Healthy Mushroom & Lentil Vegan Meatballs

5 from 30 votes
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These Lentil & mushroom vegan meatballs are served in a simple tomato sauce and are dairy-free, gluten-free, healthy, and delicious served with spaghetti, in a sub, and a variety of other dishes.

Close up of lentil meatballs with tomato sauce

I don’t know what it is about lentils and mushrooms, but they are amazing ingredients for making delicious meatless meatballs that don’t taste like vegan meatballs. The texture and flavor are out of this world and, honestly, I prefer them to their meaty counterpart.

More and more mushroom and pea-based vegan products have been entering our supermarkets in the past few years – from shroomdogs, mushroom “mince” and, of course, shroomballs. It’s hard to be skeptical before trying them – especially if you’re someone looking for a worthy meat alternative.

I think that some of these products are starting to become impressive now in terms of what they can do for taste and texture. However, for those of you/ us that try to avoid too many processed foods, then, unfortunately, we still often don’t have a lot of natural options to choose from.

Close up of lentil meatball in tomato sauce

This vegan meatball recipe is 100% natural and filled with a delicious list of plant-based ingredients including onion, lentils, mushrooms, almond flour, and garlic. You can also dress them up and down with your favorite blend of spices or some cheeky Italian seasoning. I’ve also included the ingredients for a super simple tomato sauce.

Note* You could also easily adapt the recipe into a marinara sauce by adding onions and additional herbs/ spices into it. 

These lentil meatballs can then be used the same way you would with their meaty cousins – with spaghetti and other pasta dishes, in a sub, with some gravy and mash, within a winter soup. I also like to keep some in my freezer to pop into meals where I need some extra nutrition and protein like stir-frys, wraps, salad wraps, etc.

Spoonful of lentil meatballs with tomato sauce

One thing about having a plant-based diet is that I find that uses for protein become more creative. There aren’t so many “unspoken rules” for what protein pairs well with what. Or at least, if there are any rules then I ignore them.

Having said that, you can’t beat a good meatball marinara – and these lentil balls take to tomato sauce as well as any meaty version I’ve had previously. Why should vegan and vegetarian meatballs miss out on taste and texture, after all? My favorite way to eat these is with some homemade zoodles or carrot noodles because -yummy.

I like to choose my accompaniment based on what additional nutrients I need that day. For more protein, you could serve them with high-protein pasta. For fiber, wholewheat pasta or bread, etc.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Not only is this recipe Dairy-free and vegan, but it’s also gluten-free.
  • Due to the lentil content, these meatballs have good protein and fibre levels. In fact, per serving, you get a whopping 12g protein.
  • Any leftover meatballs can be frozen, so nothing goes to waste.
  • They can also be stored in the fridge for 5-7 days, so a wonderful option for meal-prep and can be reheated easily in the microwave.
  • This recipe is 100% natural and plant-based with nothing processed added.
  • the meatballs take just 20 minutes to bake in the oven (you can freeze them before and after the baking process)
  • The meatballs are made up of only 5 base ingredients and a variety of spices/herbs.

Not to mention that this simple lentil meatball recipe is loaded with fiber, with the texture of traditional meatballs, but without the meat.

Showing lentil meatball in pan with tomato sauce

The How-To

Ingredients

  • Green lentils – make sure to use cooked lentils for this recipe.
  • Mushrooms
  • Almond flour – you can buy this or make it yourself. I’ll often use the leftover almond pulp from homemade almond milk.
  • Fresh tomatoes – alternatively, feel free to use a store-bought marinara, for an even simpler recipe.
  • Aromatics – onion, garlic
  • Seasoning – olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, sage, and some parsley (optional).

Note: if you want to turn your sauce into a simple marinara, then add some garlic, onion, and some Italian herbs – voila!

Lentil Meatballs ingredients

Vegan Lentil Meatball Recipe

Start by making the tomato sauce. First, blend the tomatoes in a food processor. They don’t have to be too finely blended but if you prefer a very smooth sauce, you can also sieve them.

Add the tomato juice to a saucepan and bring to a soft boil. Leave it to simmer for about 30 minutes (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn at the bottom). During this time it will thicken and reduce.

Tomato passata steps

Add the lentils to a saucepan and pour in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, covering the pan with a lid and simmering for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the majority of the water has soaked up.

Note: it’s best to use a lid that you can see through if you’re not sure of the exact timings. However, I just simmer them for around 15 minutes then remove the lid to check them and cook for longer, if required.

Cooking lentils steps

Meanwhile, dice the onion and garlic and add to a large frying pan with some olive oil. Sautee lightly for a couple of minutes, to soften.

Add the mushrooms to the pan, along with the various herbs and spices and mix, to combine thoroughly.

Cooking mushrooms with onion steps

Lightly fry the mushroom mix for around 10 minutes, till the mushrooms are cooked through completely. Once the lentils and mushrooms are cooked then remove them from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Once cooled, blend the mushroom mix and lentils for a few seconds, to begin breaking them down. Add the almond flour to the blender and continue to blend until you have a thick, coarse mixture.

Cooked lentils and mushrooms and almond flour

Make sure the texture is quite “coarse” still, so it doesn’t turn into a puree. If that happens you won’t be able to form the mixture into balls.

However, note that if the mixture is slightly too wet then you can fix this with a little extra almond flour. Just be careful or else the meatballs will find it harder to hold their shape and become more crumbly.

Blending lentils with mushrooms steps

Once the mixture is blended, you’re ready to form the meatballs.

Mashed lentils with mushrooms

Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the lentil mixture into your hand and form a ball. I was able to make 30 balls with this mixture.

Lentil meatball in hand

Place the lentil meatballs on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350ºF/175ºC (fan-assisted).

Lentil meatballs arranged in tray

You can also drizzle/ spray the meatballs with some oil and it will help them become crispier in the oven (which I prefer).

Lentil meatballs sprinkled with oil

Once the meatballs are ready, they will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – so basically the perfect texture.

Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and mix

Arranging lentil meatballs in tomato sauce

Sprinkle with a pinch of chopped parsley and serve hot.

Lentil meatballs with parsley in tomato sauce

How to Serve

Serve with zucchini zoodles, spaghetti (with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or vegan cheese), within a sub, etc.

Spoonful of lentil meatballs with tomato sauce

How to Store? Can They be Frozen?

These meatballs can be frozen before and after they’re baked. I’ve only ever frozen them for a couple of weeks at a time, so I don’t know exactly how long for but I would say up to two months should be fine.

If stored in the refrigerator, then keep in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

Open lentil meatball tomato sauce and parsley

Other Vegan Recipes You May Like

If you try this easy vegan lentil meatball recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Vegan Lentil Meatballs

5 from 30 votes
By: Samira
These lentil & mushroom vegan meatballs are served in a simple tomato sauce and are dairy-free, gluten-free, healthy and absolutely delicious served with spaghetti, in a sub, and a variety of other dishes.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 5 (30 balls)

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 9.17 oz mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2.2 lb ripe tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp sage
  • handful parsley optional

Instructions 

  • Start by making the tomato sauce. First, blend the tomatoes in a food processor. They don't have to be too finely blended but if you prefer a very smooth sauce, you can also sieve them.
  • Add the tomato juice to a saucepan and bring to a soft boil. Leave it to simmer for about 30 minutes (keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn at the bottom). During this time it will thicken and reduce. 
  • Add the lentils to a saucepan and pour in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, covering the pan with a lid and simmering for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the majority of the water has soaked up. *
  • Meanwhile, dice the onion and garlic and add to a large frying pan with some olive oil. Sautee lightly for a couple of minutes, to soften.
  • Add the mushrooms to the pan, along with the various herbs and spices and mix, to combine thoroughly. 
  • Lightly fry the mushroom mix for around 10 minutes, till the mushrooms are cooked through completely. Once the lentils and mushrooms are cooked then remove them from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. 
  • Once cooled, blend the mushroom mix and lentils for a few seconds, to begin breaking them down. Add the almond flour to the blender and continue to blend until you have a thick, coarse mixture. **
  • Once the mixture is blended, you're ready to form the meatballs: Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the lentil mixture into your hand and form a ball. I was able to make 30 balls with this mixture.
  • Place the lentil meatballs on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350ºF/175ºC (fan-assisted). You can also drizzle/ spray the meatballs with some oil and it will help them become crispier in the oven (which I prefer). Once the meatballs are ready, they will be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – so basically the perfect texture. 
  • Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and mix. Sprinkle with a pinch of chopped parsley and serve hot. 
    Serve with zucchini zoodles, spaghetti (with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast or vegan cheese), within a sub, etc. 

Video

Notes

Note* If you want to turn your sauce into a simple marinara then add some garlic, onion, and some Italian herbs- voila. 
* It’s best to use a lid that you can see through if you’re not sure of the exact timings. However, I just simmer them for around 15 minutes then remove the lid to check them and cook for longer, if required. 
** Make sure the texture is quite ‘coarse’ still, so it doesn’t turn into a puree. If that happens you won’t be able to form the mixture into balls. However, note that if the mixture is slightly too wet then you can fix this with a little extra almond flour. Just be careful or else the meatballs will find it harder to hold their shape and become more crumbly. 
How To Store? Can They be Frozen?
These meatballs can be frozen before and after they’re baked. I’ve only ever frozen them for a couple of weeks at a time, so I don’t know exactly how long for but I would say up to two months should be fine.
If storing in the refrigerator then keep in an airtight container for 4-5 days. 
 
Check the blog post for more tips!
Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Freezer friendly: 2 Months
Shelf life: 5 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 6balls, Calories: 210kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 248mg, Potassium: 964mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 1779IU, Vitamin C: 32mg, Calcium: 66mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




13 Comments

  1. Diane says:

    5 stars
    Used more mushrooms than lentils and added 2/3 cup of seasoned bread crumbs instead of flour. Kind of mushy. Cooked at 355 for 25 minutes. The outside was firmer after letting them cool for about 5-10 minutes. Great taste! Will try for burgers next time.
    Thanks

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Diane. Glad you liked it.

  2. Marie says:

    Can I fry them in a pan in steed of oven?

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Marie,
      Yes, you can pan fry them in a bit of oil, for a couple of minutes on each side. Hope this helps.

  3. Kaeli says:

    This looks so good! Can you replace green lentils with red lentils??

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Kaeli,
      You could use red lentils but please keep in mind that they become a bit more “mushy”. You might want to cook them just a few minutes less so that when you mix them with the rest of the ingredients, they still keep their shape. I hope this helps.

  4. Em says:

    Is there a sub for mushrooms?

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi,
      Although I haven’t tried this yet, you could substitute the mushrooms with eggplants, zucchini, or even tofu.

  5. Steve says:

    5 stars
    This are fantastic. I followed the recipe to make “hamburgers”. I forgot the flour, used smoked paprika and baked at 350 for 25 minutes. The bottoms were slightly soft so may add 5 more minutes. Quickly pan fry to heat up.

    1. AlphaFoodie says:

      Yum – that sounds delicious! I’ll have to make them into patties the next time I make them too 🙂

    2. Steve says:

      5 stars
      Just a follow up. 30 minute cook time leaves the “burgers” dry so sticking with 25 minutes. Tried with and without flour. Doesn’t seem to make a real difference for me. I double the recipe so I don’t have to cook as often. I get 13 large patties with 1 pound of dry lentils and 1 pound of mushrooms. They can be warmed on the stove top to brown a little or for about 35 seconds in the microwave. Neither way affects the taste. Microwave leaves them more moist.

  6. Alycia says:

    My veggie meat balls turned out a bit flat. I had to put the oven on broil in order to give them a bit of color. I also substituted the ground almonds with bread crumbs due to a nut allergy. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Alycia,
      What do you mean by it turned out flat? The taste or the colour? Breadcrumbs should work just fine. 🙂