Easy Vegan 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 with spaghetti. No vegan meats involved.

If you are looking for truly meaty meatballs that you can’t tell are vegan, try these Impossible Meatballs. And for even more ideas, check out these Grape Jelly Meatballs and Swedish Meatballs!

plate with meatballs and spaghetti

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!

You might also love this Best Ever Vegan Spaghetti with lentil-meat sauce. And don’t forget to serve spaghetti with Vegan Garlic Bread!

close up of a ball with marinara on spaghetti

Why I love these vegan meatballs

  • The ingredient list is short, you probably have everything you need right now. No need for store bought vegan meats.
  • 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.
cast iron pan with meatballs in marinara

How to make vegan 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 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 leftovers

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.

fork holding a meatball drenched in marinara

Want more amazing vegan pasta recipes?

meatballs with red sauce on spaghetti on a plate with grey background
4.82 stars (33 ratings)

Easy Vegan Meatballs

These Easy Vegan 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. Air Fry: Air fry the meatballs instead at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
  3. If you don’t have Italian seasoning on hand, you can use 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon basil.
  4. This works with black beans or kidney beans as well, for a slightly different flavor.
  5. 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: 1of 8 servings | 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. I’m pretty new to the WF PBD and I was skeptical about these meatballs. They are excellent! Easy & no special ingredients required. Even my dog liked them and she’s still wondering where the meat went!
    This will be my standard meatball recipe. Thanks so much!

  2. Hi Nora (:

    I’m just at the stage of forming the balls, and was wondering: when you processed the chickpeas, do they come out crumbly? Now that I’m forming the balls, they can easily fall apart, crumble, if I don’t press them a little and then leave them alone. And they feel really dry. Is that your experience as well? I find it hard to see how these won’t come out super dry and crumbly.  Just want to know I’m following the instructions correctly.

    1. Your chickpeas may be a bit drier than mine, so if they are absolutely crumbling and you can’t form the balls without them falling apart, mix in a bit of water until you can roll them well.

  3. Nora describes these as “flavorful satisfying, and simple to make.” I couldn’t agree more. I could eat these everyday.

  4. I don’t have canned chickpeas on hand, only uncooked from a box. How should I go about preparing them so I can try making these for dinner tonight?

    1. No problem, you can cook chickpeas from dry and then use 3 cups of them for the recipe. Follow this guide or the package for how to cook chickpeas from dry. Enjoy!

  5. These were sooooooo good!! I’m new to cooking and can’t believe I made these!! Thank you for this recipe. Tomorrow I am going to have a vegan meatball parm wedge with the leftovers.

  6. I see that 1 serving is 93 calories and 5g protein. I am wondering if each serving is 1 piece of “meatball”? So does 8 servings mean 8 “meatballs”? Just trying to figure out the math.

    1. It depends on how large the balls are. 8 servings means if you divided all the meatballs into 8 servings, that is how many calories it would be. So if you made 16 balls, 2 balls would be one serving.

      1. That helps! Thank you.
        Also – is it possible to store the mixture in the fridge (without rolling balls or baking). If so, how many days can it last before I absolutely have to bake?

  7. These are the BEST vegan meatballs ever!!!!!  A friend just brought some over for us to try.  I quickly made some pasta and we enjoyed the meal immensely.  My husband and I will be trying some more of your recipes soon INCLUDING the meatball one so that we have LOTS of them.

  8. These were super easy and more importantly super tasty and held together great. I made a few modifications, some out of necessity, and some just because that’s what I do.

    -I didn’t have any flax seeds, so I soaked some chia seeds instead.
    -I also used gluten free bread crumbs
    -Added some finely chopped walnuts
    -Added a small amount of boiled red beets for color
    -And I didn’t have garbanzo beans, so I used a trio which were red      kidney, pinto and garbanzo beans. 

  9. I never EVER leave reviews for anyone because for the most part I am disappointed with the vegan recipes I’ve come across- HOWEVER- I have tried a few of your recipes and they always deliver. I am so so SO thankful I came across your website. You are a superstar in my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing your delicious recipes. They always come out perfect ! There has never been anything I had difficult with/ I had to tweak. You’re amazing! I wish I could cook with you in real like so you could teach me more about vegan dishes LOL. Keeps doing what you’re doing ! Sincerely, your new fan. ❤️

    1. Wow, thank you so much for the great comment! It means so much to me! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipes. 🙂

  10. Hello!

    Just wondering if you think almond meal or almond flour could be used instead of bread crumbs? I have both but also rolled oats if I need but just curious if almond would work aswell?

    Tia x

  11. I’m wondering if regular onions and garlic can be used instead of the powders? Maybe sautéed and added to beans in the food processed?

    1. You could saute an onion and a few cloves of garlic mined instead of the dried versions if you’d like. I’d just add them in to the mix, should be good! Enjoy!

  12. Hi Nora,
    These vegan meatballs look amazing!!! If I don’t have flaxseeds can I use chia seeds instead? And would I use it the same way as the flaxseed?

    Thank you!

    1. You can use chia seeds, but I would grind them first if possible instead of using them whole, or you will have whole chia seeds all throughout the balls, which I don’t personally like. Yes, once ground, you can use them the exact same way. Enjoy!

  13. Hi Nora,
    I find it funny that I landed on your website as my name is also Nora. My husband and I have started a new fitness routine and diet/eating habits since January. We are eating more fresh fruit and veggies and eating less meat. I have found a some really great meat alternative recipes. I guess you could say we are now flexitarian. I was looking for a meat alternative meatball when I came to see yours. I tried it out and I must say they turned out great. I added some crushed red chilli flakes for a little kick as we like things on things the spicy side. You definitely would not mistake these for meat but they are pretty tastey. And no they shouldn’t be added to the sauce as they do absorb the liquid and become mushy.

    Thank for the recipe I will be making it again.
    Nora B

  14. I’m out of chickpeas but have cannellini and pinto. Would those softer textured beans still work? I can’t wait to make this mouthwatering recipe!

  15. YUM! Made these last night and they were delicious. Thanks for helping me make great quarantine meals with pantry items and not get bored. I didn’t know what “Italian seasoning” was, so I just added some oregano, basil, and thyme and it came out great. I didn’t have standard breadcrumbs, so for the breadcrumbs I used half panko and half quick oats and the consistency turned out wonderfully–really hung together in the sauce without being too dry. Will be making this again! I love another reviewer’s idea to to gyro-style meatballs with zaatar seasoning, so I might try that next!

    Another huge advantage of these over real meatballs (besides of course health and no dead animals) is you can taste the raw batter before baking to adjust the seasonings to your preferences.

    1. They freeze really well without the sauce, I have done it many times. I just bake them, let them cool and stick them in a freezer bag.

  16. I made this tonite and it was fantastic! I used oats rather than bread crumbs and it was great. Thanks!

  17. Hi Nora,

    Tried these meat(less)balls today and they were awesome-as usual. Your recipes are helping to turn my family into happy vegan converts. Thank you!!!

  18. I just love your recipes Nora, they’re always winners! I’m wondering if I could substitute oatmeal for the breadcrumbs? I don’t have any breadcrumbs right now. Thank you!

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