Meatless Meatballs Recipe: Surprisingly Realistic Mock Meat


Sami Grover Photo
Sami Grover

As an ex-vegetarian, I still have a fondness for fake meats. From homemade tempeh to tofu to Quorn, I find them a satisfying substitute when I am craving a little protein.

But "fake meat" is perhaps slightly misleading—as, with the possible exception of quorn as a substitute for white-meat chicken, they rarely taste or feel much like the real thing. But this homemade recipe creates a surprisingly juicy, textured meatball. I've actually had sworn carnivores look at me sideways when I tell them its vegetarian.


eggs, slightly beaten
envelope of dried onion soup mix (in an effort to cut back on processed foods, I have tried using dried onions and herbs instead, but the result was disappointing...)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese - we've heard smoked gouda is good too
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
Some vegetarian broth


  1. Grate the cheddar into a food processor, then remove into a bowl. Add the walnuts and breadcrumbs to the food processor and chop finely. Now add the cheese back into the mix, along with the powdered onion soup and the eggs, and mix thoroughly. Transfer the whole lot into the fridge for about half an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, warm the oven up to 350F. Once the mix has chilled thoroughly, remove it from the fridge, and roll it into small balls, about ¾ of an inch across. Place each one on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until browned.
  3. At this point you can take the baking sheet out of the oven and freeze or refrigerate some of the balls for later use, or you can add them to a spaghetti sauce and cook for about 30 hour. Alternatively, you can follow the recipe and place the balls at the bottom of a casserole dish, and then pour over enough veggie broth so they are about half-way covered. Put a lid on the pan and then bake for a further hour - the balls will soak up the broth, giving them a moist, juicy texture very similar to the real thing.
  4. These can be served with a marinara dipping sauce, or a sour cream dill sauce, or however you like to eat meatballs.

    A note on sources: This is one of those recipes that has been hanging around in our kitchen for a few years. I know I found it and adapted it from the internet, but I can't remember my source. If anyone knows where this originates, I'd love to give credit where credit is due.

This recipe appears in: Beef

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