These TVP meatballs are full of flavor, and won’t fall apart. They have a real meaty texture that may surprise you if you haven’t cooked with TVP yet. Serve them up with a rich marinara sauce and spaghetti for a classic and satisfying meal. Try them out today!
If you haven’t heard about TVP (textured vegetable protein) before, you would be amazed by this ingredient. It is the best ground beef substitute ever. We use it to make the meatiest TVP burger, TVP taco meat, vegan cabbage lasagna, or vegan moussaka.
What to expect from this recipe?
Are you are looking for the best vegan alternative to meatballs?
- This recipe is really close both in taste and texture to ground beef. Minus the fatty, greasy part, of course. Who would want to mimic that?
- They are juicy and not dry.
- These balls will not fall apart during cooking.
- They are flavorful, delicious, and easy to make.
If you are looking for a real beef-like vegan mince substitute, we recommend choosing TVP*. This is the closest you can get ever get.
The main ingredient is TVP* (textured vegetable protein), but what is TVP? It is actually defatted soy flour, no other ingredients. They add water to it to make a paste, then it is pressure cooked, then dehydrated. The texture is spot on. So what else do you need?
- Italian seasoning – smoked sweet paprika, Worcestershire sauce (vegan and gluten-free), dried oregano, dried basil, ground cumin, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper
- Rice flour – but you can also use all-purpose flour
- Tapioca starch – or any other tapioca flour substitute
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Boil water in a kettle and add veggie stock or bring veggie broth to boil.
- Take a heat-resisting bowl or saucepan and soak TVP* in the hot veggie broth for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, squeeze the liquid out. As a result, you need to have moist, soft “minced meat”. See the below picture for reference.
Precooking onion and garlic
- While you wait for the TVP to get ready, peel and chop onion and garlic.
- Take a frying pan or skillet and pre-heat to medium heat.
- Add a dash of olive oil and the finely chopped onion and garlic.
- Cook onion and garlic until tender, but opaque, yellow and not caramelized.
Making TVP meatballs
- Take a large mixing bowl and add TVP* (soaked and squeezed), pre-cooked onion and garlic, and the Italian seasoning (smoked sweet paprika, Worcestershire sauce, dried oregano, dried basil, ground cumin, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper).
- You can mix everything well with a spatula or with your hands. It will not come together at this point, but don’t worry.
- When you are satisfied with the result, you can add the rice flour and the tapioca starch.
- Mix well. It will still seem not to be coming together at this point, but don’t worry. It will be loose just like in the below picture.
- Now it is time to form the TVP meatballs. Use your hands and squeeze rather than roll. They will come together and will stay together. The mixture is supposed to be soft and on the crumblier side, so it is not too dry and dense. The high heat of the oven will activate the starch and the balls will be perfect.
- Take a large baking tray or a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake the vegan meatballs in a pre-heated oven of 390 Fahrenheit (ca. 199 °C) for 15-20 minutes.
Alternatively, you can shallow fry them in a cast-iron skillet (we use the one from UnoCasa*) for 10-15 minutes. Flip them multiple times, so you get a crispy crust all around them.
- Why do you need veggie broth? – You can soak TVP in hot water as well, but veggie broth will provide additional flavors.
- Chop finely – Chop onion and garlic finely so they will mix well with the soaked TVP.
- Don’t recommend simmering the meatballs in a sauce – You can add these vegan TVP meatballs to a sauce, and they will NOT fall apart. However, we recommend baking them or frying them in advance before doing that. They need that crispy outer crust first.
- No special equipment – No need to pulse it on a food processor or stir any mixture for a long time. It is super easy to make, you’ll see.
When your “meatballs” are ready, you can serve them in many different ways.
- 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. (Picture below.)
- Make this amazing caramelized carrot pasta sauce or this vegan cashew alfredo sauce that complements these meatballs perfectly. Or try to add it to your vegan mac and cheese.
- You can make a complete meal by serving them with vegan mashed potatoes to the side, fried rice, or roasted veggies (roasted asparagus, mushroom, root veggies)
- Make a vegan meatball sandwich with vegan marinara sauce.
- Make meatball biscuit sliders.
- Put them on a stick or skewer, add a dip (like vegan BBQ sauce or vegan nacho cheese sauce) and serve them as appetizers.
- Stuff pita bread with veggies and these balls, and top them with vegan tzatziki.
- Add them to your vegan shakshuka to make it more filling.
These TVP meatballs keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. We recommend storing sauces separately, as the meatballs may soak up the sauce and can fall apart on day 3 or 4.
They are also freezer-friendly. Thaw first, then pop them back under the broiler to get their crispy crust back.
Yes, since it is a dehydrated product. You can use water, but for added flavor, we always use vegetable broth or veggie stock mixed in boiling water to soak the crumbles.
You can use many ingredients to make meatballs, like seitan, tofu, mushroom, other veggies, and legumes. But to mimic the crumble chewy texture of meatballs, the consistency after soaking TVP will match that perfectly.
More vegan meatball recipes
More TVP recipes
Start with checking out these tvp recipes or choose from the below list:
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- 1+½ cup TVP (Soy) -> What is TVP?
- 4 cup Veggie broth
- 1 Onion (small)
- 3-4 cloves Garlic
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp Olive oil
- 2 tsp Sweet smoked paprika powder
- 1+½ tsp Basil dried
- 1+½ tsp Oregano dried
- 1 tsp Ground cumin seeds
- 2 tsp Salt
- ⅛ tsp Black pepper
- ½ cup White rice flour
- 4 Tbsp Tapioca starch -> tapioca starch substitutes
- Boil water in a kettle and add veggie stock or bring veggie broth to boil. Take a heat-resisting bowl or saucepan and soak TVP in the hot veggie broth for 10 minutes.
- When the time is up, squeeze the liquid out with your hands. As a result, you need to have moist, soft “minced meat”.
Precooking onion and garlic
- While you wait for the TVP to get ready, peel and chop onion and garlic. Take a frying pan or skillet and pre-heat to medium heat. Add a dash of olive oil (1 Tbsp) and the finely chopped onion and garlic. Cook onion and garlic until tender but opaque, yellow, and not caramelized.
Making TVP meatballs
- Take a large mixing bowl and add TVP (soaked and squeezed), precooked onion and garlic, and the seasoning (smoked sweet paprika, Worcestershire sauce, dried oregano, dried basil, ground cumin, balsamic vinegar, olive oil (2 Tbsp), salt and black pepper). Mix everything well with a spatula or with your hands.
- Taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed. Then add the rice flour and the tapioca starch and mix well. It will not come together at this point, but don’t worry.
- Use your hands and squeeze rather than roll to form meatballs. The mixture is supposed to be soft, and on the crumblier side, so it is not too dry and dense after baking. The oven’s high heat will activate the starch, and the balls will be perfect.
Baking or frying
- Bake the TVP meatballs in a preheated oven of 390 Fahrenheit (ca. 199 °C) for 15-20 minutes.
- If you prefer on a stovetop, take a frying pan and heat it on medium heat. Add a bit of coconut or olive oil if you don’t have a non-stick pan. Fry them for a couple of minutes on each side to give them a nice brown color.
- Serving suggestions above the recipe card!
Top tips to make perfect TVP meatballs
- Why do you need veggie broth? – You can also soak TVP in hot water, but veggie broth will provide additional flavors.
- Chop finely – Chop onion and garlic finely. It will be easier to mix them well with the soaked TVP.
- Don’t recommend simmering the meatballs in a sauce – You can add these TVP meatballs to a sauce, and they will NOT fall apart. However, we recommend baking them in advance before doing that. They require that crispy outer crust first.