Vegetarian Meatballs (Spanish-Style)

in a smokey sofrito sauce.

A large pan of vegetarian meatballs sits garnished with cherry tomatoes and thin slices of red onion

Vegetarian meatballs are the perfect meal option for meatless Monday and come packed with flavor and goodness. Combine them with a smokey tomato-based sofrito sauce and you’ve got a match made in heaven! Serve them straight out of the pan with a few chunks of fresh bread and you’ve got a quick and easy veggie meal. 

This recipe takes around an hour to make from scratch, although the sauce and/or meatballs can easily be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer. Our vegetarian meatballs recipe makes around 10 large balls or 20 smaller balls.

Serves 4 people.

Easy Recipe | Tapas Recipe | Main Meal Recipe | Vegan | Vegetarian | Mediterranean | Summer Recipe | Healthy Recipe | Spanish Albondigas

Serving:

Main for 4 people

Ready in:

1 hr, 7 mins

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Fresh bread

ingredients to make vegetarian meatballs

Easy ingredients for vegetarian meatballs

Makes 10-20 meatballs (serves 4)

 

For the meatless meatballs

  • 500g/17oz. Plant-based mince meat
  • 1 small white onion, diced fine
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • Half a cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
  • 2 egg yolks

Sofrito sauce ingredients

  • 6 Roma tomatoes (around 500g/17oz.)
  • 1 jar of roasted bell peppers (200g/7oz.)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large white onion
  • A handful of parsley
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 4-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

          Equipment needed

          • 1 large 12-inch (30cm) frying pan (and lid) with deep sides around 2-3 inches. 
          • 1 large mixing bowl
          A large pan of vegetarian meatballs sits garnished with cherry tomatoes and thin slices of red onion

          The rise of meatless meatballs

          These days, there’s something of a plant-based surge in awareness, and whether you’re doing it for dietary reasons, for ethical concerns, or simply for the good of the planet, we’re glad you’re here and have made the decision to go meatless! 

          When it comes to meatballs, ‘vegetarian’ doesn’t immediately come to mind. We feel that finding new and imaginative ways to embrace classic ‘meat-focused’ recipes is a step in the right direction, and this recipe is a perfect example of how easy it is to find a vegetarian (or even vegan if you omit the egg yolk and using vegan-friendly breadcrumbs) recipe substitute without sacrificing the delicious flavors of the meal. 

          This Spanish-style vegetarian meatball recipe is not only quick and easy to make, but it also tastes incredible, and in all honesty, this is now our go-to meatball recipe (over the meat version which we have a traditional albondigas recipe here).

          Why switch to meatless?

          Switching to meatless is a great way for many to make sure that the moral compass is leading in the right direction while also looking after mother nature! But, even more good news, you’re also helping yourself to better health! 

          This veggie meatball recipe uses store-bought plant-based minced meat that was easy to find in our local supermarket. We’ve tried this mince a few times before so we knew what to expect. 

          As store-bought veggie mince is a processed food, some brands have quite a lot of salt and sugar added, which isn’t great but it’s fine as there’s no need to add any sugars or salt to the recipe when making the meatballs

          We’ve done a little research, and found that most branded plant-based meatless products have a quite varied amount of added salt and sugar so it’s best to check the label so you know what you’re working with and adjust the recipe accordingly. 

          For this recipe, we added no extra salt or sugar to make the actual meatballs.

          some freshly made vegetarian meatballs sit ona plate waiting to be cooked

          Plant-based Mince meat – Nutrition facts

          Despite the processed nature of the store-bought plant-based mince, it has some pretty impressive nutritional facts, especially when compared to minced beef or pork. 

          Here are a few nutrition facts for some leading plant-based vegan meat products compared with minced beef and pork. 

          Nutritional Component

          (Per 100g serving)

          Next Level mince (LIDL supermarket- Europe) Beyond Meat  Vegan ground beefGround beef 80% lean meat / 20% fatGround pork mince
          Calories236kcal239kcal280kcal263.6kcal
          Total Fat14.5g 17g22g21.3g
          Saturated fat9.4g 5.7g8g7.9g
          Cholesterol0080mg72mg
          Total Carbs4.9g4.8g00
          Sugar1.8g000
          Dietary Fiber5.9g2.1g00
          Protein18.5g15g19g16.9
          Salt165mg75mg75mg56mg
          Nutritinal facts cpomparison table for meatless mince 'vs' beef mince and pork mince
          a frying pan with some vegetarian meatballs

          Do meatless meatballs taste better (or worse)?

          The big question is how do meatless meatballs taste? And, more importantly, is there any noticeable sacrifice in flavor compared to beef or pork meatballs? 

          In our opinion, we actually prefer meatless meatballs

          The taste test

          Meatless Veggie meatballs have less fat but still manage to hold onto the flavor compared to the normal beef or pork meatballs. When we cooked the veggie meatballs they were a little softer at first, but browned well once fried and all but one held together perfectly. 

          The veggie meatballs also held up perfectly and stayed intact once simmered in the sofrito sauce. They also managed to have a great texture that’s comparable to the meat varieties. 

          Vegan meatballs

          Veggie meatballs can be easily made vegan by omitting the egg yolk and using vegan-friendly breadcrumbs. The trick when making vegan meatballs is stopping them from crumbling while being cooked so it’s important to experiment with plant-based thickening agents such as mashed banana, ground flax seeds, or chia seeds.

          Meatless meatballs meal options;

          • Small meatless meatballs around an inch are ideal when served as a side dish or tapas. They make great finger food, especially with a few dipping sauces like smokey BBQ, Romesco sauce, green mojo or mojo picon, or even ranch dressing. 
          • Meatless meatballs are fantastic in wraps, sandwiches, or made into a tasty sub loaded with fresh salad and topped with your favorite sauce. 
          • Meatless meatballs slowly simmered in a curry sauce are incredible, especially with some basmati rice and topped with pickled radish.
          A large pan of vegetarian meatballs sits garnished with cherry tomatoes and thin slices of red onion

          Spanish-Style Vegetarian Meatballs with a smokey sofrito sauce.

          Byron
          These delicious vegetarian meatballs are the perfect meal option for meatless Monday and come packed with flavor and goodness. Combine them with a smokey tomato-based sofrito sauce and you’ve got a match made in heaven! Serve them straight out of the pan with a few chunks of fresh bread and you’ve got a quick and easy veggie meal.
          5 from 3 votes
          Prep Time 20 mins
          Cook Time 47 mins
          Total Time 1 hr 7 mins
          Course dinner, Main Course, tapas
          Cuisine American, Mediterranean, spanish, vegetarian
          Servings 4 people (Main)
          Calories 513 kcal

          Equipment

          • 1 large 12-inch (30cm) frying pan (and lid) with deep sides around 2-3 inches.
          • 1 large mixing bowl

          Ingredients
            

          For the meatless meatballs

          • 500 g/17oz. Plant-based mince meat
          • 1 small white onion diced fine
          • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
          • Half a cup of chopped fresh parsley
          • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
          • ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper
          • 2 egg yolks

          Sofrito sauce ingredients

          • 6 Roma tomatoes around 500g/17oz.
          • 1 jar of roasted bell peppers 200g/7oz.
          • 4 cloves of garlic
          • 1 large white onion
          • A handful of parsley
          • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
          • 4-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
          • Salt and pepper for seasoning
          • 3 bay leaves (optional)

          Instructions
           

          Step 1 - Prepare the meatless meatballs

          • Add all meatball ingredients (except the frying oil) into a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Press and squish the mixture well to help it firm up (this helps keep the meatballs together when cooking). Note: be sure to check the salt content of your vegetarian mince and add/omit salt according to taste.
            500 g/17oz. Plant-based mince meat, 1 small white onion, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, Half a cup of chopped fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper, 2 egg yolks
            vegetarian meatballs ingredients in a bowl
          • Take around a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and roll it gently in the palm of your hands until you’ve got a small smooth ball. This recipe makes around 20 1.5-inch balls. Set aside on a plate and repeat steps until no mixture remains.
            some freshly made vegetarian meatballs sit ona plate waiting to be cooked
          • Next, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a frying pan. Once hot add the meatballs and fry for 6-7 minutes or until they are evenly browned. Turn the meatballs frequently to ensure they are cooked evenly. Remove from the frying pan and set aside for use later.
            4-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
            a frying pan with some vegetarian meatballs

          Step 2 - Prepare sofrito sauce

          • Grate the Roma tomatoes and discard the skin and add the tomato pulp and juice to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and add to the pan with the jar of diced roasted bell peppers. Add some olive oil and mix well. Reduce heat to medium and saute for 15-20 minutes.
            6 Roma tomatoes, 1 jar of roasted bell peppers, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 large white onion, 4-5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
            some tomato and red onion fry in a saucepan
          • Next, add the chopped parsley, smoked paprika, and season to taste. Mix well and let simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
            A handful of parsley, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, Salt and pepper for seasoning, 3 bay leaves
            spices added to. sofrito sauce on a stovetop

          Step 3 - Add albondigas to the sauce

          • Arrange the fried meatballs into the sauce around the frying pan. Add a few bunches of cherry tomatoes, 2 sticks of rosemary, and season to taste with a little salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for around 15 minutes.
            a large sauce pan is filled with a tomato. sofrito sauce and veggie meatballs

          Step 4 - Serve

          • Remove from the heat and allow the pan to cool for 3-4 minutes before serving.
            A large pan of vegetarian meatballs sits garnished with cherry tomatoes and thin slices of red onion
          • Serve straight from the pan with a few chunks of fresh bread (optional).
            A large pan of vegetarian meatballs sits garnished with cherry tomatoes and thin slices of red onion

          Video

          Nutrition

          Serving: 180gCalories: 513kcalCarbohydrates: 36.3gProtein: 32.4gFat: 28.3gSaturated Fat: 3.2gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 880mgPotassium: 553mgFiber: 5.2gSugar: 8.4gCalcium: 275mgIron: 3mg
          Keyword Easy Dinner ideas, easy recipe, meatballs, sofrito, sofrito sauce, tomatoes, vegetarian
          Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

          Spanish-Style Vegetarian Meatballs- Cooking Tips and FAQs

           

          How long do veggie meatballs take to make?

          • Prepare the veggie meatballs: 10 minutes
          • Cook the veggie meatballs: 6-7 minutes
          • Prepare Sofrito sauce: 10 minutes
          • Cook sofrito sauce: 25-30 minutes
          • Simmer sauce and meatballs: 15 minutes
          • Total time: 1 hour, 12 minutes.

          Are vegetarian meatballs healthier than traditional beef or pork mince meatballs?

          This depends on the brand of plant-based mince you use to make the meatballs. 

          • Some brands add extra salt and flavoring that can exceed the amount found in traditional beef or pork meatballs. 
          • Protein is comparable between meat and meatless meatballs. 
          • Fats and saturated fats are typically lower in meatless meatballs. 

          How long do veggie meatballs last in the fridge?

          Veggie meatballs will last 2 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

          Can vegetarian meatballs be frozen?

          Store pre-cooked meatballs in a single layer in an airtight container in the freezer. Meatless meatballs will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

          Do you thaw frozen meatless meatballs before cooking?

          To ensure that your meatless meatballs cook through, it is best to thaw them in the fridge overnight before cooking. Once thawed, meatless meatballs take around 7 minutes to shallow fry with a little olive oil. 

          How do you cook frozen meatless meatballs in sauce?

          • Meatless meatballs can be cooked from frozen without thawing, although it’s always better to shallow fry them first to stop them crumbling while simmering in the sauce. 
          • Next, simply heat the sauce on a stovetop, and once the sauce is simmering, add the frozen meatballs and cover with a lid. 
          • As the meatballs are frozen, they may take a little longer to cook through (allow 20 minutes on medium heat when covered in sauce). 

          Can you cook vegetarian meatballs in the oven?

          Yep, you sure can! Place your veggie meatballs on some parchment/baking paper on an oven tray and bake for around 15-20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven at 180°C/350°F. Once they have baked, they will firm up and can be added to any sauce or used in a sub or sandwich.

          Looking for more easy vegetarian recipes?

          A large white casserole dish sits on a white marble counter with a rich red Mediterranean Eggplant casserole with chickpeas and tomato

          Mediterranean Eggplant Casserole

          with Chickpeas and Tomato

          A large platter of Mediterranean Tomato Salad sits drizzled with homemade pesto dressing and some flakes of Machego cheese

          Mediterranean Tomato Salad

          with Manchego and homemade pesto 

          oven baked beetroot falafels are laid out on a bed of salad greens in a wrap

          Easy Baked Beetroot Falafel Recipe

          Vegan | Gluten-Free | Made in 40 minutes

          A large pan of vegetarian meatballs sits garnished with cherry tomatoes and thin slices of red onion

          Have you made this recipe?

          tag @thespanishradish or scan the nametag

          and don’t forget to hashtag it #thespanishradish

          👇👇👇  SCAN ME 👇👇👇

          Spanish radish nametag for instagram

          Our Blog

          Canarian Mojo Sauce Recipe (Mojo verde, rojo, picon)

          Canarian Mojo Sauce Recipe (Mojo verde, rojo, picon)

          Canarian Mojo Sauce Recipe (mojo verde, mojo rojo, mojo picon) Mojo sauce has to be one of the most versatile sauces. It’s a classic Canary Islands sauce that’s made either green, red, or as a spicy picon. Mojo is most commonly served in Spain...

          Tapas Valencia Walking Tour (Self-Guided, Free Map)

          Tapas Valencia Walking Tour (Self-Guided, Free Map)

          Tapas Valencia Walking Tour Self-guided | 2 Free Route Maps facebooktwitterinstagrampinterestyoutubeExplore the riches of Valencian tapas like a local with our free tapas Valencia walking tour, complete with all the info you need to show you the...

          Mediterranean Chickpea Fritters (with Romesco Dipping Sauce)

          Mediterranean Chickpea Fritters (with Romesco Dipping Sauce)

          Mediterranean Chickpea Fritters (with a Smokey Romesco Dipping Sauce)facebooktwitterinstagrampinterestyoutube When it comes to easy-to-make tapas recipes, you can’t go past chickpea fritters with a tasty romesco dipping sauce. This fantastic...

          We're social!

          Reach out and say hi!