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BBQ vegan lentil meatballs are a protein packed dish made with simple plant-based ingredients of lentils, rice and mushrooms! No mock meats!
I created this recipe in 2017 after seeing an Instagram post of BBQ turkey meatballs and zucchini.
I knew I could easily make a plant based version, but I had no idea it would become as popular as it has become! It is one of the most popular recipes on the blog!
These vegan lentil meatballs are the most tested tried and true recipe on the blog (see recipe testimonials below), and when you try them for yourself, you will find out why!
What are Vegan Meatballs made of?
Some recipes use the a vegan mock meat product. However this recipe uses simple, affordable, and easily accessible plant-based ingredients you can find anywhere.
What do these Meatless Meatballs taste like?
This recipe has great texture and flavor! The liquid smoke gives it an extra oomph so to speak. The lentil balls also have a GREAT like the texture because of the rice.
And the best think about it is, they aren't mushy. In the original recipe, some reported that they were mushy and wet.
So I went back to the drawing board and I'm happy to report that this updated recipe has solved that problem!
Now I am a Midwestern St. Louis gal, so I made these lentil meatballs in my vegan bbq sauce but these can also work with spaghetti sauce over some pasta!
Can I meal prep this recipe?
These this makes for a great meal prep. You can make a HUGE batch ahead of time and freeze for up to 3 months!
What can I Serve with these Vegan Meatballs?
You can make them really small and serve them as a appetizer! I like eating as part of main dish served alongside the following sides:
- vegan potato salad
- vegan baked beans
- dairy free mac and cheese
- chickpea cucumber tomato salad
- vegan corn salad
How to Make BBQ Lentil Balls?
*Please read detailed and printable recipe card below for full ingredients and instructions
Cook Veggies and Make Meatballs
- Cook mushrooms and onions. Then add cooked veggies to a food processor with lentils. (Photos 1 & 2)
- Add seasonings to a bowl along with processed veggies and lentils. Mixed together until fully combined. (Photos 3 & 4)
Baking and Saute Instructions
- Scoop mixture and form into a ball. (Photos 1 & 2)
- To bake, dip in BBQ Sauce and add on a baking sheet. Bake until meatballs are done. (Photos 3 & 4)
- To sauté, add to a hot pan to caramelize. Then add BBQ sauce over lentil balls, fully coating and simmering for a couple of minutes.
Substitution, Cook, and Storage Tips:
- DO NOT use red lentils for this. They are too mushy for this recipe.
- Leftovers keep covered in the refrigerator 4-5 days once cooked. DO NOT store at room temperature.
- To freeze, do it before you cook your vegan balls. Form into balls and add it to a Reusable Storage Bag or Glass Containers and freeze for up to 3 months. (Be sure to date it).
- When ready to cook, thaw out in refrigerator overnight and heat according to the recipe instructions!
How Does this Recipe Help with Vegan Weight Gain?
This is my GO-TO post-workout meal! I eat it with roasted broccoli (or green beans), and a baked Garnet Sweet Potato all the time.
This recipe is packed with protein containing 15 grams of protein per serving! The lentils contain such amino acids that help with building curves like valine (a BCAA that helps with muscle growth and muscle repair).
Be sure to read our vegan weight gain guide for more information on how to gain healthy weight and curves on a vegan diet!
What People Are Saying About This Recipe
These are SO bomb! So flavorful! So, so good. I’m making another batch for the freezer these are so good. -Kiki (via comments)
These are phenomenal! The flavor and texture were both excellent. - Charlotte (via comments)
More Lentil Recipes You'll Love:
BBQ Vegan Lentil Meatballs
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (16-ounce package)
- 2 cups cooked lentils, divided note 4
- 1 cup cooked brown rice note 3
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ⅔ cup instant oats
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- handful parsley and cilantro
- 2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire
- ¼ cup vegan BBQ sauce
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- ½ - 1 cup extra Vegan BBQ Sauce
- Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to a large pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are fully translucent. Once cooked turn off the heat and set aside.
- Take half your lentils and add to a food processor along with your cooked mushrooms and onions. Process until just combined. The mixture will be wet and sticky. It should hold and bind together without a problem.
- Take your mixture and add it to a large mixing bowl. Next the other half of your lentils, cooked rice, sea salt, garlic powder, basil, instant oats, breadcrumbs, parsley, cilantro, vegan worcestershire, bbq sauce, and liquid smoke. Mix together until fully combined.
PAN FRYING INSTRUCTIONS
- Start to form your lentil balls placing them in a bowl. (I use an ice cream scooper to scoop out mixture). Grab a large 15 inch cast iron pan (or whatever skillet you have on), add 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, place, balls in a pan and heat all the way through for about 2 minutes on each side. The lentil balls will form a caramelized coating on each side. Do not leave unattended.
- Add ½ to 1 cup of Vegan BBQ Sauce to the pan and turn down the heat. Make sure you coat every lentil ball and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Serve with your favorite sides or as an appetizer.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Start to form your lentil balls placing each one on a pan lined with parchment paper. (I use an ice cream scopper to scoop out mixture).
- Brush lentil meatballs with 1 teaspoon of oil (this will help them get that caramelized color as if you were pan-frying them) and extra barbecue sauce (as much as you like).
- Place in the oven for about 20 minutes total. After 10 minutes, flipped them on the other side for an even cook. You can brush on an extra layer of BBQ sauce if you like and finish baking.
- Once fully cooked, take out the oven and allow it to cool. Serve with your favorite sides or as an appetizer.
- UPDATED: This recipe has been updated due to people finding the mixture too wet. Thanks to the feedback, I made 3 important changes:
- I took away the need for a flaxseed egg so less ingredients are needed.
- I added breadcrumbs to the mixture for a better hold and more texture.
- I processed only half of the lentils in a food processor that way it the mixture has some texture and isn't so wet.
- READ THE ENTIRE RECIPE: It is important to follow instructions as written and read through the entire post and recipe. If you try to do this recipe on your own outside of the direct instructions and measurements, you take the risk the recipe not turning out correctly.
- MORE LENTIL MEATBALLS: The same flavor is there but now the mixture holds a lot better and it makes more meatballs! I have tested the new version 3 times and it's PERFECT. Please leave comments for any questions or concerns of how the updated recipe turned out for you!
- PRE COOKED RICE: Please NOTE the rice needs to be bought pre cooked or you will have to add additional steps in cooking those things yourself. Any pre cooked rice will do but I like Tasty Bite Organic Brown Rice. If you want to cook your own, I like Trader Joes 15 Quick-Cook Rice. ½ cup of dried rice equals 1 cup of cooked rice. Cook according to package directions.
- PRE COOKED LENTILS: Lentils need to bought pre cooked as well or you will have to add additional steps. I used 2 15 ounce cans of lentils. (Be sure to pat your lentils dry as much as possible with a paper towel if using can lentils). If you want to cook your own, 1 cup of dried lentils equals 2 cups of cooked lentils. Cook according to package directions.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on July 1, 2017, but was republished with meal prep and storage tips on October 31, 2021.
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