To make these easy Chickpea Meatballs you need a food processor and a couple of pantry staples and you are good to go. Enjoy them in as many ways as you can. Make meatballs sub, or dip them in BBQ sauce and stick them on a skewer or add them on top of your spaghetti marinara.
Meatballs are a quintessential dish in a vegan diet. The best way to eat many different veggies, nuts, grains and legumes in one go. They are extremely versatile just like burger patties. We have already a yummy Eggplant Meatballs or Copycat IKEA Veggie Balls recipe, but more to come.
What can you expect from this meatball recipe?
Let’s start with expectations. Most people who hear chickpea and balls in one sentence probably think of falafel. True, it is probably the most popular recipe for veggie balls using chickpeas, but not the only delicious one. Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish, so the spices you will taste are usually cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and similar. What can you expect from this recipe? Will these meatballs taste like a veganised meatball or rather just a delicious veggie balls?
- It will be closer to Italian meatballs in taste due to the seasoning.
- Technically, it is not really a veggie ball, as this recipe has only grains, nuts and legumes, but no veggies per se.
- It is crusty and crispy from the outside, but soft in the inside.
- The garlic, the basil and the parsley will be the most dominant flavors.
- The balls will not fall apart if you add them to any sauce.
What do you need for our chickpea meatballs recipe?
If you make this recipe, you will need 3 main ingredients:
- Chickpeas (canned or cooked) -> Why we love cooking with chickpeas? They are pantry staples, so easy to get them. They are quite neutral in taste, so you can season them as much as you want. Also, they are quick to cook if you decide not to use a canned version.
- Rice (cooked) -> We love the idea of BOSH’s pastaball, but gluten-free pasta is kind of tricky. So we thought of rice instead, which is by default gluten-free and same for everyone.
- Walnuts -> We like to sneak in some extra protein and nutrition to recipes. So it was quite natural to add some nuts to make it more meaty, as we already loved walnut mince to make Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese.
How to make meatballs using chickpeas?
It is the one of the quickest meatless meatballs recipe you can imagine. While we absolutely love our eggplant meatballs recipe, but the eggplant needs to be roasted for 30 minutes. Hence, not the quickest recipe to make. However, we use canned chickpeas and walnuts as main ingredients in this one, so we cut back on prep time significantly.
Just take a food processor, add canned or cooked chickpeas, walnut halves, cooked rice, seasoning and spices: olive oil, tomato paste, basil, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast, turmeric. Pulse the mix gently. Don’t puree it! You need some chunks and bits for a better texture. Depending on the size of your container, work in batches. See below photo for reference.
When the mix is ready, add oat flour and/or quick oats 1 Tbsp at a time. You know you added enough when it is easy to form a ball (1-2 Tbsp per ball), though it is still soft. See below photo for reference.
Pre-heat the oven for 350 Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and bake them for 20-30 minutes. Flip half time! You know they are ready if they are lightly brown and a crust is formed. In my experience with gluten-free cooking and baking, whatever mixture I make it is usually soft when hot, but firms up after cooling.
Top tips to make these chickpea meatballs perfect
- Immersion blender or food processor – It can be tricky to get the right consistency with immersion blender. If you don’t have a food processor we recommend using ground walnuts or walnut meal instead of whole or halves.
- Quick vs rolled oats – If you use rolled oats, the mixture should rest to leave enough time for the rolled oats to soften and absorb a bit of moisture.
- Size matters – Baking and frying time depends on the size of the meatballs you make. The smaller they are, the cooking time will be shorter.
- Balls or patties – You can make burger-shaped veggie patties, the mixture will hold it together.
FAQs and Substitutions
What can I use instead of oat flour?
If you don’t need to eat gluten-free, then you can use all-purpose wheat flour. If gluten-free, you can use rice flour, chickpea flour or buckwheat flour for sure.
What can I use instead of oats?
I have only tried to make it with oats. If I need to change it, I would try it with breadcrumbs. Any other grain would be too hard when they are uncooked, or too moist if they are cooked.
How do you store them?
You can keep it in the fridge for 4-5 days tops without any problem. We recommend storing the meatballs by themselves and not dipped in any sauce.
Can you freeze them?
Yes, you can. We recommend freezing after frying/baking, not as an uncooked mixture as it may become too moist when thawed. If you are ready to enjoy them, pop them back in the oven or warm them up in a frying pan to get crispy crust back.
More vegan recipes with meatballs
- Drop them into our homemade marinara sauce and make spaghetti with “meatballs”. You can even pop it in the oven top it with lots of grated cheese to turn it into a pasta bake or casserole.
- You can make a complete meal with adding vegan mashed potatoes, your favorite Fried Rice or any combination of roasted veggies (asparagus, mushroom, root veggies…)
- Make an eggplant meatballs sandwich with marinara sauce.
- Put them on a stick or skewer, add a dip (like vegan BBQ sauce) and serve them as appetizers.
- Take a vegan and gluten-free biscuit and make meatball biscuit sliders.
- Drop them in your vegan mac and cheese.
- Stuff pita bread with veggies and these veggie balls top with your favorite vegan yogurt dip.
- Add them to your vegan shakshuka to make it more filling.
- Can it be a delicious pizza topping? Why not?
Let us know in the comments what is your favorite combination!
This Chickpea Meatballs recipe is vegan (so egg-free and dairy-free), vegetarian, soy-free, and WFPB-friendly (whole foods plant-based). However, it is only gluten-free if you buy certified gluten-free rolled oats like this one*. Oats are naturally gluten-free, although they are usually cross-contaminated with other grains. If you are interested to read more about oats, you can always visit UK’s Coeliac Website.
⇒ Get our FREE 7-DAY VEGAN MEAL PLAN now! or check out all vegan meal plan recipes here! ⇐
More quick vegan dinner recipes
- Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
- Chickpea Mushroom Curry
- Vegan Portobello Fajitas
- Easy Vegan Alfredo Sauce
- Copycat IKEA Veggie Balls
BBQ Chickpea Meatballs
- 1 tsp Onion powder or sautee 1/2 finely chopped onion
- 1 tsp Garlic powder or sautee 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 1 tsp Basil dried
- 1 tsp Parsley dried
- 1 Tbsp Nutritional yeast optional
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1 Tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil skip for WFPB and add extra tomato paste
- Take a food processor and add chickpeas, walnuts, cooked rice, seasoning and spices: olive oil, tomato paste, basil, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast, turmeric. Pulse the mix gently. Don’t puree it! You need some chunks and bits for a better texture. Depending on the size of your container, work in batches.
Frying or baking
- Now you are ready to form the small chickpeas balls. Take 1-2 Tbsp of the mixture and form the balls with your hands. It will be soft and may stick to your hands. If it is too sticky add more flour.
- Take a frying pan and heat it on medium heat. Add a bit of coconut oil or olive oil if you don't have a non-stick pan. Fry them for a couple of minutes each side to give them a nice brown color.
- If you prefer baking, then take a baking mat or a sheet pan with parchment paper and bake them on 350 Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius) for 20-30 minutes until they get a crispy brownish crust. Turn them at half-time.
- Prepare homemade BBQ sauce (our recipe is here). Add a couple of Tbsp of the sauce in the frying pan to warm it up. When the chickpea meatballs are ready, pop them in the sauce to coat them before serving. Sprinkle with sesame seeds like on the photo and serve it as an appetizer.
- More serving suggestions above the recipe card!!!
- Immersion blender or food processor - It can be tricky to get the right consistency with immersion blender. If you don't have a food processor we recommend using ground walnuts or walnut meal instead of whole or halves.
- Quick vs rolled oats - If you use rolled oats, the mixture should rest to leave enough time for the rolled oats to soften and absorb a bit of moisture.
- Size matters - Baking and frying time depends on the size of the meatballs you make. The smaller they are, the cooking time will be shorter.
- Balls or patties - You can make burger-shaped veggie patties, the mixture will hold it together.