Italian Style Chickpea Meatballs are flavorful, hearty and made with pantry staples you probably have on hand right now. They hold up well in marinara sauce, and are perfect served over spaghetti noodles. Sure to become a family favorite!

cast iron pan with meatballs in marinara

These chickpea meatballs are flavorful, satisfying and just plain amazing on top of some spaghetti noodles with marinara sauce. The best part is how simple they are to make.

Now, they aren’t going to fool a meat eater into thinking they’re eating meat. But they definitely satisfy the “spaghetti and meatballs” craving! Sometimes I buy the vegan meatballs from Trader Joe’s for a quick meal, but my family always prefers my homemade version made with beans.

Why the recipe works

  • The ingredient list is short, you probably have everything you need right now.
  • When the meatballs are baked, they firm up and become quite sturdy, so they are perfect for warming in marinara sauce.
  • The balls are quite flavorful themselves, but when you add them to your favorite marinara sauce, they are even more full of flavor.
plate with meatballs and spaghetti

How to make chickpea meatballs

  1. In a bowl, mix the ground flaxseeds and water. Set aside to thicken.
  2. In a food processor (or mash by hand), process the beans until no whole beans are left. They should look flaky, not a total paste.
  3. Add the processed beans to a bowl, along with the flax/water mixture and the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Stir, use your hands if needed to get everything incorporated.
  5. Roll into heaping tablespoon sized balls.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through.
collage of how to make vegan meatballs

Finally, add the cooked chickpea meatballs to a pan of warmed marinara sauce. Stir gently to coat. Serve over spaghetti noodles with optional vegan parmesan, if desired.

Gluten-free option

To make this meal gluten free, swap gluten free breadcrumbs for the regular breadcrumbs, or even rolled oats (certified gluten free). And serve over gluten free pasta.

How to store leftover chickpea meatballs

The balls will keep in a covered container, either in marinara or not, for 3-4 days.

To freeze: Instead of adding the cooked meatballs to marinara, cool completely, then freeze in a ziplock freezer bag or container. You can reheat the balls in the oven, or simple throw them in marinara sauce on the stove until warm.

close up of a ball with marinara on spaghetti

Want more pasta recipes?

fork holding a meatball drenched in marinara
square image of balls in marinara in a cast iron pan
4.82 stars (32 ratings)

Easy Chickpea Meatballs

Italian Style Chickpea Meatballs are flavorful, hearty and made with pantry staples you probably have on hand right now.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 people


Vegan Meatballs

  • 3 tablespoons ground flax
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups drained and rinsed chickpeas *this is how much is in 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (see notes for gluten free option)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

For serving

  • 8 ounces spaghetti noodles (gluten free if needed)
  • (1) 25 oz jar your favorite marinara sauce


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the ground flax and 8 tablespoons water. Let sit for 5 minutes while you prepare the chickpeas.
  • In a food processor with the "S" blade, add the chickpeas and pulse until there are almost no whole beans left. If you do not have a food processor, you can mash them by hand with a potato masher. Add the processed chickpeas to a large mixing bowl.
  • Now add the flax/water mixture, breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning and salt to the bowl. Stir with a large wooden spoon until well combined. The mixture will be very thick; sometimes I even use my hands to make sure everything is incorporated well. 
  • Roll into balls (about a heaping tablespoon each) and place on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. 
  • Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, turning once halfway through. 
  • While the meatballs are baking, prepare spaghetti noodles according to package instructions. Warm the marinara sauce in a large pan, big enough to add the vegan meatballs to.
  • When the meatballs are done cooking, carefully place them in the marinara sauce. Gently stir to coat, but be careful not to break them as they aren't as firm as regular meatballs.
  • Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles with optional vegan parmesan, if desired. Enjoy!


  1. Gluten Free: Substitute gluten free breadcrumbs or gluten free rolled oats for the regular breadcrumbs to make it gluten free. And serve over gluten free pasta.
  2. If you don’t have Italian seasoning on hand, you can use 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon basil.
  3. This works with black beans or kidney beans as well, for a slightly different flavor.
  4. Nutritional information is an estimate only, and is for the meatballs only (about 3-5 of them, depending on how big you roll them).


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 93kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 346mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 9IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

*This post was originally published May 2018, and has been reposted with better instructions and more step by step photos.


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  1. So flavorful! I love spaghetti but like to have some protein to round it out. These were perfect! Thanks Nora! Your recipes never disappoint!

  2. If I omit the flaxseed, how will it affect the recipe? Thank you so much! Diana:))
    PS Will your answer show up in my inbox?

    1. The flaxseed/flax eggs help bind the meatballs together, AKA it prevents them from falling apart. If you don’t have flax at home, you can use chia seeds and grind them first so you don’t have whole chia seeds throughout the meatballs. Once ground, you can use the chia seeds the exact same way as the ground flaxseed. Enjoy!

  3. Hi, I was wondering…

    If I added brown rice to this recipe, do you think that would help with the meatballs being more firm?

  4. Delicious vegan meatballs!
    I used 2 cans of black beans and followed the recipe to a T !
    For my next meal, do I thaw meatballs out before putting them in sauce or do I put them in frozen and heat them up gradually?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Lynn. I’m glad you love the vegan meatballs! You can reheat the frozen balls in the oven, or in marinara sauce on the stove until warm. Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  5. These ‘meatballs’ were delightful! Light and flavorful. Very good addition to any pasta dish, and much healthier and super easy to make -Thank you so much!

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