The BEST vegan meatballs! Made with mushrooms, walnuts, and black beans, they're crisp on the outside, tender in the middle, and full of savory flavor.
These vegan meatballs are the best I’ve tried. They’re intensely flavorful, made with roasted mushrooms, a mix of savory spices, and balsamic vinegar for tang. They also have the perfect texture–crisp and charred on the outside and firm-yet-tender in the middle. Top them onto pasta, stuff them into subs, or serve them over polenta with a scoop of marinara. There are so many ways to enjoy these delicious vegan meatballs!
Vegan Meatballs Recipe Ingredients
To be clear, these vegan meatballs don’t taste just like meat. They’re made with whole foods, plant-based ingredients, and when you eat them, you can tell. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty! They have a satisfying texture and a great savory flavor.
Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- Mushrooms – A blend of shiitakes and creminis gives these meatballs their meaty texture and umami flavor.
- Walnuts – They add richness and keep the meatballs from getting too mushy!
- Black beans – For plant-based protein.
- Onion and garlic – For savory depth of flavor.
- Fennel seeds, cumin, smoked paprika, and ground sage – This mix of spices makes the meatballs SO flavorful! The paprika adds smokiness, the cumin adds earthiness, and the fennel and sage add classic Italian flavors.
- Tomato paste and balsamic vinegar – For tang.
- Tamari – I love using tamari or soy sauce when I cook mushrooms. It brings out their rich, umami flavor.
- Panko bread crumbs, whole rolled oats, and ground flaxseed – They bind the meatballs together. To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free panko and certified gluten-free oats.
- Extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil – I like to use olive oil in the meatballs and avocado oil in the pan. If you want to simplify, you can use avocado oil for both.
- And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Vegan Meatballs
The first step in this vegan meatball recipe is roasting the mushrooms. It concentrates their umami flavor and gives them a satisfying meaty texture.
Stem and slice the mushrooms, and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast at 425°F for 20 minutes, or until slightly shriveled around the edges.
Next, pulse together the walnuts, onion, garlic, and spices in a food processor. Your goal here is to break down the walnuts and onions.
You want them to be coarsely ground before you add more ingredients to the food processor.
Then, add the roasted mushrooms, black beans, oats, olive oil, tomato paste, flax, tamari, and balsamic.
Pulse until the mixture is well-combined but still has some texture. There should still be some larger bean and mushroom pieces.
Next, form the meatballs. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and fold in the panko. Use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion it out. Then, use your hands to roll it into balls.
Finally, cook the meatballs. Start by searing them in a cast-iron skillet until they’re well-browned. It should take about 5 minutes over medium-high heat to brown them on all sides.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the vegan meatballs are firm and lightly crisp around the edges. Enjoy!
How to Serve Vegan Meatballs
These meatless meatballs are a fantastic vegan meal! Here are our favorite ways to serve them:
- On their own! Top them with marinara sauce and dig in! We often pair them with garlic bread and roasted broccoli to round out the meal.
- Over spaghetti. What’s cozier than spaghetti and meatballs? These plant-based meatballs are delicious over pasta with a ladle of marinara. We love them on zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash too!
- In sandwiches. Stuff them into subs with spoonfuls of marinara and vegan Parmesan cheese!
- On polenta. Top my creamy polenta with vegan meatballs, tomato sauce, and a shower of fresh basil.
Leftover meatballs keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. For longer storage, stash them in the freezer for up to 3 months. They reheat nicely in the microwave or a 400°F oven.
More Favorite Vegan Recipes
If you love these veggie balls, try one of these hearty vegan recipes next:
- Best Veggie Burger
- Easy Black Bean Burger
- Portobello Mushroom Burger
- Crispy Baked Falafel
- Lentil Pasta
- Tofu Sofritas
- Or any of these 85 Best Vegan Recipes!
- 16 ounces mixed cremini and shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 1 cup walnuts
- ½ cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for sprinkling
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- 1½ cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup whole rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- Avocado oil, for the pan
- Marinara sauce, for serving (for store bought, we love Rao's)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the mushrooms on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread evenly on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until slightly shriveled around the edges.
- In a food processor, place the walnuts, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, fennel seed, cumin, paprika, and sage. Pulse until coarsely ground, then add the roasted mushrooms, black beans, oats, olive oil, tomato paste, flaxseed, tamari, and balsamic vinegar. Pulse until the mixture is well-combined but still has a few larger bean and mushroom chunks remaining.
- Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and fold in the panko. Use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the mixture, then use your hands to roll it into balls.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with avocado oil. Add the vegan meatballs and cook, rotating the balls as they brown, until browned all around, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the vegan meatballs are firm and lightly crisp around the edges.
- Serve with marinara.
Made this for dinner. Family really liked it. Very filling. Only used 1 type of mushroom.. planning on doing this again. Would make a great hiking snack even without sauce or noodles.:)
Hi Belinda, so glad you loved these! I love them as a savory snack too. 🙂
I have been looking for a good vegan meatball recipe for months and this just might fit the bill. I’m definitely going to try these!
I hope you love them!
Being Australian I tend not to cook US recipes too often as I have to translate the recipe from oz to grams and fahrenheit to celsius and sometimes work out ingredients too which I am too lazy to do! I cooked these meatballs and really loved them as did my husband who is an enthusiastic carnivore. I will be making these again and passing on the recipe to friends.
Hi Mimi, I’m so glad you both enjoyed them!
Sounds so good! Is there a good sun for walnuts? Would almonds or cashews work the same? Pine nuts?
Hi Mary, I would use pine nuts or pecans (since they’re soft nuts) over almonds or cashews.
This looks amazing. I’d like to replace mushrooms though, any ideas?
Hi Lyn, since mushrooms are the base here, I would go in another direction and make these black bean burgers into meatballs: https://www.loveandlemons.com/black-bean-burger-recipe/
If it’s a taste preference (vs an allergy), I would say that they don’t taste very mushroom-ey in the end, the mushrooms just add a nice texture and umami flavor.
Hope that helps!
Still craving these since we made them!!!
Ha, I’m so glad you enjoyed them, Marian! xo
Could you air fry them? If so, what temperature and how long?
Hi Karen, I haven’t tried it, so I can’t say for sure. They might dry out too much.
Any substitutes you recommend for mushrooms here?