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plant based meatballs in sauce in a pan

Plant Based Meatballs

Hearty and delicious Italian style plant based meatballs made with lentils and veggies! Serve with your favorite marinara sauce over noodles, zoodles, or eat them all by themselves!
Course Dinner
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Author Lyndsey


  • 2 cups dry green lentils
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ large yellow onion
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Himalayan salt
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 large portobello mushrooms wiped clean and sliced
  • ½ cup gluten free oats
  • ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts


  • Add the ⅛ cup of olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots and celery over medium-high heat, for about 15-20 minutes. Cook lentils according to packaged directions and set aside.
  • Cook until the vegetables are tender, lightly browned and most of the moisture from the mushrooms has come off.
  • Add the tomato paste, stirring constantly, and cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Add oats, walnuts and garlic to food processor.
  • Pulse oats, walnuts and garlic in a food processor until they are bread crumb consistency.
  • Add in cooked veggies and pulse until well incorporated (see Helpful Tips about adding lentils at this time). Remove mixture and put into a bowl.
  • Add lentils and seasonings.
  • Mix together well. Scoop out meatballs using an ice cream scoop to a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes - monitor the meatballs during the last few minutes of cooking so they do not burn.


Note:  This recipe is inspired by one originally posted on Thug Kitchen.
Texture is everything! When making veggie meatballs, pureeing the veggies is essential. If your family has texture issues, or you're worried they won't be happy with the meatless swap, you can also puree the lentils in with the veggies.
Half and half to start! If you're transitioning to a plant based diet, you can try substituting half of the lentils with ground turkey or ground chicken. This will help you get used to the textures and tastes of eating more plant based meals.
Store leftovers for easy meals. Store meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze the meatballs for up to three months.
How to serve lentil meatballs? Serve over noodles, zoodles or in a sub sandwich bun for a delicious plant based meatball hoagie.