Versatile Meatless Meatballs

The other day, my friend dropped me a line asking if I had any meatball recipes.
You see, she was off to a Holiday potluck and being vegetarian, her and her husband wanted to offer something familiar on the carnivorous table, as well as have something to satisfy themselves.

I suddenly realized that the site was a bit lacking on the soy and meat replacement type options. I’d decided I was long overdue. Since the whole point of this site is to satisfy (everybody) I figured I’d better get cracking.

One option, other than just removing meat, is to just use breadcrumbs but since most meatballs are held together with eggs, I had a little more of a challenge ahead to make them stick. However, my biggest concern was, of course flavour and texture. With a combination of finely chopped mushrooms, crumbs and a glutenous flour to hold them together, they turned out pretty great, if I may say so myself:)

Hence the name, this recipe is pretty versatile, good for either marinara sauces or gravies.


1 Cup Breadcrumbs, coarse
1 Cup  Minced Mushrooms, I used crimini
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced (or 1/2 t garlic powder will do in a pinch)
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast Flakes
3/4 Cup Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, vegan
1 Tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce
3 Tablespoons finely chopped baby spinach leaves*
1 Vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 Cup Hot Water

Dissolve the bouillon cube in the hot water. Add the worcestershire and tamari and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, mushrooms, garlic, nutritional yeast flakes, and flour.
Pour over the liquid and spinach.
Knead the mixture together to form a firm dough.
Pinch off 1 inch sized pieces to roll into balls.

Either heat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC) or heat a layer of vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
If baking, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and evenly distribute the meatballs so they aren’t touching.
Bake for 15 minutes then roll each of the meatballs over to brown the other sides, baking for an additional 15 minutes.

If frying, (I liked this version better) add the meatballs to the heated oil to fill the pan, without overcrowding.
Fry the meatballs, moving occasionally to evenly brown them on all sides.
Remove from the pan and allow to drain on a paper towel while you finish up any remaining meatballs.

*Depending on the end dish, you could choose to add additional seasoning such as parsley, thyme, oregano or basil for tomato sauces and rosemary or thyme for brown (mushroom) gravies.

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19 thoughts on “Versatile Meatless Meatballs”

  1. Wow those balls looks super delicious, i just wanted to pick them up and eat them.
    I am surprised they are veg. With all the mushrooms in with other ingredients i am sure it taste fabulous.

  2. Those look good!! Great for potlucks, indeed. Too bad they’re not gluten-free :-(

    My sister-in-law has Celiac’s. Once day I’ll try a wheat-free, nutty version. Promise.

  3. Those look fantastic…

    …I’m always looking for great ways to “ease” family into more veg-friendly eating, so I’ll definitely have to try this recipe!

  4. These sound delicious and so easy! We’re having a party food recipe contest and would love to have you enter one of your favorite recipes. The prize is a $400 gift certificate. Check out the contest at our blog:

  5. Being neither vegan nor vegetarian, I still think these meatballs are worth a try. For myself, for the kids, for something different. However, I do have one question: when you say breadcrumbs, what type do you use? I’ve had occasion once to read the ingredient list of a container of breadcrumbs at some grocery store and I have to say it sounds more chemical and bread-y. What type do you use? Or do you make them yourself?

    Thanks for asking. I actually made the breadcrumbs myself. Any day old bread, dried out in a 200ºF oven or lightly toasted then tossed into a food processor to break them up are a simple, and much healthier option. Of course, if you could pick some up at your local bakery, but I like the control over the size. This recipe is best with crumbs which are a bit more coarse.

  6. These look really good. I tried the beanball recipe from Veganomicon and they were too soft and not “meaty” enough for me, but these look like just the right texture. I will have to give them a try.

  7. They look good, I wonder if I could sub in chickpea flour for the gluten.

    I didn’t test them gluten-free. The flour was mainly there to hold them together, but to also give a little more to the texture.
    That texture will be lost, but you might gain that in extra flavour. Give it a try!
    I’d love to know your results!

  8. when you have

    1 Cup Mushrooms, finely minced, I used crimini

    do you mean 1 cup mushrooms (measured, then minced) or 1 cup minced mushrooms (minced, then measured)?

    I mean 1 cup of mushrooms that have been minced. Sorry for any confusion. I hope you enjoy them!

  9. In the instructions, there’s a reference to nuts:

    In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, mushrooms, garlic, nut. flakes, and flour.

    But no nuts on the ingredients list. I can imagine some kind of ground nuts would be good in this. Did you use any? Thanks for the great-looking recipe!

    I didn’t use nuts. Actually the reference is to the nutritional yeast flakes in the ingredients list. It’s the term we use around here, but I guess it’s not familiar to everyone. Sorry if this was confusing.

  10. These look delicious! Am I able to freeze these for use later? If so, should I freeze before I cook them or after? And for how long could I keep them frozen? :) Thank You!
    Thanks Nicole. I’m sure that you could freeze these. I would probably freeze them before cooking. Just make them to the point of rolling them and place the uncooked meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet until they’re frozen. Once they are, I’d put them into an air tight container or zipper bag with as much of the air removed as possible.
    Since I haven’t frozen them myself, I’m not sure what the maximum time you could freeze them, but depending on how well sealed they are, 3 months?
    Let me know.

  11. Gluten free alteration to this recipe would be great. I’m trying to make some gluten free and vegetarian meals to satisfy a crowd. Maybe a mix of flours: spelt, rice & tapioca with some xanthan gum? Anyone else have suggestions?

  12. These look great! It should be said worcestershire sauce is not typically vegetarian, and many vegans would not want to be served it.
    Thanks for your comments. Worcestershire traditionally does have anchovies. The recipe does mention using a vegan version and I do always recommend reading your labels. However, if you’d like to make your own, here’s a quick link to cook like a rockstar:
    or Martha:

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