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May 18, 2014

by Alyssa

Quinoa Vegan Meatballs with Zucchini Pasta

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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

These vegan quinoa meatballs are the perfect alternative for plant-based eaters. They're hearty, quick to make, naturally gluten-free and of course, vegan!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 464kcal
Print Pin
3 from 3 votes



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking oil and set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Add remaining lentils, quinoa, chickpea flour and nutritional yeast (if using) and stir together to form a dough. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Shape dough into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on baking sheet. Repeat until no dough remains.
  • 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.
  • While balls are resting, spiralize the zucchini (using this spiralizer). Cut into spaghetti sized noodles and place in serving bowls.
  • Heat sauce over medium-low heat until bubbling. Pour over noodles and top with three meatballs.
  • Sprinkle with additional red pepper flakes and nutritional yeast if desired.
  • Enjoy!


Serving: 3meatballs | Calories: 464kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 271mg | Potassium: 1642mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 815IU | Vitamin C: 34.9mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 7.2mg

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


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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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  1. We have many different vegan “meatball” or patty recipes we’ve developed.

    As always, when trying someone’s recipe for the first time, it’s best to follow it as written, except for seasonings, and that’s ok here: vegan meatballs are safe to taste for seasoning when raw.

    These meatballs were bland – that’s easy to fix. The texture, however, was the problem. Adding that much cooked quinoa after processing the other ingredients makes the mixture fluffy and light. They won’t hold their shape, even with additional garbanzo flour added, and the texture is lighter than mashed potatoes when eaten. ICK is what my husband said – please go back to ANY of the other ones you make. I agree.

    It’s a good concept – but it does not work.

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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 !

  4. 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…

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

  6. 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.

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

  7. 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

    • 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. I just bought an inspiralizer! I’m adding this to my spiralized recipe list! Pinning too 🙂

  11. 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?


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