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Succulent and bursting with Italian flavors, these super easy vegan meatballs are the ultimate healthy, budget-friendly comfort food.

Succulent, tender and bursting with Italian flavors, these 10-ingredient vegan meatballs are the ultimate vegan, healthy and budget-friendly meal.

They make the healthier and cheaper alternative to your regular meatballs, they make a perfect family meal and delicious meal prep or school lunch box (totally kid-approved. 

vegan meatballs in meal prep containers with mashed potatoes and green beans.Look what happens when you stir in you spaghetti ?

Vegan meatless meatballs with spaghetti in a cast iron skillet.

List of the ingredients

You don’t need fancy ingredients, you can find black beans, breadcrumbs and everything you need at your local supermarket. When I say healthy, cheap and easy, I mean that 😉

  • Black beans
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce or soya sauce
  • Mustard
  • Tomato paste
  • Basil or parsley
  • Oregano
  • Onion
  • Salt & pepper

How to make them

  • Put the ingredients in a food processor (except breadcrumbs)
  • Pulse until you get a coarse mixture
The ingredients for the vegan meatballs in a food processor bowl.
  • Transfer the mixture into a bowl
  • Add breadcrumbs
  • Use your hands to mix everything thoroughly
    (kneading the mixture bind ingredients together)
A glass bowl with the ingredients for the meatballs.
  • Form about 18-20 small meatballs
  • Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile cook spaghetti and tomato sauce
Two hands shaping small vegan meatballs, a glass bowl with the mixture in the background.
  • Add the vegan meatballs to the tomato sauce
    (please note, to cook an easy Italian tomato sauce see the recipe card below)
  • Stir gently them gently to cover them in sauce
  • Stir in spaghetti and serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil
  • Enjoy!
Vegan meatballs in Italian tomato sauce with spaghetti in a cast iron skillet.

Recipe notes & tips

Are beans cheaper than meat? Yes, beans are amazing cupboard staples and are much cheaper than meat.

This skillet of succulent vegan meatballs in tomato sauce costs about $ 3 ( spaghetti not included). Moreover, it’s ready in less than 30 MINUTES.

What not to love?


Black beans are packed with protein, fiber and they’re also rich in calcium and magnesium to promote healthy bones. Plus, they help to decrease blood pressure and promote heart health and their selenium content prevents inflammation and might reduce tumor growth rate.

If you serve these vegan meatballs with whole wheat pasta, you’ll get more fiber and micronutrients.


Common binders are wheat germ, oats, quinoa, couscous, or ground flaxseeds mixed with water.
However, I simply use bread crumbs.

That might sound a bit unusual, but breadcrumbs are a pretty common “binder” in Italian recipes. Breadcrumbs are a cheap cupboard essential and work well in this kind of recipe, they absorb the moisture and add texture. For example, my mum used to make the classic meatballs mixing ground beef and breadcrumbs!

Vegan meatballs with green basil leaves and spaghetti on a white plate.


I tried meatballs made with chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and in my opinion, black beans are still the best option. They don’t dry out and their flavor is rich and meaty.

Plus, in this recipe, the beans are then blended with savory ingredients like mustard, tomato paste, and flavorsome Worcestershire sauce that add complexity to the dish.

Also, to improve their texture, we can add seed or nuts like delicious walnuts or almonds. However, I love sunflower seeds, they’re cheaper than nuts and give a great texture. Please, don’t skip this ingredient.

COOKING METHOD (revisited):

The first version of this recipe didn’t require baking as an essential step, but only cooking the meatballs in tomato sauce.
I noticed that the meatballs used to hold their shape when gently cooked in the tomato sauce, and I mentioned the baking as an optional step. However, since a few readers struggled with this method, and their meatballs fell apart in the tomato sauce
, I now recommend baking them in the oven for about 20 minutes (360F).

Freezable: yes, totally freezable. Make a big batch and freeze the mixture in an airtight container.

You have to try this simple and easy recipe soon, and please let me know if you have a question.
Leave a comment, rate it or tag a photo #theclevermeal on Instagram.
I would love to hear from you!

Succulent, tender and bursting with Italian flavors, these 10-ingredient vegan meatballs are the ultimate vegan, healthy and budget-friendly meal.
Print Recipe
4 from 5 votes

Vegan meatballs in Italian tomato sauce

Succulent, tender and bursting with Italian flavors, these super easy vegan meatballs are the ultimate healthy and budget-friendly comfort meal. Ready in 25 minutes!
Quantities: 1 can of black beans yields to 20 small meatballs (2 servings).
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 249kcal
Author: Katia


  • 1 15oz-can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce or low sodium soya sauce
  • 1 Tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 small handful fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper



  • Add black beans to a food processor along with onion, seeds, basil, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper. Pulse to combine until a textured dough forms (Don't overmix, you don't want a puree').
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add breadcrumbs and mix all the ingredients with your hands.
  • Form small meatballs, about 18-20 pieces and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake them for 20 minutes at 360F.
  • In the meantime, make the tomato sauce: In a medium skillet/pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic cloves for 3 minutes, then stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper according to your taste.
  • Reduce the heat and cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  • When the meatballs are baked and crispy, add them to the tomato sauce and stir gently to coat.
  • Drain spaghetti and stir in the skillet along with tomato sauce, vegan meatballs and shredded basil leaves.
  • Serve immediately topped with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and extra fresh basil leaves.


  • Nutrition facts: Please note that the nutrition values are based on an online nutrition calculator.  It’s an estimate only and it should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. The nutrition value is for one serving (about 5 small meatballs).


Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 813mg | Potassium: 706mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 537IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 4mg


  1. 5 stars
    My family loves any kind of meatball so I’m always looking for new simple delicious recipes and this one did not disappoint! It was so easy to make and packed with so many amazing flavours. Thanks for this, its a keeper!

    1. I’m so pleased to hear that, thanks for sharing your feedback, Sabrina : )
      Cheers x

  2. 4 stars
    The taste is really good! My only problem is that they were falling apart in the sauce. I refrigerated them and then baked for about 10 min. But, when I left them in the sauce to warm they started falling apart so I kind of scooped them out and placed them on a cookie sheet to bake again. I like the taste so I’ll have to play around with them. Maybe only bake them and then mix or scoop sauce on top? Any suggestions? Thanks 🙂

    1. I’m very pleased you enjoyed their taste, Valerie, and your comment helps a lot! I’m so sad you had to struggle with their texture, and I now think that cooking them in the tomato sauce might be a bit challenging for some. I manage to cook them easily, even without baking them first, but I want this to be a foolproof recipe for all of you.
      I’ll figure out how to solve it, and I will add more notes on the recipe card. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep in mind your suggestion to serve them covered in sauce, that sounds good if they’re previously baked 🙂
      Thanks for your comment x

  3. 1 star
    I was pumped when I found this recipe. Disappointed. Not a good flavor at all.

    1. I test all my recipes several times before sharing them on this blog, and I was very happy with the flavor of these meatballs. So sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy them, Ben.

  4. Do you need to cook the black beans before? Or at least put them in water for couple of hours?

    1. Not really, the recipe calls for canned beans, they’re cooked and soft enough to be combined with the other ingredients 🙂

    2. 5 stars
      These are delicious! I did bake them before hand no problem with them falling apart. I did want to know the calorie count on the amount per serving if you could? Thank you!

    3. I’m so pleased, Karla! Thanks for sharing your lovely feedback (I’ve just added the nutritional values). 😉 x

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