Easy Baked Veggie Balls | Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, these baked veggie balls are super easy to make and have a great flavor and texture. Use these green lentil balls in my Mediterranean Grain Bowl, salads, pitas or try them in a veggie ball sub.
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Veggie balls are a great alternative to meatballs if you're following a specific diet but they are also just really good whether you're meat free or not.
These easy baked green lentil balls have lots of flavor from roasted sweet potato and nutritional yeast and they're also quite good for you.
Watch the video in this post to see how to make these veggie balls, but trust me it's a really easy recipe. You'll just throw everything together in a food process to chop it up, then roll out 15 little vegetable balls and bake them. Easy.
Read about the ingredients below and check for substitutions at the bottom of this post.
What to serve with veggie balls
There are many ways to eat veggie balls, hot or cold. Here are some ideas:
- serve hot or cold veggie balls as part of a snack plate with vegetables and bread with a dip like my Lemon Herb Tahini Sauce or one of my Hummus recipes.
- eat hot or cold veggie balls in a grain bowl (also called a nourish bowl or buddha bowl) with leafy greens, a whole grain, roasted vegetables and a dressing.
- try veggie balls in place of meatballs in a pasta dish with noodles and a red sauce.
- stuff veggie balls into long sub buns, cover with marinara and mozzarella cheese and bake them like my Veggie Meatball Subs
About the ingredients for this recipe. See the recipe card below for exact amounts.
- Sweet potato – I like roasted sweet potato cubes for this recipe because they give a nice flavor and help bind the veggie balls. I've also made these veggie balls with carrot as an easier option where you don't have to prep anything ahead of time. I often have cubed roasted sweet potatoes in the fridge for use in nourish bowls.
- Red onion and garlic - I love onion and garlic for base flavors. You can substitute a different onion if you prefer. I think roasted garlic would be nice here also if you have it on hand.
- Pepitas - I use Mexican pepitas (pumpkin seeds) which are longer and thinner than the ones I usually use, but any pepitas are fine. I'm sure you could try sunflower seeds or a nut like walnuts in place. The pepitas give the veggie ball a bit of texture instead of having a completely soft veggie ball.
- Green Lentils - Green lentils are super easy to cook and have many great benefits. See the box below for more information. You can also use canned green lentils.
- Ground Flax - I use ground flax seed mixed with water to bind the ingredients together. See substitutions below. This mixture is commonly referred to as a "flax egg".
- Oats - I use large flake oats to maintain a bit of texture even once the oats are blitzed in the food processor.
- Nutritional Yeast - An inactive yeast, easy to find in health food stores and even major grocery chains, this gives a savory flavor to the veggie balls.
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast, commonly nicknamed "Nooch" is an inactive yeast, used in cooking which gives a savory or umami flavor to foods. Nutritional yeast is rich in protein and B-vitamins, making it a great addition to vegetarian or vegan diets. It's commonly claimed to have a cheesy flavor but I don't personally find that it does.
Did you know? Green lentils are a great source of protein, a prebiotic fiber, iron and selenium. Source: BBC Good Food
How to cook green lentils?
I cook my green lentils from scratch by combining 2 cups dried lentils with 6 cups cold water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in my Instant Pot. I cook them on High Pressure for 6 minutes and then let them Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes.
- Roast sweet potatoes if using. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 35-45 minutes.
- Cook green lentils if using dried. Cook 2 cups lentils on high pressure in a pressure cooker with 6 cups of water for 6-8 minutes.
- Peel and quarter a red onion.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Once everything is prepped it's just a matter of chopping it in the food processor and then shaping and baking them.
Step 1. Mix the ground flax seed and water together and set aside for 5-10 minutes until it thickens. (Photos 1 + 2)
Step 2. Add the onion, garlic, roasted sweet potato, oats, pepitas, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop. Don't puree it, just ensure everything is chopped into small bits. (Photo 3)
Step 3. Add the flax mixture and the lentils. (Photo 4) Blend but don't puree. Leave some texture. (Photo 5 + 6)
Step 4. Roll the mixture into 15 golf ball sized veggie balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. (Photo 7)
Step 5. Bake the veggie balls for 20 minutes. Let them sit for a few minutes. They firm as they sit. Serve warm. (Photo 8)
Can you fry these veggie balls?
I've tried frying these veggie balls and while you can do it, I didn't prefer it to the baked ones for a few reasons:
- the fried veggie balls don't stay circular
- they don't crisp evenly like in the oven
- they are a bit softer on the inside when they're not baked through
✔ This recipe is vegetarian.
✔ This recipe is vegan.
✔ This recipe is gluten-free and dairy free.
- You can use carrot instead of the sweet sweet potato. I don't cook the carrot, just cut it into chunks and make sure it blends well with the onion and chops into little bits.
- I use flax seed in this instead of an egg to keep these vegan for my daughter but if you're not vegan, go ahead and try the egg. I haven't tested an egg in this recipe. Watch the video in this post to see the texture of the veggie balls before baking. If your mixtures seems a bit too wet after using an egg instead of the flax seed then add a bit more oats, or oat flour.
- I use oats instead of wheat flour here because I like the texture and because it also keeps these veggie balls gluten free, and I just don't feel like I need to eat wheat all of the time. You can sub in flour if you like, but I haven't tested it in this veggie balls recipe.
I use my Ninja Kitchen system to blend the mixture for the veggie balls. I sometimes use parchment paper and sometimes a silicone mat with my baking sheet.
Store the cooked veggie balls in the fridge in a container with a lid for 3-4 days.
Freeze in an airtight container for about 3 months.
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Tips + FAQs
Veggie balls are made with a combination of vegetables and beans or pulses. Typically a flour will be added and either an egg or a flax egg for binding the ingredients together.
Baked Veggie Balls
- 1 ½ cup roasted sweet potato (or a large carrot, peeled and chopped in ⅓)
- 1 small red onion (peeled and halved)
- ¼ cup pepitas (I used Mexican pepitas)
- 1 ½ cups cooked green lentils
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water)
- ½ cup large flake oats
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
- Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, pepitas, oats, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop well. Don't puree.
- Add the lentils and flax mixture. Pulse. Don't puree.
- Roll the mixture into 15 golf ball sized balls.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for a minute or two before removing from the baking sheet.
- To roast the sweet potatoes, peel and cube them and roast on a baking sheet at 400°F (200°C) for 35-45 minutes or until cooked and fork tender.
- To cook the green lentils in a pressure cooker, cover 2 cups of dried lentils with 6 cups of water and add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook on High Pressure for 6-8 minutes followed by 10 minutes of Natural Pressure Release. Allow to cool before using in this recipe.
- Instead of using sweet potatoes you can use a large carrot. Cut the carrot into thirds, add it when you would the sweet potato, and make sure it chops well when you pulse it with the other ingredients.
- You can try using a chicken egg instead of the flax seed mixture but I haven't tested it. You may need more oats or oat flour.
- Add any spices you'd like.
Nutritional information is an estimate. Values vary based on products used.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.
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