Meatless Meatballs

Hi Friends!

I’m pretty sure all of you are probably familiar with the kind of night I had last night. You know the kind where, after working so hard the week before you go out of town to clear out your fridge, you come home from vacation exhausted and haven’t made it to the grocery store yet? But also the kind where you’re so tired of eating out that you can’t possibly stomach another night of eating something you didn’t cook yourself?

You know those nights. And on those nights, you have to get a little bit creative. One of my goals over winter break is to cook a few meals that freeze well so i’ll be better prepared for nights like these….but I think I did pretty well last night, all things considered.

Since we started our vegetarian experiment, I’ve made spaghetti with a lentil bolognese sauce a few times. I usually load up my spaghetti sauce with extra veggies anyways so it really wasn’t all that much of a change. Last night, however, I wanted to change it up a bit and decided to attempt some meatless meatballs. I’ve been thinking about them ever since Lindsay posted these Cheesy Meatless Meatballs a while ago. After googling a bit more, I also found these Lentil-Ricotta “Meatballs” from In Jennie’s Kitchen. It just so happened that I had a container of ricotta in my otherwise barren fridge so I based my recipe off Jennie’s, with several additions. I had some leftover rice that I threw in, along with some onion for texture. I also had some homemade pesto in the freezer that I thawed out and added. I’m not always crazy about traditional Italian seasonings so I wanted something to boost the flavor.



Meatless Meatballs

by Lindsay L

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 20 min

Keywords: bake entree healthy vegetarian lentils ricotta pesto rice Italian

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 2 c lentils, cooked
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp pesto
  • 1/2 c brown rice, cooked
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c onion, chopped


1. In a food processor, combine the lentils and rice and pulse several times.

2. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients.

3. Stir thoroughly to combine all ingredients, then form into balls using your hands.

4. Place balls on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, flip/rotate balls and bake another 10 minutes.

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-These balls held together really well, they were firm and they browned up nicely in the oven!
-After I baked them, I added them to a pot with marinara sauce and let them simmer together while I cooked some spaghetti.
-Hubby asked me multiple times if I was sure there was no meat in these.
-I put half of these in the freezer for a future easy dinner :)
-If you don’t have pesto, you could use basil/parsley/italian seasoning.
-You could also add some frozen spinach to these!


About Lindsay

Lindsay Livingston is a Registered Dietitian and new mom from Columbus, Ohio. On her blog, she shares simple, healthy recipes, nutrition tips, workouts and snapshots of her life. Follow her on Twitter @LeanGrnBeanBlog and Instagram @TheLeanGreenBean and be sure to subscribe via RSS or email so you never miss a post!


  1. This is great, does it actually taste like meat or is it a totally different flavor all together? Cause I am actually looking for receipts that taste like meat but don’t actually have any meat in them. I am trying to please myself along with my unmeat friends.
    Thanks, MEAT ME
    MEAT ME recently posted..reMEAT – Hole in the Wall Burger Joint

    • do me it tasted pretty similar to meat, especially if you just pulse the lentils and rice only a few times to leave some chunks for texture. you could also add some toasted walnuts. i think the spices and serving them with sauce also helps them seem more like meat. They weren’t crumbly at all like a lot of veggie burgers and stuff can be.

  2. Yum! THose look awesome – actually they look like they turned out even better than mine! I’ll have to give them a try!
    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum recently posted..Healthy Bacon & Pumpkin Pasta

  3. If your husband asked if there was no meat in there… I am sold. My boyfriend is very pro-meat at every meal. And I just bought a bunch of lentils with no game plan… Thanks for the idea! Whenever I hear meatless meatballs I think of that rent song where they order “meatless balls.” Sorry for the tangent:)
    Lindsay @ biking before bed recently posted..Red Solo Cup

  4. love these. i hate ground beef, so this is perfect for me.
    surlykitchen recently posted..Thanksgiving

  5. These look awesome!! I love trying new veg recipes, yum:D

  6. Ben is a huge Lentil-guy. He would be totally be down for these! And I know what to use my extra ricotta for! Brilliant.
    CountryCleaver recently posted..Acorn Squash and Feta Wontons

  7. Yum! I am definitely a meat eater…but I’d definitely eat these too :) You could also probably cook them in sauce rather than bake… (that’s how I do them with ground beef meatballs).
    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite recently posted..A Whole Lotta Thanksgiving Recipes

  8. Those look super delicious and just like meat meatballs! Good job!
    Caitlin recently posted..Birchbox Love

  9. These look really yummy!! I’ll have to give them a try!
    Mandy@OrangeAutumn recently posted..Christmas Party and Giving Thanks

  10. these sound super great!
    sarah k @ the pajama chef recently posted..Whipped Sweet Potatoes

  11. Another great recipe for a veganization attempt! Well done on hubby approval :)
    Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles recently posted..Gearing Up and Planning Ahead

  12. Oh man – that finished shot with the sauce and cheese on pasta just looks great. I’ve never tried a meatless meatball but I’d give these a shot, they just look too tasty to pass up!
    Chris @ TheKeenanCookBook recently posted..After Thanksgiving Turkey Soup

  13. Can I come over for some of your balls? 😉

    (that was meant to be a joke)
    Matt @ The Athlete’s Plate recently posted..Stonyfield Video!

  14. I love meals that I can freeze!! And your pictures look delicious!
    Kristen @ notsodomesticated recently posted..Orecchiette Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

  15. Being able to freeze meals is key! These look glorious :)
    Tessa @ Amazing Asset recently posted..What Is It About Awards…

  16. I have been looking for meatless freezer meals lately to prepare for when the baby comes – this is perfect!! And I have to say your husband’s comments makes me want to make them more! :)
    Susan (Oliepants) recently posted..{DIY} Yarn Wreath

  17. I am intrigued by a lentil-based “meat”ball and am kind of surprised they turned out so firm and held together well. Will definitely be trying these!
    Charise recently posted..So-Good-You-Won’t-Know-It’s-Light Cookie Dough Dip


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