Vegan “Meat”balls

I don’t really like fake meat. I will make faux burgers but I never try to make them taste like meat.

Most commercial faux meat substitutes contain gluten too.

I came across this recipe for vegan meatballs. The original recipe calls for gluten ingredients like whole wheat flour and wheat germ. I decided I’d try making a gluten-free version and see how they tasted.

I did the traditional spaghetti and ‘meatballs’ with tomato marinara sauce.

vegan meat balls

recipe inspiration

4.3 from 6 reviews
Vegan & Gluten-Free "Meat"balls
  • ½ cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (I used my favorite sprouted brown rice)
  • ¼ cup gluten-free rolled oats (I used Only Oats)
  • ⅓ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg's Liquid Soy Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, optional
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or agave nectar)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until ingredients are combined and resemble ground meat. Lentils should no longer be whole. Do not overmix.
  3. Wet hands and form mixture into 16 small (1" to 2") balls. You should get approximately 16.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  5. Let rest on baking sheet for 10 minutes to allow them to firm up before serving with pasta and sauce.

Next up … taking these tasty balls and perfecting the best vegan/gluten-free meatball sliders the world has ever known.

vegan meatballs with marinara sauce

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36 Responses to “Vegan “Meat”balls”

  1. January 31, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    These sound delicious. I’m going to try them, thanks!

    • Megan
      January 31, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      Awesome! Let me know how they turn out. :)

  2. February 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Hi! Those look great! I’m putting them on my to-make list. Thanks!

    • Megan
      February 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

      Hey Kim! Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your blog and I am very jealous of your red velvet cupcake recipe. I’ve been fighting with making ‘the perfect’ red velvet for a while now. I’ll be adding your recipe to my to-make list as well! :)

  3. Emily R
    May 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    These were fantastic! just the right amount of spice and great texture. Will make again and again!

    • Megan
      May 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

      So glad to hear they were a success Emily! I love the texture of these so much too.

  4. Leticia
    July 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Any idea if these can be frozen? Would love to try them and stock up if they’re as tasty as they look!

    • Megan
      July 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

      Hi Leticia, I’ve never frozen these. I wonder if you baked them first then froze them, you could probably reheat them just fine. Now that I’m thinking of it I wonder if you could make these up into balls, freeze them on a baking sheet and then pack them away in the freezer. Then maybe you could bake them right from frozen for the first time. I’d have to experiment with this though. Next time I make them I’ll try freezing a few before baking, and freeze a few after baking too. I’ll post results.

  5. September 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    I made these tonight and they were super yummy. My whole family enjoyed them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any gluten-free soy sauce in the house so I left it out (knowing that it would be better with it of course). They were still good without. Will definitely make these again. These could be used as a “meatball” sandwich on a gluten free hot dog bun and sauce. And as far as freezing…I think that is a great idea and will try this.

    • Megan
      September 11, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

      Meatball sub! YES!! When I originally made this recipe that was my first craving to use these in. I still haven’t done that yet. I think it might have to be my weekend comfort-food option. :)

  6. Diane
    December 5, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Thank you so much for this fabulous recipe! I dislike the ‘fake’ meats also – they taste weird and have additives and/or wheat hiding in them. I’m also interested in how well they freeze – always looking for ways to save time on busy days. Love your blog!

  7. Julie Carpenter
    February 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    I really owe you a review. Since we went GF in October, I have made these almost weekly. I know the recipe by heart. They are easy. They freeze perfectly. They are so forgiving re:substitutions. I have used red lentils for brown, groats for rice, riffed on the spices, and it always worked. Thanks so much!

    • February 19, 2013 at 11:57 am #

      Thanks for stopping by to share your review Julie! I love the substitutions you’ve made too. I will definitely have to give some of those a try! :)

  8. Amy B.
    February 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe – so yummy. I added Z’ataar as my main space blend and they turned out delicious. I’ve struggled to find a good brown rice meatball recipe for some time, and the fact they’re GF is the icing on the cake.

    • February 19, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      Thanks Amy! I’ve never tried Z’ataar and now I’m totally intrigued. I must give it a try.

  9. Michelle Howe
    March 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Ok, Meg, I made these for Brooklyn and they did not turn out as expected. They were, if possible, “doughy”. Did I do something wrong? I made no variations other than white rice flour. :( I have another batch in the freezer and I plan on cooking the heck out of them to crisp them up.

    • March 3, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      Hey Michelle! Swapping out brown rice flour for white rice flour wouldn’t have made a huge difference, so it sounds like you did it all right. The mixture can be a bit doughy after processing it for sure but there should still be some whole lentils in there too. When you bake it up they should crisp up pretty decent on the outside but be slightly soft on the inside. Aside from possibly over-blending the ingredients, I’m not sure what else could be the culprit. I’m sorry these didn’t turn out as expected. I hate when that happens. Of course, they won’t be as firm as regular meat balls either. But it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten the texture of real meatballs. :)

      • Michelle Howe
        March 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

        It IS a possibility that they were overblended. I will take it easier on them next time. I will let you know if they work. :) PS Majorly cute site you have!!!!!

        • March 3, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

          Awww. *Blush* Thanks. ;-)

  10. Kathlene
    March 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm #


    I made these tonight and they were delicious! I actually left OUT the rice flour but followed all the other directions in the recipe, and was pleased at the ‘meat-like’ consistency. We will definitely make them again.

    • March 21, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      Excellent glad to hear it Kathlene!

  11. Sandria
    March 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Eating these as I type. So excellent I couldn’t wait to say so:) I’m not a vegan, but my son is, and I will be making these for him when he gets off his juice fast.

    • March 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      Awesome Sandria! Thank you for taking time to share that with me. :D

  12. Cindi
    May 16, 2013 at 6:26 am #

    My honey and I have been eating vegan for just 3 months now. We tried these Friday night on our traditional pasta night. Absolutely blown away! We both did the happy food dance.

    • May 16, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      So awesome to hear Cindi! Thanks for sharing that with me. :)

  13. Shannon
    August 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years and now I have kids who would like a sliced lunch “meat” for their sandwiches. So here’s a question: Could this be rolled in a large log, wrapped in cheese cloth and steamed (old-fashioned pudding style) and sliced thin? I would over-process it so it was nearly smooth so that when steamed it wouldn’t disintegrate when sliced.

    • August 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Wow that’s an interesting idea Shannon. I honestly have no idea if that would work! I know that if you do over-process it, it does get rather gummy so it might actually stick together well enough to roll up and steam. I don’t know what the texture of the finished product would be though. If you do try it out this way I’d love to hear how it worked for you. If I end up having a chance to test out your idea I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of it too.

      I also wonder if adding a gum (xanthan or guar) or starch of some kind (potato or tapioca) would help with the texture and having the mixture stick together and slice well when steamed. Something to consider …

  14. Anna
    September 23, 2013 at 7:26 pm #


    Hi quick question… “Meat” balls look yummy… I’m gonna try these… However I’m a celiac that’s allergic to oats as well. I there anything else I can use in replace of them or do without oats completely?
    Thanks, Anna

    • September 23, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

      I would try adding a couple tablespoons more of brown rice flour and a couple of tablespoons more sunflower seeds. I haven’t tried it personally so if you do try it out let us all know how it turned out!

    • Shelly
      November 12, 2014 at 4:22 am #

      I’m sure by now you’ve tried out a replacement for the oats, but for anyone else who is coeliac, i thought i’d mention that I substituted the oats with an eight of a cup more rice and a an eight of cup of sorghum flour. I had sorghum to hand so you could use whatever glutenfree flour you have. I also substituted glutenfree Tamari soy sauce instead of the Braggs. The meat balls turned out perfectly fine.

  15. Daria
    February 2, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    Wonderful recipe! Really good! I will make these again, thanks for sharing.

  16. Shelly
    November 11, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    I’ve never actually left a comment on someone’s site before, but your recipe was SO amazing, i just had to!

    I made thease and I cannot overemphasize just how tasty they are. The recipe was easy to follow. The outcome was great. The meatballs are firm and did not disintegrate when i added them to tomatoe sauce.

    I’d been trying out various recipes from the internet for a long time and none of them had really worked for me in terms of taste + texture + versatility.

    I plan to use these when making a gluten free lasagne. I can’t wait! THANK YOU for taking the time and effort to post this recipe.

    • November 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment Shelly! So glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe. :)


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