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Homemade vegan meatballs made with chickpeas are insanely flavorful – even meat-eaters will love them! This is an updated recipe from 2015 – it’s by far one of my most popular meatless recipes here on Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen. Because they are seriously delicious. If you’re on an oil-free diet, these easy meatballs will be a great addition to your meal plan.
Homemade Vegan Meatballs using Chickpeas
It is no surprise to people that know me, or regularly follow my blog – but I LOVE chickpeas. Chickpea recipes are totally my jam.
I’ve shared with you my tasty Turmeric Chickpea Salad Sandwich recipe and Healthy Vegan Gyro Salad with Chickpeas. Adding chickpeas to salads adds such a delicious element and texture. I’m sure it’s pretty obvious that I have these little round balls of goodness on hand at all times.
So, when I decided to make a healthy vegan meatball, I instantly turned to chickpeas. I have added them to meatloaf (in my pre-vegan days) to bulk it up when I did not have bread crumbs and it turned out amazing, so why not?!
These veggie meatballs are SO incredibly delicious, vegan and meat-eater approved, and pretty easy to make. Pair ’em with marinara sauce & your favorite pasta (mine is penne!) and you have a tasty vegan spaghetti & meatballs recipe that your family will LOVE.
How to Make Vegan Meatballs
If you are using canned chickpeas, just go ahead and give them a whirl in the blender or a food processor. They don’t need to be totally smooth – a little chunkiness is great because it will give your meatless meatballs some texture and won’t be total mush when you bake them up.
Dried chickpeas require to be soaked in water beforehand (about 4 hours, or overnight) and then boiled. You will need to boil them until they are cracking open and beginning to shed their skin. This will ensure they are super soft which will make for the most cohesive meatballs. Boiling them might take an hour or so.
Personally, I like to peel off some of the skins to give the meatballs an even smoother texture before blending. Just pinch the bean and the skin will slide right off. This is totally optional (and time-consuming), though. I typically just take the skins off until I don’t feel like it anymore. #lazy
For a vegan “egg”, flax seed eggs work perfectly in this recipe to bind these vegan meatballs together. A flax seed egg is simply made by mixing water & ground flax. It gels up similar to egg texture and works great in many recipes as a binder! I use them to help breading stick to cauliflower and also in baked oatmeal!
After all of the ingredients come together, roll your meatballs up (I use a tablespoon measuring spoon to make them all the same size). If they crack when you try to roll them, add oil or chickpea juice (AKA aquafaba). If they are too sticky, add some more breadcrumbs.
Then, simply bake them in the oven and add them your favorite spaghetti dish or make vegan meatball subs!
Chickpea Vegan Meatball FAQ:
What’s the texture of these meatballs suppose to be like? They are crunchy on the outside and softer in the middle.
Can I substitute something for breadcrumbs? You can try to substitute breadcrumbs for oats, corn flakes…one reader has even tried tostadas! I’m not sure of the exact measurements for these since I haven’t tested them.
Can I freeze them? Yes! If frozen, pop them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.
Will this recipe work for veggie burgers instead of meatballs? Yup! A few people in the comments have made these into burgers and loved them.
What can I substitute for flax seed? Reserved liquid from a can of chickpeas (aka, aquafaba) will work. You’ll need 4-6 tablespoons.
So isn’t this just like…falafel? No, not really. If I had a penny for every time I heard this (usually on Facebook…oh Facebook!), my student loan debt would be gone. 😉 The common factor is chickpeas, but falafel is made differently. Traditional falafel is not made with cooked chickpeas, it’s made with soaked chickpeas. It’s also fried, made with different seasonings, and is not made with breadcrumbs. Chickpeas smushed together doesn’t always = falafel. These chickpeas smushed together = AWESOME vegan meatballs. Glad that’s out of the way ❤
If you make these tasty chickpea meatballs – tag me in a photo on Instagram @karissasvegankitchen. I’d love to see your creations!
Easy Vegan Meatball Recipe with Chickpeas
- If you're using dried chickpeas, soak for 4 hours. Boil them until they are splitting, about 45 minutes to an hour. Skip to Step 2 if using canned chickpeas!
- Drain the chickpeas & pinch the skin off as many as you have the patience for. Blend chickpeas in a blender until broken down.
- Make your flax seed "eggs" - mix 2.5 tablespoons of ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons of water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Mix together the chickpeas and flax seed eggs.
- Mix in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too sticky, add more breadcrumbs half a tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add a little chickpea liquid or oil. You want a consistency that will be easy to roll into balls without sticking to your hands or cracking.
- Taste it - does it need something? Add more of your favorite seasonings if you want! The perk of veggie meatballs is that you can taste test before cooking!
- Form the chickpea mixture into meatballs and place onto a greased or parchment-lined baking dish.
- In a 450 degree oven, bake the chickpea meatballs for 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through. They will be golden and crispy on the outside when done!