These vegetarian meatballs are a cozy, flavorful plant based dinner! The baked meatballs are smothered in a creamy vegetarian gravy.
This post was created in partnership with Ancestry. All opinions are our own.
Remember our AncestryDNA results a few months ago? Alex and I were interested to find that our heritage wasn’t exactly what we thought! And it sparked a ton of fun conversation within our families. Now, we’re back with some updates: this Norwegian vegetarian meatballs recipe and info about the new Traits feature in AncestryDNA! Even though I’m nearly half Norwegian, we’ve never posted a Norway inspired recipe on A Couple Cooks—so we’re fixing that now.
Want vegan instead? Try our Easy Vegan Meatballs.
A few months ago Alex and I sent a spit sample to the Ancestry lab to analyze our DNA. We got back some interesting results! And it sparked a really fun conversation in both Alex and my families about our heritage. Now that we’ve tried them, we think AncestryDNA kits would be fantastic holiday gifts to help you connect with your family. And this season, Ancestry is offering a brand new feature called Traits. Alex and I got to try out Traits to show you how it works!
Traits is a fun and easy add-on feature to discover how your DNA influences the traits that you’ve inherited from your ancestors and share with people all over the world. There are two categories: Appearance traits (like freckles, hair color, male hair loss, unibrow) and Sensory traits (like bitter / savory taste perception and cilantro aversion). You can use the Traits feature to compare traits you share with your family who have also purchased the Traits feature, and then what region of the world your traits may come from. Are you wondering what Alex and my traits are? Or hungry for vegetarian meatballs? Keep reading.
Using the Traits feature has already again, sparked some fun conversation within our families. For example: not liking cilantro is a genetic trait! Do you think you have it? Both my parents do, since we get dirty looks every time we sprinkle cilantro! Keep reading for some of Alex and my interesting traits:
- Cleft chin: Yes. This was spot on!
- Male hair loss: No. Looks like his silver locks are here for a while.
- Cilantro aversion: No. Which explains why we eat so much cilantro!
- Bitter taste perception: Sensitive. Alex can taste bitter very strongly (and loves bitter flavors like coffeeand celery).
- Savory taste perception: Not sensitive. Meaning, Alex needs lots of savory in order to taste it…which is exactly the case with these Norwegian vegetarian meatballs with vegetarian gravy.
- Freckles: Yes! And it was spot on. I’ve never loved my freckles, but knowing they’re a genetic marker just like anything else makes them more interesting.
- Cilantro aversion: Also no, like Alex! Luckily he and I match here and make many delicious recipes with cilantro.
- Bitter taste perception: Extra sensitive. I’m a “taster” of bitter flavors. The Traits app predicted I’d shy away from Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale–but these are some of my favorite foods!
- Savory taste perception: Not sensitive…which also matches Alex! Luckily our palates are a perfect match, which helps to explain why we work so well together developing recipes.
How to get AncestryDNA?
You can purchase AncestryDNA with Traits for yourself or as a gift for $119 ($99 basic kit + $19.99 for traits). Existing AncestryDNA customers can upgrade to this new feature for $19.99. Click here to order. And stay tuned for a huge Black Friday sale coming, too.
How to make vegetarian meatballs
So, what’s this got to do with vegetarian meatballs with gravy? My AncestryDNA results show my top DNA region at 53% is Norwegian. It even shows the very exact regions in Norway! This heritage is from my mom’s side. I grew up making only one Norwegian recipe around the holidays (lefse!), but otherwise Norwegian foods have not influenced the way I eat.
This vegetarian meatballs recipe is the first Norway inspired recipe here on A Couple Cooks. Now, this recipe is not authentic Norwegian: simply Norway inspired. Since Alex and I eat mainly vegetarian, we wanted to find a way to take this classic Scandinavian dish and make it meatless. So, we’ve created these simple vegetable chickpea meatballs—which are actually also vegan—using frozen mixed veggies you can get at any grocery store and chickpeas. Because it can be somewhat time consuming to make vegetarian meatballs, we’ve simplified the process quite a bit.
And in honor of the Savory (umami) detection Traits feature, we brought in all the savory elements to up that savory flavor, covering the vegetarian meatballs is in a salty, savory vegetarian gravy. It’s so good that we’re already dying to make it again. Serve it with a grain like quinoa and a refreshing salad like this shaved Brussels sprouts salad. It’s perfect for entertaining, like a cozy dinner party, Thanksgiving, or Christmas dinner!
Meatballs before baking: a 2 teaspoon cookie scoop (size 60) is very helpful for shaping! See the recipe below.
Make it vegan!
This vegetarian meatballs recipe is easy to make vegan because: surprise! The meatballs are already vegan! There’s no dairy in the vegetarian meatballs, since they’re made of chickpeas, veggies and flour. So all you need is a vegan gravy recipe! We’ve specified to use our Easy Vegan Gravy, which is a brown gravy like the type you’d use on mashed potatoes or Swedish meatballs.
Another option is our Vegan Mushroom Gravy, which has chunks of mushrooms and is more of a country gravy. We use this gravy in our Vegan Biscuits and Gravy: but it would be just as tasty with these meatballs.
Looking for more comfort food recipes?
Outside of these Norwegian inspired vegetarian meatballs, here are a few more comfort food recipes:
- Creamy Mac and Cheese with Greek Yogurt
- Cozy Vegetarian Pot Pie
- Mexican Cheese Dip
- Best Gouda Mac and Cheese
- Perfectly Creamy Polenta Recipe
- Best Vegan Meatballs & Spaghetti
- The Best Vegetarian Meatloaf
- Pumpkin Gnocchi Bake with Goat Cheese
- Easy Calzone Recipe
- Vegan Pot Pie with Sage Crust
- Best Grilled Veggie Burger Recipe
- Veggie Packed Quinoa Fried Rice
- Related: 10 Romantic Dinner Recipes
This vegetarian meatballs recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant based and dairy free (with vegan gravy option listed below). For gluten free, try Gluten Free 1 for 1 flour.Print
Vegetarian Meatballs Recipe
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 1x
These vegetarian meatballs are a cozy, flavorful plant based dinner! The baked meatballs are smothered in a creamy vegetarian gravy. (Vegan variation included.)
For the meatballs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, peas and green beans)
- 15-ounce can chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup whole wheat flour (for gluten free, try Gluten Free 1 for 1 flour)
- Perfect Vegetarian Gravy or Easy Vegan Gravy (double recipe)
- Chopped Italian parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Saute the vegetables, chickpeas, garlic powder, smoked paprika, oregano, kosher salt, and pepper for 3 to 5 minutes until warmed through and the vegetables are evenly coated in spices.
- Add the vegetables and the flour to a food processor. Pulse about 20 times until chunky paste forms, scraping down the bowl of the food processor as necessary.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Gently form the dough into about 40 to 46 balls (using a 2 teaspoon cookie scoop* or two spoons) and place each on the baking sheet. Resist the urge to roll the balls in your hands or they will come out too dense.
- Use a pastry brush to brush the outsides of the meatballs with olive oil.
- Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes until lightly browned, rotating the pans at 15 minutes to allow for an even bake. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before adding to the gravy.
- Meanwhile, make the Vegetarian Gravy or Easy Vegan Gravy (double recipe). When the meatballs are done, add them to the pan with the gravy. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
*A size 60 cookie scoop is helpful to get the round shape for these vegetarian meatballs; we’d highly recommend using one! It also makes the process much faster. (If you buy one, you can use it over and over for cookies too, so it’s not single use!) If you use the two spoons method to shape the dough, the meatballs will look less beautifully round — but they’ll still taste good. You can use your hands to spot fix any balls that are misshapen on the baking sheet. The timing in this recipe is based on using a cookie scoop.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Norwegian
Keywords: Norwegian Meatballs, Vegetarian Meatballs, Vegan Meatballs, Vegetarian Gravy, Chickpea Meatballs, Vegetarian, Healthy Dinner Recipe
My husband can’t eat corn or carrots what can I replace mixed veggies with?
Good question! You can replace this with other frozen vegetable mixes that don’t have corn and carrots!
I have been craving something like this and I love that you two came up with a vegetarian/vegan option! Loved reading about your Ancestry results too! Yay for no hair loss! Lol!
These look so good! I always make Swedish meatballs for my Christmas party – things might need to take a Norwegian turn this year. And that’s fascinating about your traits. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a genetic test and this is very compelling!
I made this recipe to go with mashed potatoes, since my vegetarian 10-year-old, who would eat carbs & dairy exclusively if I let him, loves them. He initially made a gross comment about the appearance of the veggie balls, but then said he’d eat them again. So would my non-vegetarian husband. ?
One thought (and I know this defeats the purpose of being meatball-like), but a delicious & easier approach to these ingredients & flavors would be to stop after sauteeing the garbanzo beans, mixed veggies, & seasonings. Serve that combo alongside mashed potatoes & smother it all in the delicious veggie gravy. I think I’ll try that next time if I’m in a hurry or don’t want to heat the house with the oven.
At any rate, great flavors in this recipe! Thanks so much!
What a fun idea to give someone the AncestryDNA test as a gift for Christmas. That might really interesting (we’re a bit French if I remember correctly :). And those meatballs look really tasty. I’m trying to step up my vegetarian meatball game right now, so every new recipe is more than welcome! Have you ever made a larger badge to freeze some of them for more dinners?
Thanks for this lovely recipe and this fantastic gift idea,
Ginger by Choice I food & lifetsyle blog
DNA testing is so crazy interesting. I loved doing my own. Also you guys, these veggie meatballs sound amazing.
I am fully aware of my Norwegian heritage the old fashioned way -hearing it from my family. I am looking for a potluck meatball similar to Norwegian because there are many Hindus attending. Your recipe is totally unauthentic to any Norwegian meatball because you are adding paprika! This is a Hungarian spice, Norwegian meatballs have nutmeg and no paprika. Thanks for the ideas.
I am looking for recipes that I can make ahead of time and freeze until the party. Can these “meatballs” be made ahead of time and kept in freezer. Do they defrost well?
Great question! Yes, they freeze beautifully. You can defrost them by just placing them in the refrigerator the morning of or night before. Then just heat them up with the gravy!
This sounds delicious and an inexpensive way to feed a family of 5. Putting this in our “to try” list!
Ooo great! Let us know if you try it!
We aren’t vegetarian but trying to incorporate more meatless meals. This was awesome! My whole family loved it. I served it with the vegetarian gravy over some simple spatzel and it was delicious! Thanks for a great recipe.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!
Do you defrost and drain the frozen vegetables ?
No, we just toss straight into the skillet!
I LOVE this recipe. It is sooooo good. I used vegan beef broth instead of veggie. The veggie broth to me is bland. Hubs and the kids loved them as well. Thank you. This will be a recipe we use over and over
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