Vegan No-Meat Meatballs
These eggplant based no-meat meatballs taste just as delicious and are much healthier than their meaty counterparts. This clean, gluten-free (you can use GF breadcrumbs), and simple recipe with just 10 ingredients, ready under 45 minutes is a total game-changer. This recipe yields super moist and dense balls – thanks to eggplant, white beans, and walnuts. These are so flavorful, the first time I made these my kids could not guess the ingredients and generally they are pretty good about it.
They almost remind me of eggplant lasagna, in the form of meatballs and without any cheese. This eggplant recipe is great whether you’re a vegan or just want to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet. My family loves to have these, in classic American way with spaghetti and marinara sauce.
What’s so amazing about these No Meat Meatballs?
These meatballs are perfect for all types of diets; vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, clean eating, and gluten-free if you swap the crumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs.
These eggplant meatballs can be customized! Here are a few ideas:
- Serve on a hoagie bun with vegan cheese – eggplant sandwiches
- Like it hot – add 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes with the seasonings
- Add mushrooms to the recipe – whatever kind of mushrooms you have on hand
- Use gluten-free breadcrumbs to make these gluten-free
- Leave the walnuts to make these nut-free
These No Meat Meatballs are plant-based and instead of deep-frying them, I air fry them in an air fryer so, they are light, moist inside and crispy outside. If you do not have an air fryer, you can broil these on broiler setting on your oven.
This recipe is a perfect appetizer, snack or weeknight meal. Though it takes a little more time to prepare, it’s wonderfully healthy and nutritionally dense. I often double the recipe and make a big batch and freeze some. They come in handy for a quick weeknight dinner – salad, these No-Meat meatballs, and marinara sauce and we have a perfect dinner together in under 30 minutes.
Vegan No-Meat Meatballs
These all American classic meatballs, are vegan, made with eggplant, white beans, spices and breadcrumbs.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Allergens: Tree Nuts, Wheat
- Servings: 6
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 cup white beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs or panko, use gluten-free crumbs for a gluten-free option
- Air Fryer, optional
Heat the oven to 375 F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place 1/2 of a tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cubed eggplant pieces and 1/2 cup water. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer cooked eggplant to the bowl of a food processor.
Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the food processor along with the white beans, walnuts, and parsley and pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add breadcrumbs, mixing well.
Roll into 12 balls, about 2-inches in diameter and transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Flip the balls and bake for another 15 minutes until firm and browned. Place the balls in an air fryer on 350 F for another 7 minutes for crispiness or on the broil setting in the oven for 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, warm the marinara sauce and serve with the meatballs over pasta, zucchini noodles or just by themselves.