There's no reason you can't enjoy meatballs when going meatless.
Yes, Meatless Meatballs
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When you think of meatballs, "vegan" doesn't really come to mind. (I mean, think of the word, itself.) But there are actually ways to create tasty meatballs that are totally meat-free—and contain healthy plant-based proteins and fibrous grains instead. Yes, that makes them vegan, but it also makes them really good for you, since they're generally lower in calories and saturated fat. (And, FYI, you can be plant-based without going totally vegan.)
Here are seven vegan meatball recipes that even meat eaters will love. Pop 'em as an appetizer, throw 'em in a sandwich, or whip up a plate of the classic spaghetti and meatballs. The possibilities are endless.
Photo: Nataliya Arzamasova / Shutterstock
Vegan & Gluten-Free Turnip Chickpea Meatballs
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These turnip and chickpea meatballs are gluten-free and vegan, making them suitable for people with several dietary restrictions. Packed with protein, fiber, and spices like garlic, coriander, and oregano, they pack a real flavor kick—but at just 45 calories per meatball.
Get the recipe: Vegan & Gluten-Free Turnip Chickpea Meatballs
Photo: Rise Shine Cook
Spicy Asian Vegan Meatballs
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These vegan meatballs are made of farro and chickpeas and glazed in a rich, Asian-inspired sauce made with tamari, sriracha, mirin, and red pepper flakes. Two meatballs are about 155 calories, so you can serve them as an easy appetizer or throw them on top of stir-fried veggies for a main meal.
Get the recipe: Spicy Asian Vegan Meatballs
Photo: This Gal Cooks
Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Meatballs
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These vegan tomato and basil meatballs are perfect for Italian night, without all the pork and beef that typical Italian meatballs call for. They taste great with a marinara sauce atop a plate of spaghetti, or as the filler for a meatball sub. Bonus: top with vegan Parmesan cheese.
Get the recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Meatballs
Photo: Minimalist Baker
Vegan Lentil and Mushroom Meatball Sliders
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These meatball sliders are made with mushroom and lentil for a base to make them 100 percent vegan. Instead of eating traditional sliders with a beef or turkey patty, you can throw these balls inside a slider bun and serve them as appetizers for a summer BBQ. Or nosh on them for when you have the munchies but don't want a full burger. (Also try these easy DIY veggie burger recipes.)
Get the recipe: Vegan Lentil-Mushroom Meatball Sliders
Photo: Blissful Basil
Vegan Chia Zucchini Meatball Pasta
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These zucchini and chia meatballs are high in fiber, healthy fats, and protein, which makes them a perfect meatball to enjoy over pasta or a salad greens. Dried herbs and garlic give them savory flavor, but you can also add chili flakes for an extra kick.
Get the recipe: Vegan Chia Zucchini "Meatball" Pasta
Photo: The Healthy French Wife
Vegan Barbecue Lentil Balls
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These barbecue-flavored lentil meatballs are perfect for your outdoor parties. Made with only plant-based ingredients like mushrooms, rice, and lentils, they're high in protein, iron, and magnesium. And, since they're slathered in barbecue sauce, they're a crowd-pleaser for non-vegans too—your carnivore friends will barely realize there's no meat underneath. (Here are even more vegan barbecue recipes that'll fool everyone.)
Get the recipe: Vegan Barbecue Lentil Balls
Photo: Vegan With Curves
Vegan Meatball Banh Mi
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This banh mi sandwich is perfect for a light but still nutrient-dense lunch. Load up a bun with these vegan meatballs, pickled veggies, and a creamy sriracha sauce, and you'll never miss the chicken, pork, etc. Make a big batch of meatballs in just 30 minutes, and you can enjoy banh mi all week long.
Get the recipe: Vegan Meatball Banh Mi
Photo: The Wanderlust Kitchen