Vegan Beanballs (for serving on pasta with marinara sauce)

Vegan beanballs and spaghetti

Made of beans, oatmeal (or quinoa flakes) and walnuts, there’s nothing “fake meat” about these beanballs. They’re super easy to make, too — basically you just throw everything into the food processor. While they’re baking, cook up your favorite kind of pasta. Once it’s done, add the kind of marinara sauce you like best — homemade Classic Marinara Sauce, or or your favorite natural purchased brand. Serve with a colorful salad, and, if you’d like, roast some broccoli and/or cauliflower in the oven at the same time that the beanballs are baking. Tip: set aside some of the marinara to spoon over the beanballs, once you arrange them atop the pasta.

Makes about 20

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or one 15-to 16-ounce can
    (drained and rinsed) pink or small red beans
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats or quinoa flakes
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Parsley leaves from a couple of sprigs
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or organic ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or water
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, mesquite, or other smoky seasoning like mesquite
  • 2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning blend (like Frontier or Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Salt (taste first, you may not need any if using canned beans) to taste

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Combine all the ingredients except the salt in a food processor and pulse on and off until the mixture starts holding together. Stop the machine from time to time to stir the mixture around so that it gets chopped up evenly. Or, if you don’t have a food processor, no worries! Mash the beans well with a fork, and find a way to grind the walnuts into a coarse powder; chop the scallions and parsley finely by hand; then mix in the rest.

Either way, you want it to get fairly smooth, but with some texture — not totally pureed. Taste first to see if you’d like more salt. Err on the side of caution, as your marinara sauce will add salt to the dish as well.


Line a baking sheet with parchment. Form the bean mixture into 1-inch balls and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom, then carefully turn over (using a tablespoon works) and bake for about 10 minutes more, or until the underside is lightly browned as well.

Serve at once over the pasta with marinara sauce that you’ve presumably prepared while these were baking.

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17 comments on “Vegan Beanballs (for serving on pasta with marinara sauce)

  1. Nava Post author

    Oh yes, good idea — I haven’t tried pan-frying, but baking almost exactly as directed would work. Check the bottom after 10 minutes to make sure it doesn’t get overly browned; if it’s good to go, flip it carefully. If not, give it another 4-5 minutes and then flip.

  2. Nava Post author

    JC, would you like to submit an article describing PCRM’s 21-day Kickstart program, I’d be happy to promote it to VegKitchen readers. Thanks!

  3. Tim

    Made these last night – delicious and hearty! Love the texture and bumbed up spices. Def. a keeper recipe

  4. kelli

    To easily print, just select only that part of the page/recipe you want to print, right click, go to print , then in the print box, choose, “selection” , you will get only what you have selected. If you want to print preview first, select then right click, select print preview, along the top, choose the down arrow where it says, “as laid out on screen” and change to “as selected on screen”. Then print like normal. this is for internet explorer users. hope it is helpful. 🙂

  5. Vanessa

    I agree with one of the other posters, check these after 10 minutes in the oven. For my first batch the bottoms burned. I also needed to up the spices a bit for my taste, but they were delicious.

  6. Nava Post author

    Kathy, this would probably work. I would say that when you process, leave a bit more texture. Then cook at medium-high heat in a non-stick (but non-toxic!) pan lined with just a touch of oil. Stir often so that the mixture browns here and there. If you do this, please let me know how it works!

  7. Nava Post author

    Allison, the white beans would work, though they may come out more of a pinkish color. No matter, just douse them with more tomato sauce and they’ll look and taste good!

  8. Felicia

    Also, for people who wanted nutritional info, I quickly calculated the calories to be about 50 (for a 20 bean ball recipe) per ball with walnuts and using water not oil, and tomato sauce not ketchup.

    Without nuts, it’s 30 per ball.

  9. Nava Post author

    Felicia, you can omit the walnuts, but you need to replace them with something. So you can use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra oats, or some hempseeds or wheat germ. And thanks for the calorie analysis! We’re working on getting all the recipe analyzed.

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