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These lentil meatballs made with cooked lentils, oats, mushrooms, herbs, and spices make a hearty vegan meatball that’s perfect to add to marinara sauce and serve up with a bowl of spaghetti. They taste great and go together pretty easily!

completed Vegan Lentil Meatballs plated and scattered on a white surface

Lentils make a great, budget-friendly protein source when planning vegan meals. Stick with dried lentils for the most inexpensive option. Plus they’re a blank slate which means you can add flavors to them to get the results you are looking for in recipes.

There are lots of ways to make vegan meatballs such as these red lentil meatballs and black bean meatballs. I’m a huge fan of this vegan meatball recipe because it makes a meatball that’s flexible for use in a variety of different preparations for meals.

If you’ve got some lentils left, try this root vegetable lentil stew or a lentil chickpea salad to use them up.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Made with simple, wholesome ingredients that won’t break the bank.
  • Easy to meal prep ahead of time to use for meals during the week!
  • A great way to enjoy vegan meatballs and spaghetti.
  • A flexible plant-based protein adaptable to a variety of recipes.

What Goes Into This Recipe

Let’s take a look at the main ingredients in this lentil meatballs recipe! Most of them you will be able to find at the grocery store. For the full list and quantities check the recipe card further down the page.

ingredients for Vegan Lentil Meatballs measured out against a white surface
  • Brown lentils: An expensive and easy-to-find lentil that’s perfect for making vegan meatballs. You can also use green lentils. Here’s a guide to lentils if you want to learn more.
  • Vegetable broth: Cooking the lentils vegetable broth makes them more flavorful.
  • Mushrooms: When finely chopped, the mushrooms add a tender texture and flavor to the lentil meatballs.
  • Old-fashioned oats: An essential ingredient that acts as the binder that holds everything together. 
  • Parsley: Flat-leaf parsley is best.
  • Dried herbs and spices: The lentils cook with bay leaves to add some seasoning. You will also use dried oregano, red pepper flakes, dried thyme, and dried tarragon to season the meatball mixture.
  • Olive oil: Works for sauteing vegetables. Feel free to swap with any vegetable oil.
  • Aromatics: Onion and fresh garlic cloves add flavor to the meatballs.
  • Soy sauce: Adds more umami flavor to the lentil meatballs. 

How To Make Vegan Meatballs with Lentils

  • 1) Bring the lentils, bay leaf, and 2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. After they boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lentils from the heat and drain well. Remove the bay leaf and let the lentils cool for a few minutes. 

TOP TIP: Don’t worry if they don’t seem done, you want the lentils to be a little undercooked.

  • 2) Combine the mushrooms, oats, lentils, parsley, and spices in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is pretty well chopped but not mushy.
  • 3) Cook the onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in the lentil-mushroom mixture and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • 4) Add a quarter cup of vegetable broth and soy sauce to the skillet. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has been absorbed. 
  • 5) Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer it to a bowl to cool. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cool until it is comfortable to handle.
  • 6) To shape the meatballs, use your hands to scoop up one small handful of the mixture at a time, shaping it into a golf-ball-sized ball (about 1 ½-inch diameter).
process shot of creating balls from lentil meatball mixture
  • 7) Place each “meatball” onto the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space around each one (you should end up with 15 or more meatballs). Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
process shot post adding lentil meatballs to baking tray pre baking

Expert Tips 

  • Make meatballs evenly sized. You can use a tablespoon or small cookie scooper to make it easier to portion.
  • Make sure to undercook the lentils a bit. This will keep the meatballs from being overly soft and they will continue cooking in the oven anyway.
  • Leave space in between the vegan meatballs when cooking so they brown on all sides and get a bit crispy. If overcrowded they can come out a bit wet and soft.

FAQs

Can I use red or yellow lentils instead?

I don’t recommend it in this recipe. Those types of lentils break down easily when cooked and will give the meatballs a mushy texture I don’t think works well.

Do lentil meatballs work for meal prep?

Yes! Sometimes I even make a double batch so I have some for meals later on! They freeze and reheat great. Even better there are so many different ways to serve them, they are a great way to keep meals interesting.

completed Vegan Lentil Meatballs plated and scattered on a white surface

How to Store

  • Leftovers or Make Ahead: Allow the meatballs to cool completely and then transfer them to an airtight container. Store them in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.
  • Reheat: For the best results, thaw out the meatballs in the fridge overnight and reheat them in the oven before serving.

How to Serve

Let’s look at some of my favorite ways to serve these lentil meatballs!

  • Traditional meatless spaghetti and meatballs with classic noodles or roasted spaghetti squash.
  • Add them to a roll with marinara sauce for a vegan Italian hero!
  • Add a vegan cream sauce to make Swedish vegan meatballs.
  • Add some mushroom gravy for some vegan comfort food!
  • On their own with a tasty sauce such as bbq or buffalo sauce.

More Lentil Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Vegan Lentil Meatballs

4.96 from 21 votes
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 1 hr 20 mins
Total: 1 hr 35 mins
Servings: 4 servings
These lentil meatballs made with cooked lentils, oats, mushrooms, herbs, and spices make a hearty vegan meatball that’s perfect to add to marinara sauce and serve up with a bowl of spaghetti. They taste great and go together pretty easily!

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup of dried brown lentils picked over and rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ¼ cups of vegetable broth divided
  • 8 ounces of mushrooms diced
  • ½ cup of old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup of flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon of dried tarragon
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  • Combine lentils, bay leaf, and 2 cups of vegetable broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. (Don’t worry, you want the lentils to be a little undercooked.) Remove from heat, drain, and let cool for a few minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
  • In a food processor, combine the mushrooms, oats, lentils, parsley, and spices (oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme, and tarragon). Pulse/blend until the mixture is pretty well pulverized but not mush.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil, then add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent and turning golden at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in the lentil-mushroom mixture and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add ¼ cup of vegetable broth and soy sauce to the skillet. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and, if you’re using a pan that retains heat like cast iron, transfer the mixture to a heat-safe bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cool until it is comfortable to handle.
  • Use your hands to scoop up one small handful of the mixture at a time, shaping it into a golf-ball-sized ball (about 1 ½-inch diameter). Place each “meatball” onto the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space around each one (you should end up with 15 or more meatballs). Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Notes

Goes great on top of spaghetti and sauce!
  • Make meatballs evenly sized. You can use a tablespoon or small cookie scoop to make it easier to portion.
  • Make sure to undercook the lentils a bit. This will keep the meatballs from being overly soft and they will continue cooking in the oven anyway.
  • Leave space in between the vegan meatballs when cooking so they brown on all sides and get a bit crispy. If overcrowded they can come out a bit wet and soft.

Nutrition

Calories: 335kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 18gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 1206mgPotassium: 690mgFiber: 17gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1039IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 6mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Method: Oven
Diet: Vegan
Keywords: easy dinner recipe, lentil meatballs, lentil recipes, lunch recipes, meat substitute, plant based meatballs, plant based protein, spaghetti and meatballs, vegan meatballs, vegan protein, vegan recipe, vegetarian recipes
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Miranda Rivera

Cooking vegan meals brings such excitement and richness to my life! The simple things in life are so beautiful to me. I love meeting new people. Welcome to my plant-based journey!

More about Miranda Rivera

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I never know what to do with lentils, so this was a nice treat! The flavor is great, even though I’m not a huge fan of lentils in general. Really glad I tried this recipe!

  2. Hi this looks very doable!
    I was wondering if I could air fry the lentil meatballs instead of putting them in the oven?
    Our oven in our apartment sets off the smoke detector at the lowest temps. It’s crazy and loud and not fun to cook that way. Was hoping the air fryer might be an alternative.
    Thanks!

    1. We at PBOAB haven’t tried out air frying them yet so can’t guarantee the results. Please let us know how they turn out if you end up giving them a go! 🙂