Chili-Soy Mushroom Meatballs tossed in a sticky-sweet sauce and served over fragrant ginger-scallion rice. These vegetarian meatballs are so tender and flavorful, they'll impress even the most devout carnivores. Serve with a side of sautéed broccoli for the ultimate better-than-takeout dinner.
If you've been a long-time reader, you may know that vegetarian meatballs are a staple around here. However, if you're new, I highly suggest checking out some of my favorites, such as these Eggplant Parmesan Meatballs or these Moroccan Lentil Meatballs.
Or, if you're looking for something simple, these 20-minute Chickpea Meatballs are weekday saviors!
Basically, I live for a good meatless meatball. There certainly is an art to making the perfect meatball without meat, and I truly believe these mushroom meatballs master it.
They're packed with umami-rich flavor from mushrooms, super tender from the chickpeas, and crisp up beautifully when pan-fried. They're also relatively simple to make with the help of a trusted food processor.
How to Make Chili-Soy Mushroom Meatballs
This dish is inspired by Chinese beef and broccoli recipes, which typically include a savory-sweet Mongolian sauce.
In classic Dishing Out Health style, we are swapping the beef for a plant-based alternative, however I guarantee you will NOT miss the meat. This dish is SO hearty and flavorful, the only thing you'll be missing is more leftovers.
- Chickpeas: You need 1 can of chickpeas for the meatballs, which offer a one-two punch of protein and fiber. The chickpeas help create a hearty, tender meatball that still holds up well to searing.
- Mushrooms: I suggest using two kinds of mushrooms - shiitake and cremini- for the meatballs. Shiitakes really amp up the umami, and cremini add "meaty" texture.
- Aromatics: You need LOTS of garlic and ginger for this recipe, which create an aromatic backbone. I highly suggest using FRESH garlic and ginger root over dried. The powdered versions just don't pack the same punch, unfortunately.
- Breadcrumbs: I prefer using panko-style breadcrumbs, which help bind the meatballs. If making the recipe gluten free, use a GF variety, such as Ian's brand.
- Scallions: You need one whole bunch of scallions, which are used in the meatballs, rice, AND as a garnish. Just be sure to trim both ends of the onion, and then thinly slice both the green and white parts.
- Chili-Soy Sauce: This simple, yet ultra aromatic sauce is made of soy sauce, broth, chili flakes, honey, and rice vinegar. You can also toss in some extra garlic or ginger, if you prefer.
- Rice: I suggest using a long-grain white rice, such as Jasmine or Basmati.
Step 1: Sauté the Mushrooms
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Once hot, add mushroom and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Mix in ½ cup scallions and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook 2 more minutes.
Let cool slightly.
Step 2: Mix the Mushroom Meatballs
In the bowl of a food processor, combine mushroom mixture, chickpeas, breadcrumbs, egg, cilantro, soy sauce (or tamari), and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse, mixing until combined, but not puréed, leaving a little texture. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.
Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
Step 3: Prepare Ginger-Scallion Rice
While meatball mixture chills, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add ½ cup scallions, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until aromatic.
Mix in rice and cook 1 minute to lightly toast. Add 2 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy, about 15 minutes.
Step 4: Mix Chili-Soy Sauce
Meanwhile, combine ⅓ cup soy sauce, broth, rice vinegar, honey, corn starch, and chili flakes in a bowl; mix well to combine.
Step 5: Sear Meatballs
Use a medium cookie dough scoop to scoop out Tablespoon amounts of meatball mixture and roll into 20 to 21 golfball-sized meatballs.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high. Once hot, add the meatballs and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden-brown and slightly crisp. Shake the pan or use a wooden spoon to roll the balls around to cook evenly on all sides. (Note: if you're using a smaller pan, cook the meatballs in two batches.)
If the meatballs begin burning or smoking, reduce heat to medium.
Once all of the mushroom meatballs are cooked, add sauce to pan. Cook 2 minutes, until thickened, tossing to coat meatballs in sauce. Serve meatballs and sauce over rice with remaining scallions as garnish.
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips:
- Make-ahead: Unshaped meatball mixture can be stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance. Shaped (uncooked) meatballs can also be stored 1 to 2 days ahead. You can also freeze the shaped balls (raw or cooked) for 2 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Either cook as directed (if raw) or rewarm in a skillet, if cooked.
- Store: Keep leftovers in the refrigerator and enjoy for up to 4 days.
Tools to Make Mushroom Meatballs
- Food Processor: To perfectly pulse the meatball mixture, you need a reliable food processor. This one is inexpensive, lightweight, and always gets the job done.
- Cookie Scoop: To scoop the mushroom meatballs into uniform balls, I love using this medium cookie scoop.
- Large Skillet: A cast-iron skillet will help you achieve uniform golden, crisp goodness on the meatballs. This one is inexpensive and pre-seasoned.
More Vegetarian Meatball Recipes to Try:
If you give these vegetarian meatballs a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
Chili-Soy Mushroom Meatballs with Ginger-Scallion Rice
- Food processor
- Large skillet
- Small saucepan with lid
- 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 5 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 4 minced garlic cloves, divided
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
- 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (sub quick-cooking oats)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tsp. lower-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1 cup dry long-grain white rice (such as basmati or jasmine)
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 ½ Tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. corn starch
- Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Suggested for Serving
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Once hot, add cremini and shiitake mushrooms; cook 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Stir in ½ cup of the chopped green onions, 2 minced garlic cloves, and ¼ tsp. chili flakes; cook 2 more minutes.Let cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine mushroom mixture, chickpeas, breadcrumbs, egg, cilantro, 2 tsp. soy sauce, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Pulse, mixing until combined, but not puréed, leaving a little texture. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
- While meatball mixture chills, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add ½ cup of the chopped green onions, 2 minced garlic cloves, and ginger; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until aromatic.Stir in rice and cook 1 minute to lightly toast. Add 2 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy, about 15 minutes. Keep covered until ready to serve.
- Meanwhile, combine remaining ⅓ cup soy sauce, vegetable broth, rice vinegar, honey, corn starch, and remaining ¼ tsp. chili flakes in a bowl; mix well to combine. Set aside.Use a medium cookie dough scoop to scoop out 1.5 tablespoon amounts of mushroom mixture and gently form/roll into 20 to 21 golfball-sized meatballs. In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high. Once hot, add the meatballs and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown all sides, until golden-brown and slightly crisp. (Note: if you're using a smaller pan, cook the meatballs in two batches.)If the meatballs begin burning, reduce heat to medium.
- Once all of the mushroom meatballs are browned, pour sauce into pan. Cook 2 minutes, until thickened, tossing to coat meatballs in sauce. Serve meatballs and sauce over rice with any remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds as garnish.