These vegan meatballs couldn't be easier to make and are so meaty, flavorful, and satisfying! They're oil-free, low-fat, and high in protein thanks to TVP, black beans, and vital wheat gluten. Bonus! These vegan meatballs are made entirely with pantry staples that are easy to keep on hand, so you can whip up a batch in no time!
Just mix everything together in a bowl, form into meatballs, bake, and toss with sauce. No chopping or special equipment required!
The Easiest and Best Vegan Meatballs
After sharing these air fryer veggie burgers last week, someone asked if I thought the mixture would work well for vegan meatballs. Ahhh, what a great idea!
I've been meaning to create the perfect plant-based meatball for the longest time, so off to the kitchen I went.
To make them even meatier than the veggie burgers, I increased the amount of vital wheat gluten. And for irresistible flavor, while still keeping the recipe easy to prepare, I added Italian seasoning and bumped up the nutritional yeast.
The result is the most satisfying, meaty, and lazy vegan meatballs! They're quick, affordable, made entirely with pantry-friendly ingredients, and perfect for sandwiches and vegan spaghetti!
You'll LOVE these seitan & TVP meatballs because they're:
- made in 1 bowl - no chopping or sautéing!
- satisfying and healthier than store-bought
- firm, meaty, savory, and won't fall apart!
- a great source of fiber and plant-based protein
- and seriously delicious!
- black beans - I used canned beans. The veggie burger recipe that inspired this one calls for either black beans or kidney beans. Technically you can use pretty much any bean here, but I opted for black beans so the meatballs have a more traditional color.
Refried beans are another option, and then there's no need to mash!
- TVP - textured vegetable protein is usually easy to find in the bulk bins at the grocery store. I order this TVP by Anthony's online. TVP is a really versatile ingredient. You can also use it to make vegan Cincinnati chili, TVP taco meat and so much more! Just type "tvp" in the search bar here on the site for more ideas.
- vital wheat gluten - sorry, but there's no substitute for this meatball recipe. In case you're not familiar with seitan, this is a high-protein flour created from wheat. I have an entire seitan category if you need other ways to use vital wheat gluten.
- soy sauce - adds saltiness and umami.
- apple cider vinegar - just a touch adds interest and flavor.
- Italian seasoning - this is an herb blend consisting of oregano, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, basil, and sage. It has become one of my must-haves in my spice rack. It's great for vegetable soup, vegan ricotta and lasagna!
- smoked paprika - adds a naturally smoky flavor.
- almond butter - adds fat and moisture; sub oil for a nut-free option.
- nutritional yeast - adds savory flavor and umami and tenderizes the meatballs. I use this nutritional yeast by Sari Foods.
See recipe card below for quantities and the full recipe.
How to Make Vegan Meatballs
- Mash the beans with a fork.
- Add TVP, hot water, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar and stir well. Let sit 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Add the nutritional yeast, almond butter, and herbs and seasonings. Stir to combine.
- Add vital wheat gluten and mix with your hands. Knead for about 30 seconds to develop the gluten strands.
- Form into balls using 1 ½ tablespoons of mixture for each one. You should end up with 22 to 24 meatballs. Bake for 13 minutes, flip the meatballs, and bake for another 15 to 17 minutes. They're done when crisp on the outside, firm, and piping hot in the middle.
Tip! If you have fewer than 22 meatballs, this means they're too large and won't cook evenly. Pinch off some of the mixture from larger ones to make additional meatballs.
A 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop comes in handy for creating evenly sized meatballs. Or use a measuring spoon and use 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture for the first two or three meatballs. Using those as a guide it's easy to eyeball it for the remainder.
You'll also need a mixing bowl, fork, baking sheet, and parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Plant-based meatballs can be made with a variety of different ingredients. The base for this recipe is vital wheat gluten (seitan), TVP (textured vegetable protein), and mashed black beans for binding and moisture.
Unfortunately, no. As the recipe is written, vital wheat gluten is essential to hold the vegan meatballs together and for the firm and meaty texture. A gluten-free version would require more testing and completely re-working the recipe.
Yes. If you don't think you'll finish the meatballs within 5 days, place in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a microwave, saute pan, or air fryer (with a bit of water added to the bottom to keep them from drying out).
If you're familiar with making seitan, you know that when not cooked the dough tends to have a gummy, stretchy consistency.
Since these meatballs are essentially seitan (though they do include TVP and other ingredients), it's best to keep them fairly small in size. Otherwise, they will over-cook on the outside before they're done in the center.
If you want to try steaming the meatballs instead of baking, that will add moisture and could probably allow for larger sized meatballs. If you experiment with steaming instead of baking, let us know in the comments below!
More Easy Vegan Recipes
I hope you enjoy these easy vegan meatballs! If you try the recipe I would love to hear from you. Comment below to let us know!
Tap to play the video and see how quickly the meatballs come together!
Easy Vegan Meatballs (TVP and Seitan)
- ¾ cup cooked black bleans, rinsed and patted dry - or use ⅔ cup refried black or pinto beans
- 1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- ¾ cup hot water
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons smooth almond butter - or 1 ½ Tbsp oil for nut-free
- 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning blend
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seed, lightly crushed
- black pepper to taste
- ¾ cup vital wheat gluten - no subs; this is essential to the recipe as written
- In a mixing bowl, fully mash the beans with a fork (you don't want any large pieces). Add the TVP, hot water, soy sauce, and vinegar. Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes to hydrate the TVP.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C), and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Add the nutritional yeast, almond butter, Italian herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, fennel seed, and black pepper. Mix well.
- Add the vital wheat gluten. Get in there with your hands and squish and squeeze the mixture together so everything is fully incorporated. Knead the mixture in the bowl for about 30 seconds to develop the gluten.
- Using a scant 1 ½ tablespoons per meatball, scoop or pinch off pieces of the mixture and squeeze in your hand to compact it. Roll between your palms to form a ball. You should end up with 22 to 24 meatballs. It's important not to make the meatballs any larger than this or they won't cook uniformly. Place on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 13 minutes, then carefully flip the meatballs. Bake for another 15 to 17 minutes or until crisp and dry on the outside and piping hot in the center. Note: Meatballs on a silicone mat will require a few more minutes than ones baked on parchment. Also, the meatballs should be dry and crisp on the outside. Once they're coated in sauce they'll be perfect!
- Serve with pasta and marinara, tossed in mushroom gravy, or with sauce on a meatball sub.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.