This almond and tempeh vegan meatballs recipe is a quick and delicious way to add some variety to dinner. Following a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy some of your favourite dishes. I love serving these tempeh meatballs with a pasta bolognese sauce, or on their own on a light salad. A simple and delicious fuss-free recipe, and it’s vegan and gluten-free!
Tempeh is a must in any plant-based foodies repertoire. Tempeh originated in Indonesia, and Indonesians enjoy it fried and spicy and often will add it to dishes such as Gado Gado (see my simplified recipe for Simple Peanut Sauce Indonesian Style), or enjoyed fried in a spicy sambal and served with rice. It is as versatile as tofu, but many prefer the firmer texture of tempeh over its soybean cousin. Here is my play on tempeh, and a good one to get you started on your tempeh journey – Easy Almond Tempeh Vegan Meatballs.
Why I Made This Tempeh Vegan Meatballs Recipe
Tempeh Is Healthy
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and uses the whole soybean so it is higher in protein and fibre compared to its cousin tofu. Compared to tofu, tempeh is much higher in zinc and iron as well (see my post Zinc Rich Foods For Vegetarians)
Tempeh Is A Fermented Foods
I’ve written about the benefits of fermented foods in previous posts (see My Favourite Fermented Foods Recipes and Health Benefits and How To Improve Gut Health Naturally – Prebiotics, Probiotics & Fermented Foods). The fermentation process of tempeh increases the digestibility of the soybean protein and breaks down the compound phytic acid making the minerals such as iron and zinc more bio-available or absorbable by the body.
These Vegan Meatballs Are So Easy To Make
This recipe is as simple as blending all the ingredients together, rolling into meatballs and baking in the oven. No pre-cooking of anything, a one-bowl dish!
These Vegan Meatballs Are Baked Not Fried
For a healthier take on vegan meatballs, these meatballs are baked in the oven at 350F for 20 minutes. No pan-frying here, resulting in a healthier and lighter meal.
Tips On Making These Tempeh Vegan Meatballs Recipe
Don’t Have A Food Processor?
You can make these meatballs without a food processor if you mince all the ingredients really small with a knife, and instead of almonds use the same amount of almond flour or almond meal. You may need to add some additional oil or water to help the binding process. You can use almond butter, and you will not need the additional water or oil.
Pan-Frying These Meatballs
If you don’t want to bake the vegan meatballs, you can choose to pan-fry them in a cast-iron frying pan or any other heavy-duty frying pan. Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and add the meatballs with the oil is heated. Pan-fry for about 5 minutes, and then rotate the meatballs for a total of 3 rotations. Nothing needs to be cooked in these vegan meatballs, just heated and the outside made crisp.
Soaking The Almonds
Soaking the almonds can help to increase the availability of the minerals in the nuts. See my post How To Get Enough Zinc for Vegans and Vegetarians). Simply soak the almonds overnight, or for at least 12 hours. Drain the water and then proceed as per recipe directions.
Increasing the Depth of Flavour
To increase the flavour intensity, first fry the onion in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil for about 3 minutes. Next, add the garlic and fry for an additional 30 seconds. Remove from heat and proceed with the recipe as per directed.
Notes On Making These Tempeh Vegan Meatballs Recipe
Instead of almonds, you can use any nuts that you have on hand. I have even made them with sunflower seeds which resulted in a delicious creamy base. Try using pecans or cashews.
Using Dried Herbs and Flavour Enhancers
If you don’t have onion and garlic on hand you can use the powdered version. Start with 1 tablespoon of onion powder and 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder. You can flavour these meatballs with any dried herbs and spices you have on hand, try oregano and thyme for an Italian inspired meatball, or 1 tablespoon of curry powder for an Indian-inspired meatball.
Freezing These Vegan Meatballs
You can make a bigger batch of these meatballs and freeze for later. After you have rolled the meatballs, place them in a container in a single layer then freeze for up to 6 months. When you are ready to use them, let them defrost and then bake them as per recipe directions.
Making Them Nut-Free
Omit the almonds and use the same amount of sunflower seeds. You can also use sunflower seed butter if you have that on hand.
What To Serve These Vegan Meatballs With
- I love serving them with this delicious Glory Gowl Dressing – Baked Tofu Kale Quinoa Salad with Glory Bowl Dressing
- Or try this creamy vegan Miso Tahini Dressing – Japanese Salad Bowls with a Miso Tahini Dressing and Brown Rice
- Serve them on their own, as an appetizer and a dipping sauce such as hummus or tzatziki
- Make a simple tomato sauce and serve it with some spaghetti
Want To Pin This Vegan Meatball Recipe For Later?
Easy Almond and Tempeh Vegan Meatballs
- 1 package (200g) tempeh organic
- 3 sprigs green onion greens and whites sliced
- 1 clove garlic roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari organic
- 1-2 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup almonds or any other nut
- 1 tbsp fresh herbs of your choice such as sage, thyme, oregano, or 1 tsp dried
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper ground
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil extra-virgin (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth. This can take up to 3 minutes depending on the quality of your food processor. If the mixture is too thick, add an additional 1 tablespoon of water (for 2 tablespoons total).
- When the mixture is well blended, take small amounts of the mixture and roll it in your palms to create 10 golfball sized tempeh balls.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper, or grease with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the 10 formed meatballs on the tray and space the meatballs evenly out.
- Cook for a total of 20 minutes, rolling the tempeh meatballs once halfway through the cooking process to ensure even browning.
- Once they are finished cooking, serve them with your favourite salad, or with a delicious tomato sauce on pasta!
Nut VariationsInstead of almonds, you can use any nuts that you have on hand. Try using pecans or cashews.
Using Dried Herbs and Flavour EnhancersIf you don't have onion and garlic on hand you can use the powdered version. Start with 1 tablespoon of onion powder and 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder. You can flavour these meatballs with any dried herbs and spices you have on hand, try oregano and thyme for an Italian inspired meatball, or 1 tablespoon of curry powder for an Indian inspired meatball.
Freezing These Vegan MeatballsYou can make a bigger batch of these meatballs and freeze for later. After you have rolled the meatballs, place in a container in a single layer then freeze for up to 6 months. When you are ready to use them, let them defrost and then bake them as per recipe directions.
Making Them Nut-FreeOmit the almonds and use the same amount of sunflower seeds. You can also use sunflower seed butter if you have that on hand. Nutrition Analysis Done Per 'Meatball'
Rachel Dickens is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University and is currently a PhD student at UBC. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on Indigenous Food Sovereignty while sharing diabetes-friendly recipes and tips for diabetes prevention.