Quinoa Meatballs | Vegetarian “Meatball” Recipe

4.60 from 22 votes

These meatless "meatballs" will amaze you!

These quinoa meatballs are totally meatless but have the same great flavor and texture!

Do you love to cook with quinoa? Maybe you want to learn how to cook it, or a few different ways to enjoy it? If you’re looking for a substitute for meat on a Meatless Monday or as part of your new plant-based meal, quinoa is the way to go. You don’t have to sacrifice your favorite meals to eat a healthier diet! Making these Quinoa Meatballs is the way to go.

Learning to cook with quinoa is simple, and the grain is packed full of plant-based protein (making it a great alternative to meat). These Quinoa Meatballs are just as hearty as a traditional beef meatball, but they’re much lower in saturated fat. Quinoa meatballs are even a great substitute for turkey and chicken meatballs because you’ll consume a serving of whole grains as well as a protein!

Turn This Quinoa Meatball Recipe Into a Vegan Meal

If you’re following a plant-based diet, you know you can’t have cheese or eggs. We have a quick-and-easy tip for turning these Quinoa Meatballs into an entirely vegan recipe. Instead of using the eggs, mix together 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture sit for a minute before mixing it in with the remaining ingredients.

The purpose of the egg is to bind together the quinoa, lentils, and other ingredients. Flax works perfectly as a binder because it expands into a gel-like substance when combined with water. It’s similar to the way that chia seeds swell, except flax doesn’t have that chewy texture you’ll notice from chia seeds. Plus, there are all kinds of benefits from consuming more flax.

As for the cheese, it’s mostly there as a flavoring ingredient, so feel free to skip it if you’re going dairy-free or vegan. The recipe is delicious as-is, but we always like to help you with easy substitutions to make our recipes fit your diet and wellness plan. Let us know in the comments if you’d had any success with changes and replacements. We always love hearing what you think of our recipes!

Check out our step-by-step video!

4.60 from 22 votes

Quinoa Meatballs | Vegetarian "Meatball" Recipe

Flavorful and nutritious, these vegetarian "meatballs" are sure to be a hit at the dinner table.
Yield 6 people
Serving Size 2 meatballs
Course Dinner
Cuisine American


  • 1/2 cup quinoa dry, pre-rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup green lentils cooked, well drained
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs or whole wheat panko bread crumbs (add additional bread crumbs if the meatballs need to be firmer and aren't holding together well)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan freshly grated
  • 1 tablespoon parsley leaves flat, freshly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oregano freshly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg white (for vegan add 2-3 teaspoons water)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • Add pre-rinsed quinoa and water to a medium pot, cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking 15 minutes or until water is completely absorbed. In the meantime, in a large non-stick skillet add 1 tablespoon olive oil, heat to medium-low and sauté diced onions and bell pepper until tender about 4 minutes, add garlic, parsley and oregano and sauté one additional minute.
  • Remove quinoa from heat and allow to rest 10 minutes. Press down on quinoa with a paper towel to remove any remaining water.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine sautéed onion, garlic, parsley and oregano along with remaining ingredients, except oil. Use either a potato masher or fork and mash the ingredients until the lentils are well mashed. Using your hands, shape into 1 ½ “ (meatless) meatballs, place in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
  • Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to a large non-stick skillet, heat to medium-low and add quinoa (meatless) meatballs. Brown meatballs, turn over and brown on the other side. Cook until browned and heated through, about 16 minutes. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel.
  • If you plan to serve these (meatless) meatballs with marinara, add to the marinara sauce, gently turn to coat. Simmer until hot and serve over pasta.
  • These are a perfect food to eat prior to working out as they provide complex carbohydrates for energy and protein for building muscles. When on hand, I’ll have a few before a workout.
  • TIP: For a vegan version, use vegan egg replacer or 1 tbsp of flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp water rather than the 2-3 teaspoons straight water.


Here's a tip from Joey, one of our readers:

"Instead of browning the meatballs in a skillet, I brushed them with olive oil and broiled them for about 15 minutes (flip meatballs after 7 minutes). Result is evenly browned meatballs."

Nutrition Information

Serving: 2meatballs | Calories: 291kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 309mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 5
Keywords Diabetic-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Plant-Based, Vegetarian

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Gale Compton

Gale co-founded SkinnyMs. with a goal to provide women with delicious recipes, fitness routines, and ways to reach their ideal weight. Gale has been featured on the Today Show in which she won a cook off for the best Lasagna. Be sure to search for her winning recipe, Skinny Lasagna Rolls.

Guided by her firm belief in healthy eating and the power of exercise, Gale has written two cookbooks and several fitness ebooks. She earned her Fitness Training Certification from, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association. Gale loves to run with her dog Maggie and has completed numerous half-marathons.

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  1. having a hard time getting the meatballs formed, they keep falling apart.  Any tricks or suggestions for this???

    1. Xanthan gum, potato FLOUR, hydrated flaxseed meal, guar gum, these all help in binding gluten free together, the potato flour especially. =) Hope this helps.

  2. Since the egg white acts as a binding agent, I'd suggest a vegan egg replacer or 1 tbsp of flaxmeal mixed with 3tbsp water to replace it, instead of just straight water, if you need to go vegan. I've made them both ways (with the egg white and with flax) and they're really good!

    1. Heather, Great tip!! I'll add this info to the recipe. Any other vegan tips are appreciated. Thanks. 😀

  3. I just made these! It was hard to keep my hands out of them they are great!! I didn't make the dough into balls, I spread it out on lasagna. I have one other recipe for meatballs but it is overnite. I don't have that much time today. This recipe was super easy and it used things that I commonly have.

  4. I am going to try baking these to save on the fat content instead of frying. Just spray with a little olive oil and bake turning once during cooking. These sound great. I am also thinking of all the other flavors of meatballs to make. Mexican, Asian, Greek etc. Oh the possibilities.

      1. Grace, These are cooked in a skillet. If you prefer to bake, place the meatballs on parchment paper, bake in a 350 degree oven.
        Turn after 10 minutes and cooked another 10 minutes.:)

  5. i used 2 eggs, tons of garlic and romano cheese, not parm cuz parm is not strong..absolutely delicious. mine stayed together very nicely!

  6. Oh my gosh, made these tonight. I forgot to refrigerate for 2 hours and forgot to mash them but they were still insanely delicious! I only made a few tonight because I was running short on time, going to make the rest of the mixture the right way (refrigerating and mashing) and try making them. Big hit in my house, my husband loved them too. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Made these tonight after reading all of the enthusiastic comments. Have to say I was very disappointed. I've been a vegetarian for years and have had many fake meatballs, both homemade and store bought. These were so bland, even using them to make meatball parm sandwiches (i.e. covering them in flavorful sauce) only made them ok. They consistency was good, so that's a plus. I'm glad I only cooked half the batch and froze the rest – hopefully I can salvage what's left.

  8. Just a minor critique – Parmesan cheese is make with animal (usually calf) rennet and is not vegetarian. There are some Parmesan-like hard cheeses that are made with vegetarian rennet. The recipe works fine without it.

    A good substitute for the eggs is 1 tablespoon of chia seeds or ground golden flax seeds/flax meal mixed 1 tablespoon of water.

  9. Best vegetarian meatball recipe have encountered so far. A couple tips: I substituted the Parsley with Cilantro for added flavor. Also instead of browning the meatballs in a skillet I brushed them with olive oil and broiled them for about 15 minutes (flip meatballs after 7 minutes). Result is evenly browned meatballs.

    1. Hey Joey, I tried your suggestion last night and they turned out “AMAZING”. I’ve added your tip to the recipe. Love the tips…keep them coming! 🙂

  10. Add these tonight! The whole family loved it! I used a vegan Parm recipe, otherwise followed the directions. We are new to plant based/vegan living. These were a pleasant surprise! Thank you!

    1. Karen, The quinoa will yield about 2 cups when cooked. The dry lentils will yield around 2 1/2 cups when cooked.

  11. I’ve made these many times and they are a firm favourite to have with pasta and a tomato sauce. Tasty, crunchy, healthy. Love them.

    I generally cook them in the oven, brushed with olive oil or sprayed if I have a spritz, for about 25-30 mins.5 stars

    1. You could try, Textured Soy Protein Granules. They make delicious meatballs. Just following the instructions and use the same amount in the recipe, once cooked.

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