Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs Recipe

Savor the rich, hearty flavors of these vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs. This recipe transforms simple, wholesome ingredients like lentils, mushrooms, and oats into delicious meat-free meatballs, perfect for a cozy dinner or a festive party snack.

Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs Recipe
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Photos of Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs Recipe

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The main ingredients in this recipe, lentils and cremini mushrooms, may not be everyday pantry items in some households. Lentils are a staple in many vegetarian dishes due to their high protein content and are easily found in any grocery store. Cremini mushrooms, sometimes referred to as baby bellas, are a variety of white button mushrooms and can be found in the produce section of most supermarkets.

Ingredients for Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs

Dried brown lentils: These small legumes are packed with protein, fiber, and iron. They add a hearty texture and rich, earthy flavor to the meatballs.

Bay leaf: Used in cooking for its distinctive flavor and fragrance. Remember to remove it after the lentils are cooked.

Vegetable broth: Adds depth of flavor to the lentils as they cook. You can substitute with water if necessary.

Cremini mushrooms: These are young portobello mushrooms with a deep, savory flavor and meaty texture.

Old-fashioned oats: They act as a binder, helping the meatballs hold their shape while adding a boost of fiber.

Flat-leaf parsley leaves: Fresh herbs add a burst of freshness and color to the meatballs.

Dried oregano, thyme, terragon: These dried herbs add a complexity of flavor. They can be substituted with Italian seasoning if needed.

Red pepper flakes: Adds a hint of heat to the meatballs. Adjust the quantity based on your heat preference.

Olive oil: Used for sautéing the onion and garlic, and adds richness to the meatballs.

White onion: Adds a sweet, caramelized flavor when sautéed.

Garlic cloves: Adds an aromatic flavor base to the meatballs.

Red wine: Deglazes the pan and adds a depth of flavor.

Tamari soy sauce: A gluten-free alternative to soy sauce that adds a salty, umami flavor.

Eggs: The binding agent that holds the meatballs together.

Sea salt and pepper: Season to taste to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.

One reader, Dorolisa Fleck says:

star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

These lentil and mushroom meatballs are a game-changer! The flavors are so rich and savory, and the texture is spot on. They're a hit with my whole family, even the meat-eaters. Plus, they're super easy to make. I'm definitely adding this recipe to my regular rotation!

Dorolisa Fleck

Techniques Required for Making Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs

How to prepare lentils: Simmer dried brown lentils with a bay leaf in vegetable broth or water until slightly undercooked, then drain and let cool.

How to pulse in food processor: Combine mushrooms, oats, lentils, parsley, and spices in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely ground but not mushy.

How to sauté onions and garlic: In a skillet, cook chopped onion with a pinch of salt until translucent and golden at the edges, then add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

How to shape meatballs: Use your hands to scoop up small handfuls of the lentil-mushroom mixture and shape them into golf ball-sized balls or about 1 1/2-inch diameter.

How to bake meatballs: Place the shaped meatballs on a lined baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

How To Make Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs

Enjoy meatballs even if you don’t eat meat. These vegetarian meatballs are packed with flavors from lentils, mushrooms, and delicious herbs and spices.

Preparation: 45 minutes
Cooking: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes



  • 1cupdried brown lentilspicked over and rinsed
  • 1bay leaf
  • 2cupsvegetable brothor water
  • 8ozcremini mushroomsor white mushrooms, sliced
  • ½cupold-fashioned oats
  • ½cupflat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1tspdried oregano
  • ½tspred pepper flakes
  • ½tspdried thyme
  • ½tspdried terragon
  • 2tbspolive oil
  • 1mediumwhite onionchopped
  • 4garlic clovesminced
  • ¼cupred wine
  • 1tbsptamari soy sauceoptional
  • 2eggs
  • sea salt and pepperto taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Combine lentils, bay leaf, and vegetable broth or water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. The lentils should be a little undercooked. Remove from heat, drain, and let cool for a few minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

  3. In a food processor, combine the mushrooms, oats, lentils, parsley, and spices (oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme and tarragon). Pulse or blend until the mixture is pretty well pulverized but not mush.

  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil, then add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent and turning golden at the edges. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in lentil-mushroom mixture and cook for about 5 minutes until browned, stirring constantly.

  5. Add red wine and soy sauce to skillet. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. If you’re using a pan that retains heat like cast iron, transfer the mixture to a heat-safe bowl.

  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cool until it is comfortable to handle.

  7. In a small bowl, whisk together two eggs, then thoroughly mix the eggs into the lentil and mushroom mixture. Use your hands to scoop up one small handful of the mixture at a time, shaping it into a golf-ball sized ball or about 1 1/2-inch diameter.

  8. Place each meatball onto the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space around each one. You should end up with 15 or more meatballs.

  9. Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.


  • Calories: 347.56kcal
  • Fat: 10.27g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.85g
  • Trans Fat: 0.01g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 6.07g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.68g
  • Carbohydrates: 45.69g
  • Fiber: 7.74g
  • Sugar: 3.72g
  • Protein: 18.70g
  • Cholesterol: 79.98mg
  • Sodium: 733.02mg
  • Calcium: 84.50mg
  • Potassium: 791.40mg
  • Iron: 5.42mg
  • Vitamin A: 73.32µg
  • Vitamin C: 15.59mg

Essential Technique for Perfect Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs

When shaping the vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs, it's important to pack them firmly but gently. Overpacking can result in dense, tough meatballs, while underpacking can cause them to fall apart during baking. If you find the mixture too sticky, wet your hands with a bit of water before shaping each meatball. This will not only make the process easier but also result in smoother, more uniform meatballs.

Time-Saving Tips for Preparing Vegetarian Meatballs

Prep ahead: Cook the lentils and chop the vegetables in advance to streamline the process.

Use a food processor: Utilize a food processor to quickly and efficiently chop and blend the ingredients.

Double the batch: Make a larger batch and freeze the extra meatballs for future use.

Bake and multitask: While the meatballs are baking, use the time to prepare a side dish or salad.

Invest in a good skillet: A high-quality skillet can help prevent sticking and make the cooking process smoother.

Organize ingredients: Before starting, gather and organize all the ingredients and equipment needed for the recipe.

Prep the baking sheet: Line the baking sheet with parchment paper in advance for easy cleanup.

Use a cookie scoop: A cookie scoop can help create evenly sized meatballs quickly and efficiently.

Cook in bulk: Consider making a large batch of meatballs and using them for multiple meals throughout the week.

Experiment with flavors: Feel free to customize the spices and herbs to suit your taste preferences.

Substitute Ingredients For Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs Recipe

  • dried brown lentils - Substitute with green lentils: Green lentils have a similar texture and cooking time to brown lentils, making them a suitable substitute in this recipe.

  • cremini mushrooms - Substitute with portobello mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms have a meaty texture and a rich flavor, making them a great substitute for cremini mushrooms in this recipe.

  • vegetable broth - Substitute with mushroom broth: Mushroom broth adds a savory depth of flavor similar to vegetable broth and complements the lentils and mushrooms in the meatballs.

  • old-fashioned oats - Substitute with quinoa flakes: Quinoa flakes have a similar texture and can be used as a gluten-free alternative to oats in this recipe.

  • flat-leaf parsley leaves - Substitute with cilantro: Cilantro adds a fresh and vibrant flavor similar to parsley and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

  • dried oregano - Substitute with dried basil: Dried basil provides a similar earthy and aromatic flavor to oregano and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

  • red pepper flakes - Substitute with smoked paprika: Smoked paprika adds a mild heat and smoky flavor similar to red pepper flakes, enhancing the overall flavor of the meatballs.

  • dried thyme - Substitute with dried marjoram: Dried marjoram has a similar earthy and slightly sweet flavor to thyme, making it a suitable substitute in this recipe.

  • dried terragon - Substitute with dried dill: Dried dill provides a fresh and slightly anise-like flavor similar to tarragon and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

  • olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable substitute for olive oil in this recipe.

  • white onion - Substitute with yellow onion: Yellow onions have a slightly sweeter flavor and can be used as a substitute for white onions in this recipe.

  • red wine - Substitute with balsamic vinegar: Balsamic vinegar adds a rich and tangy flavor similar to red wine, enhancing the depth of flavor in the meatballs.

  • tamari soy sauce - Substitute with coconut aminos: Coconut aminos have a similar umami-rich flavor to tamari soy sauce and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

  • eggs - Substitute with flax eggs: Flax eggs can be used as a vegan substitute for eggs, providing binding properties similar to eggs in this recipe.

Presentation Ideas for Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs, focus on creating an elegant and visually appealing plate. Use clean lines and minimalistic plating to showcase the beauty of the dish.

  2. Incorporate vibrant colors: Introduce pops of color to the plate with a garnish of fresh parsley or microgreens. This will add a touch of vibrancy and freshness to the overall presentation.

  3. Utilize negative space: Embrace the concept of negative space on the plate to allow the vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs to stand out. This will create a sense of balance and sophistication in the presentation.

  4. Add a drizzle of sauce: Create an artful drizzle of balsamic glaze or truffle oil around the plate to enhance the visual appeal and add a touch of gourmet elegance to the dish.

  5. Garnish with edible flowers: Elevate the presentation by delicately placing a few edible flowers, such as nasturtiums or pansies, on the plate. This adds a touch of refinement and a subtle floral aroma to the dish.

  6. Consider the plate shape and size: Choose a porcelain plate or a slate platter that complements the earthy tones of the meatballs. The right plate can enhance the overall visual impact of the dish.

  7. Create a focal point: Arrange the meatballs in a visually appealing manner, perhaps in a circular or cascading pattern, to create a focal point that draws the eye and captivates the diners.

  8. Use elegant serving utensils: Select silver serving tongs or porcelain spoons to delicately handle and present the meatballs, adding a touch of sophistication to the dining experience.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Vegetarian Meatballs

  • Medium saucepan: A medium-sized pot with a handle and a lid, used for cooking lentils and vegetable broth.
  • Food processor: A kitchen appliance used to blend and pulverize the mushrooms, oats, lentils, parsley, and spices into a mixture.
  • Skillet: A frying pan with a long handle and a relatively shallow surface area, used for cooking the onion, garlic, and the lentil-mushroom mixture.
  • Baking sheet: A flat, rectangular metal pan used for baking the meatballs in the oven.
  • Small bowl: A small container used for whisking the eggs before mixing them into the lentil and mushroom mixture.

Storing and Freezing Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs

Here are the detailed storing and freezing guidelines for the vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs recipe:

  • Allow the meatballs to cool completely before storing or freezing. This will prevent them from becoming soggy or mushy.
  • For short-term storage, place the cooled meatballs in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. They can be easily reheated in the microwave, oven, or on the stovetop.
  • To freeze the meatballs for longer storage:
    • Arrange the cooled meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure they are not touching each other.
    • Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until the meatballs are frozen solid. This initial freezing step prevents them from sticking together when stored.
    • Transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
    • Label the container or bag with the date and contents for easy reference.
    • Frozen meatballs can be stored for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat frozen meatballs:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
    • Place the frozen meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
    • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Alternatively, you can microwave the meatballs on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through.
  • For best results, consume the reheated meatballs immediately. Avoid refreezing previously frozen and reheated meatballs, as this can affect their texture and quality.

How To Reheat Leftover Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs

  • To reheat leftover vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through. This method will help maintain the meatballs' texture and prevent them from becoming soggy.

  • Another option is to reheat the meatballs in a skillet on the stovetop. Add a small amount of olive oil or vegetable broth to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5-7 minutes. This method will give the meatballs a slightly crispy exterior.

  • For a quick and easy reheating method, use your microwave. Place the meatballs on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Be careful not to overheat, as this can cause the meatballs to become tough and rubbery.

  • If you have leftover tomato sauce or gravy, you can reheat the meatballs in the sauce. Place the sauce and meatballs in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5-7 minutes. This method will infuse the meatballs with additional flavor and keep them moist.

  • For a crispy exterior and moist interior, reheat the meatballs in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C) and place the meatballs in the basket. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until heated through and slightly crispy on the outside. This method is quick and will help maintain the meatballs' texture.

Random Fact about Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs

The lentil and mushroom meatballs are a great source of plant-based protein and are packed with fiber, making them a nutritious and filling option for vegetarians and vegans. Lentils are also known for their ability to lower cholesterol and improve heart health, while mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and can help boost the immune system. This recipe is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional meatballs, and it's a versatile dish that can be served with pasta, in sandwiches, or as a standalone appetizer.

Is This Lentil and Mushroom Meatball Recipe Budget-Friendly?

The vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs recipe is highly cost-effective for a household. The use of affordable ingredients like lentils, mushrooms, and oats makes it a budget-friendly option. The recipe yields approximately 15 meatballs, making it suitable for a family of four. The cost for the entire dish is estimated to be around $10-$12, making it an economical and nutritious choice. The overall verdict for this recipe is 9/10, considering its affordability, nutritional value, and delicious taste.

Are Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs Healthy?

The vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs recipe is a nutritious and well-balanced dish that offers a variety of health benefits. The recipe incorporates several wholesome ingredients, such as:

  • Lentils: Rich in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients like iron and folate
  • Mushrooms: Low in calories and fat, while providing vitamin D, selenium, and antioxidants
  • Oats: High in fiber, which aids in digestion and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels
  • Herbs and spices: Offer antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties

The use of olive oil and the absence of processed ingredients further contribute to the overall healthiness of the recipe. Additionally, the meatballs are baked instead of fried, reducing the amount of unhealthy fats.

To further enhance the nutritional value of this recipe, consider the following suggestions:

  • Incorporate more vegetables into the meatball mixture, such as finely chopped carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers, to increase the fiber and nutrient content
  • Opt for whole grain oats instead of old-fashioned oats to boost the fiber intake
  • Serve the meatballs with a side of leafy greens or a colorful salad to add more vitamins and minerals to the meal
  • Experiment with different herbs and spices to provide a variety of antioxidants and flavors without increasing calorie content

Editor's Opinion on This Lentil and Mushroom Meatball Recipe

The vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatballs recipe is a delightful and flavorful alternative to traditional meatballs. The combination of lentils, mushrooms, and aromatic spices creates a satisfying umami flavor. The use of oats and eggs as binders ensures a perfect texture, while the red wine and soy sauce add depth to the dish. These meatballs are versatile and can be served with pasta, in a sandwich, or as a standalone appetizer. Overall, this recipe offers a delicious and nutritious option for both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Enhance Your Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and a hint of parmesan cheese, served with a dollop of chive-infused sour cream on top.
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest: Tender asparagus spears grilled to perfection and finished with a sprinkle of fresh lemon zest and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges: Crispy sweet potato wedges seasoned with a blend of smoked paprika, cumin, and cinnamon, served with a side of tangy chipotle aioli for dipping.

Other Delicious Vegetarian Meatball Recipes to Try

Savory Stuffed Bell Peppers: Create a delicious and colorful dish by stuffing bell peppers with a flavorful mixture of rice, ground beef, tomatoes, and spices, then baking until tender.
Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Risotto: Indulge in a creamy and comforting risotto made with tender chicken, earthy mushrooms, and arborio rice cooked to perfection in a flavorful broth.
Fresh Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing: Whip up a refreshing and vibrant fruit salad featuring a medley of fresh fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, and pineapple, drizzled with a zesty honey-lime dressing.

Appetizers and Desserts to Serve with Vegetarian Meatballs

Savory Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. They're the perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Crispy Zucchini Fritters: These crispy zucchini fritters are a delicious way to start any meal. The combination of shredded zucchini, herbs, and a hint of cheese creates a delightful appetizer that will leave your guests wanting more.
Decadent Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy Decadent Chocolate Mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. This elegant dessert is perfect for a special occasion or a romantic evening in.
Velvety Lemon Tart: Savor the tangy and refreshing flavor of a Velvety Lemon Tart, with a buttery and flaky crust that perfectly complements the smooth lemon filling. This dessert is a delightful way to end any meal.

Why trust this Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs Recipe:

This vegetarian lentil and mushroom meatball recipe offers a nutritious and flavorful alternative to traditional meatballs. The combination of brown lentils, cremini mushrooms, and old-fashioned oats provides a satisfying texture and rich umami flavor. With a blend of aromatic herbs and a splash of red wine, these meatballs are bursting with savory goodness. The step-by-step instructions ensure a foolproof cooking process, and the use of tamari soy sauce adds depth to the dish. Trust in this recipe for a delightful, meatless meal that's both wholesome and delicious.

Want to share your experience making these Vegetarian Lentil and Mushroom Meatballs or discuss variations on the recipe? Head over to the Recipe Sharing forum and join the conversation!
Can I use a different type of lentils for this recipe?
Yes, you can use green or black lentils as a substitute for brown lentils. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as different types of lentils may require different cooking times.
Can I make these meatballs ahead of time and freeze them?
Absolutely! These meatballs freeze really well. Once they are baked and cooled, you can store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you're ready to enjoy them, simply reheat them in the oven or microwave.
Can I replace the eggs with a vegan egg substitute?
Yes, you can use a flax egg or any other vegan egg substitute in place of the eggs. This will help bind the ingredients together just like regular eggs.
What can I serve these meatballs with?
These meatballs are versatile and can be served in various ways. You can enjoy them with pasta and marinara sauce, in a sandwich, or on top of a salad. They also make a great appetizer when served with a dipping sauce.
Can I use fresh herbs instead of dried herbs?
Yes, you can use fresh herbs instead of dried herbs. Just keep in mind that the flavor intensity may differ, so you may need to adjust the quantities to suit your taste.

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