Lentil Mushroom Meatballs

Lentil Mushroom Meatballs
Yesterday I was browsing through my pins on Pinterest and I came upon a corn recipe.

Corn. It looked so good. So fresh. Yellow. Delicious. I wanted to cry a little. I could almost taste it, but the almost part made it even worse–almost, but not really.

We’re on the cusp of winter, which means that summer is six months away. It is not going to be corn season anytime soon. No, it’s winter–winter, the time to eat… well, I guess the same things we’ve been eating since fall? More sweet potatoes? More winter squash? Mushrooms and broccoli and all those things that might have a season, but don’t really have a season because we buy them year-round?

Lentil Mushroom Meatballs
Lentil Mushroom Meatballs have been on my recipe to-do list since last spring, but somehow they seem appropriate for winter. If a big bowl of spaghetti topped with marinara sauce and meatballs could have a season, it would be winter, right?

These meatballs took a lot of trial and error. The first time I made them, I used French lentils. The meatballs were almost perfect, but needed a little adjustment in the seasoning department. So the second time, I used brown lentils. Disaster! The meatballs were mushy in the center, although the seasoning was right this time.

Lentil Mushroom Meatball Mixture
Lentil Mushroom Meatball Mixture
Lesson? The lentils need to be undercooked. I didn’t want to call for French lentils in the recipe since they’re not available at all supermarkets. So in order to use brown lentils, I cooked them for a shorter amount of time than you normally would. After cooking, they get pulsed with mushrooms in the food processor until the mixture is coarsely chopped. This mixture is then browned in a skillet before forming the meatballs. (Does this sound complicated? I swear, it’s not!)

I also baked the meatballs instead of frying them, so in order to help them keep their shape, I put them in mini muffin tins. Oh sure, they get a little flat on the bottom, but don’t they look like perfect little meatballs on top?

Spaghetti with Lentil Mushroom Meatballs
Chris loves the frozen soy meatballs and I think I’ve finally come up with a good alternative–well, at least, according to him, I have. They’re savory and delicious and made with real, whole ingredients like lentils, mushrooms, and oats. Although they are perfect in a big bowl of spaghetti, they’d also make fantastic meatball subs or sliders.

I guess winter isn’t so bad, huh? Maybe I can wait that six months for corn…

Lentil Mushroom Meatballs

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 12 meatballs

Serving Size: 3-4 meatballs

Lentil Mushroom Meatballs

Baked meatless meatballs made with oats, mushrooms, and lentils. The perfect addition to a bowl full of spaghetti!


  • 1/2 c. dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 c. water
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. red wine
  • 1/2 c. vegetable or mushroom broth
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • oil mister or cooking spray


  1. Combine lentils, bay leaf, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. (Yes, the lentils will be undercooked--don't cook them for the time indicated on the package!) Remove from heat, drain, and cool slightly. Discard bay leaf.
  2. Add mushrooms and lentils to food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), stirring constantly. Stir in mushroom-lentil mixture. Cook for about 4 minutes or until browned, stirring constantly.
  4. Add red wine to skillet and cook until evaporated. Stir in broth, soy sauce, oats, and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and allow to cool.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Once mixture is cool enough to work with, shape it into 12 uniformly-sized meatballs. Place each in a mini-muffin tin that's been coated in oil or cooking spray. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.


About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband, daughter, and 4 (yes 4!) cats.   Read more from Kiersten →

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  1. Liz says

    Was looking for a recipe for ‘meatless Monday’ nite and found this. We are not vegetarian but looking to eat healthier. I made the balls and they were very good but I’m not sure I baked them long enough. Should the insides be completely firm inside or somewhat crumbly when cut in half?

  2. Emily says

    Any advice for keeping these at a meatball consistency? Mine refused to hold a shape, even after baking. I ended up tossing them with some jarred spaghetti sauce to make more of a bolognese, but how did you get yours to look like meatballs?

    • Kiersten says

      I’m sorry they didn’t stay together for you! Was the meatball mixture wet enough? It sounds like maybe it was a little too dry if they didn’t hold their shape even before baking. If you’re not a vegan, you could add a beaten egg.

  3. Aparna says

    Have missed spaghetti and meatballs since I became a vegetarian 7 years ago and these were really awesome! Look forward to trying more of your recipes.

  4. christine says

    hello, im just wondering if i make this a day before ,then refrigerate them so that the next day i can just heat it up then bring it for lunch, will it still be nice? thank you (:

  5. ASHLEY says

    These are delicious and EASY!!!! Way better than some of the vegetarian grocery brands who sell vegetarian meatballs. Definitely hit the spot I made small meatballs and made my husband a meatball sub!!!

  6. says

    I tried this recipe, and I was eating the “meat” balls even before I put them in the oven. They are so good!! I used two tablespoons of arrowroot powder to keep the shape of the balls. Thank you for sharing!

  7. mel says

    These are excellent! I’m new at cooking without meat, so the transition has been quite a challenge; however, this was a pleasant surprise. Thanks so much!

  8. Kristina says

    Hello there! Do you think I could forgo the mushrooms and just use lentils… or does the mushroom have a significant impact on the texture and holding it together?

  9. Amy says

    Made these tonight. Oh my! So, so good!! Thanks for such a yummy recipe! I”m on Weight Watchers-I do the Simply Filling plan, and everything (except the red wine) is on program. This was soon good! Thanks!

  10. Anne says

    This was fantastic- I have a four year old who doesn’t eat meat, so we are on the look out for vegetarian recipes that keep us all interested! I didn’t have a bottle of red open and subbed some sherry I had in fridge, it was delicious. I also added freshly grated Parm and an egg to the mixture, which helped it stay together better and added to making it feel more like a traditional meatball. I put in 6 garlic cloves, instead of 2, and it was not overwhelmingly garlicky. If you taste as you go along making this it’s just ok…but the finished product all together, it’s perfect!

  11. says

    These look amazing! My boyfriend and I had a major facepalm moment when I came across this recipe though. We have pretty much all the ingredients on hand for these meatballs, but we just made spaghetti (with chickpeas) last night. We’ll definitely be trying this sometime in the next couple of weeks.

    I do have a question though. What would be the best substitution (flavor wise) for the red wine in this recipe? We don’t drink enough to warrant buying a bottle.

    • Kiersten says

      There’s not really a perfect substitute, but sometimes when I’m cooking with mushrooms and don’t have wine on hand, I’ll use a small amount of red wine vinegar or even balsamic vinegar instead. I just think mushrooms need a little oomph and red wine does that so well. :)

  12. Marion says

    Just put mine in the oven but the family has tasted the mixture and looking forward to eating the meatballs. My granddaughter grabbed some to spread on toast! Getting the spaghetti and sauce ready while the meatballs are cooking. I added some chopped chipotles in adobe sauce for some spice.

    • gayle says

      Would putting the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes before making the meatballs help with holding them together?

  13. says

    These look soooo good! Yum! And they’ve been featured on the Facebook page of the Vegetarian Society New Zealand! :)

    Keep up the great work!

    Lots of love from NZ,

  14. gayle says

    I made them today and were amazing. Held together well, just make sure you pulse enough and let the moisture absorb in the cooking. I have made veggie meatballs numerous times, but they have eggs and cheese and nuts. These are a nice alternative to have and when people eat vegan, these are perfect. I doubled the recipe, but used red wine vinegar and did not double that, rolled into meatballs and just placed on a stoneware cookie sheet (any cookie sheet would work though). They held their shape during cooking, no flat bottoms. This made 30 meatballs. I did give them a turn in the last 10 min. of cooking, only cause I forgot to do it sooner. If the mixture would not have held together in the beginning, I would have put in fridge for 20-30 min, but it was not necessary. Thanks for recipe!

  15. Sorrel says

    Just tried these. They were delicious, and 100% approved by both the 4 yr old and the 18 month old – no mean feat! I will definitely try it as a Bolognese too. Thank you very much!

  16. Sue Kern says

    Since I had tried your salisbury steak with outstanding results, I went straight for a double batch of these meatless balls (made 26). We were not disappointed! The only change I made was to add a binder made with ground flax seed and water which I added after cooking everything down, while the dough was cooling. I used a cookie scoop for shaping, just baked them on a sheet pan with a silpat. Like yours, these balls were flat on one side, but that helped keep them from rolling off the plate. Thanks for an excellent recipe.

  17. Dina says

    Thank you for a wonderful recipe! Served this with brown pasta and tomato sauce – absolutely delicious!

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