Vegan Matzo Balls (with a Gluten-Free Variation)

vegan matzo ball soup recipe

This vegan matzo balls recipe isn’t going to yield the Jewish grandmothers’ classic fluffy variety, but something new, delicious, and easy to make. Cooked quinoa flakes bind them together. A lot of the vegan matzo balls recipes on the web use tofu as a binder, which, for many Jews, is not an allowable Passover food. The trick here is to bake them at a low temperature rather than boiling them. Without egg as a binder, vegan matzo balls are more likely than not to fall apart in water.

I’ve also included a gluten-free variation using additional dry quinoa flakes instead of matzo meal (though with only quinoa, technically they’re not “matzo” at all, just matzo-like). More quinoa flakes are needed than matzo meal to hold these together, as they’re less dense.

These go very quickly and everyone usually wants more, so if you’re increasing the amount of soup to accommodate a larger crowd, or serving more than 8 people, you would do well to double this recipe! These are delicious in either the simple Vegan Matzo Ball Soup or the Moroccan-Style Matzo Ball Soup. Adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen.

Makes: About 24

  • 1 cup quinoa flakes (see Note)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup matzo meal (or 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes for a gluten-free version)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. optional
  • 1/4 cup light vegetable oil (like safflower)

In a large mixing bowl, cover the quinoa flakes with the water. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes.

Stir in the matzo meal (or additional quinoa flakes for GF), salt, pepper, optional onion powder, and oil. Mix until well blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Just before baking, preheat the oven to 275º F.

Roll the matzo meal mixture into approximately 1-inch balls; don’t pack them too firmly. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, carefully turning the matzo balls after 10 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch; don’t let them brown.

If making ahead of time, let the matzo balls cool completely, then cover until needed. Warm them briefly in a medium-hot oven or in the microwave, and distribute them among the soup bowls, allowing 3 or 4 matzo balls per serving.

Note: Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes are now Kosher for Passover! If your local natural foods retailer doesn’t carry them, they can order a box or two for you. Or look for them online.

Variation: Use 1 box (2 packets) Streit’s or Maneschiewitz matzo ball mix, and if doing so eliminate the salt, onion powder, and pepper. But be aware that matzo ball mixes, even the reduced-sodium variety, contain a ridiculous amount of sodium.

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39 comments on “Vegan Matzo Balls (with a Gluten-Free Variation)

  1. lisa

    i have been trying to make vegan matzo balls for weeks now. i tried flax, corn starch, and potato starch but it did not occur to me to bake them. i used streits mix. would it work to bake them with potato starch or flax? i would love your opinion. i am going to try your recipe too! also, is your cookbook jewish only or all religious holidays? thanks!

  2. Nava Post author

    Lisa, in the past I also found, if I’m reading between the lines on your comment correctly, that without egg, there is nothing to cook in the matzo balls, so boiling them only makes them fall apart, or at best, very mushy. So baking them has been a perfect solution. Given the simple formula here, I would say you can go ahead and tinker with it, and let us know how it works out! But of course I would try to perfect your rendition before the Seder itself.

    The forthcoming Vegan Holiday Kitchen covers Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Passover, summer entertaining, and Easter, plus a few general menus and recipes for appetizers, brunches, and potlucks. It won’t be out until late October, though.

  3. Deborah

    Are quinoa flakes the same as traditional quinoa? I have a box of that in the house, but it’s tiny balls, not flakes. I have a box of the Manischewitz matzo ball mix in the house and would love to utilize it, I was just looking for the right replacement for the eggs.

  4. Nava Post author

    Deborah, what you have is the actual quinoa grain, not quinoa flakes, which are flat and light and flaky. The quinoa grain would not be sticky enough to be the binder. The brand of quinoa flakes that seems most widely available is Ancient Harvest. See if your natural foods store can order you a box post haste before the holiday, or see if you can find it online.

    Someone asked me what she could use in place of quinoa flakes, even if it wasn’t exactly for Passover. So that would be quick-cooking oats, which can be used in the same proportion as the quinoa flakes. Oats are not used for those who adhere to the traditional Passover rules of hametz, however. And the internet is filled with vegan matzo ball recipes that use silken tofu as the binder (which I don’t think works very well), and tofu is not allowed under Ashkenazic Passover rules. Depends on how strictly you observe the holiday.

    Let me know how you make out!

  5. Pingback: Is it possible to have a Vegan Passover Seder? « Jamsmom talks kids, knits and life

  6. David Snieckus

    Nava:
    I’m going to use Millet flour instead of Quinoa Flakes and whole wheat flour instead of the mixes in the box as an experiment…TODAY the 16th of April 2011.
    Anybody want them?
    david snieckus

  7. Nava Post author

    David, using millet and whole wheat flour, they won’t be traditionally Passover-appropriate, but let us know how they turn out!

  8. Helen

    I tested two batches of these tonight. Overall, they held together well. My only warning would be to check the amount of sodium in the matzoh ball mix. There’s a huge discrepancy among brands: Maneschewitz is through the roof–so much sodium they were inedible. Their low-sodium version was an improvement, but the ‘regular’ Streit’s mix includes even less sodium than the ‘low-sodium’ Maneschewitz. Make sure you test which brand suits your taste before serving to your seder guests.

    Nava, one question: Any ideas on what I might be able to add or do to make these matzoh balls just a little bit more dense?

  9. Nava Post author

    Helen, I’m glad these worked for you. To make them just a bit more dense, add a little plain matzo meal or potato starch. And thanks so much on the heads-up on the difference in sodium content!

  10. Marilyn

    I am going to make these matzoh balls right now – almost. I don’t want to use the mix due to the high sodium and the msg.
    What quantity of regular matzoh meal would I use?

    Thanks,
    Marilyn

  11. Nava Post author

    They have MSG? I see that the Manischiewitz brand uses monocalcium phosphate, but that is a leavening agent. It does, however, have a ridiculous amount of sodium. I’m going to have to check out the Streit’s brand.

    If you are going to use regular matzo meal, use 1 cup altogether, as each packet of the mix equals 1/2 cup. Let me know how it works out. You’ll probably need to use a bit of salt, too, so they’re not totally bland. Maybe pepper as well.

  12. Randi

    I have a gluten free recipe that uses the quinoa flakes instead of matzah meal and they are delicious. You basically make them the same way as traditional matzah balls so they use eggs. Any ideas how to convert that recipe so that it is vegan?

  13. Nava Post author

    Randi, try the recipe above, substituting the dry quinoa flakes for the matzo ball mix (1 cup) and doing the first step (covering the quinoa flakes originally called for, which substitutes for the egg, with water) as instructed. You’ll probably have to add some seasoning. Let us know how it works out!

  14. Randi

    Will give it a try. By the way, I have had your Vegetarian 5 Ingredient cookbook for a number of years. I didn’t realize you had this nice website. Thanks!

  15. Marilyn

    I made and served the vegan matzoh balls yesterday. They were very good. My box of mix was for matzoh balls and soup mix. The ingredient list did not say which ingredient was in which packet, so I assume the msg was in the soup packet – not the matzoh ball packet.
    Thanks for the recipe.

  16. Nava Post author

    Marilyn, I’m glad you enjoyed them. I’m glad you wrote earlier to point out about the sodium content. Yesterday I used the Maneschiewitz reduced-sodium matzo ball mix and it still struck me as too salty. I think I might try these again this week with just plain matzo meal, and a judicious hand with salt and pepper. I’ll post results if they come out well!

  17. Minda Krawitz

    Wow!!!! Your recipe looks so much easier! I’m going to try it! I had just used one recipe where she called for flax seeds and potato starch, and the mixture was so dry I had to add more liquids than what was called for. And instead of the flax seeds I crushed some quinoa to make it “flaky”. And it also called for chopped carrot stirred in it. It was okay, but the water was muddy and some fell apart. I like YOUR idea, and it seems much easier to follow! Also, is it okay to use extra light olive oil? I can’t imagine you cannot use that for Passover. Olive is a fruit.

  18. Nava Post author

    Minda, these really are super-easy. But per Helen’s comment above (about matzo ball mixes, even the reduced-sodium kind, containing a crazy amount of sodium), I just altered this slightly.

    I experimented with using just straight matzo meal and also making a gluten-free variation using both the soaked quinoa flakes and dry quinoa flakes. And they were great, I prefer them to the overly salted variety. Plus, being small, they absorb the flavors from whatever soup they’re in.If you try these, let us know how they come out!

  19. Nava Post author

    Dedra, I’m quite sure that if you boil them, they’d just fall apart. I’ve tried other vegan matzo balls variations that are around the web and that’s what happens usually, w/o egg to bind them together. The brief baking makes them hold nice and firm in the soup.

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  23. veganmomma

    I made these with your spring veggie soup recipe tonight! I couldn’t find quinoa flakes, so I just used all matzo meal. The whole thing turned out wonderfully! The only things I did differently was I put the matzo balls into the simmering soup for about 10 minutes at the end of cooking, and I used all veggie broth instead of water because I didn’t have time to let it rest for 2 hours.

    Thanks for a great recipe! Brings back some good childhood memories! :)

  24. Nava Post author

    Veganmomma, I’m amazed that they held together with only matzo meal, but glad they did! And happy that you enjoyed these and the soup. Hope you had a good holiday.

  25. Dan Brook

    We used flax meal powder this year instead of eggs and it worked like a charm. Last year, we used Ener-G Egg Replacer and that also worked well.

    Matzah balls aside, feel free to visit and share my The Vegetarian Mitzvah at http://www.brook.com/jveg which has lots of info, quotes, links, and more on the connections between Judaism and vegetarianism.

  26. MyRedSandals

    Just buy Isa Chandra’s “Vegan with a Vengeance” cookbook and use her vegan matzo ball recipe. Amazing!

  27. ABYD

    Not sure that ground flaxseed is kosher for passover, and I’m out-quinoaed (too much of a good thing). Wondering if I can use xanthan gum as a binder (for this and matzo brei) and still have it for Ashkenazic passover. Nava? Do you still check the comments on this website?

  28. ABYD

    Also (sorry for the multiple posts) I remember somewhere someone making matzo balls fluffy using seltzer. Would that work for these, or do they NEED to be boiled for a good selter fluffiness to translate?

    And, to MyRedSandal’s comment, the Vegan With A Vengeance recipe is good, but not Passover-friendly for those of us who observe the bulk of the dietary restrictions. The tofu is the problem, and is the reason these particular matzo balls (lacking a tofu binder) have issues with being boiled.

  29. Nava Post author

    ABYD, I don’t have ground flaxseed in these, so not sure what that part of your question refers to. While quinoa is allowed for Passover (if it’s Kosher for Passover), quinoa flakes are not technically Kosher for Passover. So it depends on how strictly you want to adhere to the rules. You’re right that tofu is not a Passover food for Ashkenazic Jews, though beans and grains not used by Ashkenazic Jews are used by Sephardic Jews during the holiday. In any case, tofu is not a good binder for matzo balls.

    I don’t think that seltzer would work with these; nor do I know whether xantham gum is Kosher for Passover, if you need to be strict about it. Sorry that I can’t be more helpful on your questions!

  30. bracha

    to ABYD
    better late than never! flax seeds are kosher for passover. buy them whole and get a new coffee grinder to grind them yourself for passover.
    all the best

  31. lisa

    i am so excited to make this updated version this year! no more matzo ball mix…i will post my results. thanks for this (and your book is amazing!!!)

  32. Nava Post author

    I’m pretty sure I’ve tried freezing these, and they were fine. I can’t see why they wouldn’t freeze well! Fingers crossed, as well … happy holiday!

  33. Zach

    I found a gluten free matzo ball mix for sale this year (it seems like the main ingredient is potato starch). Could that be used here in substitution of the matzo meal?

  34. Nava Post author

    Zach, I can’t guarantee it, but maybe do a test run with half or quarter of the recipe. Can you let me know how it works out if you do?

  35. Zach

    Nava–we used the GF matzo ball mix (which is essentially potato starch with onion powder, salt and pepper etc). It worked fantastically with the quinoa flakes. Everyone loved them at both seders!

  36. Nava Post author

    That’s great, Zach — maybe I’ll suggest that in the recipe for those who are GF and want a mix. If you see this response, can you let me know what the brand is?

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