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Lentil Meatball Recipe - amazingly delicious, healthy & vegan!

Updated on August 17, 2011
Crisp on the outside, pillowy and savory on the inside. Trust me, they taste better than they look!
Crisp on the outside, pillowy and savory on the inside. Trust me, they taste better than they look!

I just made some vegan meatballs that were really, really amazing (so good I could have gobbled them all up if my stomach had the room) and there were really not that difficult to make. I would even guess that some of the meat-eating persuasion might like these, too...(heresy!)

Please note that while I'm sharing my recipe below, I suspect you can make a lot of alterations (like the salsa type and spices) and it will still turn out wonderful, so consider the recipe below a starting point.

These also use very inexpensive ingredients, so if you're looking for a way to make nutritious, healthy, but low-cost meal items, give these a shot! (See my nutrition-enhancing and cooking tips at the bottom of this Hub)

Makes about 24 meatballs.


  • 1 lb dried lentils (I used green lentils)
  • 1/3 cup chunky salsa
  • 2 tbsp guar gum, corn starch, or even regular flour (binder)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

I want to emphasize again that the salsa, binder, and seasoning choices are entirely up to you.

  1. Cook the lentils in plenty of water, for about 30 minutes, until they just start falling apart in the cooking water. Drain and rinse well with cold water until the lentils are warm (not hot) and not soggy.
  2. Add the salsa, binder, seasonings, and oil.
  3. Mix all very well together until you have a paste-like texture.You don't have to grind it altogether, but it's OK if some of the lentils fall apart.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400F (200C).
  5. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  6. Scoop 2 tbsp of the mixture and roll it into your hands into a ball. Place on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake the meatballs for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until they start to brown.

Nutritional Information

Total recipe
Per Meatball
Dietary Fiber
Saturated Fat
Assuming using chunky corn salsa, guar gum, and 1 tsp salt total, and 24 resulting meatballs.

How to enhance the nutritional value of your lentil meatballs

  • Soak your lentils first. It's a bit time-consuming, but easy. Soaking your lentils in warm water for 24 hours will remove 93% of the trypsin (a protease inhibitor, or naturally-occurring enzyme that interferes with protein digestion) and much of the phytic acid (phytate; another naturally-occurring compound which interferes with mineral absorption). Be sure to rinse and cook in fresh water after soaking. Added bonus: your lentils will cook very quickly, usually within about 10 minutes.
  • Consider using guar gum as the binder. You can use flour or cornstarch as the binder, but also consider guar gum. It's 100% natural, and instead of adding starch, you'll be adding a lot of soluble fiber, which can help with GI regularity and with lowering serum cholesterol levels. It's fairly inexpensive, too.
  • Add turmeric. In addition to giving your meatballs a nice golden color, turmeric is rich in curcumin, which studies show is a powerful anti-inflammatory.


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    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Look tantalizing! I have enough lentils here to feed an army so will try these little salsa balls out soon! Voted you up and tweeted you! Thanks for the recipe!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for the info and recipe--a great starting point! Looking forward to trying out these lentil meatballs.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi bashmacs - soaking does nothing to add to or reduce the protein content.

    • profile image

      bashmacs 5 years ago

      Hi there, thanks for your recipe, this looks great and appreciate the nutritional information.

      I have a question for you if you could clarify: does the amount of protein per meatball specified in the nutritional info assume that you have already soaked the lentils for 24 hours? Or will there be additional protein per meatball beyond 4g if you soak?

    • Ruby Glasser profile image

      Ruby Glasser 6 years ago from Wyoming

      I like your attention to detail while allowing for common sense flexibility. This is my kind of recipe. thanks

    • CapstoneTrends profile image

      CapstoneTrends 6 years ago from Outside Boston, Massachusetts, USA

      I will be making these! YUM! and Thanks...

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Yes, they're a great and inexpensive way to introduce fiber and high-quality protein to a meal. I *love* dahl. Hope you like the recipe!

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      I convinced my son and daughter-in-law to start eating lentils, and though we started by adding them to chili with hamburger, they will now eat them in a variety of East Indian dishes, including Dahl (lentil) Soup, without seeming to realize it is a vegetarian dish. They love salsa, so I am going to try this one for them too!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Peggy, I do serve them with sauce, usually a marinara. And they do serve nicely on top of pasta, too. I've put them on top of a nice pile of pappardelle and it was delicious! Thank you for your comment. :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Do you eat them just as they are or do you serve them with a sauce of some type...I'm thinking spaghetti? I once made a lentil spaghetti recipe that we loved. Will bookmark this and have to give these a try sometime. Have never used guar gum but you have given good reasons to purchase it and use it in place of cornstarch. Thanks for this recipe!

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is a great alternative to meat dishes. I love I have to go out and buy some green lentils! Thanks!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you, tebo, TheListLady, and Hollie!

    • Hollie Thomas profile image

      Hollie Thomas 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      They sound really tasty and very unusual. I'm going to give them a try. Bookmarked.

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      Well this sounds great - and I love lentils and appreciate the health benefits - and you can't go wrong with turmeric.

      Thanks for such a well-done informative hub!

      Rated up of course!

    • profile image

      tebo 6 years ago

      They sound nice. I didn't know that soaking lentils was a good idea. I cook lentils often because they don't need soaking so can make them last minute, however I will try to soak from now on. Will bookmark.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Cardisa: Good idea...hadn't thought of cocktail meatballs. But, yes, there are substantial variations around the way you spice them.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      I like the fact that you baked them! I suppose you could change around the spices, make them smaller and you have a cocktail snack or party snack on your hands. I love lentils so will have no problem finding this dish delicious.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      Well, I'm bookmarking it - I'll let you know when I make them!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Just had them for lunch (reheated) - they really do taste divine! Thanks for the comment, Lily Rose. :)

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      You're right, they're certainly not the prettiest, but they do sound yummy!