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SPAGHETTI & ITALIAN VEGAN MEATBALLS

This is a super simple and delicious spaghetti and vegan meatballs recipe to add to your Italian inspired repertoire. It’s easily customizable and comes together quick enough for a busy weeknight meal!

side angle view of a serving of vegan meatballs and marinara sauce overtop spaghetti squash in a bowl with fork.

Behold, Spaghetti & Italian Vegan Meatballs (or bean balls if you prefer)! This Italian-American main dish is one of my favorites and always has a spot in the meal rotation.

The vegan meatballs are tender and flavorful. Plus, you’ll love that they can be browned on a sheet pan in the oven or cooked on the stovetop.

I really wanted the meatball recipe to be easy, using things you may already keep on hand so you can whip these up without too much planning and/or work involved.

Also, I wanted to make this with an option for being low fat, as well as for people with nut allergies, you can add the nuts or seeds if you wish. Adding them into the mixture will give an extra dose of protein, texture and hardiness to the vegan meatballs.

I like to switch up the pasta using spaghetti squash for variation. For those looking for a change, or wanting to stay away from wheat and rice alternatives, it’s a great replacement of pasta!

top down view of ingredients used to make spaghetti and vegan meatballs.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Onions, mushrooms and garlic are sauteed with herbs, then combined with beans, oats and nuts creating a flavorful mixture that’s rolled into the best vegan meatballs, simmered with pasta sauce and served with pasta for a hearty and delicious Italian style meal.

Here is everything you’ll need:

  • White beans – cannellini, great northern or chickpeas (also kidney, pinto or black beans can be used).
  • Oats – regular or quick oats.
  • Mushrooms – brown or white (brown is more nutritious).
  • Onion – yellow onion is pref., but can sub with white or red if needed.
  • Garlic – If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, double or triple the garlic powder.
  • Walnuts – adds texture but can be optional. Those with nut allergies can sub with sunflower seeds, using half the amount called for.
  • Italian seasonings – dried oregano, basil, thyme or a mixture of these.
  • Fresh basil – I had some on hand so added it, can be optional.
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes – adds a little heat, but is optional.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pasta sauce – Make homemade Marinara Sauce or use your favorite.
  • Pasta – Use your favorite. If using spaghetti squash like I’ve done here, see How To Cook Spaghetti Squash.

side by side photos showing the process of making easy vegan meatballs in a food processor.

How To Make Vegan Meatballs (aka Beanballs)

  • Start by sauteing the mushrooms, onion and garlic, adding the herbs at the last minute. Let cool for a few minutes.
  • If using old fashioned oats and or nuts/seed, pulse them in a food processor until broken up.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor, mushroom mix, beans, and optional fresh basil, give a few good pulses.

side by side photos showing the process of scooping and rolling the vegan meatball mixture.

  • Transfer mixture to a small bowl, mix well to combine.
  • Scoop up and roll into balls.
Tip: To keep the meatballs uniform, I used this 4 Tablespoon scoop (affiliate link). I was able to get 10 jumbo bean balls, you can use smaller portions and get up to 16 – 20 smaller meatballs.

Now your meatballs are ready to cook!

side angle view of freshly made skillet cooked vegan meatballs.

How To Cook Vegan Meatballs

Cook the meatballs in one of two ways:

  • Bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees, place meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Once done, add meatballs to a shallow pan or skillet, top with pasta sauce and simmer over low for 10 minutes, or until sauce is warmed through.
  • Stovetop: In a skillet or shallow pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, add meatballs and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, turning often to brown all sides. Add the pasta sauce, and cook over low for 10 minutes, or until the sauce is warmed through.

While the meatballs are cooking, make the pasta.

And now you’re ready to dine!

top down view of pan with vegan meatballs and pasta sauce in a pan.

Serving Suggestions

How To Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers will keep for 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator, stored in a covered container.
  • Freezer: These vegan meatballs are freezer friendly and can be stored for up to 2 – 3 months! To freeze, let the meatballs cool completely, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, store them using freezer safe multi-use glass containers (affiliate link) or ziplock baggies, removing as much air as possible before sealing the bags. Freezing them individually first will help them from sticking together once stored all together.
  • Reheat: Simply re-warm the meatballs with a little sauce on the stovetop over low heat until warm. Alternatively, zap them in the microwave using 30 – 60 second intervals until warmed through. Also, you can reheat using a toaster oven or warm in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. for 15 minutes.
  • Make ahead: These vegan meatballs can easily be made ahead, and stored uncooked until ready to use.

side angle view of pan with vegan meatballs and pasta sauce in a pan.

Adjusting For Dietary Restrictions

  • Gluten-Free: Use spaghetti squash or gluten-free pasta.
  • Low-Fat: Omit the nuts or seeds, and bake the meatballs in the oven.
  • Oil-Free: When sauteing the mushrooms, onions and garlic, be sure to use water or vegetable broth instead of oil to make this recipe oil-free. The broth will yield the most flavor, but water is great too and what I usually use. Also, bake the meatballs in the oven.
  • Nut-Free: Omit the nuts, using seeds instead.

side angle view of spaghetti and vegan meatballs in a bowl with fork holding a bite.

More Easy Vegan Italian Recipes

If you try this spaghetti and vegan meatball recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

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SPAGHETTI + ITALIAN VEGAN MEATBALLS

A family favorite, this spaghetti and vegan meatballs is flavorful and hearty!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 40 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 - 6 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stovetop, oven
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Italian-American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 oz. pasta or 2 spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar (25 oz.) marinara sauce (or pasta sauce of choice)

Bean Balls

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water, for water saute
  • 8 oz. mushrooms (about 8 oz), sliced (I used cremini)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or sunflower seeds, optional
  • 1 can (15 oz) beans (cannellini, chickpeas, kidney or black beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of oats (old fashioned or quick oats)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings (sub with dried oregano, basil, thyme or a mixture of these)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Saute: In a skillet or pan, heat oil or water over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic, add saute for 5 minutes, adding the herbs during the last minute. Let cool for a few minutes.

Food processor: If using the nuts/seeds, place in food processor first and pulse until coarsely ground, and continue. Also, if using old fashioned oats place them in the with the nuts to chop them up a bit. Add the beans, sauteed veggies, oats. Pulse until just combined (don’t overmix or it’ll turn into a paste). Taste for seasoning adding anything extra you may like. I added in some fresh chopped basil I had on hand.

Shape vegan meatballs: Roll mixture into balls, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches, and place on a baking sheet. I was able to get 10 jumbo sized bean balls. You can easily make smaller balls, yielding 16 – 20.

Cook in 1 of 2 ways:

  • Bake: Place balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat. Put in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 400 degrees F. If roasting spaghetti squash, add in while the squash is cooking. Remove both when time is up and let cool.
  • Stovetop: In a skillet or shallow pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, add meatballs and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, turning often to brown all sides.

Cook sauce + meatballs: Add the pasta sauce and meatballs together, cook over low for 10 minutes, or until sauce is warmed through.

Pasta: Cook the pasta according to package directions. If using spaghetti squash, see How To Cook Spaghetti Squash

Serve: In individual bowls serve spaghetti topped with sauce and vegan meatballs. Top with salt, pepper, and chopped fresh parsley or basil. A nice dusting of Almond Parmesan will also enhance this dish!

Serves 4 – 6

Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Leftovers were great!

Notes

If you don’t have quick oats, use regular oats but process gently into a very rough flour. Also, replace the oats with breadcrumbs if you prefer.

Sub in zucchini noodles, gently heated, in place of pasta or spaghetti squash.

Keywords: spaghetti and vegan meatballs, vegan meatballs recipe

Updated: Spaghetti + Vegan Meatballs was originally published in December 2012. It has been updated with new photos and helpful tips in February 2020.

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23 Comments

  1. These are delicious! They were a huge hit with the whole family. Second time I made them, I wasn’t concentrating and did exactly what you said to avoid and over blended and it became a paste. Is there a way to still use this and get it back to a texture that would work as a meatball. Breadcrumbs or lentils maybe?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Oh no! I would try breadcrumbs or quick oats. Glad you’re enjoying the recipe!

  2. Delicious and felt good in our bodies! Win win! I didn’t put in the oats, used lentils instead of beans and they stayed together fine so that was great. Thank you for this great recipe.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      So glad you enjoyed these. I love lentils, nice to hear they are doable in this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing, Emily! Cheers :)

  3. These were so easy and delicious! Thanks for the great recipe!

  4. I paired mine with thin spaghetti (my favorite), so good!

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