Chickpea Meatballs are freezer-friendly, kid-approved, and come together in just 20 minutes. Enjoy these vegetarian meatballs with pasta, in a pita, or simply with your favorite dipping sauce.
Why You'll Love these Chickpea Meatballs
At first, the thought of meatballs without meat may seem a bit off-putting. However, I can assure you these bean-based balls are every bit as savory, versatile, and satisfying as their beef-based counterparts. And while the main component (chickpeas) may be uncommon, the binders and spices stay true to most classic meatball recipes.
If you're looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, this recipe is for you. Or, if you're simply looking to expand your cooking repertoire and try something new, you're also in the right place!
These vegetarian meatballs are kid-friendly, omnivore-approved, and come together in just 20 minutes. Enjoy them with pasta, in a sandwich, or simply with your favorite dipping sauce. (My personal favorites are BBQ and honey mustard.)
While vegetarian meatballs run the gamut in terms of ingredients, these call for many pantry staples:
- Canned Chickpeas: The star of this recipe is the humble, yet oh-so-versatile, chickpea. It's important to drain, rinse, and thoroughly dry the chickpeas prior to mixing with the other ingredients. You can either pat them with a towel or leave them out to dry for 20 minutes ahead of time.
- Breadcrumbs: A classic binding and bulking agent in most meatball recipes, breadcrumbs are a necessity here. However if you're allergic or sensitive to gluten, feel free to use almond meal instead.
- Eggs: Another classic binder in most meatball/meatloaf recipes. However if you're making these vegan, you can sub for two flax eggs.
- Nutritional Yeast: All the "cheesy", savory flavor without the dairy, nutritional yeast is a major flavor agent here. If you don't have any on hand (or don't need to make the recipe dairy-free), you can use grated Parmesan cheese instead.
- Fresh Parsley: At least in most Italian meatballs, fresh parsley is a must!
- Spices: It's no secret that chickpeas are quite bland on their own. For this reason, this recipe leans HEAVILY on spices to deliver big, bold flavor. For these meatballs, you'll need smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt.
Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
This includes the chickpeas, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, nutritional yeast (or Parmesan), and spices.
Step 2: Blend until mostly smooth.
The mixture will be a little coarse, which is perfectly fine. You just want the mixture to be cohesive so you can roll it into balls.
Step 3: Roll into meatballs.
Using 1 heaping Tablespoon or a mini cookie dough scoop, roll the mixture into 14 to 16 meatballs.
Step 4: Cook chickpea meatballs in a skillet.
Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chickpea meatballs and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides, until golden.
Step 5: Eat!
These chickpea meatballs can be enjoyed in so many delicious ways. Read on for a few of my favorites.
What to Serve with Chickpea Meatballs
I've included some of my favorite ways to serve these chickpea meatballs below, however they are just as (if not more) versatile than any classic meatball. For example:
- Serve with spaghetti and red sauce. You can't get more classic than spaghetti and meatballs, and the Italian flavor of these chickpeas meatballs make for the best alternative.
- Place in a hoagie roll. True story: My all-time favorite sandwich growing up was a meatball sub. I mean, does a heartier, more satisfying sandwich exist?!
- Stuff in a pita: With a smear of hummus and some fresh veggies, these chickpea meatballs are a mighty fine sub for falafel.
- Enjoy as is! Keep it simple and serve these chickpea meatballs with your sides of choice and/or favorite dipping sauce. They're also delicious over a salad to amp up the protein. And since they make a great finger food, toddlers will inevitably love them too.
How to Freeze these Meatballs:
In case you were wondering, YES, you can absolutely freeze and reheat these vegetarian meatballs.
- For best results, let them cool to room temperature before placing in a zip-top freezer bag.
- Before sealing, press down to release as much air from the bag as possible. Next, label and date the bag, if desired, and freeze up to 3 months!
- To reheat, I prefer to place them in the oven (or toaster oven) and bake at 325°F for about 20 minutes, or until heated through. This method is much preferred over microwaving because it helps salvage their crispy exterior.
If you give this recipe a try, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your fun creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
More Healthy Vegetarian Dinner Ideas:
Chickpea Meatballs (Vegetarian)
- Food processor
- Large skillet
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- ½ cup plain breadcrumbs sub almond meal if making gluten-free
- 2 large eggs sub flax eggs if making vegan
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- To serve: pasta and sauce, hoagie rolls and condiments of choice to make a sub, or your sides/dipping sauce of choice.
- Combine first 10 ingredients (chickpeas through salt) in a food processor. Blend until mixture is cohesive and mostly smooth.
- Use a small cookie dough scoop or measuring spoon to gather one heaping Tablespoon amounts and roll into balls. You should have 14 golfball-sized meatballs. (If the mixture feels too wet to form, add 1 to 2 more tablespoon breadcrumbs.)
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add chickpea meatballs and cook 6 to 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides, until golden.
- Serve with pasta and sauce, in a sandwich, over a salad, or with your sides and dipping sauce of choice.