Quinoa Vegan Meatballs with Zucchini Pasta

Vegan Quinoa Meatballs using mushrooms, lentils and quinoa

If you told me four years ago that I’d be not only eating, but also making vegan meatballs, I’d say you were crazy. No way. No how.

Me? Vegan? Meatless meatballs? I don’t think so.

I’m an Italian girl through and through. I love me my pasta, I love me some fresh tomato sauce, and I adore homemade meatballs (especially when my mom makes them). It’s our go-to comfort meal and always makes me feel better eating it.

Vegan Quinoa Meatballs using mushrooms, lentils and quinoa

But I have to admit, sometimes meat just doesn’t sound good to me. Sometimes I’m just craving something meatless.

And lately I’ve been finding myself actually craving more vegetables, beans and vegan proteins.

I don’t know if it’s the books that I’ve been reading, or if it’s the fact that I want to experiment more with vegetarian / vegan cooking because so many of you ask for egg-free recipes, or really if it’s just that my body is craving something different, but I’m going with it. And I’m excited to see where it takes us.

Right now…it’s taking us to awesome town.

Vegan Quinoa Meatballs using mushrooms, lentils and quinoa

I was skeptical of meatless meatballs just from the name, but wanted to cook a meal that would be lighter on the calorie side, fill me up less, but still be healthy and nutritious.

When I first tried one of these vegan meatballs, I was shocked. Not only did they hold up well against sauce and noodles, they also tasted phenomenal.

The secret to these babies? Mushrooms and lentils.

Vegan Quinoa Meatballs using mushrooms, lentils and quinoa

If you’re new to vegan cooking and baking, I’ve learned a few things through my experimenting that I have found to be really helpful:

  • Mushrooms are a great alternative to meat
  • Chia seeds do wonders for binding things together
  • You can use flaxseed meal and water to replace eggs
  • Beans are your friend (and they’re not hard to make at home)

This recipe uses two of those things to turn a traditional meat-filled dish into one that’s plant-based and completely egg-free. With a soft blend of sautéed mushrooms, cooked lentils and quinoa, these meatballs are not only delicious served on top of noodles, but also make the perfect dipping vessel into your favorite sauce or spread.

And I can’t wait to hear what you think of them! Leave a comment below telling me how you would first try these: noodles or dip?


Vegan Quinoa Meatballs with Zucchini Pasta

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 3 - 4 servings

adapted from Whole Foods Market


    for the vegan meatballs:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb button mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 (15 oz.) can cooked lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used tri-color)
  • 2 - 3 tbsp chickpea flour (or other flour substitute)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • for the noodles:
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 (25 oz.) jar of organic tomato sauce, or homemade


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking oil and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until onions are almost translucent and the mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Add seasonings and cook 1 minute more.
  3. While mixture is cooking, add sunflower seeds to a food processor and pulse until coarse. Add onion-mushroom mixture along with half of lentils and pulse until mixture is coming together, 10 - 15 pulses. Transfer to a bowl.
  4. Add remaining lentils, quinoa, chickpea flour and nutritional yeast (if using) and stir together to form a dough. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Shape dough into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on baking sheet. Repeat until no dough remains.
  6. Bake on center rack for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until balls are browned and crispy on the outside. Remove and let sit for 5 - 10 minutes.
  7. While balls are resting, spiralize the zucchini (using this spiralizer). Cut into spaghetti sized noodles and place in serving bowls.
  8. Heat sauce over medium-low heat until bubbling. Pour over noodles and top with three meatballs.
  9. Sprinkle with additional red pepper flakes and nutritional yeast if desired.
  10. Enjoy!

Never heard of a spiralizer? Basically, these magical tools turn vegetables into noodles! It’s a low calorie, low fat and more nutritious way to enjoy your favorite pasta dishes. Here’s the spiralizer that I wholeheartedly recommend! It’s become a staple in my kitchen, helps me eat more vegetables, saves me time and money, and I never find myself feeling overly stuffed or unsatisfied.

The Spiralizer from Paderno World Cuisine


  • Laura

    So once upon a time you recommended a little hand-held julienne peeler and now you have moved on to this countertop model…I would like to try those vegetable noodles but fear introducing another space hog into the kitchen. Did you become disillusioned with the hand held one?

  • Laura

    That is so strange, I did not put a shopping link in my comment but there it is! Sorry about that.

  • http://jillconyers.com jill conyers

    I just bought an inspiralizer! I’m adding this to my spiralized recipe list! Pinning too :)

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Queen of Quinoa

      Yay! Thanks for comment Jill :) Would love to hear how they work out for you!

  • shakti

    Now, i do like the sound of these!
    These would be filling and nourishing too – my kind of meal.
    I looked at the ingredients and i do like ALL of them…i am one for chenging things here and there, always tweaking!
    These are good as they are but they will get some good experimenting too,.
    I like the idea of these spiralisers you show too but they are so terribly expensive just now.

  • Janet

    These meatballs sound really tasty! On a rotation type elimination diet right now though, so I’ll have to hold off on trying them for a while.

  • grace yetter

    the meatballs sound great
    this italian girl lives in hicksville usa
    what can i use, instead of chickpea flour
    there is just a walmart here
    i am from new york and know how handy everything must be
    i am lost here in hicksville, alabama
    but will try to make the meatballs
    last appliance i bought was an immersion blender
    dont have room for spiralizer
    thanks for the recipe

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Queen of Quinoa

      Hi Grace :) You can replace any flour for the chickpea flour. Instead of using the spiralizer, you can use regular pasta in its place. Would love to hear how they work for you! xo

  • Cheryl Hutchinson

    I, too, thought about buying that white counter-top spiralizer, but ended up with a small model that does it all by hand and takes up no counter space. I bought it at a kitchen supply store for about $12. It has two blades on it, one for fine strips and one for wider strips. It works great to make the zucchini pasta.

    • http://www.simplyquinoa.com Queen of Quinoa

      That’s great! I definitely love my countertop one, but I’m glad to know that handheld ones also work!

  • http://www.thermoblitz.com Caroline

    I posted a new recipe on April 4th similar but with Chicken. I’ve only recently discovered I am allergic to Quinoa though. Really upset about that fact !!

  • http://www.water-and-oil.com Sarah

    Your dishes always look so pretty! Mine hardly come out that way. But, they taste great, so I guess I’m accomplishing what counts. 😉

  • http://Facebook Glen Childers

    Does this recipe use chia or flax for a binder? How moist should the mix be?This is my first attempt at this recipe. All mixed, and ready to go in the oven…

  • http://likeme.net Mike Huiwitz

    Sounds like tasty meatballs to me.

  • Rachel Cooks

    Loving the new site look!!!

  • Hayden Thomson Plawiuk

    This recipe has become one of my household staples. We make a double batch and freeze them (pre cooked). I like to do half pasta half zucchini !

  • Hayley

    Are these similar to the vegan meatballs in the whole foods prepared foods hot bar?

  • Nicole Bergeron

    Will garbanzo beans work in place of garbanzo bean flour? I ask because I cannot locate a source for garbanzo flour that does not carry a tree nut warning (we have a severe tree nut allergy in the house)…and leads on that are also welcome :)