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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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

    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.

Notes:

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.

https://americanheritagecooking.com/2014/09/quinoa-vegetarian-meatballs-gluten-free/

Did you make this recipe? I want to hear all about it! 🥳Tag me on Instagram @cheflindseyfarr and use the hashtag #americanheritagecooking

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

60 Comments

  • Rachel @ Bakerita
    September 14, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Mmm these “meatballs” look delicious!! I love quinoa but haven’t used it in a while. With all these delicious quinoa recipes, I need to start again!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      You must, you must, you must! I’ve even turned my husband into a fan (not that he’ll admit that to anyone)

      Reply
  • marcie
    September 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Lindsey, this is such an awesome idea! I make quinoa cakes/burgers, but I’ve never thought to make into meatballs. Super fun, and they look delicious! Pinning. 🙂

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Thanks, marcie! I think you’ll love them! And thanks for the pin!

      Reply
  • Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl
    September 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Major yum, I just want to reach through the screen and gobble up this entire plate! 🙂

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Lol! Me too…guess it’s time to make some more!

      Reply
  • Manali @ CookWithManali
    September 14, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    yumm! delicious and healthy!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 12:23 am

      Thanks, Manali!

      Reply
  • Arpita@ The Gastronomic Bong
    September 15, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Quinoa is one of my favourites. . Love the idea of quinoa meatballs..its just brilliant. . Can’t wait to try this amazing recipe. . 🙂

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 12:23 am

      Thanks, Arpita! Trying to balance out all the cookies!

      Reply
  • David @ Spiced
    September 15, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Italian food is the all-time best comfort food ever. I applaud you for keeping it healthy and holding off on the Fall baking bonanza, too. I’m thinking I could go for some of these meatballs for dinner tonight…what time are you bringing them over? 🙂

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 12:22 am

      Around 6? Next Tuesday? 😉

      Reply
      • David @ Spiced
        September 16, 2014 at 7:30 am

        You’re making me wait a whole week? Hmph.

        Reply
        • AmericanCooking22
          September 16, 2014 at 10:02 am

          Patience, grasshopper!

          Reply
  • Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice
    September 15, 2014 at 11:02 am

    What a creative recipe, Lindsey! I love finding new ways to use quinoa, and this sounds like the perfect dish! Pinning!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 12:17 am

      Lol me too! Thanks for the pin!

      Reply
  • Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures
    September 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I am not vegan, but these look delicious!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 12:16 am

      Haha! These definitely aren’t vegan…hello, cheese! But thanks, Laura!

      Reply
  • Cindy @ Pick Fresh Foods
    September 15, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    These meatballs look fantastic! I love that they are vegetarian and packed with great flavors.

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 12:14 am

      Thanks, Cindy!!

      Reply
  • Christin@SpicySouthernKitchen
    September 15, 2014 at 6:18 pm

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

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 15, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      I think she will! All the comfort of Italian meatballs sans meat!

      Reply
  • Ella-HomeCookingAdventure
    September 16, 2014 at 9:24 am

    These photos are wonderful. I love the way you captured the quinoa meatballs. I really have to give them a try.

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Thank you, Ella! I fought with these photos so that is great to hear!

      Reply
  • Laura
    September 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    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).

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      September 29, 2014 at 9:01 am

      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!

      Reply
  • Valerie
    October 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      October 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • brittany
    October 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Could to make a large batch of these and freeze them

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      October 22, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      Absolutely!! I keep intending to do that but we end up eating them all 🙂

      Reply
  • Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness
    October 27, 2014 at 9:22 am

    These look SO amazing!! Thanks for linking up with Show Stopper Saturday!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      October 27, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      Thanks, Tayler. Glad I saved you from the spam folder! Thanks for hosting!

      Reply
  • Sarah
    October 28, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    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!!

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      October 28, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Renee @ Two in the Kitchen
    October 30, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Oh wow! I just ran across these on Pinterest and they look amazing!! And I’m not even a big quinoa fan. But these look like a must try!! oh, and I am dying over that fork!! It is positively lovely!! 🙂

    Reply
    • AmericanCooking22
      November 4, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • January Meal Plan // Where the Piggy Toes Go
    January 5, 2015 at 10:13 am

    […] Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs […]

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  • Adina
    December 3, 2015 at 3:47 am

    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.

    Reply
  • […] Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs from Lindsey at American Heritage Cooking […]

    Reply
  • Nicole
    August 30, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    My 18 year old daughter and I want to try to move to a vegetarian diet. Forgive my ignorance, but what does the recipe mean when it says to “pick over the stones”? Am I literally removing stones/pebbles/rocks from my quinoa?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      October 4, 2018 at 5:33 pm

      Hi Nicole. haha yes you are! Sometimes there can be little pebbles or whatnot in there. I find it less and less these days, but I posted this before quinoa blew up in popularity and I usually found like a little stick or stone in there!

      Reply
  • Sharita Everett
    October 1, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Mine fell apart in the pan 🙁

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      October 4, 2018 at 5:15 pm

      Oh no! There are several variables to the moisture content in these “meatballs”. I would say the largest is how cooked your quinoa was. But it could just also be a normal variation in the size of eggs or the moisture in parmesan cheese. If they aren’t holding together before you pan fry them, they wont after. Just add a bit more egg.

      Reply
  • Dave
    October 4, 2018 at 5:18 am

    I know this is years later, and my comment has about the same chance of airing, as those “meatballs” making it to my table, but really…I’m not saying that they may not taste good, but have you or most of the people commenting ever looked at meatballs that the general populace consumes or even what Google images will show if you search Italian meatballs? Go ahead: Search it 😉
    C’mon; “Appeal to my reptile brain”…if it looks & smells somewhat like the dish you are trying to impersonate; It has a better chance of being a winner. Even those $10 bags of El-cheapo meatballs that probably taste like & contain sawdust for filler, look more realistic. More than a few brown-nosers here, if they concur with a “meatball” designation, LOL. Maybe they are being sarcastic? Throw in 1/2 can of rinsed & mashed black beans (colour), some fresh chopped mushrooms (meaty texture), use mozza cheese as a better binding agent, & for heaven sakes…who heard tell of meatballs without onions??? No Worcestershire sauce???
    I cannot presume to knock your use of cilantro in the dish as I cringe at it’s usage, but the jury is still out until I find someone willing to waste their hard earned money & allow me to taste it in a concoction such as this. BTW…If you have your meatballs adequately seasoned, you don’t need to worry about the “Italian seasoned bread crumbs”. Google again for Italian seasonings if you must, it’s cheap & Does Not contain Cilantro, LOL.
    Another thing: Why do so many “cooks” choose not to read what is good & bad? Cooking with olive oil is a no-no, it burns, Go with safflower, sunflower, avocado, coconut oil, real butter, or even crap “vegetable” oil if you have to. Olive oil, especially the light/delicate flavour type, has many awesome uses…high temperature use, is not one of them. I find that safflower imparts a slight (bonus) bacon flavour when frying & it’s reasonably priced.
    Some people are on a budget but still want or must eat vegetarian: Replacing the delicious but exorbitant Asiago with a general purpose mozzarella & a few dried spices, can leave $’s for cheese leftover for that homemade lasagna or pizza.
    BTW… Great photos, love the look of the lasagna & grandma’s fork is definitely in “tine”, LOL. A “WM ROGERS” product I assume? Lovely.
    Cheers/Sláinte

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      October 4, 2018 at 5:12 pm

      These are also made with Quinoa and not meat…So they are clearly not even pretending to be Italian. Just damn good.

      Reply
  • Elyssa Forester
    December 20, 2018 at 11:14 am

    Please Help!! The ingredient list says 2 cups cooked quinoa but the instructions to cook the quinoa say 1 cup. Should I be repeating step 1 to get the 2 cups of cooked quinoa or is there a mistake in the recipe?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      January 1, 2019 at 11:13 am

      Hi Elyssa, I see how that is confusing the way I have it written. One cup of uncooked quinoa yields 2 cups of cooked quinoa, so above I’m telling you how much cooked you need and below I am telling you how to get 2 cups. That is confusing so I will revise to be clear.

      Reply
  • Meghan Stone
    January 21, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I’m the only vegetarian in my family. In fact, everyone else in my family hates the idea of being vegetarian and hates quinoa, especially my dad who refuses to eat quinoa like a child refuses to eat mushrooms. I made these for dinner last night, and everyone loves them! They taste like real meatballs, the texture is perfect, and I love how crisp they get when you sear them before finishing the cooking. If you have leftovers, these make a great “meatball” sub!

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      February 10, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks Meghan! I am so glad you and your family enjoyed them!!

      Reply
  • Zelda
    February 2, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    so good!!! I simplified a bit, using one type of cheese and dried herbs I had on hand and it was still delightful. I spirialized zucch as a base and really enjoyed how it came out. I noticed this time around (my third go) the meatballs stuck together very well when forming. I made my quinoa fresh (vs having in the fridge ahead of time) so it was warm when I mixed in the cheese – seemed to help, my egg my have also been bigger I suppose. I’ve shared this a few times and plan to add as a common meal in my house. thanks for sharing!!

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      February 10, 2019 at 12:18 pm

      That sounds great Zelda!

      Reply
  • Nicole
    March 23, 2019 at 11:33 am

    These are amazing! I’ve made them 3 times. The toddlers and baby even love them, which is a feat in itself!!

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      March 30, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Oh I’m so glad, Nicole!!!

      Reply
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