The ultimate high protein vegan meatballs that are also gluten-free! Made with simple ingredients for a juicy and meaty texture perfect for the whole family. Meatballs are not normally gluten-free but not to worry, we use gluten-free ingredients to create the perfect juicy vegan meatball!
This content is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. Please see our disclaimer page for more information.
- 👪Why Your Family Will High Protein Meatballs
- 🥒Will My Picky Eater Eat This?
- ⏲️ Time-Saving Meatball Tips
- 🍝Simple Ingredients
- 💡Recipe Tips: Flavorful Meatball
- 👩🏽🍳Step-by-Step Instructions
- 🥬Substitutions & Variations
- 🥄 Air Fryer Version
- 🥡Storing & Reheating
- 🧠Brain Benefits of High Protein Vegan Meatballs
- 🥣Make This Next
- 📖 Recipe
- Information Source:
Finding delicious quick & easy vegan and gluten-free recipes can be tough, but I've got you! Our high-protein vegan meatballs are the perfect weeknight recipe for a nutritious and satisfying meal. Made with uncomplicated ingredients to create a gluten-free meatball recipe that is juicy and meaty in texture.
These meatballs are not just easy to make, but they're also packed with healthy fats and have the best texture. The ingredient list is simple, and the steps are straightforward.
Just like our vegan lentil eggplant meatballs, they are great served as an appetizer yet perfect enough for an easy weeknight dinner. They freeze well and are easy to meal prep. And for a total high-protein meal, chick out our high protein mashed potatoes to serve along side these meatballs!
Oh and not to worry because these meatballs are gluten-free! We use a combination of quinoa, oats, and chickpea flour to help create the perfect gluten free egg free meatballs!
Let's get cooking!
👪Why Your Family Will High Protein Meatballs
We love these easy high protein vegan meatballs because they are perfect for busy weeknights and as leftovers, and we know your family will love them too. Here's why:
- High in Protein: Delicious and satisfying, keeping everyone coming back for more.
- Nutrient packed: A healthy alternative to store-bought vegan meatballs or chicken fingers (speaking of which have you tried these crispy gluten-free tofu fingers yet?)
- Gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free: perfect for kids with food sensitivities.
- Perfect for lunchboxes: Great as school lunches or for work. Pack separately from the sauce and dip when ready to eat!
- Easy to meal prep: Our gluten free egg free meatballs are super easy to prep and freeze well.
🥒Will My Picky Eater Eat This?
We all know picky eaters can be a challenge, but these high protein vegan meatballs are sure to win them over. Here's why:
- Familiarity: These meatballs resemble the classic meatball version in both look and taste, making them a hit with the picky eaters. If you're aiming to incorporate more plant-based protein in your family's diet, this recipe is a great start!
- Favorite Sauce: Pair these meatballs with your child's favorite sauce. Trust me, a familiar sauce can make all the difference!
- Perfect Texture: These meatballs boast a moist, tender, and satisfyingly meaty texture.
I understand the struggle of dealing with picky eaters (I've been there with all my boys). My middle child, for instance, won't touch anything ball-shaped unless it's for throwing! But, cut these gluten free egg free meatballs into smaller pieces, serve them with ketchup, and he's all in.
⏲️ Time-Saving Meatball Tips
- Double the batch and freeze some!
- Use canned beans
- Use leftover quinoa
- Use store-bought tomato sauce
On your busiest day, just grab a few healthy gluten free egg free meatballs, heat them up, and serve your family's favorite sauce. Voilà! Dinner is served!
Get ready to create fantastic vegetarian meatballs with simple ingredients! Here are the main ingredients for this plant-based high protein meatball version:
- Black beans: Use canned black beans to save time, just ensure they are gluten-free. If you want a more budget-friendly version then you can also cook from dry.
- Quick oats: Make sure to use the quick-cooking oats to ensure that the meatballs cook properly and have the right texture. This is a common miss-step in this recipe and of course ensure you get a certified gluten-free brand.
- Quinoa: Make sure you are selecting a gluten-free brand and cook as per package instructions.
- Chickpea flour: To help bind the meatballs and create some texture.
- Black olives: This will give a really nice depth to these meatballs, but they can easily be omitted.
- Mushrooms: This will add not only amazing flavor but also a great texture. My boys do not like mushrooms so this is also a sneaky and successful way I have been adding it to their diet for a while now...hope they don't read this!
- Onions and garlic: I like to use fresh onions and garlic because it creates a better flavor, but feel free to use onion powder and garlic powder if you prefer!
- Olive oil: I opted for extra virgin for this recipe, make sure it is gluten-free if you have celiac disease.
- Soy sauce: Make sure it is gluten-free, I love to use the Kikkoman brand because I it is certified gluten-free.
- Italian seasoning: A must for this recipe!
For quantities check the recipe card below
Opt to make your sauce or go the easier route and buy a store-bought brand.
- Onions and Garlic
- Olive oil
- Italian seasoning
- Fresh Roma tomatoes
- Tomato paste
For quantities check the recipe card below
💡Recipe Tips: Flavorful Meatball
To make the best high protein vegan meatballs, be sure to follow these tips:
- Check your oats: For the best texture and tender meatballs, make sure you're using quick-cooking oats. It's a simple step, but it makes a big difference in achieving that meaty texture we love in our meatballs.
- Minimize the moisture: Ensure your beans and quinoa are well-drained and not too wet before combining them in the batter. Cook your mushrooms well to allow their moisture to be released and evaporated.
- Forming Meatballs: Wet your hands before shaping the meatballs to prevent sticking. Make sure they are compact and uniform in size for even cooking.
- Rest Before Serving: Let the meatballs rest for a few minutes after cooking. This helps them firm up and hold their shape better.
Follow these simple steps to create scrumptious vegan gluten-free meatballs with a tasty marinara sauce. Let's dive in!
Step 1: Prep and Preheat
First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then go ahead and cook your quinoa as per package instructions. Once cooked make sure to drain any access water.
Then, sautee your mushrooms. Into a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the mushrooms with a splash of olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, you want all their moisture to be released and evaporated.
Step 2: Create the Meatball Batter
Next, toss in all the ingredients for the meatballs, including the cooked quinoa and sautéed mushrooms into your food processor. Process until you've got a nice batter going. It should be wet, but sticky enough to form meatballs. Use a wooden spoon to scrap down the sides.
Pro tip: If the meatball batter is too wet, add small amounts of chickpea flour in until you get a sticky but not soggy batter.
Step 3: Shape and Bake
Add your batter to a large mixing bowl (or remove the blade). With slightly wet hands, grab a small amount (about 1 tbsp) and roll small balls.
Once rolled place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn up the heat to 425 and give the pan a shake to move the meatballs around. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until they're golden brown and beautiful.
Step 4: Optional: Make the Marinara Sauce
While your high protein vegan meatballs are cooking, make your homemade sauce! If you are using store-bought sauce skip this step.
Sauté the onions in olive oil until soft, then add garlic, sugar, and spices. Cook for a 2 more minutes. Finally, add tomatoes and tomato purée. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Step 5: Combine and Serve
Finally, add the high-protein vegan meatballs to the sauce, give them a gentle stir, and turn off the heat. Let them sit for 5 minutes to soak up some of that saucy goodness. Serve over your favorite gluten-free spaghetti, or rice, or with a side salad, and voila!
🥬Substitutions & Variations
We understand that sometimes you might not have all the ingredients on hand, or you may want to cater to your picky eaters' preferences. Don't worry; we've got you covered with these easy vegan and gluten-free substitutions:
- Black beans: Substitute with kidney beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed. The texture and taste might be slightly different, but kidney beans will still provide a healthy and delicious vegan and gluten-free alternative to your meatless meatballs.
- Quick oats: Use rolled oats instead! Just pulse them in the food processor a few times to break them down. Alternatively, just add more chickpea flour, the texture will be much drier but it will still hold up!
- Chickpea flour: Substitute with another gluten-free flour, such as rice flour, oat flour, or almond flour.
- Black olives: If your kids aren't fans of olives just skip them! Or replace them with sun-dried tomatoes or capers for added flavor.
- Soy sauce (gluten-free): Use gluten-free tamari sauce or coconut aminos as alternatives.
- Eggplant meatball recipe: Have you tried our eggplant meatball recipes yet? It is just as fabulous but more suitable if you want an easy appetizer or a gluten free meatball that is perfect without sauce.
- Vegan meatball Sub: Our high protein vegan meatballs make delicious meatball subs. It's a great way to use up leftover meatballs or serve these in a different way.
- Gluten-Free Meatloaf: Press the meatball batter into a greased pan instead of rolling it into balls for a meatloaf alternative!
- Meatball Bolognese: Break apart the meatballs for a vegan bolognese sauce.
- Pesto sauce: If you'd like an alternative to marinara sauce, try pesto sauce. You can either purchase a store-bought version or make your own oil and nut free version with this recipe.
These substitutions should still result in delicious and flavorful high protein vegan meatballs meatballs. Just make sure to adjust the texture of the batter accordingly.
🥄 Air Fryer Version
To make our high protein vegan meatballs in the air fryer just follow these simple steps:
Air Fryer: If you have an air fryer, you can cook these meatballs at 375°F (190°C) for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through for even cooking. This method could save you some time and give the meatballs a slightly crispier exterior.
🥡Storing & Reheating
If you have leftover meatballs or meal prepped this recipe here is how to best store them:
Fridge: Place the cooked meatballs in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
Reheating: Reheat them in the microwave, or in the oven with your favorite sauce until heated through.
Freezing: For longer storage, you can freeze your meatballs raw or after baking.
- Raw meatballs: Freeze the uncooked meatballs by placing them onto a parchment-lined pan and freezing. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container.
- Cooked meatballs: If you are meal prepping for a busy week, freeze your meatballs after baking but before adding them to the sauce. Place the cooked meatballs into a freezer-safe container and freeze them for 2-3 months.
- Reheating: When you're ready to enjoy them, reheat the cooked meatballs directly from the freezer in your preferred sauce or bake the uncooked meatballs in the oven at the same temperature as the original recipe, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
🧠Brain Benefits of High Protein Vegan Meatballs
As a neuroscientist and mom, I'm all about nourishing my family with wholesome food. These meatless meatballs are packed with ingredients like black beans, quinoa, and oats - all great for growing minds. Here's why:
- Protein-Packed: Black beans, quinoa, and oats are full of plant-based protein. Protein is essential for growing, repairing, and maintaining our bodies (1).
- Fiber-Filled: These ingredients are high in dietary fiber, which is great for digestion and heart health (2).
- Nutrient-Rich: Black beans are full of iron and magnesium, while quinoa and oats are packed with essential vitamins and minerals (3, 4). Iron helps with learning and memory (5), B vitamins support brain cell communication (6), and magnesium helps keep minds calm and focused (7).
- Low in Saturated Fat: These meatless meatballs have less saturated fat than traditional meatballs, which is good news for heart health (8).
- Gluten-Free: Quinoa and oats (when certified gluten-free) are perfect for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease(9).
So, not only are these veggie meatballs delicious, but they're also a smart choice for your family's health. Making it one of our best vegan meatballs yet!
Soggy meatballs can be a result of a few factors. One common reason is too much moisture in your mix. Make sure to drain and pat dry your mushrooms and quinoa, and drain the beans well before adding them to the mix. This will give ensure best results.
If your gluten free meatballs are falling apart, it could be because there's not enough binding ingredient. In this recipe, we rely on gluten-free flour as binders. However, if your meatballs aren't holding together well, try increasing the amount of these ingredients slightly. Alternatively, you can add gluten-free bread crumbs.
Dry meatballs might be due to a lack of moisture-holding ingredients in your mix, or they could be overcooked. To make flavorful meatballs, make sure you're adding enough binding ingredients, which can help retain moisture. Also, be careful not to overcook your meatballs. They should be golden brown and firm, but not hard.
Yes, you can! Freeze them after baking, and when you're ready to enjoy them, simply reheat them in the oven or microwave until heated through.
Yes, you can still make these high protein vegan meatballs, and substitute the quinoa. Use other similar grains like rice or couscous. Just keep in mind that this might alter the texture and taste of your meatballs.
🥣Make This Next
If you enjoyed this high protein vegan meatballs recipe be sure to check out some other delicious high protein recipes:
High Protein Vegan Meatballs (Gluten-Free)
- 1 ½ cups black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup quick oats add another ½ cup if batter is too wet
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- ½ cup white mushrooms sliced
- ½ cup black olives pitted, about 15
- ½ onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce gluten free
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
Marinara sauce (skip if using store bought)
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 ½ tbs coconut sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 roma tomatoes diced
- 1 ½ cups tomato puree 1 can
Making the quinoa meatballs
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile cook the quinoa (if you haven't already) as per package directions. Then to a saucepan add the mushrooms and soy sauce and sautee for about 5 minutes.
- To a food processor add in all the ingredients for the meatballs, including the cooked quinoa and sauteed mushrooms. Process until a batter forms. It should be wet but sticky enough that you can form meatballs. If the batter is to wet add in more chickpea flour.
- Roll with your hands into meatballs and place onto a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes then increase the heat to 425 and shake the pan to move the meatballs around. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden.
Making the marinara sauce
- In a large saucepan over medium heat sautee the onions in the olive oil until soft. Then add in the garlic and spices. Cook for another few minutes then add in the tomatoes and tomato puree.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. If you like a sweeter sauce you can simmer the sauce for another 30 minutes but I find that after 15-20 minutes the sauce is perfect.
- Add in the meatballs, stir and turn off the heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes to allow the meatballs to absorb some of the sauce. Then serve over pasta, rice or with a side salad.NOTES
- Storage: Place the cooked meatballs in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days.
- Reheating: Reheat them in the microwave, or in the oven with your favorite sauce until heated through.
- Freezing: For longer storage, freeze your meatballs before adding them to the sauce. Place the cooked meatballs into a freezer-safe container and freeze them for 2-3 months. You can also freeze the uncooked meatballs by placing them onto a parchment-lined pan and freezing. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe container. When you're ready to enjoy them, reheat the cooked meatballs directly from the freezer in your preferred sauce or bake the uncooked meatballs in the oven at the same temperature as the original recipe, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
- Protein in diet. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm
- Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
- Black beans: Health benefits, facts, and research. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/289934
- Paudel, D., Dhungana, B., Caffe, M., Krishnan, P., & Chen, O. (2021). A Review of Health-Beneficial Properties of Oats. Foods, 10(11), 2591.
- Fretham, S. J. B., Carlson, E. S., & Georgieff, M. K. (2011). The role of iron in learning and memory. Advances in Nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 2(2), 112-121.
- Kennedy, D. O. (2016). B vitamins and the brain: Mechanisms, dose and efficacy – A review. Nutrients, 8(2), 68.
- Kirkland, A. E., Sarlo, G. L., & Holton, K. F. (2018). The role of magnesium in neurological disorders. Nutrients, 10(6), 730.
- Saturated fat. American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/saturated-fats
- Gluten-free diet. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gluten-free-diet/art-20048530