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These easy Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs have heaps of traditional Italian spices and two types of cheese! You pan sear them first then bake them for a beautiful crispy exterior and tender, flavorful interior. So toothsome, you will never even miss the meat!

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs in sauce on pasta on blue plate

Quinoa has made an appearance in everything from salad to these Vegetarian Meatballs. Instead of all the pumpkin and apple baking that I should be doing, I’ve been going a little quinoa crazy! The next stop is breakfast! Try these quinoa breakfast recipes with me!

I just can’t get enough!

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs in sauce details
Butternut Squash Chili Vegan in white bowl.
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I used to think of homemade, Italian meatballs as an occasional indulgence, but these are so easy to pull together and healthy that they are sure to become a regular dish instead!

These quinoa vegetarian meatballs are chewy, substantial, and have robust Italian flavors. You might know from my Italian Sausage Soup Recipe and my Ricotta Meatballs Recipe, that Italian-style aromatics are some of my favorites to cook! Due to the fresh herbs and cheese, you won’t recall this is vegetarian, plus the quinoa creates a texture that is reminiscent of meat.

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatball on fork detailed

I pan sear them before baking them for a nice crunchy, seared exterior characteristic of a traditional Italian meatball while being quinoa and vegetarian.

Herbivorous Italian dish in sauce on pasta

Whether or not you are vegetarian, you and your family will love these easy meatless meatballs! Serve several meatballs with whole-wheat noodles, homemade red pasta sauce, and a generous sprinkling of Asiago cheese! So toothsome and satisfying, you’ll never even miss the meat!

You might want to make a double batch of these quinoa vegetarian meatballs. Everyone will eat them before you can blink twice!

Herbivorous Italian dish sliced open on fork

Storing Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs

You can also make them ahead of time and either freeze them or store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. I like to reheat the meatballs in a pot of tomato sauce to keep them moist. Dinner is ready when the sauce and quinoa vegetarian meatballs are heated through!

Herbivorous Italian dish in skillet

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs in sauce on pasta
5 from 3 ratings

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs {GF Option}

These easy Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs are packed full of traditional Italian spices and two types of cheese! They are first pan seared and then baked for a beautiful crispy exterior and tender, flavorful interior. So toothsome, you will never even miss the meat!
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 people



To make the Quinoa:

  • In a fine sieve strainer, pour 1 cup quinoa, pick over for stones, and rinse with cold water. In a medium saucepan mix the quinoa with 2 cups cold water (or broth). Add about 1 tablespoon olive oil and a large pinch of kosher salt, and stir to mix. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stir, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook covered for approximately 30-40 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is soft.

To make the meatballs:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°. Heat a large cast iron skillet or pan over medium heat until searing hot.
  • Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour a little olive oil into the preheated skillet. Form a meatball a little smaller than a golf ball and place the meatball in the skillet starting in the center. Working as quickly as possible, repeat with the remaining meatballs, radiating them out from the center in a spiral pattern. [You could certainly pre-form all the meat balls and have them ready for this step, but I am all about cutting out wasted time, and that, is wasted time.]
  • Once you have finished placing all the meatballs in the skillet, it is time to start turning them! Gently turn each meatball once it has browned on the opposite side. My burner causes my large cast iron skillet to be unevenly hot, so I swap some of the middle meatballs for the outer meatballs to ensure an even sear.
  • Bake in skillet or transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.


Yield: 18 Meatballs
To make these meatballs gluten free, simply use gluten free breadcrumbs. You could also try substituting gluten free flour for the breadcrumbs but I cannot vouch for how that will work.
I like to make a large pot of quinoa at the beginning of the week, so that I can make these or anything else quickly without having to wait for the quinoa to cook.


Calories: 140kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 345mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 194IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Calories: 140
Like this? Leave a comment below!

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef-tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed dinner recipes or try these baked turkey meatballs next!

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Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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Recipe Rating


  1. I made these tonight and they are phenomenal! I omitted the breadcrumbs, cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth, and used my random seasonings on hand. I would use two eggs next time to keep them from falling apart in the pan. I still can’t believe how tasty these are! Definitely my new favorite recipe! Thank you!!

    1. I’m so glad you liked them and that you were able to make them without the flour! Thanks for stopping back by to tell me, Sarah!

  2. Thanks for the wonderful recipe! As a vegetarian, it was a pleasure to finally eat a “meatball” dish 🙂 The only issue I had is that they came out a bit dry. Do you think baking them in tomato sauce would cause them to fall apart? It would be great to hear your thoughts!

    1. Hi Valerie! I’m shocked they came out dry! Both times I made them, they were very moist. I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to be cooked in sauce. I always pan sear my meatballs (vegetarian or regular) before simmering in a sauce, so I would definitely suggest doing that so that they get that nice seared exterior and they hold together better while you cook them.

  3. Wht other types of sauces would go with this beside a tomato sauce? basil pesto? and alfredo sauce? can the cheese be omitted for it to be vegan? (I have a vegan guest coming).

    1. Hi Laura, You could certainly try omitting the cheese and the egg, but it will definitely alter the taste for the rest of your guests. The egg is just a binding agent, so I think a little ground flax seed and water could be successfully substituted for that, but the cheese is all about flavor. If I were going to try making it completely vegan, I would try the flax and water for the egg, increase the spices, take out the cheese, add a little nutritional yeast (to hopefully get that parmesan flavor), and increase the quinoa. I have no clue how that will ultimately turn out bc I haven’t tried it…but now I want to!

      As for other sauces, I think any sauce you put on them that you would use on a traditional meatball would be good. They really do have a traditional Italian flavor. If you are trying to make the meal vegan, I would definitely steer clear of an alfredo, because the thought of trying to make that vegan, makes my head spin! My favorite sauce is tomato so that is what I always use 🙂 Hope that helps! Good luck!

  4. These photos are wonderful. I love the way you captured the quinoa meatballs. I really have to give them a try.

  5. Totally amazing Lindsey! I can’t wait to show these to my vegetarian daughter. She will love them!