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Learn how to make these delicious eggplant meatballs. They’re vegan, oil-free, and the perfect meatless recipe to share with your friends and family.

spaghetti and vegan eggplant meatballs in a white bowl by sweet simple vegan

A hearty and savory flavor-explosion, and definitely THE must make recipe when you need to impress a crowd. These are perfect for kids, adults, friends, family…anyone you want to share these precious little bites with 😉

Ingredients for vegan eggplant meatballs on a wooden board by sweetsimplevegan

If you are craving more Italian-inspired recipes, here are some of our favorites:

vegan meatball sandwiches with melted cheese by sweet simple vegan

Make sure you tag me on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan or twitter @sweetsimpleveg and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan if you recreate any of my recipes, I love to see your photos!

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spaghetti and vegan eggplant meatballs in a white bowl by sweet simple vegan

Vegan Eggplant Meatballs (Oil-free)

  • Author: Jasmine @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 34 meatballs
  • Diet: Vegan


Learn how to make these delicious eggplant meatballs that vegan and oil-free, with a gluten-free option. They are the perfect meatless recipe to share with your friends and family.


  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (or flaxseed meal)
  • 3 tablespoons water + more for cooking
  • 1 cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 unpeeled Italian eggplant, diced
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans 
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (ours were fine in texture; or plain breadcrumbs of your choice)
  • 1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped and packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped and packed
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Optional but recommended: 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 


  1. Prepare the chia egg by mixing the chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water together in a small bowl, and set aside for about 15 minutes to thicken.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F on convection* (or 400°F conventional). Line 2-3 large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In the meantime, in a medium pan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of additional water. Once heated, add in the onions, garlic, and celery, and cook until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes (adding more water as needed to prevent burning). Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. In the same pan, add another 3-4 tablespoons of water along with the diced eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until it is soft and had reduced by about 1/2, which will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Be sure to add more water as needed to prevent burning.
  5. Once cooked, transfer the eggplant to the large bowl along with the garbanzo beans. Mix until everything is uniform.
  6. In a food processor, transfer about 1/2 of the mixture from the large bowl and pulse until chopped and uniform, but NOT pureed. Transfer this mixture to another bowl (just for the time being) and then process the remaining mixture.
  7. Add everything back into the large bowl and add in the remaining ingredients along with the chia egg.  Adjust salt and to taste.
  8. Using a cookie scooper (about 1 1/2 tablespoons large), form the meatballs and transfer them to the lined baking sheet. We yielded 34 meatballs that were about 1-inch in diameter.
  9. Transfer the meatballs to the oven and bake until firm and browned, about 24-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Serve the meatballs as desired and enjoy! 


  • This can be made gluten-free with gluten-free breadcrumbs. 
  • You can cook the vegetables with oil instead of water if desired. 
  • We have also tested this recipe cooked in an air fryer and pan fried on the stovetop, and we have found that the oven yields the best results. 
  • We prefer to use a convection oven for these but if you have a regular oven, they still work well! 
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Oven

Keywords: eggplant, meatballs, oil-free, oven baked, vegan, vegetable meatballs, entree

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that I earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

Meet The Bloggers

hey there! we’re jasmine & chris.

Hi, we’re Jasmine and Chris! We share fresh and fun recipes to show you that vegan cooking is easy, approachable and delicious. When we’re not blogging, you will probably find us enjoying live music, tending to our backyard garden or playing with our dogs Berry and Louie

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  1. These turned out amazing!! I loved them! They were definitely a hit! Do you think these would be good to freeze and then thaw and bake? I am trying to figure out a way to save them and eat later since the recipe makes so many! Thanks!

    1. Hi Jennie! Yes, you can definitely freeze these. We would suggest that you fully bake, cool, and then freeze the meatballs (freezing them uncooked may cause the texture to change). I hope this helps!

    1. Hi Debi! Yes, these can be made in advance and frozen. We would suggest that you fully bake, cool, and then freeze the meatballs (freezing them uncooked may cause the texture to change). I hope this helps!

  2. I am going to try these tonight but have one question. Do we cook the tempeh bacon first? Or cook the bacon first and add?

  3. I am super excited to try this for dinner tonight! But just to verify, I will need to add the chia egg to the mix before adding it into the food processor?

    1. yes! so make it in a small bowl on the side so it can thicken completely before using 🙂

      1. Hmm I definitely did something wrong then! My boyfriend loved them and said they were great, but I thought they tasted off. Like too firm on the outside and too mushy on the inside. Do you have any tips/suggestions? Maybe I initially overcooked the eggplant? I didn’t really time it.

        1. Hi Lisa,

          I am not sure of what could have caused that, did you use a convection or regular oven? I think that overcooking or over processing the eggplant mixture may have had an effect if that is a possibility. You could also try making them smaller so that the inside cooks more easily. Let me know if this works for you!

  4. Can I use seitan instead of tempeh? I live in China and tempeh is not available in the part of China I live in.

    1. I have not tested that yet but seitan is great for adding texture and I think that it will add a lot to these meatballs! If you do try it out, let me know how it goes 🙂

  5. I’ve got ground flax seed in the fridge. Could I use that (1T flax to 1T water) in place of the chia seeds?
    Btw, do you know how long flax seed and nutritional yeast last and the best ways to store them?

    1. Hi Lucy! Great question, gRound flax would definitely work, just be sure to use the same ratio of 1 tablespoon to 3 tablespoons water. AS for storage, the refrigerator would be the best 🙂

  6. WOW… Jasmine, these meat(less) balls look amazing!!! I can’t wait to make this using your recipe…I’m going to make them for a girls night out event I’m attending in a few weeks…THANK YOU!!! xoxox