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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.

Black Bean & Tofu Meatballs

Meatballs have been a staple part of mealtime while 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.

Black Bean & Tofu Meatballs

The vegetarian meatballs that we used to purchase premade, 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.

Black Bean & Tofu Meatballs

This recipe met the vegetarian’s standards and met my particular tastes perfectly.  The great part about this recipe is that 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.

Black Bean & Tofu Meatballs

3.5 from 4 reviews
Black Bean & Tofu Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 75
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, pressed dry and crumbled
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups panko crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • Oil for frying
  1. In a food processor, pulse the tofu until small crumbs are formed; remove to large mixing bowl
  2. Add the onion and carrot to the food processor; pulse until chopped into small pieces; do not puree; remove and add the same bowl as the tofu
  3. Add the black beans to the food processor and puree; add to tofu and vegetable mixture
  4. Add all of the other ingredients (except the panko crumbs) and using your hands, mix together until all ingredients are well incorporated
  5. While heating the oil, use a small ice cream scoop to portion the meatballs equally
  6. Roll the tofu mixture in your hands to form and ball and then roll into the panko crumbs
  7. Set aside the meatballs until oil is fully heated - follow the instructions of your deep fryer for optimum frying temperature
  8. Add the meatballs to the oil a few at a time; allow the meatballs to cook until they turn a deep brown colour
  9. Remove from the oil and place in a baking dish
  10. Pour your favourite sauce over the meatballs and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees
Once you remove the meatballs from the oil, drain on paper towel and allow to completely cool if you plan to freeze a portion of the yield.

Black Bean and Tofu Meatballs 2

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This Post Has 29 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. 🙂 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 😀

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

  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 🙁 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. 🙂 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!

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