Vegan GF Italian meat balls

These vegan "meatballs" are deliciously packed with plenty of savory umami flavor even though they're completely free from meat, egg, diary and gluten!

Crazy good meatballs, which I call "Mate Balls", are as easy to make as the traditional ones! They're made on a base of chickpeas and sunflower seeds. They're completely nut-free, which is a good thing if you have small kids or nut-allergies in the family!

Vegan GF Italian meat balls

These mate balls are flavored "Italian style" but you're probably not the only one thinking of IKEA as soon as you hear the word meatballs. You can certainly serve these Swedish style with mash, lingonberry jam and vegan cream sauce. Just like you would have them at IKEA! Just skip the basil and dried oregano and there you'll have Swedish style mate balls! :)

Vegan GF Italian meat balls

A food processor and a stove is the only equipment needed for this recipe. No fuss, just blend all ingredients in a food processor and then fry the balls with a small amount of unflavored coconut oil.



  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup gluten free panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp chiaflour + 6 tbsp aquafaba (the water in the canned chickpeas. Slowly cooking dried beans in water for a few hours until the water turns to aquafaba will give you similar results)
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • salt och peppar to taste
  • 1/2 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • coconut oil (free from scent & taste) for frying


  1. Process the sunflower seeds in a food processor. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the chia egg by combining the chia flour and aquafaba (or just plain water) in a small bowl.
  3. Process the onion, garlic and chickpeas in a food processor.
  4. Toss all the processed ingredients in a big bowl and add all the other ingredients. Use your hands to combine everything thoroughly.
  5. Roll the mixture into approximately 15 balls.
  6. To cook the meatballs, heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Cook, turning the meatballs to make sure they brown all over, 7-10 minutes per batch. Keep them warm while you coil the pasta and tomato sauce.
  7. Serve AND ENJOY!

The recipe makes about 15 mate balls. Something that works great is to make a bigger batch and freeze the balls before cooking them. Then you'll just have to fry them when you need a quick dinner in a couple of minutes! Yum!

Natalie Yonan

Is a raw chef and recipe developer at Happy Health blog. She work as a raw food pastry chef, recipe developer, food stylist, photographer and personal chef.