This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

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.
12 Easy Weeknight Meals
Quick, easy & healthy meals from a professional chef delivered right to your inbox!

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!

Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs Post Oven
Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs Purple Border
Quinoa Vegetarian Meatballs
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!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. so good!!! I simplified a bit, using one type of cheese and dried herbs I had on hand and it was still delightful. I spirialized zucch as a base and really enjoyed how it came out. I noticed this time around (my third go) the meatballs stuck together very well when forming. I made my quinoa fresh (vs having in the fridge ahead of time) so it was warm when I mixed in the cheese – seemed to help, my egg my have also been bigger I suppose. I’ve shared this a few times and plan to add as a common meal in my house. thanks for sharing!!

  2. I’m the only vegetarian in my family. In fact, everyone else in my family hates the idea of being vegetarian and hates quinoa, especially my dad who refuses to eat quinoa like a child refuses to eat mushrooms. I made these for dinner last night, and everyone loves them! They taste like real meatballs, the texture is perfect, and I love how crisp they get when you sear them before finishing the cooking. If you have leftovers, these make a great “meatball” sub!

  3. Please Help!! The ingredient list says 2 cups cooked quinoa but the instructions to cook the quinoa say 1 cup. Should I be repeating step 1 to get the 2 cups of cooked quinoa or is there a mistake in the recipe?

    1. Hi Elyssa, I see how that is confusing the way I have it written. One cup of uncooked quinoa yields 2 cups of cooked quinoa, so above I’m telling you how much cooked you need and below I am telling you how to get 2 cups. That is confusing so I will revise to be clear.

  4. I know this is years later, and my comment has about the same chance of airing, as those “meatballs” making it to my table, but really…I’m not saying that they may not taste good, but have you or most of the people commenting ever looked at meatballs that the general populace consumes or even what Google images will show if you search Italian meatballs? Go ahead: Search it 😉
    C’mon; “Appeal to my reptile brain”…if it looks & smells somewhat like the dish you are trying to impersonate; It has a better chance of being a winner. Even those $10 bags of El-cheapo meatballs that probably taste like & contain sawdust for filler, look more realistic. More than a few brown-nosers here, if they concur with a “meatball” designation, LOL. Maybe they are being sarcastic? Throw in 1/2 can of rinsed & mashed black beans (colour), some fresh chopped mushrooms (meaty texture), use mozza cheese as a better binding agent, & for heaven sakes…who heard tell of meatballs without onions??? No Worcestershire sauce???
    I cannot presume to knock your use of cilantro in the dish as I cringe at it’s usage, but the jury is still out until I find someone willing to waste their hard earned money & allow me to taste it in a concoction such as this. BTW…If you have your meatballs adequately seasoned, you don’t need to worry about the “Italian seasoned bread crumbs”. Google again for Italian seasonings if you must, it’s cheap & Does Not contain Cilantro, LOL.
    Another thing: Why do so many “cooks” choose not to read what is good & bad? Cooking with olive oil is a no-no, it burns, Go with safflower, sunflower, avocado, coconut oil, real butter, or even crap “vegetable” oil if you have to. Olive oil, especially the light/delicate flavour type, has many awesome uses…high temperature use, is not one of them. I find that safflower imparts a slight (bonus) bacon flavour when frying & it’s reasonably priced.
    Some people are on a budget but still want or must eat vegetarian: Replacing the delicious but exorbitant Asiago with a general purpose mozzarella & a few dried spices, can leave $’s for cheese leftover for that homemade lasagna or pizza.
    BTW… Great photos, love the look of the lasagna & grandma’s fork is definitely in “tine”, LOL. A “WM ROGERS” product I assume? Lovely.

    1. These are also made with Quinoa and not meat…So they are clearly not even pretending to be Italian. Just damn good.

    1. Oh no! There are several variables to the moisture content in these “meatballs”. I would say the largest is how cooked your quinoa was. But it could just also be a normal variation in the size of eggs or the moisture in parmesan cheese. If they aren’t holding together before you pan fry them, they wont after. Just add a bit more egg.

  5. My 18 year old daughter and I want to try to move to a vegetarian diet. Forgive my ignorance, but what does the recipe mean when it says to “pick over the stones”? Am I literally removing stones/pebbles/rocks from my quinoa?

    1. Hi Nicole. haha yes you are! Sometimes there can be little pebbles or whatnot in there. I find it less and less these days, but I posted this before quinoa blew up in popularity and I usually found like a little stick or stone in there!

  6. Hi. I made these quinoa meatballs last weekend, they were a hit. Even the kids loved them and I didn’t expect that at all. 🙂 We had them warm with pasta and tomato sauce and the leftovers cold in a wrap. Absolutely delicious! Thank you.

  7. Oh wow! I just ran across these on Pinterest and they look amazing!! And I’m not even a big quinoa fan. But these look like a must try!! oh, and I am dying over that fork!! It is positively lovely!! 🙂

    1. Haha! Thanks for noticing my new favorite fork! My grandmother gave it to me the last time I was at her house…I have to try not to use it in EVERY photo!