Healthy Vegetarian Lentil-Walnut Meatballs

These healthy Lentil-Walnut Vegetarian Meatballs are the perfect meat-free meal. Serve them with spaghetti and your favorite tomato sauce for a hearty main.

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vegetarian meatballs, pasta, and sauce in baking dish

Hiiii! I’ve got ANOTHER veg main for you all today (BOOYAHH – take THAT New Year’s resolution). I’ve been spending a lot of my free time this month cooking up homemade meals (hellooo, irresistible chili and addictive tacos), listening to inspirational podcasts while getting my steps in (gotta please that Fitbit), and snuggling under the covers on the couch with my boxer pup and a feel-good novel. What have you been up to to curb the winter blues?

Since I read really embarrassing culinary mystery novels (did I just admit that???), let’s change the subject and talk about all the inspiration podcasts I’ve been digging lately. Here are five of my new (and old) favorites:

Making Oprah – I binged this podcast! It’s only 3 episodes but each episode is over an hour long and 100% worth the listen. To be honest, I was never an Oprah fan growing up (my mother is a working mom so she wasn’t home when it was on during the day) but Oprah’s story of how she went from being an unknown overweight black woman to the first black woman to become a billionaire (!!) is truly remarkable.

Dear Sugar – If you haven’t heard of this show before, two famous writers read listener’s questions out loud and then talk through solutions. At times dark, hilarious, and always enlightening, this podcast is my go-to when I want feel like I’m sitting next to friends while enjoying a deep conversation.

One Part Podcast – Jessica feels like that cool friend who is always introducing you to even cooler people every time you hang out. She interviews (mostly) woman doing amazing things in the world of food, fashion, music, and wellness.

Don’t Keep Your Day Job – This one is still new (only two episodes in) but I’ve been loving it so far. I think I just really have a soft spot for strong woman doing what they love and telling other people to do the same.

The Food Blogger Pro podcast – A must for all food bloggers out there. Every time I listen to an episode, I learn something new about the field that I didn’t know anything about or have any idea on how to implement.

What are some of your favorite “pick-me-podcasts?” I’ve been going through like 3 episodes a day so I’m always on the hunt for news ones!

And now that we’ve cured the winter blues (or any type of blues you may have right now since… it’s a weird world out there right now), time to talk about this healthy lentil-walnut vegetarian meatballs recipe! In addition to giving you an excuse to eat all the carb-y pasta for dinner, what I love about this recipe is that it’s not only packed full of protein-rich lentils and walnuts but also stuffed to the brim with vegetables! What more could you possibly want?

rolling vegetarian meatballs to place in baking dish

What’s Needed for Vegetarian Meatballs?

You don’t need many ingredients to make these easy walnut meatballs. Here’s what goes into the meatless meatballs:

  • Lentils
  • Olive oil
  • Red onion
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Dried oregano
  • Tomato paste
  • Egg
  • Parmesan
  • Chopped walnuts
  • Breadcrumbs

How to Make Vegetarian Meatballs

These walnut-lentil meatballs are much easier to make than you’d think! Here are the basic steps:

  1. Cook the lentils until soft but not falling apart, then remove from heat and drain. Let cool.
  2. Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in some olive oil and let cook until they begin to brown.
  3. Add in the garlic, oregano, and a little bit of salt, followed by the tomato paste.
  4. Remove from heat and add in walnuts and cooled lentils. Fold in Parmesan, egg, and breadcrumbs.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  6. Roll the mixture into balls and place on greased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the batter.
  7. Bake until the meatballs start to brown on top.
vegetarian meatballs and pasta in baking dish

Can I Prep These in Advance?

Yes! If needed, these lentil-walnut vegetarian meatballs can be partially prepared the day before. Just follow the steps until you refrigerate and refrigerate overnight instead of just 15 minutes. Follow the rest of the recipe as directed right before serving.

Tips for Making Meatless Meatballs

I ate these walnut balls as a main course, so I rolled them into gold ball-sized balls. If you’ll be serving them as an appetizer, make the veggie meatballs smaller.

If you’re vegetarian, be sure to look for vegetarian Parmesan at your grocery store. Not all Parm is 100% vegetarian, so read the labels closely.

I’ve never tried freezing these vegetarian meatballs before, but I bet you could totally freeze them once they’ve been baked. If you give this a try, leave me a comment!

Want More Vegetarian Italian Recipes?

5 from 1 vote
Lentil-Walnut Vegetarian Meatballs

These Lentil-Walnut Vegetarian Meatballs are the perfect meatless meal. Serve them with spaghetti and your favorite tomato sauce for a hearty main.

Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: meatballs
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 208 kcal
Author: Shelly Westerhausen
  • 1 cups lentils
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large red onion , diced small
  • 1 celery sticks , chopped small
  • 2 carrots , chopped small
  • 1 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large egg , lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with 6 cups of water. Let the water come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft but not falling apart. Remove from heat and drain. Let cool.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and let cook for about 10 minutes (or until they begin to brown). Next, add in the garlic, oregano, and a little bit of salt. Let cook for another minute. Add tomato paste, stir, and cook for 3 more minutes.

  3. Remove from heat and add in walnuts and cooled lentils. Fold in Parmesan, egg, and breadcrumbs.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease a 9x13-inch pan. Using clean hands, roll the mixture into golf ball size balls and place on greased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the batter.

  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs start to brown on top.
  7. Serve with your favorite pasta and sauce.
Recipe Notes
  • Make the meatless meatballs smaller if you want to use them as appetizers.
Nutrition Facts
Lentil-Walnut Vegetarian Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 208 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 22mg7%
Sodium 155mg7%
Potassium 383mg11%
Carbohydrates 23g8%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 2695IU54%
Vitamin C 3.6mg4%
Calcium 83mg8%
Iron 2.6mg14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • Jessica Murnane
    January 24, 2017

    THANK YOU so much for including One Part Podcast in this roundup! I loved Making Oprah too. SO GOOD! Also, so good. This dish looks ridiculously good. Might be making this tonight.

    Love, JM

  • Considering The Radish
    January 24, 2017

    If you haven’t listened to Radio Cherry Bombe, I’d highly recommend it. It’s all about badass women (mostly in food) doing their thing. And Radiolab has been around for so long I feel strange recommending it, but every time I listen to it I’m blown away again.

    These lentil balls look so good. I’m in need of some cozy right now, and could absolutely do with a big plate of these.

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker
    January 24, 2017

    I still haven’t made lentil meatballs (whyyyy not?!) and I think your recipe is going to push me to do it! I second the Food Blogger Pro podcast and One Part Plant, they are two of my favs! Right now, I’m more into dark-mystery type podcasts, but Throwing Shade is a favorite (current events) and Being Boss is always helpful (boss babes doing it right!).

  • Sara @ Cake Over Steak
    January 24, 2017

    I LOVED the Making Oprah podcast. It was so freaaaakking good. I’m excited about these Lentil balls. I recently made the meatless meatballs from Molly Yeh’s book and loved them, so this sounds like a slightly different version I need to try.

  • Raechel
    January 24, 2017

    Can these be made ahead and frozen? Bake first and freeze or freeze before baking?

  • Poppy Fields
    January 30, 2017

    These look wonderful-I shall try them this week. May I mention in a gentle way that to be vegetarian please don’t use Parmesan as it is made with the traditional source of rennet being the stomach of slaughtered newly-born calves -so cruel. There are many sharp cheeses nowadays made with vegetarian enzymes that are truly yum.

    • Shellywest
      Poppy Fields
      January 30, 2017

      Thanks for stopping by! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have no trouble at all finding vegetarian Parmesan in my small town so I’d imagine most people have access to it. My favorite and what I used here is Organic Valley’s Shredded Parmesan.

  • CRÈME BRÛLÉE LONDON FOG - Wholehearted Eats
    January 31, 2017

    […] my hand at making Izy’s bagels, dreaming of Sherrie’s chocolate mousse, Shelly’s Walnut Meatballs, and Sophie’s take on Joy’s Sweet Potato Coconut […]

  • Marieke
    March 23, 2017

    That looks great!
    I recently started cooking more vegetarian. I think I’m gonna make this soon 😀
    I wanted to eat healthier and we eat vegetarian a couple of times a week now, and I really enjoy it!
    I also started my own food blog, which will include also veggie dishes 🙂
    Love your blog by the way!

  • Katie
    April 17, 2018

    I just made these last night since I had some already cooked lentils to use up – loved them! And they reheated well today for lunch – the perfect cozy meal for this second winter we are having in Michigan.

  • Sonia
    January 6, 2019

    Is this a recipe you can prepare in advance and refrigerate until your ready to cook? Or can the meatballs be baked, refrigerated and reheated when needed?

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