Easy Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs
Don’t be intimidated! This vegetarian recipe for lentil meatballs is easy and approachable. They’re tasty, healthy, and high in plant-based protein. Serve them with pasta or rice and your favourite sauce!
You know I love my lentils! They’re an affordable, nutritious, and delicious plant-based source of protein. I like using lentils to create vegetarian versions of dishes that would usually use ground meat. Like my easy Lentil “Bolognese”.
Whether you’re trying to experiment with more plant-based proteins or you’re a seasoned lentil-lover, this recipe is a must-make. These simple lentil meatballs are just as easy to make as traditional meatballs, and in my opinion, they’re even more delicious! The best part is that they’re just as nutritious as they are tasty. My Registered Dietitian heart is happy.
This recipe was inspired my Minimalist Baker’s lentil meatballs. Her recipe called for cooking the meatballs in a pan and the oven. However, I wanted a simpler recipe, and to use some of the ingredients that I had on hand at home. Thus, this recipe requires oven-baking only, and takes just over 40 minutes to prepare.
Health Benefits of Lentils
First off, if you’re not someone who often eats lentils, doing so is a wonderful way to diversify your diet. And focusing on eating a variety of plant-foods is one key to healthy eating. Here are some other reasons why you should add more lentils to your diet:
- Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein. 1 cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein! Boom.
- They’re also a good source of fibre. 1 cup of cooked lentils contains approximately 16 grams of fibre! Fibre helps us feel fuller longer, balance blood sugar levels, regulate digestion, and improve blood cholesterol levels.
- They’re rich in essential micronutrients like iron (1 cup of lentils offers 36% daily value of iron), potassium, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
- Lastly, reducing your animal intake, whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just choose to eat more plant-forward is one way to eat more sustainably for the health of our planet.
Lentil Meatballs Ingredients:
To make the “meatballs”, you’ll need:
- Lentils, of course. Green or brown lentils will do. I like to use canned lentils because they’re easier!
- Onion and garlic. I’ve used red and white onion, both work!
- An egg. You can substitute this with a flax egg if you prefer.
- Tomato paste. This adds flavour and helps the meatballs stick together.
- Spices/seasoning. Including salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and nutritional yeast.
- Bread crumbs. This helps absorb moisture and keep the meatballs together. If you don’t have these, you could try oats or cooked rice instead.
Equipment You’ll Need:
Besides the ingredients, you’ll also need a few pieces of equipment to make the lentil meatballs.
- A food processor or high-speed blender
- A baking sheet
- Parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
- A 1 tablespoon cookie scoop (this is optional, but helpful)
How to Make Baked Lentil Meatballs:
As I mentioned, this recipe is really simple and easy to prepare. Start by adding all of the ingredients except the breadcrumbs (these come later) to a food processor or high-speed blender. I have this blender and this food processor and love them both.
Pulse all of the ingredients in the blender until combined. We want to combine the ingredients together but not puree. Maintaining some texture in the lentil meatball mixture is a good thing!
Add the breadcrumbs to the mixture in the blender and pulse once again to combine. 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs seems to work every time, but you can add up to 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs if needed.
Scooping the mixture out of the blender, roll it into 1 tbsp size balls and arrange evenly on a lined baking sheet. Then bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning the meatballs halfway through.
Once the lentil meatballs are done, serve with pasta or rice and your favourite sauce. I like to serve mine with spaghetti noodles and a tomato basil pasta sauce. Yum!
What Kind of Lentils Should I Use for Lentil Meatballs?
For this lentil meatballs recipe, I have used both canned brown lentils and dried green lentils that I cooked and then used in the meatball recipe. Both worked well, so either would be great options for this recipe!
I have not tried this recipe with red lentils, but due to their softer texture I fear they would not achieve the desired meatball shape or texture. If you do try this lentil meatball recipe with red lentils, do let me know in the comments and I’ll update this post!
Can I Make This Recipe Vegan?
Sure! To make these lentil meatballs vegan, all you would need to do is substitute the regular egg for a flax egg.
To make a flax egg, just combine 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of water and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. Then, just use as you would the egg in this recipe!
Can You Freeze the Lentil Meatballs?
Yes! They are best when fresh, but you can store them in the freezer in an airtight container up to 1 month.
Connect with Hannah Magee, RD!
I hope you love this tasty recipe as much as I do. If you try it, let me know what you think by leaving a rating and a review in the comments below. Oh, and be sure to take a photo and tag me on @hannahmagee_rd so I can see!
Easy Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs
- 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils, brown or green
- 1 large egg, can substitute with a flax egg
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 tbsp italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
- 1 pinch black pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (can use regular), or up to 3/4 cup as needed
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a food processor or high-speed blender, add all ingredients except for the breadcrumbs. Pulse, mixing until combined and still textured, not pureed.
- Add whole wheat breadcrumbs and pulse again. If the mixture is still too wet, add more breadcrumbs, up to 3/4 cup as needed.
- Scoop 1 tbsp of the mixture at a time, rolling into balls with clean hands. Arrange evenly on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden browned all around. Serve with pasta or rice, and a sauce of your choice!