Vegan lentil meatballs that are oven-baked and gluten-free. Serve them with a rich curry sauce for a meal that’s comforting, savoury and easy to make. They also work great for meal prep!
I first made these vegan lentil meatballs as an accident. Well, kind of. I’ve wanted to test out a meat-free meatball recipe for quite some time, but didn’t expect it to go anywhere. There’s a delicate balancing act with recipes like this. So, I gave myself permission to just throw a bunch of things together and not get too upset if it turned into some sort of lentil potato soup. The curry sauce was also a last-minute decision.
Needless to say, the final outcome came as a complete surprise. I loved them, my mum loved them. I scolded myself for not making extra for lunch the next day. Lots of people on Instagram wanted the recipe. However, as I had no intention of these becoming a blog recipe, I of course didn’t write down the measurements. Or take anywhere near enough photographs.
Thankfully, I had a vague idea of the ratios used. As soon as I got a chance, I went ahead and recreated these lentil meatballs in curry sauce. So, here they are, for all of you to make for yourself and hopefully enjoy as much as I did.
What’s to love about these lentil meatballs?
I’m not even sure where to start with these ‘meatballs’. Together with the rich tomato curry sauce, they’re one of the best dinners I’ve ever made.
- While they’re not supposed to emulate the taste of actual meatballs, they’re non-vegan approved and are sure to be enjoyed by everyone! I’d recommend making them as a Friday night/weekend dinner for your friends and family.
- Naturally gluten-free.
- Made from staple ingredients that are likely sitting around in your fridge and pantry.
- Whole food plant based.
- A great homemade alternative to store-brought vegan meatballs, which (while tasty) tend to be expensive and highly processed. Plus, making your own is always much more fun!
- Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Delicious with any side of your choice: try different rice varieties, noodles, pasta, quinoa, etc.
- Perfect for meal prep and make-ahead lunches. You don’t have to serve them straight away with the curry sauce. Keep them in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days, or add them to your lunchboxes for school/work.
You don’t have to serve the curry sauce with the vegan lentil meatballs and vice versa. The meatballs are delicious by themselves, or with a simple dip such as ketchup, hummus or pesto. You can add the curry sauce to simple dishes like pasta and baked potatoes, perhaps serving it by itself over rice with a side salad if you want a meal that’s super quick and easy.
How to make vegan lentil meatballs
Start by cooking red lentils for around 15 minutes, until they’re soft but not mushy. At the same time, boil peeled and chopped potatoes until fully cooked through.
Then, add all the meatball ingredients to a large mixing bowl. These ingredients are the boiled potatoes and lentils, buckwheat flour (see below for substitutions), red onion, tomato purée, nutritional yeast, turmeric, tamari and a flax egg. Use a potato masher to crush the potatoes, then combine the ingredients well using a fork.
I like these lentil meatballs to have a lot of texture, and find that it’s very easy to over-blend with a food processor. However, you can use one and pulse the mixture a few times to make this quicker and easier.
Then, roll the mixture into even-sized balls. Make sure your hands are slightly damp to prevent sticking. The measurements in the recipe card below are enough for 8-9 large meatballs. Arrange them on a non-stick baking sheet or baking paper, and bake at 200 degrees C/392 F for 25-30 minutes, until golden and crispy on the outside.
How to make an easy tomato curry sauce
While the lentil meatballs are in the oven, start preparing the curry sauce.
Sautée minced garlic, fresh grated ginger and chopped red onion in a non-stick saucepan with a splash of water on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until the onions soften. Then, add the finely chopped fresh tomatoes with garam masala and cook for a further minute or so before pouring in the coconut milk. Stir in curry powder and turmeric, seasoning to taste with salt.
Lower the heat to low-medium and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens. Serve over the meatballs and a side of your choice, and enjoy!
Substitutions and tips for making vegan lentil meatballs
- You can swap the buckwheat flour for GF oat flour, which you can make yourself by pulsing gluten-free oats in a food processor. Alternatively, use a store-brought gluten-free flour blend.
- If you use a food processor to make the meatballs, make sure not to overdo it and leave some texture.
- They also work well with sweet potatoes if you want to try something different!
- The nutritional yeast is an optional extra, but does add an amazing hint of cheesiness.
- Don’t leave the meatballs in the oven for too long (I wouldn’t recommend more than 35 minutes): they should still have a bit of softness on the inside.
- These cooking times are based on large meatballs (about 5 cm in diameter). If you make smaller ones, keep in mind that they won’t have to stay in the oven for as long.
- Adjust how much salt you use depending on your dietary preferences. I find the curry sauce has plenty of flavour without it.
Other recipes you might like…
- Why not try an easy vegetable pumpkin stir-fry for an autumn-inspired, cosy dinner?
- Make an edamame and kimchi vegan falafel wrap as a meal prep lunch.
- How about a slice of berry and almond polenta cake for dessert?
Let me know in the comments: have you ever tried making vegan meatballs? If you give this recipe a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthofmariaa) or comment your photo on Pinterest so I can see your creations!
Vegan Lentil Meatballs With Curry Sauce (Gluten-free)
Vegan lentil meatballs that are oven-baked and gluten-free. Serve them with a rich curry sauce for a meal that's comforting, savoury and easy to make. You can also meal prep these meat-free meatballs for a make-ahead lunch!
For the lentil meatballs
- 1/2 cup (90g) red lentils
- 3 small (about 300g) potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 1/4 cup (30g) buckwheat flour*
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tsb turmeric
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1 flax egg**
For the curry sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
- 5 small*** vine tomatoes, finely diced
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp curry powder****
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1/2 tbsp turmeric
- salt, to taste
- cooked rice, noodles or pasta of choice
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/392 F. Cook the red lentils for 15 minutes, until soft but not mushy. At the same time, boil the potatoes until fully cooked through.
Add the meatball ingredients (cooked lentils and potatoes, red onion, buckwheat flour, nutritional yeast, tomato purée, turmeric, tamari and the flax egg to a large mixing bowl. Crush the potatoes using a potato masher, then use a fork to combine the ingredients. Alternatively, use a food processor and pulse a few times, making sure not to overdo it.
Making sure your hands are slightly damp, form the batter into 8-9 large meatballs. Arrange them on a non-stick baking sheet or baking paper and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden and crispy on the outside.
To make the curry sauce
While the meatballs are in the oven, add the garlic, ginger and red onion to a non-stick saucepan with a tbsp water. Cook and stir for 4-5 minutes, until the onions soften. Then, add the chopped tomatoes and garam masala, cooking for a further minute.
Lower the heat to low-medium, and add the coconut milk, curry powder and turmeric. Season to taste with salt. Simmer and stir occasionally for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Serve together with the meatballs, over a bed of rice, noodles or pasta.
* Sub for 1/4 cup GF oat flour. You can make this by pulsing gluten-free rolled oats in a food processor. Alternatively, use a store-brought gluten-free flour blend.
** To make the flax egg, stir together 1 tbsp group flaxseed and 2 tbsp water, setting aside for 10-15 minutes.
*** These should be about 2-3cm (an inch or so) in diameter.
**** Ensure certified GF if necessary.
This makes 8-9 large meatballs (about 5cm/2 inches in diameter).
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