Protein-Packed Vegan Meatballs Made With Chickpeas

Packed with flavor and spice, these meatless bean balls are my absolute top choice to serve with spaghetti and sauce—a total comfort meal—or in sub sandwiches. The Worcestershire and tomato paste are crucial, adding a wonderful depth and savory flavor.

Use one teaspoon of chili powder if you’d prefer milder meatless balls. Or triple that if you’re all about the heat. Make sure to follow each step closely, as this will ensure the texture turns out correctly—nice and crispy on the outside but moist and soft on the inside. Just how my favorite meatless meatballs should always be.

Protein-Packed Vegan Meatballs Made With Chickpeas

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 38 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 3 minutes

Category: Snacks & Drinks, Recipes

Servings: 5

Protein-Packed Vegan Meatballs Made With Chickpeas


  • 3⁄4 packed cup (120 grams/6 ounces) finely diced red onion
  • 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry, or 1 1⁄2 cups cooked (255 grams/12 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) vegan Worcestershire
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons (2 to 5 grams) mild chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) smoked paprika
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon (3 grams) fine salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon (1 grams) ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup (40 grams) fine cornmeal
  • 1⁄4 cup (40 grams) brown rice flour
  • OPTIONAL: hot cooked pasta, chopped fresh parsley, pasta sauce for serving.


  1. Add the onion and 3 tablespoons (45g) water to a small stainless steel pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the water is gone, cook for 3 more minutes, stirring constantly, to brown the onions a bit. This will give the balls a lot of flavor. Turn the heat down if the onion is browning too quickly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Add the cooked onions, chickpeas, tomato paste, and Worcestershire to a food processor, and pulse several times or just until the chickpeas are broken up into smaller pieces and have a rough, chunky texture. Don’t puree this. You will need to scrape the sides after the first pulse. If there are whole chickpeas remaining, then mash them with a fork so no whole chickpeas remain. Set aside.
  4. Add the chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cornmeal, and rice flour to a large bowl, and whisk well. Add the chickpea mixture to the spice mixture; stir and press the mixture together for several minutes until it is well moistened and comes together. Using your hands, form the mixture into a sticky, cohesive ball. You will need to rotate and knead the mixture several times.
  5. Scoop 1 1⁄2 tablespoons of chickpea mixture out, and press together to form a ball. The mixture is too delicate to roll into balls with my palms, but I found placing a ball in one hand while pressing and piecing it together with my fingertips worked well. Just make sure each ball is compact and smooth. This will yield 15 balls. Place them on the prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes, flip over, and bake 15 more minutes. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes so they can firm up. Store any extra in the fridge.
  7. If desired, serve with pasta and sauce. Add the desired amount of sauce to a large stainless steel pan over medium-low heat. Add only the balls you want to eat at that time to the sauce and rotate them carefully for 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through. The balls will soften too much if stored in the sauce overnight.

Nutrition Facts

Protein-Packed Vegan Meatballs Made With Chickpeas


Amount Per Serving
Calories 158
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2.3 grams 3.5%
Saturated Fat 0
Trans Fat
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 519 milligrams 21.6%
Total Carbohydrate 29.8 grams 9.9%
Dietary Fiber 5.8 grams 23.2%
Sugars 5.4 grams
Protein 6.3 grams
Vitamin A Vitamin C
Calcium Iron

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

If you like this recipe and you’re loving making cruelty-free, vegan food, check out other plant-based recipes to keep the momentum going.

For those days when you’re in-between meals and get the mid-afternoon munchies, try energy balls. Carrot cake flavored energy bars are healthy and delicious and so easy to make! Check out this recipe.

I love to pair my meatless meatballs with gnocchi. And, recently, sweet potato gnocchi has been ticking all my boxes. It’s cathartic to make gnocchi by hand and really spend the time to lovingly create a nourishing meal I can eat immediately (after cooking, of course!) or freeze and reheat for future lazy weeknight meals. Adding wilted kale to the sweet potato gnocchi and meatless meatballs transform the dish to new heights. Try this recipe alongside my meatless meatballs.

While you’re cooking, venture into the dessert realm. If you’re trying to use up old, end-of-season mandarins or have an almost-expired packet of polenta lying around, make a cake out of it. Because, when life gives you mandarins and old polenta, make a gluten-free, vegan, decadent cake! Try this recipe and make all your zero-waste foodie dreams come true. By the way, that dairy-free yogurt frosting is a force to be reckoned with.

Excerpted from The Vegan 8 by Brandi Doming. Copyright © 2018 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from TI Inc. Books, a division of Meredith Corporation. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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