Let's make some vegan eggplant meatballs with an easy substitute for eggs! These meatless meatballs are a breeze to make and are loaded with veggies, making them a super nutritious meal! Serve them as a wholesome dinner, or easy appetizer this recipe is sure to satisfy the entire family!
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Believe it or not, this recipe was created before my own family transitioned to a primarily plant-based lifestyle. Shortly after my first son was born, we invited the families from our birthing group to reunite and introduce our babies. Among the guests was a vegan mom, and I was determined to provide her with a delicious and nutritious meal she would enjoy!
As a new nursing mom myself, I wanted to serve easy finger foods for our gathering. That's when the idea of meatballs struck me! But I had no idea how to substitute for egg in meatball! So I set out to experiment with various beans, veggies, and flours, and after a few attempts, this recipe was born.
This vegan eggplant meatball recipe was such a hit that we have continued making it over the years, refining it. It is now one of our favorite go-to plant-based recipes!
This gave me the realization that making meatballs without eggs, gluten or meat is very attainable! And it inspired these high-protein meatballs that are perfect in pasta or lunchboxes.
👪 Why You'll Love these Vegan Eggplant meatballs
My family loves this vegan eggplant meatball for so many reasons and here is why we think your family will too:
- Bursting with Flavor: These meatballs are a delightful fusion of roasted veggies, lentils, and hearty oat flour, with a kick of garlic and a blend of cumin and paprika. The eggplant flavor is subtle but inviting!
- Texture Adventure: With a firm and juicy interior and a crispy, golden-brown exterior, these meatballs offer a fun and satisfying textural experience.
- Nutrient-Packed: Despite being meatless and eggless, they're loaded with protein, healthy carbohydrates, and veggies from lentils, chickpea flour, and veggies.
- Healthy and Hearty: These meatballs are not just delicious, they're also nutritious, making them a guilt-free treat for the whole family.
- Versatile: They're perfect for dinner, a healthy snack, or even as a unique and tasty party appetizer.
🥒Will My Picky Eaters Like This
We all know how tricky it can be to please those picky eaters, right? But don't worry, these vegan eggplant meatballs might just be the secret weapon you've been looking for! Here's why:
- Perfect for Little Hands: These bite-sized meatballs are just the right size for small fingers to pick up and enjoy.
- No Mushy Texture: We've added chickpea and oat flour to ensure a firm and meaty texture that won't turn mushy - a common turn-off for many kids.
- Crunchy and Juicy: With a satisfyingly crunchy exterior and a firm but juicy interior, these meatballs are a sensory delight that kids will love.
- Sneaky Veggies: The hidden veggies inside these meatballs are a great way to boost your child's nutrient intake without them even realizing it!
- Versatile: Try adding these meatballs to your child's favorite pasta sauce, dipping them in hummus, or even skewering them to make fun meatball swords!
Remember, our job is to provide healthy options, but it's up to our little ones to decide to eat them. If you're looking for more tips on handling picky eaters, you can find more advice for tips for moms with picky eaters here!
🧠Brain & Health Benefits
Vegan eggplant meatballs are not just tasty, they're also super healthy! You know I am always looking for ways to support my kid's brain health. Here's why I love these for my family:
- Eggplants help our brain: Eggplants are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can aid digestion, promote heart health, and help manage blood sugar levels (1,2,3). Plus, they contain an antioxidant called nasunin that protects brain cells (4)!
- Packed with Protein: Lentils are packed with plant-based protein, fiber, iron, and folate. They help improve digestion, stabilize blood sugar, and reduce the risk of heart disease (5). Plus, they're great for brain development and cognitive function thanks to their high folate content (6).
So these plant-based ingredients are not only a great substitute for egg in meatball, they double as a nutrient powerhouse making this recipe a great one for supporting your family's brain health!
⏲️ Time-saving tip
- Use canned lentils: If you're short on time, canned lentils are a great shortcut.
- Cook extra lentils: If you do have time, cook double the number of lentils and use the leftovers for other recipes like this comforting meatless shepherd's pie.
- Roast veggies ahead of time: You can roast your veggies up to 3 days in advance and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge.
- Batch make your meatballs: Prepare a large batch of these eggplant meatballs to enjoy throughout the week or freeze them for later.
- Zero-waste option: If you're looking to reduce waste, these freezer bags are a great option for storing your meatballs.
To substitute for egg in meatballs, and help create that perfect meaty texture, here is what you will need:
- Eggplants: For best results, I used American eggplant (globe), these are the large eggplant variety. However, Italian eggplant will also work well with this recipe.
- Mini tomatoes: Any variety will work.
- Cooked brown lentils: I used canned lentils for this recipe but for a more budget-friendly version you can cook lentils from dry.
- Oat flour: To be more budget-friendly I make my own at home by blending dry quick cooking oats. But you can also use oat flour, I love Bob's Red Mill oat flour because it is gluten-free!
- Chickpea flour: I used store-bought chickpea flour for this recipe.
- Olive oil and Spices: I added cumin, paprika, fresh garlic cloves, onions, and a pinch of salt. But feel free to tailor it to your family's preferences! Adding Italian seasoning or nutritional yeast works well if you want a stronger flavor.
See the recipe card for full quantities.
💡 Recipe tip: Substitute For Egg
When using a substitute for egg in meatballs, follow these tips for best results:
- Don't Skip Roasting: Roasting the veggies is a crucial step. It draws out moisture from the eggplant and enhances the flavors, helping to avoid a mushy meatball interior.
- Adjust Flour Quantity: Eggplant sizes can vary, which might affect the consistency of your meatball batter. If it's too dry or too wet, adjust the amount of chickpea flour. The batter should be moist but not sticky when rolling it into meatballs.
Step 1: Prep your veggies
To make this vegan eggplant meatball recipe, first, gather your ingredients and spices. Then roughly cut your eggplant, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Then prep your oven to 425 degrees.
Step 2: Roast your veggies
Add your cut veggies to a large baking pan. Use a silicon mat or parchment paper to avoid sticking. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle the spices on top and using clean hands or a spoon mix until the veggies are evenly coated. Then bake your veggies at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Make the meatball batter
Once the veggies are finished roasting, add them to a food processor. You should have roughly 3 cups. Then add in the remaining ingredients. Blend until you have a smooth batter. The batter should not be overly sticky and should roll easily.
Pro Tip: add in more chickpea flour if the meatball batter is sticky and won't roll.
Step 4: Roll and bake
Next, roll out your eggplant balls. Take a tablespoon of the eggplant mixture and roll out each meatball with your hands. Then place them onto the same baking pan in a single layer.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Then increase the temperature to 425 for another 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
🥬Substitutions & Variations
One of the many joys of this vegan eggplant meatball recipe is its flexibility. Whether you're looking for a vegan appetizer or a hearty family meal, these savory meatballs are a crowd-pleaser. Plus, they're easy to adapt based on your pantry staples or dietary needs, making them a perfect substitute for egg in meatball recipes.
- Oat flour: While oat flour is the preferred choice for these vegan eggplant meatballs, almond flour can step in as a substitute. It's gluten-free and imparts a slightly nutty flavor that complements the recipe beautifully.
- Chickpea flour: If chickpea flour is off the table, rice flour can take its place. It has a neutral flavor and works well in this recipe. While chickpea flour is high in protein and recommended, feel free to experiment with rice flour.
- Lentils: Lentils are the go-to for this recipe, but black beans can serve as a substitute. They offer a similar protein source and smooth texture, making your vegan eggplant meatballs just as delicious.
- Eggplant: This is, after all, a meatball recipe using hearty roasted eggplant. But if eggplant isn't your thing, give zucchini a try. Just remember to adjust the amount of flour, as zucchini has a higher water content.
- Gluten-Free Bread Crumb Variation: If you're looking to switch things up or if chickpea flour isn't readily available, you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs. For an added crunch, consider using gluten-free panko breadcrumbs. Just remember to adjust the moisture in your recipe as breadcrumbs may absorb more liquid than chickpea flour.
- In a pasta sauce: Boost the protein content of your favorite pasta dish by adding these vegan eggplant meatballs!
- Serve with hummus: These eggplant meatballs make a great dipper for hummus or your dip of choice.
- Pizza topping: Crumble or halve these meatballs to create a unique and tasty pizza topping.
- Meatball sandwich: Tuck them into a sandwich with some tomato sauce for a scrumptious lunch.
- Snack platter: Jazz up your next snack board with these meatballs. Pair them with veggies, olives, crackers, or bread, and some tomato sauce for dipping. Don't forget to add your family's favorite fruits or veggies for a personalized touch!
- Air-fryer: To cook in the air-fryer, preheat to 375°F (190°C) and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until they're golden brown and crispy. You'll love the extra crunch that air frying provides!
- Frying Pan: Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, and cook until they're browned on all sides. This method gives your meatballs a delightful crispy crust with a tender, flavorful interior.
Fridge storage: To store this eggplant meatball recipe, place them into an airtight container once they have cooled. Then store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheating: To reheat them simply add the meatballs to any sauce you are cooking or place them onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. You can also microwave them to your desired temperature (60 seconds should do). I personally prefer to microwave them over baking them to prevent them from drying out.
Freezer storage: You can also freeze these meatless meatballs. Simply place them into a reusable freezer bag or airtight container. Ensure you leave enough room for expansion. They can stay frozen for up to 3 months. When you are ready to eat them, remove them from the freezer and thaw them in the fridge overnight.
If your meatballs are turning out soggy, you may need to adjust the amount of chickpea flour or cooking time. The meatball batter should be moist but not sticky, and should easily roll into balls before baking.
If your meatballs are too dry, try adding a bit more roasted veggies to the mix. This will add moisture and help to create a better texture. The texture may vary depending on the size of the eggplants you use. You should have 3 cups of veggies after roasting.
Absolutely! This vegan eggplant meatball recipe is perfect for meal prep. You can roast the veggies or make the meatballs ahead of time, then store them in the fridge or freezer for later use.
Creating a plant-based recipe for meatballs without eggs is simple. Use ingredients like lentils, roasted veggies, chickpea flour, and oat flour. With the right spices, it's easy to make delicious and satisfying egg-less meatballs.
I hope you enjoyed this vegan eggplant meatball recipe! If you are looking for more healthy vegan recipes or easy tasty recipes be sure to check out these:
Until next time, tchau
Vegan Eggplant Meatballs (Gluten-free, Egg-free)
- Food processor
- 2 small eggplants
- 15 mini tomatoes
- ½ onion roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 ½ cups cooked brown lentils or 1 can
- 2 cups oat flour
- 1 ½ cups chickpea flour or more depending on eggplant size
- 2 tablespoon olive oil extra virin
- 1 tablespoon cumin ground
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. To a large baking pan add the eggplant, onions, garlic, tomatoes, spices and olive oil. Use your hands or a large spoon to mix (saving you a bowl to wash). Then place into the oven for 15 minutes.
- Once the veggies are roasted add them to the food processor (you should get about 3 cups worth). Then add in the remaining ingredients. Process until you get a batter.
- Using a large tablespoon roll out each meatball with your hands. Then place onto the same baking pan as the veggies. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Then increase the temperature to 425 for another 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
- You can store them in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. If frozen let them thaw in the fridge before warming them up.
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