These vegan meatballs are made with from-scratch seitan using vital wheat gluten. They’re quick and easy to prepare and are baked for a super-healthy and versatile vegan meatball!
There are a bajillion different ways to make vegan meatballs. The challenge with bean-based, grain-based or veggie-based meatballs, however, is to get enough structural integrity that you can drop them into a sauce, or even a soup, without them totally disintegrating.
Enter vital wheat gluten. If you’re not familiar, vital wheat gluten is wheat flour which has been processed to remove everything except the gluten. You can buy vital wheat gluten in health food stores, organic supermarkets, bulk food stores or online.
If none of those work for you, you can make your own vital wheat gluten by washing regular flour until the starches dissolve and you’re left with just the gluten.
Vital wheat gluten is the principal ingredient in seitan. It’s what gives it the meaty, chewy texture and great for replicating all kinds of meat dishes. Many of the recipes in my 60+ Vegan Recipes for Meat Lovers are made from a basic seitan which is seasoned to taste like whatever you want it to taste like.
I must admit, however, that seitan can be a bit tricky to get just right. Add too much liquid and you’ll end up with a soggy, wet bread-like texture. Too little liquid and your seitan will be as chewy as bubble gum.
I encourage you to try different recipes and after you’ve made a couple of batches, you’ll get a good sense of what texture the dough should have.
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Of course, vital wheat gluten isn’t the only ingredient in these vegan meatballs. Mashed potato (an idea I stole from The Sexy Vegan Cookbook) and white beans help to keep the ball soft and not bubble-gum chewy on the inside. Soy sauce and nutritional yeast add the umami flavour and paprika adds a touch of smokiness.
You can serve these vegan meatballs in a simple tomato sauce (like I’ve done here), sweet and sour sauce, over spaghetti, in a meatball sub, or however you want! This recipe as-is is oil free but you can also quickly pan fry them after baking to get them a bit crispier on the outside.
Wanna see how easy these vegan meatballs are to make? Watch the video and share it on Facebook:
- 1 medium-large (about 225 grams / 8 oz) potato peeled and diced - $0.18
- ½ cup (100 grams) cooked white beans - $0.13
- 1 medium onion - $0.13
- 5 cloves of garlic 3 roughly chopped, 2 minced or grated - $0.40
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce - $0.10
- ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable stock - $0.12
- 1 cup (130 grams) vital wheat gluten - $2.81
- 2 teaspoons paprika - $0.20
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano - $0.12
- 3 teaspoons dried basil - $0.18
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast - $0.12
- ½ a red pepper diced - $0.36
- 1 cup (240 ml) tomato sauce - $0.30
- ½ teaspoon salt - $0.01
- Pepper to taste - $0.03
- Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400F°.
- Boil the potato until soft. Drain and mash. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, combine the beans, one quarter of the onion (roughly chopped), 3 roughly chopped cloves of garlic, the soy sauce and vegetable stock in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- In a bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten, paprika, oregano, basil, nutritional yeast, mashed potato and liquid mixture. Mix to combine then use your hands to mash the mixture together into a dough.
- Tear off portions of the dough and roll them into meatballs. Place them on a lightly greased or paper-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes, flipping them over at 10 minutes. You can eat them still warm from the oven or you can let them cool and reheat them in the sauce later. I find that letting them cool helps them firm up to a more meaty texture.
- Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and dice the remainder of the onion. Cook the onion and remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic in a splash of water until soft. Add the red pepper and fry until soft. Add the sauce, salt, pepper and meatballs. Simmer for a few minutes until the meatballs are heated through then serve.
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What can be substituted for wheat gluten.
Nothing, it's the most important ingredient!
Joe Savarese says
Aloha! These look great I'll try them tomorrow and then leave a message. Thank you for the recipe
Hi there! Love your site!
Any idea if I can replace the wheat gluten with anything???? I'm guessing something to make it all stick together??? X
Nope, the gluten is what gives it the meaty texture. There's no replacement for it in this recipe.
bob seitan says
also what adds most of the protein
You must have a great camera though; stunning photography 🙂
Is it possible to do that recipe without wheat gluten? I'm intolerant
The gluten is the principal ingredient. There are lots of alternative ways to make vegan meatballs, maybe see if google can suggest any that you would like :).
Can you change the white beans for chickpeas?
No, they're a different texture. You could try kidney beans.
Hi if I can't find vital wheat gluten would a pack of plain seitan work in its place? Thanks
You'd probably have to change the ratios of the ingredients in the recipe in order for that to work. That being said, I've seen many recipes on google that call for a pack of seitan which you mash up and add to other ingredients so you could try one of those.
I made these and they were fantastic!! Great texture and flavou! Definitely recommended! Can’t wait to serve them to my meat-eating friends ????!!
You have some of the best recipes i have seen they look great. thank you for shearing them with us.
I can't wait to make this 🙂 Does it freeze?
Good question, I haven't tried freezing them and I'm not sure if it would change the texture. If you try it, do let us know!
Amazing recipe ! Just made it. Thanks so much! Will definitely be using these so for subs and sandwiches. Some seitan recipes can be a little bit same-y but the addition of the beans and the potato takes it to another level!
Hi Melissa, just made these tonight, and what a triumph - totally fab recipe, will become a staple in our house. Thanks so much . Just to mention, meatlessballs turned out a little salty for us - and as hardened halophiles, that's saying something. I think perhaps because I used light soy sauce rather than dark. Also, I added some vegan browning, to give an amazing, dark colour. But the texture and flavour were totally great! Next time, I'll play around a little with the seasoning, perhaps add a bit of chilli for background heat and replace some of the stock with tomato ketchup, for extra richness. Thank you so much for this recipe 🙂
You're right and make a good point. Different brands of soy sauce have different levels of saltiness. Chili sounds like a great addition, too! Thanks so much for the feedback!
so using wheat gluten without going through the process of making Seitan is not losing any of the nutrient qualities of Seitan . To me this just seems like adding flour and making a dumpling.
Becky Maynard says
Any chance that chick peas are a good substitute for the white beans? I have a ton of chick peas, and of course, no white beans 🙂
I don't think chickpeas are sticky enough. You could try kidney beans.
Hi! Going to make this this week. But a question. What alternative to tomato sauce? Have fussy tomato sauce based family members. TIA
What about a sweet and sour sauce, sweet chili sauce or teriyaki sauce?
Thanks! Was thinking of adding soft tofu and making it kinda creamier. Just about to make.them now!
Would black eyed peas work in the place of the plain white bean... I'm thinkin it's the same texture...
I think so
Tanika Mitchell says
All I can find is Vital Wheat gluten flour, is that what you're referring to? Or is there a Vital Wheat gluten mock meat?
Yes, it's the vital wheat gluten flour that you want.
Glenn Arnold says
Planning to make this tonight for the first time. Have most of the items called for, and going out now to shop the rest. One question: does "red pepper" mean red Bell pepper, or red Chili pepper?
Red bell pepper
I have tried to find a meatballs recipes for 2 months now. I wanna do the old meatballs mustard and maple sirop like I use to do with beef before! Do you think this recipe would work for it if I change the spices for what it took in that old recipe?
Sure, you can change the seasonings
Hi, just made these meatless balls and have popped them into the fridge to firm up, but are they supposed to be doughy on the inside?
I wouldn't say doughy. If that happens they may not have been baked long enough. Do you have an oven thermometer to check the temp?
Lots of white beans in our store. What kind specifically???
It doesn't really make a difference, any kind that you can purée.
Hello. Great looking recipe! I can't wait to try it! Is there a length of time for kneading the seitan, before cooking? Thank you.
My oven is broken, do you think I can boil or shallow fry these meatballs?
If I remember correctly, I think I tried boiling them and they were too soft. I'm not sure that frying them would cook them through to the middle.
Jessica H. says
How many meatballs does the recipe make?
That depends how big you make them. About 20 more or less.
Just found this blog! I did not know I could use the gluten flour without making seitan first. Sounds like a really good recipe! Will try asap =)
PS: what music is it in the video?
I've been looking for a proper faux meatball recipe for a few months now and this hands down is it. I've tried Veganomicon lentil based, No Meat Athlete pinto bean based and minimalist baker tempeh based and this is by far the best. I didn't like the additional flavor that the base of the other recipes imparted and was looking for a base that was more neutral tasting and the potatoes and white beans were perfect. Didn't over power the seasoning nor provide any weird flavors (I'm looking at you unsteamed tempeh). I will say that the consistency was a little on the too soft side even after cooking for 30 mins instead of 20 and letting them cool as u suggested. That didn't stop me from making this my go to recipe for meatballs now as everything else was spot on 🙂 Cheers and thank you for sharing this recipe.
I just made these and the flavor is great but the texture is very much like eating bread rolls with a soft center. What did I do wrong??
Oooo... We just made these and they were awesome! The whole family approved:) Thanks for the recipe!
I've made these twice and awesome both times. My four year old helps make the balls. Only beans I had on hand today were chickpeas. These held together fine. I used my vitamix.
Thank you for this recipe. Cant wait to try them. I love making vital wheat meat and always wanted to figure a way to mix something with it to make a different vegan meat. ☺
Hi, is there any reason that instant potatoes prepared to equal the 1 potato wouldn't work? :O)
Look, I'm not a vegan by any means but I think your blog is fantastic. I love the approach, the cost break downs, the great photos. Thank you for this premium content!
I took a lot of liberties with this recipe-and they came out great! I used 1/2 cup firm tofu, needed to add between 1/4-1/2 cup more gluten to come together, and next time will probably add instant potatoes! They came out so great! I tried simmering balls before and that was a mess, these baked nicely. I loved the texture and the taste! Next time will be Swedish meatless balls
I was so excited to find this recipe! I made them exactly as shown. After they were baked, I tasted one and it was soft in texture....not what I was expecting. Did I do something wrong or is that what is expected? I thought they might firm up more like a "griller" like texture when I read the recipe. I'm game to try them again if I goofed!
How do you cook with Vital Wheat Gluten and not have things be so chewy and stretchy?
I was slightly intimidated by this recipe as I have never tried to make my own Seitan before and was worried about the consistency, but it turned out great! The 'meatballs' held together well and the taste was amazing, much better than other recipes I have tried as this one has more of a meaty texture. So to anyone having doubts, just follow the recipe 100% as I did and you will not be disappointed. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes, thanks!
Glad you liked them and thanks for the feedback!
Jill Hatt says
I tried vegan meatballs from a place in Las Vegas that absolutely delicious. They were exactly like a meat texture and he said he used yeast to plump them up. Do you know if you could incorporate that in this recipe? His recipe was using lentils.
Just made the meatballs without making the tomato sauce part of the recipe. I used my own jar sauce with spaghetti noodles. The meatballs were very tasty and my family liked them better than my regularly used meatball recipe. Later we will be trying them in bbq sauce because this is my husband’s favorite way to eat meatballs.💚
Made these today. Right out of the over the taste was GREAT! But the texture is very off. They feel like raw dough in my mouth. I'm hopeful when I put them in the sauce, they will firm up! I'll try to post back my results!
Update..... They were great in my pasta sauce! I actually froze the left over ones and then defrosted and put into the sauce and OMG! Perfect!
I found this recipe earlier this year and have made it multiple times since. Love it! Thank you!
Great recipe! Just had them with marinara sauce and spaghetti and dinner was a great hit! 👌👌
Delicious and nutritious recipe! I just made this and it's outstanding! Unlike most seitan recipes which often feel far too dense and heavy, the addition of potato and beans in this recipe adds a lightness and sponginess to the meatballs which create the perfect meatball texture. I love that there are no oils or rich nuts in this recipe, and yet it comes out super moist and scrumptious. Prep may take longer than planned, but I did cook the beans from scratch. Totally worth it for a great treat.
Hello, any substitute for potatoes?
Excellent recipe! great texture & flavour. I will use it to stuff tomatoes or peppers.
Seitan recipes are usually so time consuming but I can see myself repeating this one often in the future- so far the easiest.Thank you!
Made us some meatball subs with these guys and I was happy enough knowing already seitan texture/taste profile. I prolly just will make smaller sized portion next go round, I think I made them a lil on the big size. I also cooked a bit longer since I noticed the centers were on the doughy side still.
After trying a few seitan recipes previously the added potato and beans make these meat balls softer and not so chewy. I had to open a tin of beans and didn’t want to waste the rest so doubled the recipe. It is well worth the effect they are delicious, thank you.
I haven't tried the recipe, but will use it for inspiration as I don't like some of the ingredients).
I am amazed at how many people asked if it could be done without gluten. Duh.