The World’s Best Vegan Meatballs

If you don’t mind me saying so myself, I think my Perfect Veggie Burgers really do live up to their title. The flavors are both meaty and fresh with the sunflower seeds and veggies. The texture with the oats and flax is firm without being chewy. The nutritional profile couldn’t be better. I love those burgers! For my family’s Christmas this year, I decided to make some subtle tweaks and turn them into meatballs instead. The ingredients are pretty similar, but I made them slightly “brighter” by adding green onions and a hint of ginger.

I have to say, I think this recipe is even better as meatballs. The texture is awesome, as the outside gets crispy while the inside remains soft, and the flavors are equally good in spherical form.

What’s especially great about this recipe is that you can take it in any direction you want. They are neutral enough to be used in something classic like meatball marinara, but you could also throw together some soy / teriyaki / sesame glaze to take them in a more asian direction. For Christmas, I just served them as a dish on their own with a tahini gravy and they were killer next to some mashed potatoes. I ate about 10 all by myself…

Makes: 12 meatballs


  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 3 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 8 green onions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (white or crimini)
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Step One

Add the flaxseed to a bowl along with 1/4 cup of water and let this sit for at least 5 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients. The flax (which is basically an egg replacer) is super important for holding these meatballs together in a firm texture.

Step Two

Toast the 3 slices of whole wheat bread until they are very dry but not burned, then add them to a food processor with the rolled oats. Pulse until you have a fine mixture of breadcrumbs and oat flour. Transfer this to a large mixing bowl.

Step Three

Chop the white parts of the green onions and the carrot into small chunks and add them to the food processor along with the garlic, parsley, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, tomato paste, soy sauce, smoked paprika, ginger and oregano (everything except the pinto beans). Pulse this repeatedly until everything is broken down, but before it turns into a smoothie! Then, add the pinto beans and just pulse 3-4 times to blend them in and break them down a bit.

Add this veggie mixture into the bowl with the breadcrumbs and oat flour. If the flax has formed a nice gel by now, throw that in as well. Use a large spoon (or your hands) to mix well. It should be slightly dry, but definitely firm enough to form solid meatballs:

Step Four

Bake! Roll this mixture into about 12 equally-sized meatballs (about 1 inch in diameter) and transfer them to a baking sheet (mine didn’t stick but you may want to line with parchment) and bake at 350º for about 15 minutes, then remove and invert them before baking for another 10+ minutes. You want to cook until just before outsides get too *too* dark and crispy.

AIR FRYER: If you’ve jumped on the air fryer bandwagon like me, these are *awesome* in that cooking method. They only take about 15 minutes at 350º (stop to shake occasionally) and the outsides become extra crispy.


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  1. Sound great if they realty do hold together. Going to try them, less onion and garlic tho. Wow! My hubby might like the full power onion and garlic tho and he hates my veggie fair. He eats meat. But that might make him say hey these are not

    • Hmm, that’s a good question, Colleen. I would say <1 cup, but you might be able to eyeball it. Start with less and then add just enough breadcrumbs at the end of step 3 so they hold together but aren't completely dry, if that makes sense.

      • Ok thanks. I seem to have an easier time finding bread crumbs with not many ingredients than bread. I will let you know how it goes! And by the way, I love the app.

  2. Happy New Year, Andrew! You remain one of my favorite chefs for your enthusiasm, creativity and willingness to teach. God bless you every day, may you experience a great rise in prosperity and reknown in 2020!
    David Zent, Bakersfield

    • Hi David, that means a lot! I really appreciate it. I hope you’re doing great and wish you all the best in 2020 as well 🙂

  3. These were great, but using a 1″ disher gave me 30 balls, even making sure they were good and round. I WILL make them again! (At the same size, which seemed just right.) I like that they have no oil, and they are super simple to make, without a lot of extra steps. The texture is spot on!

    • Wow! THIRTY?! I’ve made them at times and only gotten 9, but those were probably closer to 2″ but I’m glad you liked them and I appreciate you reporting back to let me know, Heiho 🙂

  4. The meatballs turned out great even though I wasn’t sure about the exact quantity of some ingredients. This may be why some people got more than 12 meatballs–I got 24 when I made them. It always helps to give the weight of ingredients in grams.

    One cup of mushrooms–how many is that? Cut up mushrooms yield more than whole ones placed in a cup.
    3 slices of bread–loaves of bread vary in shape and size. I used homemade bread and cut off the crusts.
    large carrot is also open to interpretation.

    Also, in the instructions it was not mentioned when to add the ground ginger, although it was obvious when you said to add everything except the beans.

    • Hi Sally, thanks for pointing out those things. I’ve updated to clarify the ginger and that I suggest chopped mushrooms. Ultimately, this recipe is quite flexible so bread of different sizes or (un)chopped mushrooms or a little extra carrot won’t make a critical difference. I’m glad they turned out well for you 🙂

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