These tasty mushroom meatballs are one of those perfect vegan comfort foods that even the non-vegans will love. They are made from healthy, natural ingredients and you can combine them in so many delicious ways.
These vegan meatballs are really versatile and easy to make. They can be made in an oven or on a stovetop, most of the ingredients can be swapped if needed, and gluten-free versions of this recipe are totally doable.
Ingredients for the vegan mushroom meatballs
These meatless meatballs are made from simple natural ingredients, yet they are so flavourful and tender, and have a really nice texture. In order to make them, you will need:
- oyster mushrooms (or other mushrooms of choice)
- black beans
- flax seeds
- spelt breadcrumbs (or other breadcrumbs that you prefer, including gluten-free ones)
- soy sauce
- smoked paprika
- cumin seeds
As the main ingredient in this recipe, mushrooms will add a nice, meaty texture to the vegan meatballs. My favourite mushrooms for this recipe are oyster mushrooms, because of their perfect chewy texture and mild flavour.
Besides mushrooms, one of the main ingredients for these vegan meatballs are black turtle beans. I chose them for this recipe because they don’t get as mushy as some more commonly used bean varieties would.
Buckwheat was my grain of choice for this recipe, for a similar reason as black beans – its nice and compact texture. I didn’t want that mushy feeling that oats bring to a patty mixture (as much as I love them in some other patty recipes), so I decided to avoid them altogether this time.
Flax seeds will act as a binding agent, let’s call it an egg replacement for vegan recipes. They will be responsible for achieving that perfectly compact meatball mixture that is easy to handle and doesn’t fall apart.
A combination of onion, soy sauce, smoked paprika and cumin seeds will make these meatless meatballs taste like a real deal. Not that plants need to mimic meat taste in vegan recipes, but it is cool if we can sometimes create a dish that gives a bit of a similar feeling that we used to like in the past.
- If I wasn’t able to get black turtle beans, I would probably swap them with some other pulse that doesn’t have a very creamy consistency, such as chickpeas or even black lentils.
- Kidney beans or pinto beans can be an OK swap too. However, they are more tender than black beans when cooked, so your vegan meatballs might turn out a bit softer than planned. You can fix this by adding some more breadcrumbs if needed.
- I love oyster mushrooms in this recipe because of their chewy and meaty texture, but it will work with other mushrooms too. Shiitake or button mushrooms are some of the more common swaps that work for this recipe.
- If you would like to make these vegan meatballs in a gluten-free version, you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs, or make your own by grinding dried gluten-free bread leftovers. I’ve done this and it works great. Another option would be to replace the breadcrumbs with a 50:50 mixture of ground oatmeal and ground corn flakes, but it will not give you the same result – the meatballs will turn a bit more chewy and less fluffy. Still tasty though!
Mushrooms and onions will need to be cooked (sautéed) before being added to the vegan meatball mixture. Sautéing them will reduce their water content, which is important for two reasons:
- It brings out the flavour, and
- Making the meatball mixture with already reduced mushrooms and onions will give you the best result in terms of texture.
You don’t have to overdo it; the whole sautéing will last for a couple of minutes over a medium heat. The mushrooms will soften and all the extra liquid will be cooked out, but they should still be juicy.
In case you cooked the mushrooms and onions a bit less and the mixture turns out too soft, you can always fix it by adding some more breadcrumbs.
For more flavour, don’t forget to add salt in water when you cook the beans. It is always good to cook pulses in salted water, because if cooked without salt, they tend to turn out flavourless and can’t really achieve that level of flavour when salted afterwards.
My favourite way to make these vegan meatballs is to bake them in the oven without any oil added. If you prefer to fry them on a pan with some oil, you can also do that; I would recommend frying them over a low heat so that they get evenly cooked on the inside.
- This time I served the baked vegan meatballs with cooked polenta and tomato sauce. It can be any other sauce that you prefer.
- To make these meatless meatballs extra juicy, you can put them in a pot with simmering marinara sauce after you’ve baked them. Then just cover the pot and turn the heat off. They will be perfect for serving with mashed potatoes, spaghetti or with these homemade spelt flour noodles.
- Try making a wrap with vegan meatballs, cashew and sunflower seed pesto and vegetables in these amazing flaxseed tortillas.
Storing the vegan meatballs
These meat-free meatballs can be stored in a fridge for at least three days (I never tried to store them longer, but it should be fine) and reheated as needed. They can also be kept in a freezer for up to three months.
- 1/2 cup dried black beans
- 2 cups oyster mushrooms - cut into small cubes
- 1/3 cup raw dry buckwheat
- 1 onion
- 2 tbsp flax seeds
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup spelt breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp himalayan salt
- 2 tbsp tamari or shoyu
- 1 tsp smoked sweet red pepper
- ½ tsp ground cumin seeds
- Soak the black beans and buckwheat overnight (in separate bowls).
- Strain the water.
- Cook the beans in salted water for 30-40 minutes, or until they get soft (it will never get as soft as some other bean varieties such as borlotti, red or white beans would).
- Let the cooked beans cool down and absorb the rest of the cooking water.
- Strain the extra liquid if there is any left.
- Sauté chopped onions and mushrooms on a pan with a bit of oil or water over a medium heat. Add the cumin, smoked paprika and salt, and continue cooking for a minute or two, until the liquid is cooked out. Don’t overcook it - the mushrooms should still be juicy.
- Grind the flax seeds, mix them with water and let them sit for 10 minutes to absorb the water.
- Put the mushrooms and onions into a food processor, add buckwheat, beans, flax seeds and tamari and process until it combines well. Don't process it for too long - the mixture should stay a bit chunky for the best result.
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl and add the breadcrumbs.
- Knead it with your hands to combine.
- Let the mixture sit at the room temperature for at least half an hour, to thicken a bit.
- Shape the vegan meatballs and bake them in an oven on 190 °C for 25 minutes, or until they get golden and crispy on the outside.
- Serve with cooked polenta and pureed tomato sauce.
You can save the water from soaking beans and buckwheat and use it for watering your garden or houseplants, to give them some extra nutrition.
If you bake bread on a regular basis, you can always use the dry leftovers to make breadcrumbs. I normally use spelt sourdough bread, but any cereal-based bread will do.
For a gluten-free version of these meatless meatballs, just swap regular breadcrumbs with gluten-free ones.