Vegan Eggplant Meatballs Recipe

These eggplant meatballs are oil-free, low in fat, and packed with plant-protein! A hearty and savory flavor-explosion perfect to impress a crowd

Yields: 10 – 12


1 chia egg (1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water)
1 1/3 cups white onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced small (about 1/3 cup, optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 unpeeled Italian eggplants, diced into about 1/2-1″ cubes (about 10.5-11 cups diced)*
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/3 cup parsley, chopped and loosely packed
1/4 cup tempeh bacon (homemade or storebought such as Light Life)*
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional but recommended)
1/4–1/3 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2–3/4 cups vegetable broth, as needed

To serve
Spaghetti noodles
Marinara of choice (or a raw vegan marinara)


  1. Prepare the chia egg by mixing the chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water together in a small bowl, and set aside for about 15 minutes to thicken.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F on convection* (or 400°F conventional). Line 2-3 large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In the meantime, in a medium pan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of additional water. Once heated, add in the onions, garlic, and celery, and cook until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes (adding more water as needed to prevent burning). Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. In the same pan, add another 3-4 tablespoons of water along with the diced eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until it is soft and had reduced by about 1/2, which will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Be sure to add more water as needed to prevent burning.
  5. Once cooked, transfer the eggplant to the large bowl along with the garbanzo beans. Mix until everything is uniform.
  6. In a food processor, transfer about 1/2 of the mixture from the large bowl and pulse until chopped and uniform, but NOT pureed. Transfer this mixture to another bowl (just for the time being) and then process the remaining mixture.
  7. Add everything back into the large bowl and add in the remaining ingredients along with the chia egg.  Adjust salt and to taste.
  8. Using a cookie scooper (about 1 1/2 tablespoons large), form the meatballs and transfer them to the lined baking sheet. We yielded 34 meatballs that were about 1-inch in diameter.
  9. Transfer the meatballs to the oven and bake until firm and browned, about 24-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Serve the meatballs as desired and enjoy! 


This can be made gluten-free with gluten-free breadcrumbs. 

You can cook the vegetables with oil instead of water if desired. 

We have also tested this recipe cooked in an air fryer and pan fried on the stovetop, and we have found that the oven yields the best results. 

We prefer to use a convection oven for these but if you have a regular oven, they still work well! 


Leave a Comment