Easy Meat-free Meatballs

Ever crave spaghetti, but really miss enjoying the meatballs? Well, you would if you’re like me who is vegan and doesn’t eat meat. However, you do not need to miss out on food like that when there is an abundance of substitutes out there. 

At first, I wanted to make a traditional vegan meatball with black beans and a grain, but I truly wanted it to taste like how I remembered it a few years ago.

You can easily find vegan ground beef at the supermarket. Spruce it up a bit with some fresh herbs and a binder and you got yourself meatballs that take you back before your meat-free days. 

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These meatballs are tender, moist, and oh so flavorful.

I kept this dish simple by tossing the meatballs in canned spaghetti sauce. I used this one. To spruce it up a bit I added in chopped up green olives and capers. I love adding briny flavor to my sauce, as it makes it 10x tastier. 

If you are feeling a bit fancy and have the time you could also make my homemade spaghetti sauce.

I served this on some whole grain angel hair pasta. Garnished with a bit of fresh basil and parsley. Also can’t forget the nooch… 😉

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There are a few adjustments that can be made for this recipe depending on your preference. I made this recipe a couple times with two types of vegan ground beef.

The first was the Beyond Meat burger patties that I mashed up. Since the Beyond Meat was quite softer and had much more moisture I found that baking it and then pan frying it resulted in an ideal texture. 

The second was in an airtight seal and had a quite crumbly texture. This one worked best either way. I baked it and it turned out crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. I also pan-fried it and it was perfectly golden brown, but still retained a nice chewy inside. You could also bake it and pan fry it. 

Feel free to use whatever type of vegan meat that works best for you!

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Easy Meat-free Meatballs 

By: Taavi Elizabeth     Makes: 7-8 meatballs

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  • 1/2 diced red bell pepper 
  • 1/2 diced white onion 
  • 2 cloves minced garlic 
  • 8 oz. vegan ground beef* (such as, Beyond meat or Lightlife) 
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley 
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh basil 
  • 3 tbsp brown rice flour* 
  • Dash of garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. 
  2. Heat a bit of oil in a small skillet over medium. Add pepper, garlic, onion, and a pinch of salt. Saute until onion is fragrant and translucent. Set aside. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, crumble in vegan meat. Add in the rest of the ingredients along with 1/2 cup of the sauteed veggie mixture. Stir to combine. If the mixture is too wet, add a tbsp of flour at a time until it is moldable. If too dry, add a dash of vegetable broth. 
  4. Taking about 2 tbsp of mixture, roll into balls. Place evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 min. or until bottoms are golden brown. If you are using a dryer and more crumbly meat (see comments above), you may leave them baked or continue to pan fry it. 
  5. Once meatballs are done baking, heat a large skillet with a thin layer of oil. Place meatballs in an even layer on the skillet and cook on each side until browned. 
  6. Serve over your favorite spaghetti sauce and pasta noodles. Enjoy!


*You may substitute mashed black beans for the ground beef. However, keep in mind it will be a lot dryer so additional moisture such as veggie broth might be needed. 

*Substitute AP flour or any other preferred ones. 


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