These black bean meatballs are pretty lightly adapted from my black bean burgers, a long time favourite. If you often have leftover rice on hand, and a can of black beans (or freeze cooked beans) then you’re set for this recipe any time.
Brown rice gives structure to these, with a bit of chickpea flour binding and keeping them from being mushy. Coating the meatballs with a bit of olive oil before baking adds a nice crisp outer texture and golden colour. So good.
Sunflower seeds are a common addition to vegan burgers and meatballs because they add texture. If you want to go for extra flavour, you can toast the seeds beforehand. You can also sauté the onion and garlic if you want to but I personally see it as a waste of time that doesn’t add anything in this recipe.
Try serving them with some classic marinara and pasta, or go the route pictured and have them with vegan naan or another bread and some greens. Also great with salad, and especially good in anything with pickled onions. They’re pretty neutral so go nuts.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Rice: short grain brown rice helps the balls hold together a little more effectively than other types of rice, and day-old rice is ideal. Other leftover rice can be used, but not wild rice.
- Lemon juice: if you don’t have a lemon on hand, use slightly less apple cider or white wine vinegar instead.
- Chickpea flour: this is the best egg substitute flour, but if you don’t have any you can use rye flour, spelt, or oat – just add an extra tablespoon.
- Parsley: this features a lot in OE recipes because it can be grown year-round and is an easy garden herb to grow. See parsley substitutes for alternatives but you can use just about any herb you like.
- Sunflower seeds: walnuts are a good sub for sunflower seeds. I don’t recommend using pumpkin seeds in this recipe.
Step by Step
1. Initial chop: finely chop the parsley, onion, and garlic in the food processor.
2. Blend: add the remaining ingredients and blend into a thick mixture.
3. Portion: make the bean balls, using a cookie scoop if you have one, or forming balls as best you can.
4. Bake: brush with oil and bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
If you find that with two tablespoons of chickpea flour, the mixture is still a bit soft, first wait a few minutes. If after 5 minutes it’s still very wet, add another tablespoon of chickpea flour and mix it in well. The consistency of the rice can play a role here, so use your intuition.
An ice cream or cookie scoop makes quick work of portioning the balls, but a tablespoon and damp hands can be used too.
How to Store
Storage: the baked bean balls can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a couple of days. They tend to dry out a bit when stored but still taste good.
Freezing: I recommend freezing the uncooked mixture. Just pop it into an airtight container and freeze for up to a month, then thaw and bake as normal when you want them.
Make Without a Food Processor
I know someone will want to make the meatballs without a food processor, and you definitely can! It’s just a bit more work. You’ll have to very finely chop the onion, garlic, and herbs and place them into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and use a potato masher, immersion blender, or your hands to mash into the texture you see above on the bottom right image.
If you use an immersion blender, make sure you’re pulsing and don’t over blend into straight mush. Same goes for using a food processor, of course. You might be able to use a proper blender, too, but I haven’t tried that and I think it might over-mix it. Some texture is absolutely necessary.
- Don’t taste before baking: chickpea flour tastes awful raw and shouldn’t be eaten before it’s cooked.
- Season to taste: of course you don’t want to actually taste the mixture before baking, but if you know you don’t like any spice, for example, alter the amounts to suit your preference.
- Keep the oil: brushing the meatballs with oil before baking makes them more flavourful, improves the colour, and gives a nice outer texture.
More Black Bean Recipes
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Black Bean Meatballs
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- A large handful of fresh parsley
- 300 grams cooked or canned black beans rinsed
- 200 grams cooked brown rice
- 40 grams sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice ~1/2 a lemon
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour*
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup coconut sugar, or honey
- Extra olive oil for brushing
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, blend the onion, garlic, and parsley on high speed until very finely chopped.1 medium onion, 3 cloves garlic, A large handful of fresh parsley
- Add the beans, rice, sunflower seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, chickpea flour, salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup to the processor. Pulse until a textured mixture forms, with the beans partly broken down but the rice and seeds in large pieces. (See above photo.)300 grams cooked or canned black beans, 200 grams cooked brown rice, 40 grams sunflower seeds, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup, 2 tablespoons chickpea flour*
- Let the meatball mixture rest for five minutes before scooping out 12 portions onto the prepared baking sheet. A large cookie scoop is ideal for this, but otherwise about 2 tablespoons worth for each meatball.
- Smooth the balls with the back of a spoon if desired. Brush the outsides of each meatball with a little olive oil.Extra olive oil
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until quite golden and slightly firm to the touch. Cool for a few minutes on the tray before serving. Leftovers can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to three days.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.