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Vegan and Gluten-Free Tempeh Meatballs

Tempeh meatballs are really fast and easy to make – all you need is a food processor, though you could definitely make them by hand too. They come together quickly, you just fry them up and then simmer them in your favorite sauce. Of course, I make my Mom’s Marinara Sauce. One block of tempeh gives you about 8 or 9 meatballs. They are delicious served over pasta or in a sandwich.

The tempeh meatballs taste rich and flavorful with a perfect soft yet firm meatball texture. They hold up well in sauce and are filling and satisfying. I served them over a bed of brown rice spaghetti and my Mom’s Marinara Sauce. My friend loved them!

Vegan and Gluten-Free Tempeh Meatballs

This Recipe is :

Dairy FreeVegan


8 - 9 meatballs


For Mom’s Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1-28 oz. can whole or diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried parsley

For the Tempeh Meatballs

  • 1 Tbs. flax seed
  • 3 Tbs. warm water
  • 1 block tempeh
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbs. gluten-free, vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs. vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/3 + ¼ cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil, for frying




For Mom’s Marinara Sauce

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sweat them out for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute.  Add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan. Add the whole or diced tomatoes. If you are using whole tomatoes, gently crush them with a potato masher.
  2. Add the salt, pepper, basil, oregano and parsley to the sauce. Stir and let cook. When the sauce starts to bubble, lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let cook for at least 20 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

For the Tempeh Meatballs

  1. Prepare the marinara sauce. In a small mug, combine the flaxseed and warm water. Mix and let sit for about 10 minutes. This is your binder.
  2. Break up the tempeh and add it to a food processor. Add the shallots, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and the parmesan or nutritional yeast to the food processor. Process until everything is combined.
  3. Add the herbs and the salt to the food processor. Add the flax mixture and 1/3 cup of bread crumbs to the food processor and process until well combined.
  4. Spread the remaining ¼ cup of bread crumbs on a plate. Using a spoon, scoop up some of the tempeh mix and roll it into a ball – about the size of a golf ball. Roll the tempeh meatball in the bread crumbs so that it’s completely covered and set it aside on a plate. Continue making meatballs until you use up all the tempeh mix.
  5. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh meatballs to the skillet and fry them. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to fry them in batches. Make sure the meatballs brown on all sides. The way I do this is to pull the skillet back and forth by the handle which makes the tempeh meatballs roll around. I find this covers all the sides better than trying to turn them with a utensil. When they are browned, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate.
  6. Gently add the tempeh meatballs to the simmering marinara sauce. Let them cook about 10 minutes until they are heated through. Serve with pasta or in a sandwich.




When Rhea became vegan, there were no places in her neighborhood to eat so she had to learn to cook.  That led to the creation of The "V" Word blog which focuses on vegan versions of favorite, familiar foods. Because if you can have the foods you love, the foods you crave, the foods you grew up with, all in a compassionate, cruelty-free way, why wouldn't you?  Rhea is also a college professor specializing in child and forensic psychology. She shares her life with a rescued Westie mix named Benoni and a rescued husband named Tom. It is Rhea's hope that she can spread the "V" Word and compassion to improve the world.



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4 comments on “Vegan and Gluten-Free Tempeh Meatballs”

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4 Months Ago

So the first ingredient is canola oil, which is a GMO oil. Hmmm...

11 Months Ago

These had a good flavor, but I didn\'t like the texture. They were very soft and mushy. I followed the recipe exactly. Browned them on all sides and simmered them in the sauce for 10 min. Probably won\'t make these again.

11 Months Ago

Where do you get GF/V bread crumbs? I can find vegan, and I can find GF, but I can\'t find both.

23 Apr 2014

I used oats instead. I ground them up in the food processor before everything else. Worked great!

Norman Mitchell
11 Months Ago


Weirdly Gruesome
11 Months Ago

I don't think I need Facebook anymore. I always end up going to your site. I'm going to just start there for now on.

Caitlin Greene
11 Months Ago

John Greene

John Greene
18 Apr 2014

Let's try it.

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