These vegan eggplant meatballs are amazing meatless meatballs, made with eggplant, white beans and breadcrumbs to hold them together.
Vegan Eggplant Meatballs
If I was a vegan, I would have no problem eating this for dinner every night! They almost remind me of eggplant parmesan, in the form of a meatball. This eggplant recipe is great whether you’re a vegan or just want to incorporate more plant based foods into your diet. More eggplant recipes I love are Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan, Eggplant Spinach Rollatini and Baked Eggplant Sticks.
These meatballs are perfect for all types of diets; vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, clean eating, and gluten-free if you swap the crumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs.
I’ve had my eye on this recipes since I got a copy of Mark Bittman’s VB6 Cookbook, and it did not disappoint! I love finding new ways to incorporate more veggies into my diet so I try to eat meatless two or three times a week. That’s why Mark’s concept of eating vegan by day and flexitarian by night is quite appealing to me. And this week, I’m giving away 3 signed copies of the VB6 Cookbook on Skinny Bits. Click here for a chance to win your signed copy of the VB6 Cookbook.
Mark suggests serving this on a whole wheat roll, over pasta, rice or vegetables. But, I thought I would make some zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a veggie play on spaghetti and meatballs. To make the zucchini noodles, you’ll need a spiralizer (I use the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer) or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade. I use 1 medium zucchini per person and saute each zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and garlic for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes tops. To see a more detailed zucchini noodle recipe, click here for my Zucchini Noodles with Lemon and Shrimp.
More Vegan Recipes:
- Quick Spiralized Zucchini and Grape Tomatoes
- Spaghetti Squash Primavera
- Broccoli and Orzo
- Red Lentil Soup with Spinach
- Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze
Vegan Eggplant Meatballs
- cooking spray
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup cooked white beans, or drained, rinsed canned
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs or panko, use gf crumbs for gluten free
- pinch red chili flakes, optional
- 2 cups quick marinara sauce
- Heat the oven to 375°.
- Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
- When hot add the eggplant and 1/4 cup water.
- Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer to the bowl of a food processor.
- Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the skillet with the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add to the food processor along with the drained beans and parsley and pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed.
- Combine the mixture with the breadcrumbs and red chile flakes if using.
- Taste for salt then roll into 12 meatballs, about 2-inches in diameter.
- Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake until firm and browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, warm the marinara sauce and serve with the meatballs over pasta, zucchini noodles or on a whole wheat roll.
136 comments on “Vegan Eggplant Meatballs”
Made these tonight. I have been trying to use a three pound eggplant this week, and this was the third meal I made using it. I had previously salted the eggplant and let it drain, I cut it up and put it in the fridge, where it continued to drain bitter liquids off as it waited for me to get to preparing this meal. The eggplant darkened and browned during this time, but it didn’t go bad. It did lose a lot of liquid, which probably decreased the bitterness and may have prevented the slumping some people have commented about. I also ended up with 2″ diameter balls when I divided the mixture into 12 equal parts.
I think the flavor was good, and the crisped exterior and nearby texture was good, but the center did have the mushy smushed bean texture others talked about, which I was also not a fan of. I would make this recipe again, but if I do, I would I would make the balls smaller. Perhaps half the size, in a quenelle or corquette shape. Then I could get around the dilemma of whether or not to use the word “meat: when describing these balls.
Just made your eggplant recipe and although they taste EXCELLENT they flattened into little disks. Would you have an idea why that happened?
So I’m not sure what I did wrong–but my meatballs flattened out and became more like ‘patties’! I did use rice crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs so they’d be GF, but I didn’t think that would matter. Where did I go wrong? Help? They actually taste really good–but they are ugly as heck, and definitely not balls! Eek!
I’ve made these vegan meatballs (and the vegetarian version) numerous times. They are a favorite of my vegan and meat loving family and friends. I’ve made these for parties as well and it is a huge hit ever time!
Husband said “these were some of the best things I’ve ever made”. I did make a few adjustments. I added dried chickpeas instead of breadcrumbs. And also 1/4 cup of sprouted pumpkin seeds for some added texture. Also, used Italian seasoning blend and oregano because I didn’t have parsley. They turned out great. To rewarm I popped in the air fryer for a few minutes and it made the outside a little more crisp which was wonderful.
Ooooh I love the sound of adding chickpeas instead of breadcrumbs. How much did you use? Thanks so much!!
Can you freeze these after cooking as well? Do they hold?
I can never follow a recipe completely, but I made this (kinda) and it was GREAT!. I used oats (ground to a powder). I also added egg (free-range only!) into the batter and rolled the balls in panko breadcrumbs. I made it into both patties (veggie-burger) and meatballs, and the meatballs were tastier, probably because of a higher surface area to content ratio. Will make again, for sure. Thank you!
Looks great and simple! I’m going to make these tonight. Has anyone had luck using canned chickpeas rather than white beans?
I made these tonight with an amazing vegan Alfredo sauce that calls for Tahini over zucchini noodles. It was amazing! I’m Lebanese and really felt like this was a healthy twist on falafel! Here is the sauce I made with this! So delicious! These will be a staple for me with meal prep! More vegan recipes please! http://www.rainbownourishments.com/cheesy-green-cauliflower-alfredo-pasta-sauce/
Are we sure the nutrition count is right? I added these up and they come out to be over 100 calories a meatball for 12 meatballs. That was with me just counting the beans, olive oil, eggplant, and breadcrumbs.
Am I doing the math wrong? It was delicious but just want to get the calorie/nutrition count right.
Mine turned out quite wet. Added a little garbanzo bean flour, but still very wet. Maybe my egg plant was too large. I also pureed my mixture so they aren’t pretty like yours…more a dull grey color. Taste ok. Maybe I’ll add a lot more bread crumbs next time for an egg plant that size.
Will any white bean do, are navy beans okay? Years ago I used to make eggplant meatballs, I made up a recipe and can’t remember what it was, but it was good, definitely making these.
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I’ve never been a big fan of eggplant, but I made these anyway. And oh my goodness, these are unbelievably delicious. Will definitely make again. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
I am going to try this soon. I follow the VB6 diet and I love adding new recipes to my repertoire. Thanks!
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Just wanted to give our update after making this recipe. So good! I didn’t have the sogginess/softness issue others had. We let these sit at room temp for at least an hour after rolling into meatballs to let them firm up. Only substitution: we replaced the breadcrumbs with 1/2 cup rolled oats.
I was very excited to try this recipe, but unfortunately my eggplant was bad! I still wanted to try it out so I replaced the eggplant with shredded zucchini. I also used chickpeas instead of white beans. I baked them for about 40 mins and the insides were still pretty soft, but the taste was great! I’m definitely going to make them again using eggplant. Great recipe!
I just made them according to the cooking directions, but I found that they were very soft/mushy inside. Should I have baked them for more than 30 minutes or have used less beans? Suggestions welcome! Otherwise, I loved them!
As others have commented, these were firm on the outside, but really mushy on the inside. I even sauteed the meatballs thinking it would cook the inside, but indeed it did not help.
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one other thing. It made a lot more than 12 meatballs. I had 30.
Yep. I also got over 2 dozen LARGE golfball sized meatballs. To get twelve they would have been the size of tennis balls.
I tweaked a bit and made it more like an Italian meatball by adding fresh basil and grated Locatelli cheese.
great, no longer vegan 🙂
Hi I just made these and the “meatballs” kind of just melted flat in the oven. Is there something I did wrong?
Not sure what went wrong, did you leave something out? Did you form them small as the recipe suggested?
Yep did everything according to the recipe and they turned into pancakes..and they were very mushy. 🙁
Bummer! Wish I knew why, I only made them once but they turned out fine.
Can you make these up for the freezer and then cook them later? Thanks
Yes! Should be okay for up to 3 months in the freezer.
this recipe looks amazing! unfortunately, my oven isn't working.. do you think it would be possible to make this in a crockpot?
These are delicious. I haven't had a meatball in 20 years since I gave up meat. I followed the recipe to a T but I think next time I'll change up the seasoning – maybe adding some oregano and basil. Another winner! Thank you Gina
This was absolutely the worst eggplant meatball recipe. The beans keep these from getting any sort of firmness.
I was so disgusted with the way these turned out I threw half of them away.
There are much better eggplant meatball recipes that don't rely on beans.