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Black Bean and Tofu Meatballs are moist, flavourful, and completely vegetarian!  Seasoned with familiar herbs and spices, and tossed in the sauce of your choice, these meatballs aim to please, and they do just that!

I love a good meatball, I really do.  And I don’t get to prepare meatballs at home as much as I’d like to, because I prefer meatballs with ground beef or ground pork, while, John.e, of course, prefers a vegetarian version. 

His cravings for spaghetti and meatballs were easily satisfied until about a year ago when Schneider’s stopped manufacturing vegetarian meatballs, or our local grocery stores stopped stocking them – I’m not sure which is the reason.

Meatballs have always been a staple mealtime favourite when I was growing up.  My mom used to make several versions.  One was the traditional ground beef, bread crumb, Italian seasoning type which paired well with spaghetti or other pasta dishes. 

She also prepared a sweet and sour version which had ground beef and rice, and it was great served with homemade French fries.  I remember there was always an abundance of sauce too!  My God, I loved that sweet and sour sauce! 

My ex wife used to make great meatballs as well, so as you can see, they were always a regular part of our at-home cuisine.

The vegetarian meatballs that we used to purchase pre-made, were actually really good.  They had a great consistency and a great flavour, but since we can no longer find them, I needed to come up with a recipe that would meet John.e’s dietary restrictions and, of course, needed to taste like an actual meatball.

This recipe met the vegetarian’s standards and met my particular tastes perfectly.  The great part about this recipe is that the yield was quite large.  I made 75 meatballs from this recipe.  Don’t worry, they can be fully prepared and frozen, or you can do like I did and pair them with two different sauces so that we didn’t feel like we were eating meatballs for an eternity.

You will need to deep fry these meatballs first before placing them in the oven to bake in whichever sauce you choose.  The deep frying creates a slight crust on the meatball and helps it to lock in the moisture and keep a perfectly round shape.  If you prefer not to bake them in a sauce, you can certainly add them right into a pasta dish straight from the deep fryer.

UPDATE: Fast forward exactly 3 years from the date this meatball recipe was originally published.  It’s just coincidence, I know, but I find it a little strange that I decided to update the photos in this post exactly three years to the day that the original recipe was posted.

It wasn’t all my own doing.  I’ve had a few readers sending me messages telling me that when they tried this recipe at home, it didn’t work out the way they were supposed to.  So, Dear Reader, today I am officially updating this recipe and clarifying the instructions, as well as including new updated photos, and a few “this is what this should look like” photos at the end of this post just to help you along.

I think the number one reason why this dish didn’t work for some of you is the consistency of the meatball mixture.  The black beans, tofu, carrots, and onions must be pureed quite well.  Please refer to the photos after the recipe to see what these pureed ingredients should look like.

Lastly, please note that for a lighter, less dense meatball, I have used two types of breadcrumbs.  The two cups of breadcrumbs that go into the mixture are one cup of panko crumbs and one cup of fine breadcrumbs.  You can use one or the other or a combination like I did.  I’ve made this recipe a million times and every time I use two types of breadcrumbs, the texture of the cooked meatball is always better.

Black Bean and Tofu Meatballs
Serves 12
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
138 calories
23 g
31 g
3 g
5 g
1 g
63 g
287 g
3 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
63g
Servings
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 138
Calories from Fat 23
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
4%
Saturated Fat 1g
3%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 31mg
10%
Sodium 287mg
12%
Total Carbohydrates 23g
8%
Dietary Fiber 2g
9%
Sugars 3g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
28%
Vitamin C
4%
Calcium
8%
Iron
12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 package extra firm tofu, pressed dry and crumbled (350 grams)
  2. 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (19 ounces)
  3. 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  4. 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  7. 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  8. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 3 cups breadcrumbs (refer to post for fine breadcrumbs versus panko)
  10. 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  11. 3 tablespoons ketchup
  12. 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  13. 1 tablespoon dried basil
  14. 1 tablespoon paprika
  15. Vegetable oil for frying
  16. Parsley for garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, puree the tofu and scoop into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Puree the onion and carrot and transfer to the mixing bowl with the tofu.
  3. Puree the black beans and transfer to the mixing bowl with the tofu, carrots, and onion.
  4. Add two cups of the breadcrumbs to the mixing bowl along with the mustard, ketchup, oregano, basil, eggs, ginger, garlic, red chili flakes, and paprika.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to mix the ingredients together until a stiff mixture has formed.
  6. While heating the oil to 350 degrees, use a small scoop (about two teaspoons) to portion the meatballs equally. Roll the mixture in your hands to form and ball and then roll into the breadcrumbs.
  7. Set aside the meatballs until oil is fully heated.
  8. Add the meatballs to the oil a few at a time; allow the meatballs to cook until they turn a deep brown colour - about 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oil and place in a baking dish. Pour your favourite sauce over the meatballs and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  10. Garnish and serve immediately.
Notes
  1. Once you remove the meatballs from the oil, drain on paper towel and allow to completely cool if you plan to freeze them. Freeze in a single layer to avoid sticking.
beta
calories
138
fat
3g
protein
5g
carbs
23g
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Lord Byron's Kitchen http://www.lordbyronskitchen.com/

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This photo shows the consistency of the tofu after it’s been pureed. It should form a massive lump in your food processor when it’s done.

The black beans should look like this – pureed, but still little chunks of the bean left behind.

The carrot and onion are pureed together to form a slight pulp.

Once you’ve mixed all of the ingredients together, the mixture should look like this – it’s rather like a paste.

Here, the meatballs have been rolled into balls and coated with fine breadcrumbs and ready for the fryer.

Finally, the meatballs are fried and are a deep, golden colour. These are now ready to sauce and bake.

 

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This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Bryon, these look just mouthwatering! I love meatballs, but almost never make them – don’t ask me why, especially after seeing how great yours turned out. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Hi there, I would like to try these but I’m unsure if you add the panko breadcrumbs into the meatballs or just use them to cover the outside of the meatball? In step four you say to add all the other ingredients so I’m a little unsure. I am allergic to gluten and rice so I would like to leave it out altogether if possible. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tammy! Thank you for your comments and your question. πŸ™‚ You have a very sharp eye – I have adjusted the instructions in the meatball recipe to fix the error you have so graciously brought to my attention. The panko is NOT to be added with the other ingredients, but rather set aside so that the meatballs can be rolled into the crumbs. Is there another crumb mixture you can use to roll the tofu mixture into before frying? To be quite honest, I don’t think the tofu mixture will hold together in the hot oil without the help of the panko to keep them intact. I have seen a gluten free panko in grocery stores, but I guess the availability will depend on where you live. Another cheaper option, rather than throwing your expensive gluten free bread into a food processor, is to simply pulverize some gluten free pretzels and use that as the coating. Please let me know if you come up with a solution. I’d love to add the option to the recipe for anyone else who might have a gluten or rice allergy. Cheers!

  3. Hi, these sound really good and I can freeze them. Just a note about panko crumbs, most have uncertified palm oil in them contributing to the destruction of the forests in Indonesia.

    1. Hi Christine! Thank you for you comments and for bringing the palm oil thing to my attention. We are very aware of the damages caused by the harvesting of palm oil, but I was unaware of a connection with panko. I’ll certainly double check the ingredients list in the future. Cheers!

    2. What do you use? I never thought to look to see if palm was in it. I will never buy them again. I gave up palm before I became a vegan.

  4. I can’t wait to try these! They look so yum, and I’m on a quest for a collection of DIY vegetarian ‘meatballs’ and such. Confession: I’ve been a vegetarian (with a touch of fish) since the 80’s, and despite preferring not to eat animal cadavers, I STILL miss the flavor of meat! So glad I gave it up decades ago, as its paid off health wise. I’m nearly 60, my bio-age is 20 years younger according to a medical doc, and there’s zero plaque in my arteries, which is unheard for my age. (tho apparently refined, processed carbs play a role in plaque formation too.). Anyway, keep on sharing such cool recipes to sate our palate! Thanks so much. ?

  5. I don’t know what type of witchcraft you used to get “meatballs” that looked like those pictures, but when I tried this recipe tonight, half of them disintegrated the second they hit the oil. Maybe with the addition of a binding agent this recipe would work, but this was not a winner for me.

    1. Hi Sarah… I’m so sorry to hear that the meatballs didn’t turn out well for you. I have prepared this recipe several times and each time, the result was great. I’m wondering if you pulsed the ingredients well enough so that a sort of pulp was formed. Also, there are not binding agents, such as eggs, needed for this recipe. I wish I could tell you exactly what went wrong. I only hope you’ll give them another try. Thank you.

      1. I forgot to tell you that I made these in the actifry (rather than deep frying) without the paddle, they definitely don’t work with the paddle as I put it on to test out a couple at the end and it turned them into a (very tasty) mince type product which still worked great with my spaghetti and sauce! I’m sure they are tastier fried but it’s worth posting that the actifry worked for me in case others wondered. I will definitely be making them again they are yummy!! Now to try and make a sauce that looks like yours πŸ˜€

        1. That’s a great idea, Joanna! You can find lots of sauce recipes on my site. Just type ‘sauce’ in the search field. πŸ™‚

  6. I just tried to cook these for dinner. Did exactly as recipe said and they disintegrated right into the oil. Unfortunately I had a whole meal planned around them. Oh, well.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that, Michele. My guess would be that the mixture would have been too moist, or that the ingredients that needed to be pureed were not pureed as well as they need to be. Every time I make this recipe, it turns out really well. The next time I prepare these ‘meat’balls, I will take pictures of the process and add them to the instructions. Thanks!

    1. Hi Connie,

      I have never tried to bake these particular Black Bean & Tofu Meatballs, but I really can’t see why that wouldn’t work. You can certainly try it; if so, let me know. Wish I could be of more help! Cheers!

  7. I plan to try these this weekend but I don’t own a deep fryer πŸ™ I am thinking maybe i will just use a shallow pan with oil on the stove for half and try to bake some too to see what works! They look sooooo good!

  8. Hi there! These look DELICIOUS! I’m planning on trying them out in the future. πŸ™‚ Do you by any chance have the recipes for the sauces you made here?

    1. Thank you, Gabby. There’s a sauces and dips menu on my blog. There’s a great sweet and sour sauce recipe in the spring rolls post. Also, theirs lots of sauce recipes in the chicken wing section, including a great bbq sauce that would lend itself well to these meatballs.

  9. Thanks for the recipe! We made these and they taste so good! We tried baking them in the oven to keep the fat low and they turned out well! They flattened out a bit, but we’re happy with them and will definitely make them again. We’d recommend adding in about a half cup of bread crumbs to the mix and baking them for around 35 mins at 400 C. The middle will still be a little soft but the outside will be fully cooked. Really great recipe!

    1. Thanks for the tip, Spencer! It’s been a while since I’ve made these, so I’m going to have to try them again, but this time, I’ll bake them. Cheers!

  10. I’m another person on team “These Crumbled Into Bits in the Pan.” I read the recipe and the comments carefully in an attempt to avoid this fate. After re-reading everything this morning, I still don’t understand what I did wrong. Luckily, we had veggie burgers in the freezer, so dinner wasn’t a total loss, but I still have 3/4 of the meatball mixture in the fridge, and I’m hoping to find a way to salvage it. I would love any suggestions you have! Thanks very much.

    1. Hi Reannon, I have just now updated the recipe with new instructions, new photos and new helpful tips. Please try it again; it’s a great recipe. πŸ™‚

      1. It’s so very kind of you to let me know about the updates to the recipe! I have to say that my mixture looked pretty darn similar to the picture when I last tried it, but I’m ready to give it another go! I will report back. πŸ™‚ Thanks again!

  11. I made this tonight as my first adventure in to tofu, and I must say I am very pleasantly surprised!! Delicious! I will definitely be making these again for my family ☺️

    1. Thank you, Sarah. It’s been a while since I’ve made them. I think I’ll whip these up again this weekend.

  12. Unfortunately mine disintegrated in the oil too! So I added some almond flour to them and now baking to see how they turn out.

    1. I’m sorry to hear this, Stacy. I’m going to remake the recipe this coming weekend and update the photos and instructions. I think the key issue is the consistency of the mixture when it’s been through the food processor. I’ll update the post with pictures of how the mixture should look during the mixing process. I hope you’ll give it another try!

  13. Hope you update with pictures before i try this, i bought tofu specifically for this and would be disappointed if they disintegrate like some of these folks have had(my first thought was they didn’t roll them into balls well enough- also do you “press” the panko onto the surface? Do you freeze them before you fry them, as most mushy things i have seen deep fried get frozen first). Do you have any thoughts on adding quinoa to the mixture (at the hand mixing stage) for texture and a more complete protein profile?

    1. Hi Mike, I have updated the post just now. I’m sure the recipe and instructions are now very clear. I did not press the breadcrumbs into the meatball, but have updated the use of breadcrumbs to make the recipe clearer. I did not and do not freeze them first. Lastly, I’ve never tried this recipe with quinoa, so I can’t comment on that. If you do, please let me know. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Karen! As long as the consistency you get is like those in the pictures, I really can’t see why not. Although, I must say, I’d go with a blender before I’d think about using an immersion blender.

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