Last Updated on 20th July 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
Whoever said that meatballs should be strictly made of meat may have forgotten about the wonders of vegetarianism and vegan-friendly diets.
Yeah, we all know that meat-based food, particularly the meatballs we add to various dishes like soup and spaghetti, always provides that distinct savory flavor from the pork or beef fat we have rendered while preparing these ball-sized dishes.
We understand that.
But who says that the vegetarian or vegan iterations of these balls of meat are short of what the accurate versions taste like?
With the growing movement of switching to meatless and plant-based diets, the humble meatballs, if oven cooking your meatballs make sure you get the temperature and time right by following our guide on how long to cook meatballs in the oven. We have grown accustomed to now have the aforesaid alternative versions of themselves—and they still look and taste like their meat-based counterparts, with some even claiming that the plant-based versions are a better choice due to the guilt-free feeling they offer.
We got you!
In this article, we will be teaching you about vegetarian meatballs, mainly how to make them from scratch (that taste good), how to store or freeze them, as well as what certain dishes you use or serve vegetarian meatballs with.
How to Prepare Vegetarian Meatballs?
So, you might wonder how to make plant-based meatballs without the meat that makes them meatballs.
You would not be reading this article if there was no such way of cooking vegetarian meatballs.
For the actual procedure of making vegetarian meatballs, we have to get our ingredients which are:
- Two tablespoons bulgur wheat
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup plus 1/3 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
- Two garlic cloves, peeled
- Four medium cremini mushrooms stemmed and quartered
- 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
- One large egg
- ¼ cup ricotta (about 2 ounces)
- One teaspoon of fennel seeds
- One teaspoon of dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup marinara sauce, warmed, for dipping
- Start by setting the temperature of your oven to about 375 degrees.
- While doing this, boil ¼ cup of water in a small saucepan. Add the bulgur wheat afterward.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover, and let the mixture rest for about 15 minutes.
- Once done, make sure to remove the remaining excess water from the saucepan.
- Mix oil, ½ cup of bread crumbs, and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese in a separate bowl until the mixture has a consistent appearance marked with a crumbly surface. This will act as the coating of your meatless meatballs.
- Firstly, to make your “meatless” meatballs, put the garlic and mushrooms in a food processor. Pulse until the two are finely chopped and remove from the food processor.
- The next step is to add the chickpeas into the food processor and then pulse.
- Mix the chickpeas and mushroom once done.
- Lastly, add the ⅓ cup of breadcrumbs and ¼ parmesan cheese, along with the bulgur wheat, egg, ricotta, fennel seed, oregano, salt, pepper, and the tablespoon of water. Mix until everything becomes blended with each other.
Once the vegetarian meatball mixture has been incorporated, you can now start rolling your plant-based meatballs depending on the size you want or prefer.
Roll them into your prepared coating mixture to ensure that the vegetarian meatballs stick together.
Arrange the meatless meatballs on a greased baking sheet, and place them in the oven for about 18 to 20 minutes.
Turn the meatballs on their other side when you’re halfway through. They are ready once they turn into their golden brown color.
If you are wondering whether you can make vegetarian meatballs with either corn or beans, you can! Follow the recipe above and add either the beans or the corn. Do note. However, corn as an ingredient in your vegetarian meatballs is usually cornstarch. At the same time, beans can be an alternative base to your plant-based meal.
How to Make Vegetarian Meatballs Stick Together
If you have made meatballs from scratch, you may have noticed that some of them crumble once you put them in your soup or pasta.
But why do some meatballs crumble?
The usual culprit behind [vegetarian] meatballs falling apart is the binders you use—the breadcrumbs and or the eggs.
Too much breadcrumbs can lead to your [vegetarian] meatballs becoming too loose, while the lesser the breadcrumbs will result in meatballs that won’t hold together.
Meanwhile, if you use too many eggs, your meatless meatballs will become soggy.
That is why it is essential to observe the proper ratio between the ingredients you use.
Moreover, to keep your vegetarian meatballs from sticking together, it is best to make sure that the plant-based mixture is chilled before shaping them into balls.
Another tip to make vegetarian meatballs that stick together is to have a bowl of cold water to wet your hand before rolling them into their round shape.
It is also helpful to chill your meatballs before cooking them or incorporating them into other dishes.
How to Freeze Vegetarian Meatballs
You can actually freeze your fully baked or raw vegetarian meatballs for at least three to four months in a freezer.
Just make sure to remove the meatballs from their wax paper if you decide to freeze your vegetarian meatballs in their raw, uncooked state.
How to Use Vegetarian Meatballs
Now that you have made your plant-based meatballs, you might be wondering what to do or how you serve these vegetarian meatballs.
Well, aside from being a common substitute for where actual meatballs usually are (such as in spaghetti or soups), your vegetarian meatballs can be great food for your toddler! It looks and tastes like their favorite fried food and, at the same time, they are a healthier option than the usual meatballs!
You could also make them an alternative to the meat you put on your meat-based sandwiches and subs.
Lastly, your vegetarian meatballs can be used as a salad topper—to get that vegetable-on-vegetable culinary experience.
Like its original counterpart, the vegetarian or vegan meatballs are a versatile dish you could add to other dishes. What makes this plant-based iteration better is that it’s healthier!
So what are you waiting for? Let’s cook!
I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food! You can find my Facebook here