These Easy Vegan Meatballs can be made with marinara sauce and served as a spaghetti and meatball main dish. Another option is to coat them with bbq sauce and serve them as an appetizer. Whichever way you decide to make them, they’re going to be a hit!
If you’ve been looking for a hearty and filling vegan meatball recipe that is so versatile that it can be used in many different recipes, look no further!
From vegan meatloaf to meatballs
This recipe was inspired by my No-Meat Loaf recipe. One day while I was making the no-meat loaf, I happened to notice that the firm consistency of it reminded me of meatballs due to the bulgur used. I decided to give it a try, and I’m so glad that I did.
Getting that firm texture
The bulgur gives these veggie balls a great firm texture that will work great in a number of different ways.
Bulgur is a whole wheat grain that is cooked exactly like rice in about 15 minutes. I like to make a big batch of it in my rice cooker and freeze it for use in recipes like this one, spaghetti, lasagna, and nachos.
This amazing grain adds a ground beef texture and soaks up the flavors of dishes you’re preparing.
Whether used with barbecue sauce as an appetizer or with marinara for spaghetti and no meatballs, these meatless meatballs hold together very well.
They are terrific served with marinara and pasta, alongside a salad and crusty bread. Other times I bake them with barbecue sauce, and we have them as an appetizer.
How to make vegan meatballs
The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper.
Begin by cooking the bulgur according to the package directions. It cooks on the stove or in a rice cooker in about 15-minutes.
Dice the veggies–onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, carrots, and walnuts. One tip here is that a blender or food processor makes it easy to make bread crumbs. It’s also great for chopping walnuts.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (including the fully-cooked bulgur). Mix with a spoon, or do like I do, and use your hands to mix thoroughly.
Form into balls and place on a baking sheet. If the mixture seems too wet, add a few more oats. If it seems too dry, add a little bit of the juice drained from tomatoes or water. These should hold together to form balls pretty well.
Bake at 350°F for approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cover with marinara and serve over pasta to make Spaghetti & Meatballs or on subs. Or drizzle barbecue sauce over top and bake an additional 15 minutes to serve as an appetizer.
If you like them really firm, I suggest refrigerating them once they are cooked so they have more time to set up. When they are reheated, the texture is even denser.
*Originally published June 2015.
Italian Vegan Meatball Sandwich
This delightfully messy vegan meatball sandwich is great for dinner, parties, and game-day food. It’s such a versatile meatless marinara sandwich, even kids love it!
If you like parmesan cheese, I have a terrific easy recipe for you to try out.
Making homemade vegan parmesan cheese is surprisingly easy and only requires a handful of ingredients. It keeps for months, so you’ll have it available to sprinkle on any and everything.
BBQ sauce options
Whether served as an appetizer, main dish, or on a sub sandwich, these fabulous veggie barbecue balls will be a hit! Last week, I took a batch to a company dinner and a family reunion, and they got rave reviews!
There are so many dishes that could use a great barbecue sauce to enhance the flavors. With its sweet smoky flavor, a good bbq sauce can transform a bland recipe into a culinary masterpiece. This 8-ingredient Healthy BBQ Sauce Recipe can do just that!
If you are looking for a premade barbecue sauce, we love this oil-free Bone Suckin’ Sauce.
Other great bulgur recipes to try
- Crockpot Chili
- No-Meat Loaf
- Vegan Meatball Italian Sandwich
- What is Bulgur: How to Cook and Recipes
- Spaghetti & Meatballs
For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.
If you try this recipe, please let us know how you like it by rating it and leaving a comment. We love to hear from you!
Vegan Meat Balls
- 2 cups cooked bulgur
- 1-1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs (equals 2-3 slices of bread)
- 1-1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup fire-roasted tomatoes (with juice drained and reserved)
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 sticks celery diced
- 1/2 green pepper diced
- 3/4 cup carrot diced
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- sea salt to your taste
- marinara or barbecue sauce
- Line a large baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. Parchment paper makes clean up so much easier with this recipe.
- Cook bulgur according to package directions. It cooks on the stovetop or in a rice cooker in about 15-minutes.
- Dice all veggies--onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, and walnuts.
- Mix all ingredients in a very large bowl. You can use a spoon, but I prefer to use my hands to thoroughly blend ingredients.
- Form into balls and place on a baking sheet. If the mixture seems too wet, add a few more oats. If it seems too dry, add a little bit of the juice drained from tomatoes or water. These should hold together to form balls pretty well.
- Bake at 350°F for approximately 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cover with marinara and serve over pasta or on subs. Or drizzle barbecue sauce over top and bake an additional 10-15 minutes to serve as an appetizer.
- If you like them really firm, I suggest refrigerating them once they are cooked so they have more time to set up. When they are reheated, the texture is even denser.
- Q: What are vegan meatballs made of? There are many different variations of vegan meatballs, but this recipe is made from a whole grain called bulgur, rolled oats, and bread crumbs.
- Q: Are these meatballs gluten-free? No, this recipe is not gluten-free because it uses bulgur. However, buckwheat groats could be substituted for the bulgur and gluten-free breadcrumbs could be used to make these gluten-free. Some folks have also used brown rice and quinoa.
- Q: What is the best way to store these? These meatballs should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
- Q: Can the leftovers be frozen? Yes, and I freeze them all the time. They hold up well and are delicious the second time around.
To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
About Terri Edwards
Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy. I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…