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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Tofu Meatballs

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These delicious, simple tofu meatballs are a vegetarian version of the classic comfort food. A combination of firm tofu, fragrant aromatics, Italian herbs, and an easy substitute for eggs come together in this plant-based take on the traditional meaty version. It’s vegetarian, vegan, and can easily be made gluten free too!

Easy vegan tofu meatballs, tossed with marinara sauce and served on top of pasta, on a grey plate.

Whether you want to make these for Sunday supper or a busy weeknight, they’re easy to mix up in just a couple of minutes and bake quickly, too. You can also make them ahead of time and bake them when ready, which makes them perfect for parties and meal prep.

While we love to serve them with a hearty tomato sauce over a hot plate of pasta, it’s incredibly easy to customize their flavor profile. Try pouring a different sauce over top, or season the meatball with flavors from your favorite style of cuisine.

No matter how you serve it, the great thing about this vegan tofu balls recipe is that it’s super versatile, and tastes just as good as regular meatballs!

So the next time you’re looking for a tofu meatball recipe, turn to this simple one. It may just become your go-to substitute for meat-based meatballs.

👩🏽‍🍳 Why You’ll Love Vegan Tofu Meatballs

  • Versatile: Tofu meatballs are as great to serve as a twist on traditional spaghetti and meatballs as they are with all sorts of dipping sauces. Serve them as a main dish, a starter, or as a side dish. 
  • Can Be Made Ahead Of Time: If you’re expecting a crowd, spend more time with your guests and less in the kitchen. Just whip these up a day or two ahead of time and bake them when ready.
  • Super Easy: These simple meatballs are a quick way to get a plant-based meal on the table on a busy weeknight. 
  • Convenient Ingredients: Many of the ingredients are pantry staples. But, if you don’t have them on hand, you can find everything at your local grocery store. 
  • Flavorful: With plenty of spices and the addition of Worcestershire and nutritional yeast, these are sure to please everyone’s palate!

Latest Recipe Video!

🥘 Ingredients

These simple ingredients come together to create a truly memorable plant-based version of meatballs. For the full recipe and nutritional information, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Ingredients for healthy tofu meatballs recipe on a white background.
  • Ground Flaxseed: Flaxseed flexes its muscles as a powerful binding agent when combined with water.
  • Water: When combined with the flaxseed, water helps it to form the gel that’s necessary for binding these Italian tofu meatballs together.
  • Oil: A neutral-flavored oil is necessary for sautéing the onions and garlic.
  • Onion & Garlic: Diced onion lends a subtle sweetness and distinctive fragrance to this plant based meatball recipe. Crushed garlic imparts its signature aroma and flavor.
  • Walnuts: Finely chopped walnuts contribute to a meatier-style texture and help with binding the ingredients together. Grinding the walnuts to a fine powder ahead of time in the food processor will help to speed prep time.
  • Firm Tofu: The star of the show, firm or extra firm tofu absorbs the flavors of the other meatball ingredients, and its texture helps to replicate that of meat. 
  • Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are another binding agent, necessary to maintain the structure of the balls. You can use store-bought, or make your own breadcrumbs.
  • Corn Starch: As a thickener, to help bind the ingredients and achieve a meaty texture.
  • Vegan Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire adds a powerful punch of umami to these otherwise delicately flavored balls. Make sure the brand you buy is vegan friendly.
  • Salt & Pepper: Salt helps to bring out the other ingredients’ flavors and balances them. Ground black pepper adds a subtle, gentle heat. You can substitute white pepper if you prefer a slightly floral flavor.
  • Dried Italian Herbs: Using Italian herbs helps create a flavor profile similar to traditional Italian-style meatballs.
  • Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast adds rich flavor, slight nuttiness, and lots of B vitamins.
  • Optional, For Serving: 1 batch of marinara sauce, cooked pasta of your choice.

🍲 Ingredient Substitutions

  • Garlic & Onion: While fresh is always better, you can replace the garlic and onion with their garlic powder and onion powder in a pinch.
  • Chia Seeds: Instead of flaxseeds, substitute the egg by combining chia seeds with water. However, it is not a 1:1 substitute — you’ll need approximately ⅔ less chia than if you use the flaxseeds.
  • Nuts: Replace the walnuts with another type of nut. Pecans, cashews, or almonds are all good options for these vegan meatballs with tofu.

🔪 How To Make Tofu Meatballs

Here’s how to make this easy tofu meatballs recipe. For more detailed instructions and nutrition facts, see the recipe card below.

Make The Egg Substitute: Mix together the ground flaxseed and water until completely combined.

Ground flaxseeds and water mixed in a mixing bowl.

Sauté Aromatics: Add the chopped onion to a pan drizzled with oil and sauté briefly before adding the garlic.

Onions and garlic sauteeing in a pan.

Mix The Meatballs: Crumble the tofu into a large bowl. Add ground walnuts, flax egg, sautéed onion and garlic, and the other ingredients and mix until ingredients are evenly dispersed. 

Ground walnuts, tofu, and other vegan meatball ingredients mixed in a mixing bowl.

Form Meatballs: Shape the balls using your hands. Place each ball of meatball mixture on a prepared cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and spray them with cooking spray. 

Tofu ball rolled in a hand over a mixing bowl.

Bake Meatballs: Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and cook for the recommended time.

Vegan meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Serve: Serve these tofu walnut meatballs immediately, or cool to room temperature before serving.

Baked vegan tofu meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Remove excess liquid from the tofu: Press the tofu between two paper towels (or a clean dish towel) to eliminate any excess moisture or water.
  • Crumble the tofu: Break the tofu into very small pieces that are about the size of breadcrumbs. Try to achieve crumbles that are similar in size to ensure even cooking.
  • Make ahead: If you want to make these ahead of time, just prepare the balls, then store them for up to 2 days in an airtight container before baking.
  • Test their doneness: Tofu meatballs are completely cooked when they feel slightly firm when pressed.
  • Frying vs Baking: These vegan Italian meatballs can be pan-fried in a little oil rather than oven baking if you’d prefer them to have a crispier golden outer edge.

📖 Variations

There are plenty of ways to switch up these simple vegetarian meatballs to make your own signature style of them.

  • Make Them Crispy: For a crispier meatball, pan-fry them in a saucepan or large skillet drizzled with a neutral oil. Try olive oil or avocado oil for the best results.
  • Change The Size: If you’re making these for appetizers, make smaller versions, or for a hearty meal, make them larger. 
  • Stuff The Meatballs: Wrap the tofu mixture around a bit of vegan cheese or your preferred filling. Mash up some potatoes, carrots, or other root veggies as a filling to create tofu veggie balls.
  • Smoky Flavor: Add a little bit of liquid smoke for smoky veggie meatballs. 
  • Different Seasonings: Instead of Italian seasoning, try another flavor profile. For Indian-inspired meatballs, use cumin, turmeric, or saffron. Or for Mexican-inspired flavor, use a taco seasoning blend, crushed red pepper flakes, or cilantro. You can also impart Asian flavors with sesame seeds, Szechuan peppercorn, and ginger.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

There are so many ways to serve these meatless meatballs – just substitute them in any dish you might use traditional meatballs. 

  • Over Pasta: Serve these tofu Italian meatballs with keto marinara sauce and your favorite shape of pasta, or over zucchini noodles for a lower carb option. 
  • As An Appetizer: Provide a dipping sauce for guests to dip these into. Gluten-free stir fry saucevegan BBQ sauce, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or a slightly spicy peanut sauce (like from this vegan peanut noodles recipe) all pair perfectly. 
  • In A Sandwich: Swap out the meat for these tofu balls for a satisfying meatball sandwich. Or, serve them in a wrap with a creamy, dill-infused Greek yogurt spread for a variation on this healthy falafel wrap recipe.
  • Over Rice: Toss the plant based meatballs with teriyaki sauce or your favorite savory sauce, and serve them over any variety of rice or cauliflower rice.
  • With Mashed Potatoes: For a hearty and comforting meal, pile the meatballs over top of these healthy mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower for a low-carb version) and top with sauce or a hearty mushroom masala.
  • Korma: Spoon a creamy korma sauce over the top for a comforting Indian-style meal.

🙌 Dietary Adaptations

Wheat-Free: Make these tofu meatballs without breadcrumbs by using your favorite breadcrumb alternative. Gluten-free panko is a good option, as are gluten-free rolled oats. 

Gluten-Free: To easily transform this vegan meatball recipe into a gluten-free version, use the same suggestions as the wheat-free version, and also check the label on the Worcestershire sauce to ensure it is gluten-free, as well. 

Nut-Free: While nuts help build the meatball’s hearty texture and add healthy fats and nutrients, they can be omitted for those who are allergic or prefer not to eat them. Alternatively, you can replace the nuts with an equal amount of sauteed diced mushrooms to make tofu mushroom meatballs!

🫙 Storage Directions

  • Refrigeration: Once the tofu meatballs have cooled to room temperature, transfer them to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Reheating: These meatballs without meat can be heated up however is easiest for you — either on a baking sheet in the oven, in the microwave, or in a saucepan, either on their own or in a sauce.
  • Freezing: Place meatballs in a freezer-safe container or resealable freezer bag and store for up to 3 months in the freezer. To minimize the meatballs sticking together, try flash-freezing them on a cookie sheet prior to storing in the bag or container.

❓Recipe FAQs

HOW DO YOU KEEP VEGAN MEATBALLS FROM FALLING APART?

There are a number of ways to make sure that your vegan meatballs stay together. First, you can use the binding ingredients in this recipe, like ground flaxseed, corn starch, and bread crumbs. 

You can also incorporate vegan eggs, rice, chia seeds, or quinoa. Any of these will help prevent vegan meatballs from falling apart.

WHAT IS A VEGAN BINDING AGENT FOR MEATBALLS?

Ground flaxseed is vegan and is one of the most similar binding agents to eggs. When mixed with water, flaxseeds can create a gel, making it a perfect substitute for eggs.

IS TOFU INFLAMMATORY OR ANTI-INFLAMMATORY?

Foods made from soy, like tofu, contain isoflavones and antioxidants, which both help to fight inflammation. Magnesium and Vitamin B are also in soy, contributing to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Easy tofu meatballs, tossed with marinara sauce and served on top of pasta, on a grey plate.

🍛 More Tofu Recipes!

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📋 Recipe Card

🎥 Watch How to Make It

https://youtu.be/dPoNv9xR5qw
Easy vegan tofu meatballs, tossed with marinara sauce and served on top of pasta, on a grey plate.
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Tofu Meatballs

These delicious, simple tofu meatballs are a vegetarian version of the classic comfort food. A combination of firm tofu, fragrant aromatics, Italian herbs, and an easy substitute for eggs come together in this plant-based take on the traditional meaty version. It's vegetarian, vegan, and can easily be made gluten free too!
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegan, vegetarian
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 28 meatballs
Calories: 51kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

Optional, For Serving

  • 28 oz jar marinara sauce
  • 8 oz pasta
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Instructions

  • Prepare the flax egg by mixing the ground flaxseed and water together, stir until well combined. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil and sauté the diced onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
  • Place the walnuts into a food processor and grind to a powder.
  • Press the tofu to remove excess water. Using your hands, break the tofu into small pieces.
  • Add the remaining ingredients along with the flax egg and cooked onion. Mix until well combined.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / 180 C.
  • Next, using your hands, shape 1-2 tbsp of mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat until all mixture has been used. Mixture will make approximately 28 meatballs.
  • Lightly spray the meatballs with spray oil and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the meatballs half way through cooking, until golden and slightly firm to touch.
  • Serve hot with your favorite pasta sauce and pasta or enjoy with a side of dipping sauce.

Notes

  • These meatballs are great tossed in my marinara sauce and your favorite pasta.
  • Squeeze excess water from the tofu by pressing it between kitchen paper towel.
  • Crumble the tofu into small pieces that resemble breadcrumbs
  • To make these meatballs gluten free, use gluten free breadcrumbs and ensure the Worcestershire sauce is also gluten free.
  • The meatballs can be pan-fried in a little oil rather than oven baking if you’d prefer them to have a crispier golden outer edge.
  • Store cooked tofu meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Raw tofu meatballs can be stored for up to 2 days before cooking.
  • Tofu meatballs are cooked when they’re slightly firm when lightly pressed.
  • Note: nutritional info is for meatballs only, does not include cooked pasta or sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.002g | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 39mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

6 responses to “Tofu Meatballs”

  1. I’m not usually a fan of tofu but as a vegetarian I’m trying to eat more of it! these meatballs were great! My husband loved them too.5 stars

  2. Enjoyed this for dinner tonight and it was a savory success! Easy, hearty and delicious; definitely, a new favorite recipe!5 stars

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