Spicy Vegan Italian Meatballs

The BEST Vegan Meatballs made with TVP. They're SUPER meaty, full of spicy Italian flavor, and NOT mushy - our #vegan #meatball dreams come true! #vegetarian #veganmeatballs #plantbased #plantpowercouple // plantpowercouple.com

These vegan meatballs, made with a meaty blend of TVP + seitan, are easy to make, freezer-friendly, and FULL of spicy Italian flavor. Unlike other vegan meatball recipes, these bad boys DO NOT fall apart or turn to mush in your mouth!


Are you ready for the vegan meatball recipe to end all vegan meatball recipes?

One that doesn’t fall apart when you cook it in sauce or turn to mush in your mouth the minute it’s chewed? One that is SO chock-full of flavor that your favorite way to eat them will be straight off the baking sheet?

Well, it just so happens we’re sharing that recipe with you today.

Welcome, friends, to our own personal version of vegan meatball heaven.

The BEST Vegan Meatballs made with TVP. They're SUPER meaty, full of spicy Italian flavor, and NOT mushy - our #vegan #meatball dreams come true! #vegetarian #veganmeatballs #plantbased #plantpowercouple // plantpowercouple.com

If there’s one food T and I both ADORE, it’s meatballs. In the pre-vegan days, T’s favorite Wawa hoagie was always a meatball sub, and I used to inhale bowls of meatballs with sauce and parmesan for dinner as a teenager.

We also have fond family memories surrounding a big bowl of meatballs and spaghetti, and I mean, who doesn’t?! That’s why, for the last 4+ years, we’ve been working on perfecting our own vegan meatball recipe!

In that time, we have faced every major meatball hurdle I can think of. From meatballs falling apart before they even make it into the oven to flavorless balls of mush, we’ve seen (and eaten) it all.

These spicy vegan meatballs we’re sharing with you today are by far our favorite version of the recipe.

What You’ll Need

The base starts with some TVP, or Textured Vegetable Protein, which sounds super technological and weird, but it’s kinda like dried bits of tofu. This gives our vegan meatballs that ground meat, crumbly texture.

Sidenote: If you’re looking for more TVP recipe ideas, check out our homemade vegan burgers or chili!

We also added a bit of vital wheat gluten to help bind them together and produce that subtle, stringy, meat-like consistency that REALLY takes these vegan meatballs to the next level.

If both of these products sound foreign to you, fret not. We find them at many mainstream grocery stores, usually Bob’s Red Mill brand, for a very good price. We mostly order them on Amazon because ordering things in my pajamas will always beat leaving the house. Always.

The BEST Vegan Meatballs made with TVP. They're SUPER meaty, full of spicy Italian flavor, and NOT mushy - our #vegan #meatball dreams come true! #vegetarian #veganmeatballs #plantbased #plantpowercouple // plantpowercouple.com

How to Make Vegan Meatballs

Once you have your ingredients, the rest is fairly easy and, we think, pretty fun!

You’ll chop some onions and garlic, saute them in a generous amount of olive oil, and stir in your spices. We went with a traditional Italian flavor but kicked it up a notch with a hefty amount of both black and red pepper because that’s how we loooove them. 

You can totally lower the heat by adding less of those ingredients though because I know that’s not everyone’s thing. But if it is, you’re gonna LOVE this recipe as-is.

Next, you’ll stir in some dry TVP, water, and a few other ingredients for added flavor. Cover the lid and let that deliciousness simmer. This method is what traps and intensifies all those yummy flavors!

And finally, once all the liquid is absorbed, you’ll stir in a flax egg and your wheat gluten, knead it a few times (just to activate the gluten) and make / bake the vegan meatballs to PERFECTION!

Other vegan Italian recipes:

We have been loving every single batch of these vegan meatballs and really hope you do too. 🙂 

If and when you give this recipe a try, we would so love to hear about it. Leave a comment and rate it below or tag us in your meatball mania photos on Instagram (we’re @theplantpowercouple, with the ‘the’).

And if you want to be sure you never miss a Plant Power Couple recipe, don’t forget to sign up for our email list!

Now, pour yourself a nice glass of Chianti, and get in the kitchen. Enjoy!

Yield: 12 vegan meatballs

Serving Size: 3 vegan meatballs

The BEST Spicy Vegan Italian Meatballs

These vegan meatballs, made with a meaty blend of TVP + seitan, are easy to make, freezer-friendly, and FULL of spicy Italian flavor. Unlike other vegan meatball recipes, these bad boys DO NOT fall apart or turn to mush in your mouth!

15 minPrep Time:

60 minCook Time:

1 hr, 15 Total Time:

Save RecipeSave Recipe

4.9 based on 13 review(s)

Recipe Image

Ingredients

  • 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seed
  • 1 1/4 cup dry TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce*
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten *
  • refined coconut oil, for greasing the baking pan

Instructions

  1. MAKE THE FLAX EGG: In a small bowl, mix together your ground flaxseed and set this aside to thicken.
  2. SAUTE THE VEG: Add the olive oil to your wok (or use a large deep saute pan) and turn the heat to medium high. Add the minced onions and garlic, stir. Then, add the chili powder, black pepper, cumin, and ground fennel. Stir again until everything is well-coated and continue sauteing for 3-5 minutes.
  3. REHYDRATE THE TVP: Next, add your TVP, water, Italian seasoning, red pepper, and soy sauce. Stir once more, turn heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the TVP is tender and meaty. Remove from heat and let it cool a bit before you start forming your meatballs. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350F and liberally grease a large baking pan with refined coconut oil.
  4. Once the meatball mixture is cooled enough to touch, stir in the flax egg, nutritional yeast, and wheat gluten until well-combined. Then, get in there with your hands and knead it for a minute, just to activate the gluten.
  5. MAKE THE MEATBALLS: Take a scant 1/4 cup of the mixture into clean dry hands and form into a ball. Before placing each meatball onto the greased baking sheet, squeeze it a bit with your hands to make sure it's nice and compact. Bake the meatballs at 350F for 20 minutes. Then, flip them and bake another 20 minutes.
  6. PREPARE THE MEATBALLS: Let the meatballs to cool for at least 10 minutes. From there, we like to heat them up in our favorite marinara sauce and serve them over a mountain of spaghetti.
  7. TO STORE: Let the meatballs cool completely, then store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week or the freezer for 2 months.

Notes

* To make this recipe gluten-free, replace the soy sauce with tamari and the vital wheat gluten with all-purpose gluten-free flour. The texture will be a little different (less "meaty"), but they're still delicious!

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The BEST Vegan Meatballs made with TVP. They're SUPER meaty, full of spicy Italian flavor, and NOT mushy - our #vegan #meatball dreams come true! #vegetarian #veganmeatballs #plantbased #plantpowercouple

35 thoughts on “Spicy Vegan Italian Meatballs

  1. Made these tonight because my 3yr old keeps asking for spaghetti and meatballs. Every vegan meatball I’ve tried has not passed the test...until now. She devoured these! And very easy to make also! Thank you for the recipe!!
  2. This was my third attempt at meatballs with three different recipes. I was still not successful with making a meatball but I got an incredibly delicious meat for spaghetti with marinara. I probably need pictures of what the TVP should look like since I have never worked with it. But again the flavor of this recipe is incredible.
    1. Hi, Susie! I love how you adapted the recipe for a meaty marinara. We actually do this a lot, and it's sooo good! :) You may want to watch the video above to see what the TVP looks like at different stages of the cooking process. We use Bob's Red Mill brand, and it looks like a ground meat texture. They do sell TVP in larger chunks though, so beware of that. Hope this helps!
    1. Hey, Franca! You can sub chickpea flour for the wheat gluten (or another flour like whole wheat, all-purpose, etc.). It will have a slightly less meaty texture but will still be delicious. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try! :)
  3. I made these tonight and they were great! I’m wondering if the leftovers need to be refrigerated or can be left out in a sealed container. I don’t want them losing their outer crust in the fridge unnecessarily. Thanks!
    1. Hi, Kendra! So awesome that you enjoyed the meatballs; they're a staple in our house. :) I'd store 'em in the fridge just in case (not that I'm a food safety expert at all). But either way, you should be fine reheating them in the oven or air fryer!
  4. I rarely comment on blog posts but I really need to thank you. I'm no newbie to vegan from-scratch cooking which I say, not to brag but to tell you I'm not easily impressed. These meatballs are THE BEST vegan thing I've ever made (that chicken bouillon is no slouch either!). I discovered this recipe about 6 weeks ago and am cooking them as I type, for the 4th or 5th time. Now that I've got the spices just right for my family (for me, actually) I want to make about a hundred of them and freeze them. Thank you so much for this recipe and for food of this type: meaty and from scratch.
  5. "The Best" is an understatement! These are Amazing! I always make at least a double batch with the idea of freezing some, but they never make it to the freezer! They are even good cold at midnight :)! I make this recipe exactly as it's written, but I have made it into a "meatloaf" several times and it slices without falling apart. This is one of my favorite recipes of yours and it's really hard to pick a favorite, there are so many good ones!
    1. Oh wow, thank you for your kind words, Chelle! :) I'm SO happy to hear how much you're enjoying the meatballs, and I can also attest to their deliciousness out of the fridge at midnight, haha! LOVE the idea of using it for a meatloaf; we are totally going to try that. Thanks so much!
  6. I have made these twice already and both times turned out excellent. These are my go-to meatballs now!
  7. I make a lot of recipes from the internet and I never leave a comment, but I had to comment on this. I’ve made this recipe around four times now and it is THE BEST vegan meatball recipe. I will never search for another recipe. Thank you so much!
  8. I'm not a vegan (yet), but I am trying to reduce animal product consumption as much as possible, so for the past few months I've been cooking more and more with TVP. I have to say that these meatballs are outstanding and definitely replacing the "real" thing in my recipe notebook! Approved by both me and my (also not vegan) partner!
  9. I made these today for vegan meatball subs (along with some homemade French bread), and they were perfect! It's the only vegan meatball sandwich I've ever made that didn't fall completely apart by the third bite. I'll definitely make these again!
  10. Oh I’m so excited to try these! I have all the ingredients and corona has made getting my usual gardein’s harder to come by! The reviews on your site are making me thing tomorrow is spaghetti night!!!
  11. Wow! These were a big hit! So easy to make and with great flavor and texture. I made meatball parmigiana sandwiches with these beauties for my daughter and her boyfriend, who is vegan. Thanks for another great recipe!

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