Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs {GF Option}

Quinoa Vegetarian MeatballsInstead of all the pumpkin and apple baking that I should be doing, I’ve been going a little quinoa crazy! I have been using it in everything from salad (coming soon!) to these Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs.

I just can’t get enough!

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs

I used to think of homemade, Italian meatballs as an occasional indulgence, but these quinoa meatballs are so easy to pull together and healthy that they are sure to become a regular dish instead!

These chewy, substantial, vegetarian meatballs are packed with Italian flavors. The fresh herbs and cheese make you forget that there is no meat to be found, and the quinoa creates a texture that is reminiscent of meat.

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs

I take the extra step of pan searing before baking them to give them the nice crunchy, seared exterior that is characteristic of a traditional Italian meatball.

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs

Whether or not you are vegetarian, you and your family will love these easy meatless meatballs! Serve several with whole-wheat noodles, homemade red pasta sauce, and a generous sprinkling of Asiago cheese! So toothsome and satisfying, you’ll never even miss the meat!

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs

You might want to make a double batch because they’ll be gone before you know it!

You can also make the meatballs ahead of time and either freeze them or store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. I like to reheat the meatballs in a pot of tomato sauce to keep them moist. Dinner is ready when the sauce and meatballs are heated through!

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs {Gluten Free Option}

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 18 Meatballs

These easy Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs are packed full of traditional Italian spices and two types of cheese! They are first pan seared and then baked for a beautiful crispy exterior and tender, flavorful interior. So toothsome, you will never even miss the meat!


  • 2 cups cooked quinoa [instruction below]
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup asiago cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 3 small garlic gloves, minced fine
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large pinches kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 pinch to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


    To make the Quinoa:
  1. In a fine sieve strainer, pour 1 cup quinoa, pick over for stones, and rinse with cold water. In a medium saucepan mix the quinoa with 2 cups cold water (or broth). Add about 1 tablespoon olive oil and a large pinch of kosher salt, and stir to mix. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stir, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook covered for approximately 30-40 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is soft.
  2. To make the meatballs:
  3. Preheat your oven to 350°. Heat a large cast iron skillet or pan over medium heat until searing hot.
  4. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour a little olive oil into the preheated skillet. Form a meatball a little smaller than a golf ball and place the meatball in the skillet starting in the center. Working as quickly as possible, repeat with the remaining meatballs, radiating them out from the center in a spiral pattern. [You could certainly pre-form all the meat balls and have them ready for this step, but I am all about cutting out wasted time, and that, is wasted time.]
  5. Once you have finished placing all the meatballs in the skillet, it is time to start turning them! Gently turn each meatball once it has browned on the opposite side. My burner causes my large cast iron skillet to be unevenly hot, so I swap some of the middle meatballs for the outer meatballs to ensure an even sear.
  6. Bake in skillet or transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.


To make these meatballs gluten free, simply use gluten free breadcrumbs. You could also try substituting gluten free flour for the breadcrumbs but I cannot vouch for how that will work.

I like to make a large pot of quinoa at the beginning of the week, so that I can make these or anything else quickly without having to wait for the quinoa to cook.


You many also love these healthy meals:

 Quinoa Turkey Meatball Soup

Turkey Meatball and Kale Soup - Cooking Light

My Favorite Pasta Sauce

Homemade Tomato Pasta Sauce

Vegetarian Lasagna

Whole-Wheat Vegetable Lasagna



This recipe is linked to: Inspiration Monday, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Party Time, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Gluten Free Wednesday, Gluten Free Friday, Foodie Friday, Flashback Friday, Show Stopper Saturday, Saturday Night Fever


  1. says

    Totally amazing Lindsey! I can’t wait to show these to my vegetarian daughter. She will love them!
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  2. says

    Wht other types of sauces would go with this beside a tomato sauce? basil pesto? and alfredo sauce? can the cheese be omitted for it to be vegan? (I have a vegan guest coming).

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Laura, You could certainly try omitting the cheese and the egg, but it will definitely alter the taste for the rest of your guests. The egg is just a binding agent, so I think a little ground flax seed and water could be successfully substituted for that, but the cheese is all about flavor. If I were going to try making it completely vegan, I would try the flax and water for the egg, increase the spices, take out the cheese, add a little nutritional yeast (to hopefully get that parmesan flavor), and increase the quinoa. I have no clue how that will ultimately turn out bc I haven’t tried it…but now I want to!

      As for other sauces, I think any sauce you put on them that you would use on a traditional meatball would be good. They really do have a traditional Italian flavor. If you are trying to make the meal vegan, I would definitely steer clear of an alfredo, because the thought of trying to make that vegan, makes my head spin! My favorite sauce is tomato so that is what I always use 🙂 Hope that helps! Good luck!

  3. Valerie says

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe! As a vegetarian, it was a pleasure to finally eat a “meatball” dish 🙂 The only issue I had is that they came out a bit dry. Do you think baking them in tomato sauce would cause them to fall apart? It would be great to hear your thoughts!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Valerie! I’m shocked they came out dry! Both times I made them, they were very moist. I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to be cooked in sauce. I always pan sear my meatballs (vegetarian or regular) before simmering in a sauce, so I would definitely suggest doing that so that they get that nice seared exterior and they hold together better while you cook them.

  4. Sarah says

    I made these tonight and they are phenomenal! I omitted the breadcrumbs, cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth, and used my random seasonings on hand. I would use two eggs next time to keep them from falling apart in the pan. I still can’t believe how tasty these are! Definitely my new favorite recipe! Thank you!!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I’m so glad you liked them and that you were able to make them without the flour! Thanks for stopping back by to tell me, Sarah!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Haha! Thanks for noticing my new favorite fork! My grandmother gave it to me the last time I was at her house…I have to try not to use it in EVERY photo!

  5. says

    Hi. I made these quinoa meatballs last weekend, they were a hit. Even the kids loved them and I didn’t expect that at all. 🙂 We had them warm with pasta and tomato sauce and the leftovers cold in a wrap. Absolutely delicious! Thank you.
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