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Lentil Mushroom Meatballs

Lentil Mushroom Meatballs Recipe

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…

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Lentil Mushroom Meatballs

Lentil Mushroom Meatballs Recipe

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

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 meatballs 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 3-4 meatballs

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146 Comments

  • Reply
    Genevieve
    December 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I love summertime meals, but there are certain meals that I look forward to in winter too, and I would definitely include a hearty pasta like this one in that category! I’ve been wanting to try making vegetarian meatballs for a while, and this recipe sounds like the perfect one to try!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      December 18, 2012 at 7:46 am

      I’ve been wanting to try making meatballs for a long time too–I wish I had done it sooner! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ henry happened
    December 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve sworn off those frozen soy meatballs b/c they are so darn salty – would love this as a healthier alternative. So glad I can bake them!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      December 18, 2012 at 7:44 am

      Yeah, when they first came out a few years ago, we were buying them all the time. Now I can’t even look at them!

  • Reply
    Holly W
    December 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve made very similar “meatballs” and my family loves them. I need to try it with the mushrooms though!

  • Reply
    holly
    January 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Tried these this weekend. Made them into sandwichs with a slice of provolone and some red gravy. Even my husband liked them (total carnivore). Thanks for the recipe. I will definitely make them again.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      It’s always the best compliment when a carnivore likes one of my recipes! πŸ˜€ I’m glad you & your family enjoyed them!

  • Reply
    Colleen
    January 9, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Just made these, actually in the middle of eating the first one. Love this recipe! Thank you for sharing your experiment! A great addition to our rotation of favorite dishes.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 9, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks for letting me know–I’m glad you like them! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Eva
    January 10, 2013 at 4:24 am

    Just tried these yesterday and loved them! We didn’t have a cupped tray so we just put the little balls in a normal oven tray and they didn’t lose their shape which is great. We had them with vegan sweet potato mash on the side (my sister’s recipe, with soya cream and a bit of sesame paste, yum) and a tomato and onion salad. Delicious! πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 10, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Thank you for your comment! I’m glad they turned out and I’m also happy to hear that they worked out without the mini muffin tin!

  • Reply
    Joanna
    January 10, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    These look so good! Would they freeze well?

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m pretty sure they will!

  • Reply
    Rachel Herriott
    January 14, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Oh my goodness! I just made these! I haven’t actually put the tin in the oven to cook them yet but I just had to comment. They are delicious! Mine would have made about 16 but I made the 12, put them in the tin and then ate the remain mixture with a teaspoon. I couldn’t get enough. Thank you so much for this recipe. It will be a weekly favourite from now on πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

      Yeah, I always eat a little of the mixture before it gets to the muffin tin too. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you enjoyed them!

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    January 17, 2013 at 10:32 am

    These “meatballs” are deeeelicious! At first I was afraid I food processed the mushrooms too much (and I probably did because I get a bit carried away with the food processor) but they stayed together very well and the consistency was great. Didn’t change the recipe – it was perfect as- is.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 17, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Thanks for the comment–I’m happy to hear they turned out well! πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    Unnati
    January 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Oh this so yummy! I will make it this week! Thank you for sharing! πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Unnati
      January 25, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Update! I made these yesterday and my meat lover husband loved it!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

      • Reply
        Kiersten
        January 25, 2013 at 8:22 pm

        Yay! I’m happy to hear they were a success!

  • Reply
    Janelle
    January 31, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Just made these for supper along with alfredo sauce (made with homemade mushroom stock to tie it all in) on some linguine and it was wonderful. Huge-bloody-steak-eating hubby loved it; walked around afterwards saying he wanted more but was full. My finicky pregnant-tummy kicked in and I almost didn’t eat any, but I finished 3 and it was good. They didn’t hold together very well though. I’m not sure what to do next time to make them more solid.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      February 1, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks for your comment–I’m glad they turned out well! I’m not sure why they didn’t hold together, though. I haven’t had that happen myself! The only thing I can think of is that maybe the mixture was too dry?

  • Reply
    Kelly
    February 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Made these last weekend….doubled the batch and froze the leftovers. They taste incredible and freeze divinely!!!! These will be my new staple. Better than store bought vegetarian meatballs. Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      February 4, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Thanks for your comment–I’m glad to hear they froze well too! πŸ™‚ I keep meaning to give that a try, but my husband eats them before I have a chance.

  • Reply
    KellyG
    March 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    These do freeze extremely well and defrost/cook in the microwave like a dream. This is a great recipe, and as someone new to vegetarian life, it has been a lifesaver!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 4, 2013 at 9:01 am

      Thank you for the feedback–I’m so glad you like them! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Laura
    March 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Made these last night. They turned out amazing! I can’t even believe it! Not new to vegan eating, but I’m always looking for new recipes to try and new flavors to meld together. This one is a keeper! We used it on spinach pasta with homemade marinara and I also added a couple to a lentil curry dish I made. Delicious.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Thank you for your comment–I’m glad to hear they were a success! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Christina
    March 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    These were fabulous the first time we tried them. I think my husband actually teared up from happiness :). Question: Have you ever doubled the recipe? The single batch wasn’t quite large enough for our four kidlette family. My concern is that doubling might mess with the moisture content and make them difficult to form balls. Thoughts?

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Ha! I’m glad they were such a hit! πŸ™‚ To answer your question, I think that doubling the recipe should work just fine. If there’s more moisture, I’d just cook the mixture a wee bit longer until it simmers off. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

      • Reply
        Christina
        March 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

        Thanks for the rapid response. The doubled batch turned out even better than the single batch, which I wouldn’t have thought possible. FYI, I’m not sure what to call my mini-muffin pan, since the cups are much smaller than yours, but there are 24 cups in the pan, and they produce a meatball that is a great size for my 5, 4, 2, and 2 year-olds. I cooked them for a little more than half the time originally called for, and they turned out great. Thanks again for such a fantastic recipe!

        • Reply
          Kiersten
          March 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm

          Woo hoo! I’m glad the doubled batch worked out. Now I’m going to have to be on the lookout for one of those mini-mini muffin pans. I had no idea such a thing existed!

  • Reply
    Kris
    March 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    These taste AMAZING, but mine didnt hold together very well. My lentils were still pretty solid though – maybe i need to mush them up a little more in the processor?

    Regardless, we crumbled them up and added to the spaghetti. Will def. make again!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      I’m sorry they crumbled on you, although I’m glad to hear they tasted good! Pulsing the mixture a little longer might help. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    mrsheartly
    May 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    These look delicious but now I’m intrigued to know what the corn recipe was. Since we’re approaching summer I hope we find out soon!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      May 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      I don’t even remember now! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Jenny
    May 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    How do you think these would work as burgers? They’ve held their shape pretty well for me whenever I’ve cooked them, but would it be pressing my luck to try grilling?

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      May 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      Hmm, I’m not sure. If you wanted to be safe, you could put a piece of foil on the grill first–they won’t have the nice char marks, but they should still have some of the grilling flavor. Something else I’ve done when grilling homemade veggie burgers is starting them in the oven until they’re solid and hold together, and then finishing them on the grill. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Lori
    July 17, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I already have cooked lentils to use, so just wondering how much should I use since they are cooked? Thanks! Would like to make these tonight.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      July 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      It’s really best to use undercooked lentils in this recipe, as ones that are cooked until soft can make the meatballs a little bit mushy. But you could use about a cup of cooked lentils.

  • Reply
    Holly
    July 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Dude, make these… so delicious

  • Reply
    Sue
    September 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Would you please post the method used when using French lentils? We are stationed in Germany and it is quite easy to purchase French lentils. Thanks. These look amazing. Can’t wait to try them πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 5, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      If you use French lentils, the instructions are pretty much the same except you don’t have to undercook them because they tend to hold up a little bit better than brown lentils do. If you cook brown lentils for the suggested time, they end up mushy and mushy lentils = sad meatballs. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Anne
    September 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Can these be frozen after cooked. Thanks

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Yes! Bake them as instructed, let them cool, then pop them in the freezer. You can reheat them in the microwave or in the oven.

  • Reply
    Christina
    September 26, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I am trying to find a meatball that would hold together in a soup. I want to make Italian Wedding soup and am afraid that the broth would eat up the meatball. Do you think these would hold nicely in a soup?

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Hmm, it might be tricky to find a vegetarian meatball that could stand up to sitting in a broth! I think these might do okay if you added them at the very last minute and ate the soup right away, but if they sat too long, they’d definitely start falling apart. Sorry!

  • Reply
    Carey
    September 30, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Made these tonight, the aroma in the kitchen was wonderful! I served it over linguine with garlic tomato sauce and a little parmesan, my husband and I both loved it. It was delicious! The only trouble I had was shaping the balls, the mixture kept collecting on my hands and it seemed to get worse the more I worked with it. But it all turned out great in the end. Next time I might rinse my hands between each one. I’m not sure what caused that. Anyways, thanks for the great recipe. I’ll definitely be checking out more of your recipes! =)

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 30, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Yeah, they can be a little bit messy to make, but I’m glad you enjoyed them! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Anna
    December 20, 2013 at 1:35 am

    I’ve tried multiple of your recipes and they always turn out but this is the first time I have commented. My meatballs are in the oven and the mixture tasted so heavenly that I just wanted to eat it after it cooled. I am sharing these with my family and will have to use it over the holidays
    Thanks for all the great recipes!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      December 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you for your kind words–I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the recipes you’ve made from my blog! πŸ™‚

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