Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs

These Italian-seasoned meatballs are completely vegetarian, but packed with protein!  Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs It’s been...

These Italian-seasoned meatballs are completely vegetarian, but packed with protein! 

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs

It’s been hard for me over the years to find reliable veggie meatball recipes. This one is it! It’s an adaptation of my lentil falafel balls, made with Italian seasonings, some optional Parmesan, and perfectly suited for serving over pasta.

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs

They don’t crumble, they’re firm like a fluffy meaty meatball, and they absorb sauces well. I make these a lot and freeze them, so they’re certainly a freezer staple and meal prep friendly.

The secret here is the use freshly cooked lentils – don’t use pre-made or canned cooked lentils, the texture just won’t be the same. And don’t skimp on the refrigeration period – that is also key to a perfect texture!

Otherwise, these meatballs are pretty fool proof and I know you’ll love them as much as I do!

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 10 meatballs


  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon cup rolled oats
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • salt and pepper


  • Place the lentils, 1.5 cups of water, and bay leaf in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and let cook until water evaporates and lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • While the lentils cook, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet. Once oil is shimmering, add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once lentils, onions, and garlic are all cooked, transfer to a food processor with the rolled oats, egg, Italian seasoning,Parmesan (if using), and season with salt and pepper. Pulse until able to be formed into balls. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lentil mixture from the fridge and roll into balls, placing the finished balls on the baking sheet.
  • Cook the balls for 10 minutes, turn, and cook another 8 to 10 minutes or until balls are browned and firm.
  • Serve the lentil balls over spaghetti or enjoy as preferred.

with love, Ali

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Recipe Rating


  • Do I have to use brown lentils? I have tons of yellow that I would like to use
  • Any thoughts on making these egg free? Would that be a total bust?
    • I just came across this site, as well as your comment, & def realize you may have already found a substitution!, but if not, you can try replacing the egg with a “flax egg.” I frequently use flax eggs as a vegan substitute to chicken eggs and it’s never failed! I found that the best ratio is 1 Tablespoon of ground flax seeds to 2.5 Tablespoons of water. That will produce a single flax egg equal to one small-medium sized chicken egg. Let the mixture sit for ~7-10 minutes, maybe longer. You just want to ensure the mixture is thick.
      • This is is so helpful! Thank you for sharing this with us all.
  • These were so so good. Even though you said not to use precooked lentils, I did…because I had them on hand. They were so delicious! I added a tbsp of tomato paste and these were incredible. Definitely a recipe I’ll add to my rotation.
    • Love to hear that! So glad you gave that a shot - thanks for the feedback!
  • Really delicious recipe. I love it yummy!!! It's really awesome
  • Delicious recipe. But you can use ready-made sets of spices “for meatballs” or “for meat”. Also, if you wish, you can add any spices to the minced meat that you like. Thank you!
  • If I cook them in the oven then transfer them to the sauce will they break apart?
  • Amazing recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.
    • Thank YOU! You're so welcome!
  • Is it possible to make meatballs in a tomato sauce using these? Like as an appetizer?
    • Definitely! That's a great idea.
  • what sauce did you use?
  • Just made these! They were delicious. My boyfriend gave them an A- (due to texture, he’s a super meat lover) but overall we will be making again.
  • I’ve made these twice. They’re awesome. The first time I used mayo in replacement for the egg because I was out of eggs.
  • How long can you freeze these for and how do you best reheat them?
  • I made these yesterday. It was very easy to make. I added 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste and 1/2 smoked paprika. I was very happy with the taste and I would recommend to others.