In plant-based cuisine, there's often a delightful surprise waiting for those willing to venture beyond the familiar. One such culinary adventure takes us to vegan meatballs, where lentils and walnuts step in to create a savory, satisfying alternative to their traditional meaty counterparts.
Whether you're a seasoned vegan looking to switch up your meal rotation or a curious omnivore seeking a new flavor experience, this lentil and walnut vegan meatball recipe might become your new go-to comfort food!
The charm of these lentil and walnut meatballs lies in their simplicity and natural goodness. Without relying on processed meat substitutes, this recipe combines wholesome ingredients that pack a flavor punch and contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate way of eating.
These veggie meatballs are comforting and satisfying when you want something hearty and substantial, and they pair perfectly with pasta or zoodles and marinara sauce!
This is an excellent recipe for cooking during the week or meal prep over the weekends.
Here is the equipment you need to make these healthy lentil meatballs:
- small saucepan for cooking the lentils
- wooden spoon
- food processor
- 2 baking sheets
- medium-large mixing bowl
- spiralizer for zucchini, if serving
Here are the simple ingredients you need to make these meatless meatballs. These are the best vegan meatballs if you love walnuts, lentils, and fennel seeds!
Substitutions are further below. I usually prefer to use pantry ingredients instead of buying meat alternatives found at the grocery store. It's much more cost-effective, and the best part is I know what is in my food!
- Lentils - the main ingredient. Use brown or green lentils. Ensure they are drained very well before adding them to the recipe.
- Flaxseed meal - I combine it with the other ingredients instead of mixing it with water to make a flax egg.
- Fresh parsley - do not use dried parsley
- Psyllium husk, a binding agent common in gluten-free baking/cooking - is essential for holding everything together. The powdered form is easily available at most grocery stores or online.
- Fennel seeds - we love these, and this recipe reflects that. You can start with a lesser amount, such as ½ teaspoon.
- Walnut halves - Chop these in the food processor unless you prefer to do it by hand.
How to make Easy Vegan Meatballs with Lentils and Walnuts
So, if you're ready to roll up your sleeves and embark on a culinary journey that celebrates the earthy flavors of lentils and the rich nuttiness of walnuts, let's dive right in and discover how to create these delectable vegan meatballs!
First, you will cook the lentils on the stovetop unless you have some you previously prepared. While the lentils cook, measure and assemble the remaining ingredients and turn on the oven. Set aside a baking sheet to cool the lentils.
Set aside another baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper liner for the meatballs.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Chop the walnuts in the food processor until no large pieces remain. Add the rest of the ingredients, saving the cooled lentils for last. Pulse several times for a couple of seconds each time until the mixture comes together.
Place the meatball mixture in a large bowl and start assembling the meatballs. Roll them up to the size of a golf ball, 12 portions for hearty meatballs, or make 16 slightly smaller meatballs. Place in the oven to bake.
After 30 to 35 minutes, the meatballs will be golden brown on the outside. Time to take them out of the oven! Let them cool briefly before adding them to zoodles or pasta. Then top with a healthy serving of marinara!
These meatballs stay together well; they do not fall apart and are very tender on the inside. They are delicious by themselves, but I enjoy them the most with chunky marinara sauce.
If you are going to serve them with zoodles, prepare the zucchini noodles, one zucchini per person. This can be done while the meatballs are baking. I use this spiralizer; the green attachment is perfect for zucchini.
How to serve
Enjoy these easy vegan meatballs with your favorite pasta and your favorite marinara sauce. Have you tried my Vegan Marinara Sauce? Top with fresh basil.
For a gluten-free alternative that is perfect for summer, serve them on top of zoodles (zucchini noodles) shown in the photo below with my Vegan Marinara Sauce. This sauce is hearty, flavorful, and slightly chunky, making it the perfect accompaniment to these meatballs.
- Kid-friendly - Instead of fennel, use ½ teaspoon of oregano.
- Spicy - Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Deluxe - Add a sprinkling of nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese on top.
- Lentils - you can use brown rice instead, or black beans or kidney beans.
- Walnuts - you can try sunflower seeds, almonds, or peans instead.
- Fennel - You can use oregano instead; I'd start with ½ teaspoon dried oregano or an Italian seasoning mix.
- Psyllium husk - there is no substitution for this. It helps bind everything together in addition to the flaxseed meal. You can buy it online if you can't find it at a grocery store.
Use precooked lentils easily found at the grocery store to save time.
Let leftover vegan meatballs cool and then place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days.
To freeze them (without sauce), let them cool first, place them in a freezer-safe container, and then in the freezer for up to 1 to 2 months. To thaw them, put them in the fridge several hours before you plan to eat them. Reheat them in the oven at 350F for approximately 20 minutes.
Why call these meatballs?
You may be wondering if this vegan meatballs recipe doesn't contain meat, why call it meatballs? Everyone knows what veggie burgers are, but does anyone question why they are called burgers? I have several reasons for naming my recipe; read on if you are curious.
- The edible part of walnut is called meat. The word meat originates from the Old English word mete, which meant food in general.
- The term meat does not refer to animal flesh exclusively, nor does butter refer to dairy-based butter exclusively. If we can have almond milk and peanut butter, why not meat-free meatballs or vegan meatballs?
- This recipe can be called vegan meatballs, lentil balls, or lentil walnut balls (doesn't that sound funny?). People search for various terms. I could have called this recipe veggie meatballs, but I went with vegan meatballs instead for online search purposes. I want people to find this recipe!
You can find powdered psyllium husk at the grocery store in the supplement section near the vitamins, or in the bulk section at a natural foods grocery store. If you can't find it, ask a grocery store employee. Or you can purchase it online.
More healthy vegan recipes
I'd love to hear from you! If you make this recipe, let me know what you think by ★★★★★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @resplendentkitchen and hashtag #resplendentkitchenrecipes, so I don't miss it.
Easy Vegan Meatballs with Lentils and Walnuts
- 2 baking sheets
- non-stick silicone baking mats
- wooden spoon
- cookie scoop
- 1 cup dry green lentils rinsed until water runs clear
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt divided
- 2 cups walnut halves
- 4 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil
- 1 Medjool date pitted
- 1 large shallot minced approx. ⅓ cup
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
- 1 tablespoon psyllium husk
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed (leave whole)
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place lentils in a medium pot and cover with 2 cups of water, add ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover loosely. Simmer until lentils around 20 minutes, until lentils are soft but not falling apart. If they are not done at this point, check every 5 minutes until done. Strain any liquid. Let cool on a baking sheet.1 cup dry green lentils, 2 cups water, 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
- Place 2 cups walnuts in the food processor. Briefly pulse a couple of times until small pieces remain with no large chunks. Add remaining 1 teaspoon salt, parsley, garlic, coconut oil, Medjool date, shallot, flaxseed meal, psyllium husk, fennel seed, poultry seasoning, and black pepper in the food processor. Add 2 cups of the cooked lentils, Process in bursts until the mixture holds together. Place the mixture into a bowl and stir the ingredients briefly to make sure they are combined.2 cups walnut halves, 4 tablespoon fresh parsley, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil, 1 Medjool date, 1 large shallot, 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal, 1 tablespoon psyllium husk, 1 teaspoon fennel seed, 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- With a cookie scoop, make balls that are approximately 2 inches in size. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until they start browning. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes before serving.
- This recipe makes 12 to 16 balls. If you would like the meatballs to be less calorie-dense, make smaller meatballs than the ones pictured. I have made 16 slightly smaller meatballs and they are just as delicious!
- If you are serving these with zucchini noodles, spiralize one zucchini per person.
- Refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days or freeze for 1 to 2 months
- The calorie count is for the meatballs only; the marinara and zucchini are not included.
Resplendent Kitchen offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site as a courtesy. Although resplendentkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information from online calculators, these figures are estimates.