You’re in for a delicious surprise with these quick and easy meatless meatballs. Made with oats, beans, and the classic Italian seasonings, these meatballs made without meat are sure to please the pickiest eater.
I created this recipe during the pandemic where many of my community members asked for nutritious recipes they could make for their family with easy-to-find and affordable ingredients.
At the top of my ingredient list are oats, because of their versatility; you can cook them for breakfast as oatmeal we all love, blend into smoothies, or make savory dishes like these meatballs.
In this meatless meatball recipe, oats provide both texture and 100% whole grains. For months, this meatless dinner has been a hit with my family and I’m excited to share it with you today.
The Best Meatless Meatballs
While I love traditional meatballs and sauce, many of us are looking to add more meatless recipes into our weekly meal plan. I’ve found that the easiest way to do that when you have kids is creating similar recipes to the ones my family already loves, like pasta night.
My kids have called these the best meatless meatballs they’ve ever had and to my happiness, they are wholesome made with beans, oats, and Italian seasoning. They are super hearty, and most importantly- 1000% delicious!
First time making meatless meatballs? Check out this video to see how they are made with ingredients you probably have in your pantry.
Yes, meatless meatballs can be just as praise-worthy as the original meatball recipe, and there’s no extra hassle; in my opinion, the food processor does much of the work and they are ready super fast!
Added to the food processor are simple ingredients like Italian seasoning, garlic, onion, and tomato paste.
Once baked, you’ll toss them into my easy homemade tomato sauce, and no one will question them being meatless.
What Do Meatless Meatballs Taste Like?
These meatless meatballs are tender on the inside and infused with garlic and herbs in each bite. It’s perfect with spaghetti sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese- gah, now I’m ready to eat the screen!
Friends, I’m all about meatless recipes that taste absolutely amazing, and if you’d like to try more I’ve got a whole month of them for you in my 30-day meatless plan! See all the details here.
30-Day Meatless Plan
Get 4 weeks of kid-approved dinner recipes that are meat-free!
Whether you’re trying to eat healthier, looking to introduce your kids to more vegetables and flavors, or trying to reduce your grocery budget, this 30-day meatless meal plan is for you.
What are Meatless Meatballs Made of?
To replace the animal protein the two main ingredients that make up meatless meatballs are Quick Oats and beans. Here’s everything you’ll need to make these meatless meatballs happen:
- Chopped onion: sautéed onions are always a tasty start for any recipe.
- Garlic cloves: add irresistible flavor and aroma.
- Quick oats: give these meatballs a softer texture than old-fashioned oats do.
- Cannellini beans or white beans: the other main ingredient to replace meat. Red, black, and kidney beans also work for this recipe.
- Tomato paste: a great addition to make these meatballs even tastier.
- Italian Seasoning: to add more flavor!
- Salt & Pepper: for seasoning.
How They’re Made
These meatballs are easy to make with minimal mess. Whether you use a food processor like I showed you in the video or a big bowl and a fork or potato masher, the outcome is the same: a delicious meal. Here are the steps:
Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the Meatball Mixture
In a large skillet, sauté the onions and 2 garlic cloves until softened.
Transfer the onion mixture into a food processor or large bowl. Add Quick Oats, beans, tomato paste, water, 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Pulse to combine.
- Shape the Meatballs
Form 12 to 16 balls and place them onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Once the meatballs are cooked through, transfer them to a tomato sauce, or serve as is.
Shaping Perfect Meatless Meatballs
Meatless meatball dough can be a little stickier than the traditional meat mixture. Don’t worry! Just like when you cook oats for breakfast, the oat flakes will absorb any excess liquid.
You should be able to scoop a tablespoon with a spoon and use your hands to form the “meatballs.” To prevent the dough from sticking to your hands, lightly grease them with a little oil and repeat throughout the process as necessary.
When they come out of the oven, they’ll be perfectly round and not sticky at all. And of course, they are the perfect vessel for the Italian flavors that are simmering in your sauce.
Are They Gluten-Free?
Even when I make my traditional meat-based recipe, I always skip the breadcrumbs and use quick oats to bind the ingredients because they yield a softer and juicier meatball. And since we are using oats, these meatballs can be a gluten-free option everyone will enjoy if you use gluten-free labeled product including gluten-free oats.
That said, if you need a certified gluten-free option because of celiac disease, Quaker also offers a gluten-free certified oats.
How to Serve This Recipe
I like to take the classic route and serve these meatless meatballs over spaghetti with tomato sauce. It’s always a crowd-pleaser, and leftovers are always welcome served as a hot lunch the next day.
You can also keep it simple and serve them alongside marinara sauce for dipping or turn them into a salad topper too! They are so good I’m known for eating them straight out of the fridge.
How to Freeze Meatballs & Thaw for Later
This recipe can be doubled or tripled and frozen for a future meal. Here’s how to freeze and thaw these meatballs:
- Cook the meatballs according to recipe directions. Allow them to cool down to room temperature on the baking pan.
- Transfer the baking tray to the freezer for 1 hour or until the meatballs are frozen.
- Add the meatballs to a freezer-safe zip bag, labeled with the freeze date.
- Seal and freeze for up to 2 months.
- The day you want to serve them, you can add them straight into the tomato sauce and heat them up as the sauce simmers for 20 minutes.
You can also freeze these meatballs with the sauce; add the servings needed into a zip bag and freeze them this way. If frozen with the sauce, I recommend thawing them in the fridge overnight and simply warming them up in a saucepan while you boil spaghetti.
Quick & Easy Meatless Meatballs
For the meatballs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, about ½ cup, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced and divided
- ¾ cup quick oats
- 15 ounce can of white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon salt, omit if tomatoes have salt
- 28- ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon sugar, optional
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- Parmesan cheese, optional
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions and the two garlic cloves until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor or large bowl. Add the quick oats, beans, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Pulse to combine until the beans become part of the coarse mixture. If you don’t have a food processor, use a potato masher to crush the beans into the mixture.
- Using your hands, form 12 to 16 balls and place them on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, carefully flipping them over halfway through.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or skillet with sides, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and sauté until fragrant, for about 1 minute. Pour the crushed tomatoes, salt (if using), crushed tomatoes, sugar (if using), and Italian seasoning. Simmer on low for 10 to 15 minutes while the meatballs are in the oven.
- Once the meatballs are ready, remove them from the oven, transfer them to the tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes while the spaghetti cooks.
- Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
- Serve 3 to 4 meatballs with sauce over the spaghetti.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze, once cooled, for up to 3 months.