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. Nora, I’m a huge fan of our recipes, but didn’t love this. They came out very blonde and healthy-beany tasting. They were slightly better the next day after they had absorbed more sauce and had a more tomato-y taste. My husband was surprised “This is a Nora recipe?!?!” We usually love your stuff! Glad others have enjoyed it but we weren’t a fan of this one.

    1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful review and feedback! I’m glad you guys love the meatballs. Thank you for using my recipes, and happy cooking!

  2. I did 1/2, 1/2 chickpeas and black beans. The flavor was great, but they were still a bit mushy inside and pushed down when cutting with a fork. Any suggestion on how to firm them up some more to have that consistency of a “meat”ball

    1. Since they are made from beans, they won’t end up tasting quite like a real meatball. But if they were mushy, you can bake them a bit longer to dry them out.

      1. Thanks Nora, they tasted amazing regardless, just wish they were firmer. Do you think substituting or adding a little oatmeal flour would firm them up? It seems to work good for falafel, and bean burgers, etc.

        1. I have always used breadcrumbs as I think that works best, however, the oatmeal flour may work. Let me know how it goes for you!

  3. Finally got around to making these meatballs. They were simple to make and turned out delicious. I will be making these again for sure.

  4. VEGAN BESTIES, BACK FOR MORE. My best friend and I got together over Zoom in 2020 to make your vegan artichoke dip. We loved it so much that 2 years later, we came back for more. This recipe was quick, easy, tasty, and customizable to what each of us were craving in the moment! We love your recipes, Nora!

    1. I love your post! Thank you for sharing! I’m glad you guys loved the meatballs! I appreciate you using my recipes! Wishing you happy cooking!

    1. Hi Marissa. You can use chia seeds, and I suggest you grind them first instead of using them whole, or you will have whole chia seeds all throughout the meatballs, which I don’t personally like. Once ground, you can use the the chia seeds the exact same way as the ground flaxseed. Enjoy!

  5. Hi! I plan to make these for Thanksgiving. Do you think I could use the meatball recipe but use the old classic grape jelly and vegan barbeque sauce instead of marinara?

    1. Hi there! You might be able to. I’m not totally sure about how they will taste, and just be careful because they will fall apart more easily than real meatballs. Hope you enjoy!

  6. Cooking in the oven at the moment! Cannot wait to taste they look incredible. Can I freeze some of these plain after oven without sauce? How long do they last in freezer?

    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. They will last the best about 1-2 months in the freezer.

  7. These are very good!  And so much easier than another recipe I’ve used in the past.  I didn’t bother flipping them over.  They still got slightly browned.  

  8. I love that these are all pantry ingredients!! This is a great food storage meal. Thanks so much!!

  9. Hi Nora! I just discovered your eebsite and I am in love. I want to make this recipe, but as I make my own oat milk, I have a lot of iat puree after straining… and I am trying to find more ways to use it in recipes. Do you think I coult use oat milk to replace the water, flaxseeds and oat… do you think it would be a good idea? Thank you so much! Any suggestions with my experiment with oat puree would be really appreciated.

    1. Hi Danielle, so glad you found me! 🙂 You might be able to but I’ve never tried it so it’s hard for me to say for sure. I think it would be a great experiment!

      1. The outside got nice and crispy but the inside just stayed soft and kind of uncooked. They were still really tasty but wondering if that’s how they normally are? I used oats instead of breadcrumbs. Thank you!

        1. I think it’s using oats instead of breadcrumbs, that changes the recipe quite a bit. Breadcrumbs make them drier for sure, less mushy.

  10. I followed this recipe exactly except for using ground up rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs since I couldn’t find vegan bread crumbs in the store.  Unfortunately the meatballs fell apart once I added them to the sauce.  They were really firm coming out of the oven.  I’m wondering if using the oats instead of the breadcrumbs is the reason?  I’m gonna try this next time with breadcrumbs.

    1. Yes, I think oats would make them more crumbly, breadcrumbs do a better job and helping them stay together.

  11. Hello Nora
    I have tried this recipe and it is delicious even my hubby (proud carnivore) enjoyed them. Would this recipe work with green lentils and chick pea flour? 

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed them! I’m sure it would work with lentils but I don’t know about using chickpea flour. It might though, I just haven’t tried it.

  12. Think doubling the amount of sauce would have been better. The balls absorbed a lot of sauce. Use a bigger pan as well for spreading out the meatballs when in sauce to make it easier to flip without breaking them as they are fragile. Nice recipe and super easy.

  13. This is the most delicious and simple vegan meatball I’ve ever made!! I’m adding this to my regular rotation

  14. These Chickpea meatballs sound delicious. Just wondering though if I could make a bunch and freeze them. Do you know if they freeze well?

  15. Whoa…I will have to give these a go as a part of our Christmas dinner, but I have to find another name for this recipe – falafel,  maybe?

    1. Hope you like them! They actually taste nothing like falafel even though they are made with chickpeas, different flavorings and ingredients.

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