Simple Lentil Meatballs

These Simple Lentil Meatballs are full of protein and flavor, while looking and tasting like their traditional counterpart. Make ahead and eat them all week!

Simple Lentil Meatballs

I’m not a vegetarian, but funny enough, I don’t eat that much meat on a regular basis. I come from a family/culture that roasts an entire pig on Christmas Eve, I’ve grown up around meat, my dad loves grilling, my boyfriend is big on smoking meat, I’m around it all the time, and I love it! I love cooking and flavoring meat. But if you looked at my lunches and dinners in a span of a month, I would say about 30-40% of my meals contain meat.

The only reasons I can really think of for why I forego meat sometimes are that 1) I’m lazy and don’t feel like dealing with preparing meat (although, this provides a great solution if you’re craving chicken), 2) I’m just not craving it, or 3) I’m out to dinner.

Okay, I’m really paranoid. Here’s why: in college I remember four specific instances that friends of mine got food poisoning from Chipotle, each of them having had chicken. Ever since then (this was years before all of that E. Coli craziness), I stopped ordering chicken in my burrito bowls (I know, I know, it can still happen with salad). It’s something about how they batch cook the meat, I always think that there’s gotta be at least a few pieces that aren’t fully cooked! RIGHT?!

*takes chill pill*

Simple Lentil Meatballs

Because I know that meat is a go-to for many as the protein source in a dish, sometimes I like to experiment. Plus, I know that some of you, my readers, are vegetarians! AND, I straight up do not eat enough vegetables. Yes, I am aware that these meatballs contain zero vegetables, but you know what I mean! Okay, maybe I should say, I don’t eat enough “plants”. Even though I’m made up of 90% mangos, which are plants. So maybe I do. I’M CONFUSED.

Friends, these lentil meatballs are to. die. for. It’s so crazy because they LOOK like regular meatballs, they TASTE like regular meatballs, but THEY’RE LENTILS. Okay, I say all of this, but if you feed these to your meat-loving uncle, he’ll know damn well that it’s not beef. But it’s a pretty darn good substitute, alright?! Alright Uncle Ned?! (I don’t actually have an Uncle Ned)

[Tweet “These Simple Lentil Meatballs would even make Nonna proud”]

Simple Lentil Meatballs

TIP: If using a jarred marinara sauce, pour all of the sauce into your skillet except for the last ~1/4 cup. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white wine to the jar with the remaining sauce, close, and shake to combine. Pour the wine-sauce combo into the skillet with the sauce and meatballs and let the flavors marry.

Simple Lentil Meatballs Simple Lentil Meatballs

Simple Lentil Meatballs

Simple Lentil Meatballs
Recipe Type: dinner
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 25 meatballs
  • 4 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 1/4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Add lentils, eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning, basil, onion, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper to a food processor. Process until completely smooth and no chunks.
  2. Roll meatballs into 1 1/2 inch balls and place onto a baking sheet.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  4. Gently place lentil meatballs onto the skillet side-by-side.
  5. Cook meatballs for about 10 minutes on each side.
  6. Pour marinara sauce into skillet, covering and mixing in with meatballs, cooking for about 5 minutes more.
  7. Serve over spaghetti and top with fresh basil.
You can also bake these instead of cooking in a skillet. Cook for about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Simple Lentil Meatballs Simple Lentil Meatballs Simple Lentil Meatballs


Join the conversation:
If you’re a meat-eater, about how much meat do you think you eat?
Do you feel like you get enough “plants” in?

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Simple Lentil Meatballs




  1. says

    I need to bring lentils back into my life again…I really enjoy eating them during the cooler months. I eat plenty of plants, but I do love my meat, chicken, and fish. I mix it up every week depending on what my body is craving.

  2. says

    Yummmmm!!! I’ve been trying to eat way more vegetarian meals lately, I just don’t like red meat as much as a I used to! these look delicious I love cooking with lentils, a lot of people seem to be using them as an alternative mince source in pasta etc.

  3. says

    You totally would have fooled me with those; they look so good, and I’m kind of the same as you. I like eating meat occasionally, and we do almost every day, but I’m just no a huge lover of eating meat. I love trying vegetarian dishes too, and these look fun. I wonder if I could try them and my family wouldn’t know that they aren’t meat?

  4. Beth says

    I cannot properly say how glad I am that I tried this recipe out. The lentil meatballs came out incredible. In fact, I am not even a vegetarian and I love red meat, so take what I am about to say seriously– I would rather have these than I would a regular meatball. Not only were they easy to make with simple ingredients, they tasted amazing. They held up great as meatballs (instead of falling apart like some other lentil substitutes I have tried in the past). Have bookmarked this recipe and will make again. I’m even going to make this recipe for my meat eating husband who would normally scoff at such a recipe– that’s how much I liked it.

  5. Molly says

    Just made this- it is SO delicious! They stay together well and are super tasty :) Thanks for sharing!


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