if they have the bulk foods section. Great idea!

      • Mike says

        This recipe is about as frugal as you can get. I buy various beans and brown rice by the 25# bags. Not only saving money but the planet too by avoiding all the plastic and cardboard from small expensive packages.
        I’m going to try the recipe. It sounds REALLY good.

  4. says

    I made these last week and I’m making them again tonight! Probably going to repost on my blog too — I’ll be sure to link back to you. Absolutely delicious! I used smoked paprika and chipotle chili powder, so they had a bit of a southwestern kick. Delicious!

  5. Kate says

    Awesome! I can’t wait to try these out. I’m making a freezer-full of goodies for my boyfriend and I’m trying to sneak in healthy versions of his favorite comfort foods. These look delicious and meaty enough to trick him into enjoying it :)

  6. Emily says

    Just wondering if you’ve tried freezing these at any stage: either after shaping into balls, or after baking?
    Thanks so much!

  7. Ariel says

    I’m cooking these vegan meatballs tonight with a friend! I can’t wait. I’m vegan and I cook lots of delicious meals but I’ve never tried meatballs.

  8. Elaine says

    Oh my goodness! I’m not even vegetarian and these are phenomenal! I might get addicted to this stuff, LOL. If this is what vegan food tastes like, I think I could become a vegan!

  9. Nicole says

    These are delicious, thanks for sharing the recipe!
    Next time, I might try and add some parsley or spinach to add a little greens.

  10. says

    Thanks for this recipe! I doubled the batch and froze them. Now I have them handy to heat them up with pasta sauce or BBQ sauce. Definitely my favorite plant-based meat recipe and I (used to) love meat!

  11. Colleen says

    I have tried many different kinds. Ones I have made and others have. I will be trying therein a few weeks. I’ll let you know how we like them. Seems not many people write back so I’ll be sure to let you know. They look very good.

  12. ruth says

    Hi, are the lentils, rice etc measured dry or cooked? If cooked, can you advise regarding the precooked volume?
    Thanks :)

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