These easy Lentil Meatballs are a drool-worthy plant-based protein source. Made simply with lentils, tomato paste, onions, garlic, and flour, you can serve these meatballs as a snack or add them to salads, grain bowls, or pasta.
I think it is safe to say that I am on a roll with meatballs. From these Baked Turkey Meatballs and Vegetarian Slow Cooker Asian Meatballs to my Quinoa Spinach Meatballs, I am slowly but surely trying just about every meatball recipe in the book. It was only a matter of time before I whipped up some lentil meatballs.
Packed with lentils, garlic, onion, tomato paste, all-purpose flour, and a handful of fresh herbs and spices, these vegan lentil meatballs are a delicious source of protein and fiber. Not to mention, they are packed with protein, dairy-free, and can be made gluten-free. (Talk about a holy grail.)
Perfect for Meatless Mondays and vegetarian diets alike, these easy lentil meatballs are bound to become a staple in your weekly routine. You can serve them on top of a grain bowl, salad, or with spaghetti for a classic pairing. These meatless meatballs also work wonderfully as a meal prep option! So, get your lentils ready, and let’s get into it.
Key Ingredients (And Easy Swaps!)
Easy Lentil Meatballs are a lot simpler to make than you might think. All you need are a few key ingredients:
- Lentils: Lentils are a terrific source of protein that can help lower cholesterol and protect against both diabetes and colon cancer. They’re super easy to mash and mold, and therefore they have the ideal consistency for making into meatballs. To keep things easy, this recipe uses canned lentils but you can also use your own homemade cooked lentils.
- Tomato paste: Tomato paste is used as a binder, meaning it helps to hold all the good stuff together. Not only that, but it also makes the meatballs extra moist.
- Flour: The flour helps the meatballs hold their shape while they’re cooking. I use all-purpose flour in this recipe, but feel free to use 1:1 gluten-free flour or whole wheat flour.
- Fresh herbs: A sprinkle of fresh thyme and parsley give these meatballs an Italian-inspired flavor that pairs perfectly with just about any pasta dish. You can use any combination of fresh herbs and spices you like.
Why You’ll Love Lentil Meatballs
Lentil meatballs are easy, nutritious, and incredibly tasty. Here are a few reasons why I know you’ll love this recipe:
- Perfect for leftovers! Lentil meatballs are ideal for using up any leftover cooked lentils that you might have lying around in the fridge.
- Vegan and (possibly!) gluten-free. These plant-based meatballs are dairy-free and perfect for vegan diets. They can also easily be made gluten-free if you use gluten-free flour.
- Customizable. Fresh parsley and thyme are two delicious herbs that give these meatballs a boost of flavor. But of course, you can add additional herbs or spices. If you like things hot, chili powder or smoked paprika will surely give this dish a bit of extra heat. Oregano and basil are great for some Italian-inspired flavor.
- Soft and golden-brown. The finished product is going to be delectably soft and golden brown. If you like your meatballs crispier, you can add more flour and finish cooking them in the oven. Baking will crisp up their outsides while keeping the insides nice and soft.
- 15-minute meal. Lentil meatballs come together in just 15 minutes, making them the ideal weeknight entrée for those nights when you’re craving something hearty, yet aren’t necessarily in the mood to do a whole lot.
- Ultra-versatile. These meatballs taste great with just about anything! You can use them to top off salads, sandwiches, pasta bowls, or whatever else your heart desires.
Serving Ideas for Vegetarian Meatballs
There are so many ways to serve these meatless lentil balls. Here are some of my favorites:
- Go for the classic option and serve these meatballs with your favorite pasta or vegetable noodles. After frying the meatballs, simmer them in marinara sauce for even more flavor. Top with Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast.
- These are delicious in sandwiches and wraps! Make anything from a homemade plant based meatball sub with sauce or cheese or go in a Middle Eastern direction by adding hummus, tzatziki, and lots of fresh vegetables.
- Serve these as an appetizer or on their own with a delicious dipping sauce like this Honey Mustard or Jalapeno Ranch. These serve as a great replacement for chicken nuggets for kids.
- Make a delicious grain bowl with lots of roasted vegetables, brown rice or quinoa, and these lentil meatballs. Drizzle with pesto, salad dressing, or peanut sauce.
- Make some yummy plant based tacos by adding chili powder, cilantro, cumin, and lime zest to these easy lentil meatballs. Serve in corn tortillas with slaw, avocado, and salsa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this lentil meatballs recipe:
Lentil meatballs are great for topping off any lunch or dinner during any time of the year. I love tossing them into salads, wraps, pasta bowls, or with zucchini noodles and marinara sauce for a plant-packed meal.
Absolutely! All it takes is swapping the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free alternative or rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill oats are my fave).
Yes! These meatballs are easy to freeze. All you have to do is let them cool entirely, then place them in the freezer on a baking sheet or plate in a single layer for 20-30 minutes. Then, you can transfer them to an airtight container or bag and freeze them for up to 1 month.
When it comes time to defrost the meatballs, let them thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, line a tray with parchment paper and place the lentil meatballs onto the paper, leaving space between each one. Reheat in the oven at 375°F until warm.
Yes! You can easily skip the skillet part and bake lentil meatballs in the oven. To do so, preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with a bit of oil, then place the lentil meatballs on the sheet. (Make sure to keep them separated from one another.) Bake for 30-35 minutes.
To store your leftovers, allow them to cool completely, then you can seal them up in an airtight storage container or bag. Then, you can refrigerate them for up to 5 days. Leftover lentil meatballs still taste yummy when they’re enjoyed cold. Or, you could reheat them using a microwave or oven. (See above!)
Luckily for you, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to use lentils. I love using mashed lentils to make veggie burger patties. In the summertime, mashed lentils are also perfect for making vegan Kofta (skewers of “meat” that are seasoned and served with pita, salads, dips, and sauces).
This recipe can work with other beans like chickpeas, black beans, white beans, or kidney beans.
Lentil Meatballs (Quick and Easy)
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- 18 oz canned lentils, washed and drained
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 onion, minced (small, red, or white)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp all purpose flour (more as needed, or GF flour)
- 1 Salt and black pepper to taste (sea salt or kosher)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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