Vegan Swedish meatballs and creamy gravy with plant-based protein from chickpeas for baked, oil-free vegan meatballs and luscious sour cream gravy.
Serve this dish over pasta or mashed potatoes for the ultimate comfort food.
Table of Contents
Why you'll love this recipe
- This Swedish meatball recipe uses affordable chickpeas rather than processed vegan ground meat like beyond meat.
- The recipe takes about an hour, but many parts, including the chickpea balls and gravy, can be made ahead of time.
- Take advantage of this creamy sauce using vegan sour cream. Some recipes use coconut milk, but we are fans of a small shot of sour cream because the lemon juice gives it a crispy, zesty flavor. Here's our homemade vegan sour cream recipe for a nut-free version; try sunflower seed sour cream.
Ingredients & substitutions
Chickpeas. They process well and don't taste 'beany.' White or black beans are suitable substitutes but tend to have more moisture, so you may need to add more breadcrumbs.
Flax egg. 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water. Ground chia seeds can also be used.
Mushroom powder. Grind up a few dried mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms have too much moisture for the meatball mixture. If you want dried umami, consider a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.
Breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are one of the binders for meatballs. Panko can be challenging to find if you want whole wheat. I've not tried this recipe with seitan (vital wheat gluten), but you could use chickpea flour or oat flour if you want a gluten-free binder.
Mushroom stock. The gravy deserves mushroom stock, or try vegetable broth. Vegan beef broth is darker but has more umami flavor, as does a teaspoon of soy sauce or vegan Worcestershire sauce if you want to add them.
Fresh parsley. The simple gravy gets a super flavor boost from parsley. Use Italian (flat-leaf) or curly parsley.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
How to make vegan meatballs
Step 1: Making this vegan version of meatballs is pretty simple. Soak the bulgur in hot water for 15 minutes and make the flax egg. Then add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Then make the meatballs using 1 ½ tablespoons for each ball.
Step 3: Add each meatball on the baking sheet in a single layer and separate.
Step 4: Then bake them in the oven. They will take 25-30 minutes – plenty of time to make the gravy!
How to make a creamy gravy
Gravy is easy to make but needs to be nurtured a little. Allow the mushroom stock, sour cream, and mustard to simmer slowly over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Take your time.
For lump-free gravy, mix the cornstarch with ½ a cup of water before adding it.
Make the meatball mixture a day ahead and place it in a large bowl or airtight container. It will keep for several days. The gravy can also be made and reheated.
Veggie meatballs and gravy make a comforting meal with pasta, vegan egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice. You can also reduce the size of the meatballs so they are minis and use them as appetizers.
Storage / Freezing / Reheating
Store leftover meatballs separately from the gravy if possible. This makes it easier to reheat and keeps the meatballs from getting too moist and falling apart.
Vegan meatballs keep in the fridge for 4-5 days or freeze well for up to 3 months.
To reheat in the oven, wrap the meatballs in foil, then uncover them for the last few minutes, so they crisp a little. You can also reheat them in the air fryer at 375 F for 4-5 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Bulgur is derived from wheat and therefore is glutenous. If you want a gluten-free option for this recipe, quinoa would be your best option. You can soak quinoa for 15 minutes in boiling water like you would the bulgur. You can also use millet or cooked brown rice, or wild rice.
Italian meatballs are seasoned with Italian spices, aromatic spices like onion powder or fresh garlic cloves, or parmesan cheese. Swedish meatballs have warm spices, including nutmeg and allspice, and are paired with a white gravy rather than a tomato-based sauce.
Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F to make oil-free veggie meatballs. Place the meatballs in a single layer in the air fryer basket and cook for 14 minutes. Rotate the meatballs halfway through so they cook evenly. agent.
Add 1 cup of dry mushrooms covered with 2 cups of boiling water for a quick mushroom broth. Allow the mushrooms to steep for at least 20 minutes, then drain the mushrooms. This flavorful mushroom stock can be used for gravy and sauces or frozen for future use.