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5 from 1 vote
vegan meatballs with tempeh
Vegan Meatballs
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
These vegan meatballs are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and seasoned with Italian herbs. Served over over spaghetti with herb-infused tomato sauce, these "meatballs" will leave you not only full, but also feeling wonderfully satisfied.
Servings: 20 meatballs
Vegan Meatballs
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 (8-oz) block tempeh, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (gluten-free)
  • 1 flax egg*
  • 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 (25-oz) jar crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
Vegan Meatballs
  1. Preheat airfryer or oven to 375°F (190°C) and prepare flax egg in a small dish.

  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add tempeh and soy sauce, Brown the tempeh for a few minutes. (You might need to add a little bit of olive oil to the pan so the tempeh doesn't stick).
  3. In the meantime, add sunflower seeds to the food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Then add the browned tempeh to the food processor and pulse it a few times to breaks down.
  4. In the same skillet that the tempeh was browning, heat 1 Tbsp, (15 ml) of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sweat them out for about 3 minutes, until translucent and fragrant. Then add mushrooms and a pinch of sea salt. When the mushrooms start releasing water, add the dried oregano, basil, and black pepper. Keep sauteing until all the liquid from mushrooms evaporates.

  5. Add sautéd garlic, onion, mushrooms, and all the other ingredients (flax egg, breadcrumbs, and nutritional yeast) to the food processor with sunflower seeds and tempeh, and pulse a few times until all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. The tempeh will come across as a little bitter, but once baked, it should be far less apparent.
  7. Scoop out 1-2 Tbsp of dough and roll into balls. If using airfryer, place the meatballs in the airfryer basket and slide the basket in the airfryer. Air-fry for 15 minutes or until crispy and golden brown., If using oven, place the balls onto a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. If you pan-fried the meatballs first, you'll only need to bake them for about 15 minutes.
  8. At this time, prepare the tomato sauce and any pasta your want to serve the meatballs with.
Tomato Sauce
  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and red chili pepper flakes and sauté for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes (or tomato sauce) and simmer for 30 minutes. When the tomatoes begin to break down, coarsely crush them using a potato masher. Season with salt and black pepper.
  1. Place the meatballs in the tomato sauce, cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, turning them a few times during cooking.
  2. Serve meatballs and tomato sauce over pasta or with fresh bread.
  3. Store leftover meatballs with sauce covered in the refrigerator for a few days, though best when fresh. 

Recipe Notes

*You can make flax egg by mixing 1 Tbsp. (7 g) flaxseed meal with 2.5 Tbsp. (37.5 ml) water.