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Meatless Chickpea Meatballs in Marinara

on December 24, 2020
last updated August 8, 2022
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5 from 1 vote
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With a crispy exterior, meaty-on-the-inside texture, and seasoned to perfection, these Chickpea Meatballs in Marinara are an obvious choice for spaghetti night.
3 meatless chickpea meatballs stacked on each other on a plate

Need a protein-packed, filling, family-style Meatless Monday option? These Meatless Chickpea Meatballs in Marinara have got your back!

With a crispy exterior, meaty-on-the-inside texture, and seasoned to perfection, these meatless meatballs are an obvious choice for spaghetti night.

2 servings of spaghetti topped with spaghetti sauce and meatless meatballs

As an environmental scientist, I am always trying to make eco-conscious food choices. One great way to improve your ecological footprint is by finding ways to enjoy more meatless meals.

Green tip: Industrial meat production has a huge impact on the environment, especially because of the amount of land it takes to sustain and its high amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

Meatless Chickpea Meatballs Ingredients



  • Chickpeas. Or garbanzo beans. The canned kind is best for this recipe.
  • Grated Parmesan. Or Nutritional Yeast if you wish to make this recipe vegan.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic goes a long way in this recipe.
  • Egg. Or a flax egg to help bind them together.
  • Olive oil. For moisture and to get that crispy exterior.
  • Thyme & onion powder. Fresh or dried thyme works. Along with the onion powder, you’ll get a flavorful meatless meatball.
  • Salt & pepper. To amp up the other flavors.
  • Crushed red pepper (optional). If you want a little spice.
  • Marinara or Spaghetti sauce. To add moisture to your chickpea meatballs and to serve them with.
Overhead picture of all ingredients needed for Meatless Chickpea Meatballs in Marinara - Parmesan, Marinara, Onion powder, Olive oil, Egg, salt, crushed red pepper. garlic, black pepper, thyme, and chickpeas

Meatless Chickpea Meatballs Tips and Tricks



Prep Your Ingredients

This recipe is just four simple steps. To prep your ingredients, all you have to do is drain and rinse your chickpeas and peel your garlic.

Consider saving your aquafaba (the liquid your chickpeas are floating in)! You can use it for baking delicious desserts like this Rich Vegan Dark Chocolate Oreo Pie. YUM.

Green tip: Organic farms rely on biodiversity to generate rich soil, avoiding the use of pesticides and fertilizers, which means no toxic runoff. Consider organic ingredients for this recipe.

Add it All to the Food Processor

Dump all of your ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender and process on high until all of the ingredients are completely broken down. It should resemble a thick paste.

There’s no worry of over blending here, so just run your processor or blender on high until there are no visible chunks of whole ingredients left.

all ingredients for meatless chickpea meatballs ground up in the food processor

Shape ‘Em and Bake ‘Em

Grab a medium cookie scoop or a heaping teaspoon of your chickpea meatball mixture and use two clean hands to roll it into a perfect ball.

The mixture should yield 8 meatballs. If you have excess meatless meatball mixture after forming all 8 balls, add a little more mixture to each until it is all used up.

Spread them out on a lined baking sheet.

Green tip: To avoid extra waste, try these reusable baking mats! They are great for nonstick and super easy to clean.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until the exterior is crispy. They may start to brown a little bit, but the best way to know if they are ready is by touching the outside (careful, they’re hot!).

If the exterior feels crispy to the touch, you’re ready for the next step!

shaped chickpea meatballs ready for the oven

Simmer in Sauce

Once baked and ready to serve, simmer your meatless meatballs in Marinara or Spaghetti Sauce. This will add moisture and more flavor.

They’re already fully cooked, so they really only need about 5 minutes simmering on low in the sauce. Flip halfway through to coat both sides.

Should You Have Leftovers

If you have leftover meatballs, they will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up 4 days. You can also freeze these for up to 3 months.

The best way to reheat them in the sauce is to simmer over low heat, covered, for about 30 minutes until heated all the way through.

You can also reheat them in the oven in the sauce at 350°F in a baking dish covered with aluminum foil.

Green tip: Did you know that of the billions of pounds of food wasted annually, it is estimated that 50% of it happens in our homes? It’s always best to avoid food waste as much as you can!

Making Meatless Chickpea Meatballs Ahead

I love having a stash of these in my refrigerator or freezer! If you want to make these ahead of time, simply skip the last step of simmering them in the sauce. Keep the baked meatballs in the refrigerator for up to ten days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Then, when you are ready to eat them, brown them in a large saucepan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Once browned, add the Marinara or Spaghetti Sauce, cover, and simmer until both sauce and meatless meatballs are heated all the way through.

plate of spaghetti and chickpea meatballs garnished with basil

Meatless Chickpea Meatballs Frequently Asked Questions



What are meatless meatballs made of?

A variety of different ingredients can be used to replace meat in meatballs. Often, you’ll find soy or whey protein, or different vegetables or pulses in meatless meatballs.

These Meatless Chickpea meatballs use garbanzo beans or chickpeas as the base to a hearty, but meatless meatball.

How do you keep vegan meatballs from falling apart?

In order to bind meatless meatballs together, you can use a flax egg in place of a chicken egg. “flax eggs” are simply flaxseed mixed into water, and they have strong binding properties.

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Why You Should Make these Meatless Chickpea Meatballs



  • They’re hearty. The chickpeas have a great texture and are packed with fiber and nutrients to keep you fyll.
  • They’re flavorful. Between the fresh garlic, spices, and herbs, and baked then simmered in sauce, these are brimming with flavor!
  • They have a lower environmental impact. Meatless meals, especially when using pulses like chickpeas in place of meat, are a sustainable alternative!

Looking for other Meatless Monday family dinner ideas? Try this One-Dish Baked Goat Cheese Pasta or this Tahini Pasta with Toasted Walnuts.

plate of spaghetti and chickpea meatballs garnished with basil

Meatless Chickpea Meatballs in Marinara

5 from 1 vote
Marley Goldin
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With a crispy exterior, meaty-on-the-inside texture, and seasoned to perfection, these Chickpea Meatballs in Marinara are an obvious choice for spaghetti night.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 meatballs

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 15 ounces chickpeas (15 oz usually = 1 can)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese ((or Nutritional Yeast for vegan))
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large egg (or flax egg for vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 24 ounces Marinara (or Spaghetti Sauce)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F and drain and rinse your chickpeas and peel your garlic.
  • Add all your ingredients to a food processor or high powered blender and turn on high until combined.
  • Using 1 heaping tablespoon or a medium cookie scoop worth of mixture at a time, roll the mixture into balls until you have 8 roughly equal-sized balls.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until the exterior is nice and crispy. Then, simmer in marinara sauce for about 5 minutes to add moisture.

Pro Tips

  • Consider reusable baking mats to reduce your plastic waste.
  • You can totally make these ahead of time! Just bake them up, but do not simmer them in the sauce. Freeze for up to 3 months, or store in the refrigerator for up to ten days. Reheat them in the Marinara or Spaghetti sauce when you are ready to serve!
  • Easily make this recipe vegan by substituting a flax egg and Nutritional Yeast for Parmesan.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword 30 Minutes or Less, Easy, Family Dinner, Healthy, Tomato
Did you make this recipe?Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @marleysmenu on Instagram.

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