Mushroom Lentil Meatballs (vegetarian)
These mushroom lentil meatballs are the perfect start to dinner! Loaded with flavor and plant based protein, they are easy to make and delicious. Perfect on top of your favorite pasta or simply on their own, these plant based meatballs are vegan and easily gluten free.
Published June 2017. Updated December 2020.
I really like small spherical food.
Maybe that is a weird things to say (okay, fine, it is definitely a weird thing to say), but I do. It’s just so convenient. Perfectly portioned out. Easy to store. And, dare I say, bite-sized. I just love all foods that are little and round. Especially meatballs.
I always have meatballs on hand. I make them during my meal prep and/or have some hanging out in my freezer to warm up in a pinch. Meatballs are my favorite emergency protein to have on hand, since you can quickly throw together a really great, easy and balanced meal if you have a few meatballs by your side.
However…. sometimes I’m not looking to eat meat. Sometimes I want a convenient little ball of protein goodness that skips the meat all together.
And these simple and delicious Mushroom Lentil Meatballs do just that!
Made with just 11 oh-so-good-for-you ingredients, savory, delicious and perfectly bite-sized, these “meatballs” are going to become your new favorite meat-free dinner superhero!
Why these vegetarian meatballs are so good!
- Bite-sized! Remember how I said I love meatballs? One thing I love about them is how they are small, easy to store and easy top pop in your mouth.
- They are rocking some serious flavor. The mushrooms. The onions. The spices. It all comes together into one perfect little flavor bomb.
- A fun way to get extra plants in! Great for kids (or adults) who might be feeling a little iffy about lentil, but who are also looking to eat more plant based meals.
- A vegetarian twist on a familiar food. If you are trying to add more legumes into your diet, but maybe you or a family member is feeling a bit iffy about them, this recipe is a great meal to make. The flavors are amazing and it is a play on a food that feel familiar.
How to cook lentils for these meatballs
Dry lentils are a pantry staple of mine. They make for a a great plant protein and can be worked into so many different meals! I opt to buy and cook my lentils from dry because they are significantly cheaper that way and super simple to cook up.
- To cook lentils for this recipe on the stove top, cover the lentils with water in a pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the lentil simmer for about 20 minutes. Drain and let them cool a bit before adding to the food processor.
- To cook lentils for these vegetarian meatballs in the Instant Pot, combine 1/3 cup dry lentils with 1 1/2 cups water. Cook on HIGH pressure for 9 minutes (it will take about 5-6 minutes for your IP to reach pressure). Quick release the pressure once cook time is up. Drain and let the lentils cool a bit before adding to the recipe.
- To cook lentils for this recipe in your slow cooker or crockpot, combine the 1/3 cup dry lentils with 2-3 cups of water and cook on LOW for 4 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours (depending on slow cooker). Drain and let cool before adding to the recipe.
- Skip the dry lentils and buy precooked lentils! I find them in the fridge or freezer section of many health focused grocery stores!
Some helpful kitchen tools I used to make these lentil meatballs…
Can I make these lentil meatballs with eggs instead of flax?
If you don’t need/want these vegetarian meatballs to be vegan, then you can replace the “flax egg” in this recipes with one eggs. This is a frequently asked question from readers! The eggs in this recipe work as a binding agent that holds these nuggets together. Basically, they are the glue, so I don’t recommend skipping them.
How do I make a “flax egg”?
- 1 tablespoon ground flax meal
- 2.5 tablespoons water
Combine in a small bowl. Mix, let sit for 5 minutes to gel and then add it to the recipe
Here are a few tips and tricks for adapting these lentil meatballs to fit your life and what you have in your kitchen!
- Use whatever mushrooms you like. This vegetarian meatball recipe works well with pretty much any mushroom. Just be sure to cut them down to a bite size before cooking so don’t have to over process your meatball mixture to break them down!
- Use whatever breadcrumbs you have on hand. If oat flour is not your thing or you don’t some on hand, just use whatever breadcrumbs your family enjoys.
- Freeze them. Cook these lentil meatballs up a head of time, let them cool and freeze them! I like to toss them in my toaster oven to warm up for a quick and healthy dinner option when life gets busy.
- Jazz up the flavors! We all have different taste preferences, so feel free to add more garlic, salt, pepper or whatever your family enjoys! Lentils are super adaptable and you can really get creative with the flavors!
Other vegetarian veggie-loaded recipes to try!
- Chickpea Vegetable Nuggets
- Butternut Squash Vegan Cheese Sauce
- Instant Pot Black Bean & Butternut Squash Soup
- Instant Pot Lentil Soup (+ slow cooker instructions)
- Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- Instant Pot Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili
Mushroom Lentil Meatballs (vegetarian)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos, or soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown or french lentils, see above for cooking tips
- 1/2 cup oat flour or your favorite breadcrumbs, i
- 1 flax eggs, or regular egg if vegan is not needed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon ground flax meal
- 2 1/2 tablespoons water
- food processor
To make meatballs
- Preheat your oven to 400° F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
- In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Once hot, add onions and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms, salt and coconut aminos and cooked for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Pour cooked onions, garlic and mushrooms into food processor and add remaining ingredients. Pulse a few times until the mixture is pretty well chopped but not complete mush. Over blending will result in a mushy (but still tasty and edible) meatball middle.
- Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, portion the mixture out into balls on your lined baking sheet.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until they are firm to the touch and the meatballs start to have s crisp outside. Let them cool for about 10 minutes and let the center firm up a bit.
- Enjoy over spiralized veggies or your favorite pasta with pasta sauce. Let cool and store in fridge for up to 5 days.
To make flax egg
- Combine ground flax and water in a small bowl. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes to gel before adding to this recipe.