Back when we were still kids ordering off the children’s menu, meatballs were a staple part of our restaurant routine. Nary a trip out to eat went by when we weren’t snacking on either poorly-seasoned spaghetti with meatballs, partially-melted grilled cheese, or lukewarm chicken fingers with fries. Appetizing, right?

As we’ve grown older and our palates have evolved to crave more complex flavors, the humble meatball has always held a special place in our hearts — which is why we’re so excited to share these 15 leveled-up and plant-based iterations of meatballs! Below you’ll find “meat”balls made from veggies, plant-based meats, beans, grains, and more.


1. BBQ Lentil Balls 

These irresistible BBQ Lentil Balls are made out of simple plant-based ingredients like lentils, rice, mushrooms, and BBQ sauce. It makes for a vegan protein-packed dish that is ideal for post-workout dinners. If you want to share the love, bring them as a yummy, savory appetizer to events!

2. Albóndigas con Picada de Almendra: Spanish Meatballs 

This dish goes with pasta, rice, roasted vegetables, anything really! Albóndigas con Picada de Almendra: Spanish Meatballs can also be frozen, making them perfect for last-minute dinners. You can also turn them into burger patties for your next barbecue. “Picada de alemendra” translates to chopped almonds which refers to the crispy, toasted almond and sourdough bread pieces that are stirred into the sauce.

3. Spaghetti With Black-Eyed Pea ‘Meatballs’ 

This is the ideal summer weekend meal, it takes a little time to prepare but not so much that it’s onerous. These Spaghetti With Black-Eyed Pea ‘Meatballs’ are hearty with deliciously rich and savory flavors. There may be leftovers, which you can have for dinner during the week! The meatless balls and tomato sauce can be made in advance, when you’re ready, cook the pasta and toss it with them together. So easy, so delicious.

4. Herbed Chickpea Meatballs 

Herbed Chickpea Meatballs are incredibly delicious and simple to make. The chickpeas are blended with a savory blend of herbs and spices and then mixed with your favorite bread crumbs and baked to golden-brown perfection. You can add these to almost any dish to give it a little extra flair and flavor.


5. Chickpea Turnip Meatballs 

Chickpea Turnip Meatballs put the ol’ turnip to good use! They are high in fiber, low in calories, and a good source of protein. Not to mention, they are loaded with flavor! Not only are they packed with garlic, cumin, and coriander, they’re served in a delicious herbed tomato sauce. Yum!

6. Tempeh Meatballs in Spicy Sweet and Sour Sauce 

Tempeh Meatballs in Spicy Sweet and Sour Sauce will make you dream of faraway places. Lemongrass and Thai ginger-spiced tempeh meatballs are cooked in an aromatic, pineapple sauced spiced with coriander seeds and smoky cumin. A topping of fresh mint adds a layer of refreshing flavor while a sprinkle of black sesame seeds adds nutty crunch.

7. Baked Spinach and Bulgur Veggie Balls 

Baked Spinach and Bulgur Veggie Balls are a great option for weeknight dinners. Packed with bulgur, chickpeas, sunflower seed, spinach, and your favorite herbs and spices, all you need to do is mix everything together in a bowl, then bake until they’re crispy. These go perfectly with pasta, on top of a salad, or in wraps.

8. Cabbage Kotfa 

Cabbage Kotfa are very simple to make, super cheap, and can double as a main or side dish. These tasty little balls are full of carrots, cabbage, onions, and a delightfully nuanced blend of spices and then fried to crispy perfection. They go great with a spicy sauce.


9. Greek Keftedes 

Greek Keftedes is a traditional Greek food. Usually fried meatballs, served with French fries and Greek salad, make the perfect comfort food. When used for parties or meze they are called Keftedakia (the ‘akia’ means small). For this recipe, we used pinto beans instead of meat but you can use whatever beans you prefer.

10. Tempeh Meatballs

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.


11. Spinach Meatballs in Spicy Sauce

Spinach Meatballs in Spicy Sauce  are good with everything. Well, okay, not EVERYTHING, but they’re pretty amazing with a lot of things like pasta, in sandwiches, lasagna, and salads (don’t knock it ’til you try it). These spinach meatballs will surely take you back to your childhood.

12. Swedish Mushroom Meatballs

Swedish Mushroom Meatballs are blended with fragrant onions, garlic, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, Sriracha, savory liquid aminos, and a few other spices. After being formed and baked until crispy, these meatballs are tossed in a creamy cashew sauce which tastes amazing over mashed potatoes, noodles, or rice. Yum

13. Lentil Carrot Meatballs

Lentil Carrot Meatballs are an energizing and nourishing addition to any meal. Made with savory brown lentils, tender carrots, sweet potatoes, juicy cherry tomatoes, and walnuts, these meatballs are supremely satisfying. Serve them with a generous pour of tomato sauce and some pine nuts and parsley for garnish.

14. Italian ‘Meatballs’ With Cauliflower Mash

Italian ‘Meatballs’ With Cauliflower Mash combines herby and flavorsome “meatballs” with a rich and luxurious Italian tomato sauce and deliciously creamy cauliflower mash. The other awesome thing about the elements of this recipe is that every single one can be used in a different guise as well. So once you’ve mastered it, it’s guaranteed you’ll want to whip out the individual elements in a different form for your next meal.


15. Harissa Lentil Quinoa Meatballs

Harissa Lentil Quinoa Meatballs are hearty, spicy, smoky veggie meatballs with a ton of high-quality plant protein. Each bite of these has a rich variety of flavor, from spicy harissa to nutty tahini. Use these to make a hearty sub, to top a bowl of spaghetti, or add some depth to a salad.

For more inspiration, check out these 10 Incredible Ways to Make Veggie Meatballs and this guide on How to Make All Kinds of Vegan Meatballs. Yum!

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

Lead image source: Albóndigas con Picada de Almendra: Spanish Meatballs