Lemony Oregano Vegan Meatballs

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 9 votes

These lemony oregano vegan meatballs are so versatile. Equally great with pasta and marinara, on top of hummus with a drizzle of tahini sauce, or even in a grain bowl setup. Easy to make and naturally gluten-free!

An overhead shot of vegan lemony oregano meatballs on a platter with hummus, tahini sauce, and a cucumber tomato salad.
An overhead shot of cooked vegan meatballs, garnished with fresh oregano leaves.
An overhead shot of prepped and measured ingredients on a baking sheet.
An overhead shot of a hand sprinkling spices into a sauté pan filled with onions and herbs.

One of my readers sent an email, challenging me to come up with a vegan meatball recipe that doesn’t have mushrooms. If it’s a meatball challenge, I’m happily accepting! Of course if you love mushrooms in your plant-based iteration of this classic comfort food, you really need to click over to my Giant Vegan Mushroom Meatballs recipe. I also have a recipe for Eggplant Meatballs with Za’atar & Kale Pesto.

These lemony oregano vegan meatballs are incredibly flavourful. They have a great mix of chopped fresh herbs, garlic, and chili as the main flavour notes. I went with a hearty base of white beans, rolled oats, and walnuts. I like to drain and pat dry the white beans to avoid too much moisture in the resulting dish. You could eat these a bunch of different ways! Simple with marinara sauce and pasta. Nestled into a grain bowl with some roasted vegetables alongside. Or plated up with hummus, tahini sauce and a simple salad as I’ve done here.

The inspiration for plating the meatballs like I have in the photos came by way of Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley’s Falastin cookbook. This is truly one of my favourite cookbooks. The hummus recipe in the first chapter of the book shows two toppings: meatballs and fried eggplant. I’ve made the version with fried eggplant and it was incredible. The meatball version is rooted in traditional kofta with meat as the base. So I won’t be trying the precise version from the book (because meat haha). But the inspiration to recreate it in my own way felt like just the thing.

Some fun, supplemental reading here if you like: This article from The Atlantic traces the meatball origin to kofta. “The most likely candidate for the original meatball seems to be kofta… They likely traveled from the Arab world along trade routes to Greece, North Africa, and Spain.” Lots of interesting little bits of information on how meatballs are served around the world in this piece. I also love the author’s observation that meatballs represent home and family time.

If you’re looking for a vegan version of kofta, I would definitely check out the recipes from One Arab Vegan and Hanady Kitchen. Both look amazing! There’s also a beautiful vegan kofta recipe with chickpeas, quinoa and potatoes in The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook, another one that I absolutely love.

So, inspired by the plating in Falastin, I give you this platter of goodness. A swoop of hummus, the lemony oregano meatballs, a drizzle of tahini sauce, and a simple salad on the side. As I mention near the top though, these meatballs are delicious in a variety of ways. I hope that you get a chance to try them, and that you’re having a good week so far. :)

An overhead shot of white beans that have been ground up in a food processor.
An overhead, up close shot of a savoury mixture being rolled into balls, pre cooking.
An overhead shot of vegan lemony oregano meatballs on a platter with hummus, tahini sauce, and a cucumber tomato salad.
An overhead, up close shot of vegan meatballs, drizzled with tahini sauce and plated on top of hummus.

Vegan Lemony Oregano Meatballs

These vegan and gluten-free meatballs are super flavourful with lots of herbs, chili, and brightness from lemon. The base of walnuts, white beans, and oats makes them hearty and nourishing.
5 from 9 votes
An overhead shot of vegan lemony oregano meatballs on a platter with hummus, tahini sauce, and a cucumber tomato salad.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings 18 Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 small yellow onion, small dice (about ¾ cup diced onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon ground chilies or crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • ¾ cup rolled oats (certified GF if necessary)
  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans, drained, rinsed, and toweled off (1 15oz can of white beans)
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill

Notes

  • Make sure that your white beans are nice and dry before you pulse them up in the food processor. This helps maintain a nice, non-soggy final texture with the meatball.
  • My plating and serving here was inspired by the meatball-topped hummus recipe in Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the ground flax and water. Give it a stir and let it sit for at least 5 minutes to “gel.”
  • Set a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl it around. Add the diced onions to the pan and stir. Sauté the onions until slightly soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano to the pan and sauté for another minute. Finally, add the nutritional yeast, chili, onion powder, salt, and pepper to the pan and stir for about 30 seconds. Pour in their lemon juice and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Take the sauté pan off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, place the walnut halves and the oats. Pulse the walnuts and oats until you have a coarse meal. Transfer the meal to a large bowl.
  • Place the bowl of the food processor back on the motor base. Add the white beans to the food processor and pulse until they are ground up with a little bit of chunky bean bits still in the mix. Transfer the ground white beans to the large bowl with the ground walnuts and oats.
  • To the large bowl, add the flax gel mixture, sautéed onion and garlic mixture, tamari, lemon zest, parsley, dill, and big pinches of salt and pepper. Using a spatula or your hands, mix until thoroughly combined. Pinch off a bit of the mixture and give it a taste. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Measure out 2 tablespoons of the white bean and walnut mixture per meatball and roll it into a ball. Once you’ve rolled out all of the mixture, place the meatballs on the lined baking sheet. Lightly brush all of the meatballs with olive oil and then slide the baking sheet into the oven.
  • Bake the meatballs for 25 minutes, or until the tops have dried out a bit, the meatballs are firm, and the bottoms are browned. Serve the meatballs with pasta, on a platter with hummus and tahini sauce, or even in a grain bowl setup!
An overhead shot of meatballs on a platter with hummus, tahini sauce, and a cucumber tomato salad.
21/04/2021 (Last Updated 02/03/2024)
Posted in: appetizer, autumn, earthy, gluten free, main course, refined sugar-free, roasted, salty, side dish, spring, summer, umami, vegan, white beans, winter

21 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Rashiidah

    My only critique is that 1/4 cup of fresh dill was way too much. The dill flavor overpowered the other flavors in the meatball. I think I’ll make them again, minus the dill all together.

  • Barbara

    5 stars
    These are absolutely delicious! They only problem is that the recipe makes a lot of dirty dishes, utensils, pans to clean!
    I also use dried herbs just to save time.
    Thank you for this recipe. It is one of our favorites!

  • Tanya

    5 stars
    These are amazing! To save time I used dried herbs in place of fresh (1 tsp dried oregano, 4 tsp dried parsley, 4 tsp dried dill) and we still loved it! I imagine fresh herbs would be very nice though. I had to cut the crushed red pepper down to ¼ tsp because I can’t handle a lot of spice. Thank you, Laura :)

  • Ashli

    I absolutely love these! I always make a monster batch and then keep them in the freezer for meals on busy nights. Thanks for another amazing recipe!

  • Noknok

    Very tasty, but mine wound up a little dry. I was thinking of trying to add mushrooms next time. What do you think?

  • Josephine

    Thoughts on making these ahead? Would you roll them up and chill on a covered baking sheet? Or bake ahead and reheat? Thank you!

    • Laura

      Hi Josephine,
      You could honestly do either! Bake the whole batch and reheat if you want maximum ease, but you could also just roll the uncooked mixture and keep them in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 days. If you’re planning to freeze, I would bake first.
      -L

  • Valerie

    5 stars
    Another amazing recipe! I made a bowl with these flavorful vegan meatballs, using greens, hummus, a knockoff recipe of Annie’s Goddess dressing, avocado and green onions.  Also worked well as a wrap in a wheat tortilla.

  • Yasmin

    5 stars
    I loved all your recipes and with your recipe guide I have started a food blog, Yasmin Cooks!!!
    Thank you for your recipes!!!!

  • Bernard

    Hi! I only have a Vitamix and not a food processor. Do you think I’ll be ok? Thanks :) 

    • Laura

      Hi Bernard,
      Vitamix should be fine! Just be careful to not overmix ;)
      -L

  • Pia

    Hi Laura! How many servings does this make? Really looking forward to trying this today

    • Laura

      Hi Pia,
      This makes 18 meatballs total. I would estimate a serving would be 3-4 meatballs, depending on what else you’re serving.
      -L

  • Stacey Noonan

    Can I substitute another nut for the walnuts? 

    • Laura

      Hi Stacey,
      Pecans will work great in place of the walnuts.
      -L

  • Bob Hibberd

    Hi Lauren. After soaking the flax seed there is no mention in the recipe as to when to add to the mixture. I presume it is added to all the ingredients in the large bowl as some kind of binding agent?

    • Laura

      Hi Bob,
      Yes, the fax gel is a binder added in the large mixing bowl step (step 6).

      -L

  • Chris Hartmann

    Thanks for this recipe, will try it this week

  • Lauren

    These look so good! Any ideas for substituting for the walnuts? Severe allergies here.

    • Laura

      Hi Lauren! Pecan halves or pumpkin seeds would also work here.
      -L