Italian Meatballs with a Tomato and Basil Sauce

These bad boys really pack a flavour punch. Perfect with pasta or on top of some salad, they’re also super tasty served cold and would make a great lunch box snack for the little ones. They also hold their shape well, so there’s no messing around, and they cook easily.

This recipe makes about 24 completely vegan meatballs that will have even your meat-eating friends coming back for more. If you make a batch on the weekend, and freeze a portion of them, you’ll be chuffed to come home to this easy-to-prepare meal after a busy day. Oh! They’re also super healthy, and if you’re on a gluten-free diet, just swap out the regular oats for gluten-free oats.

Serve with a sauce of your choice, but I love them with my tomato and basil sauce — perfect every time!

Meatballs Cooking

What you’ll need for the meatballs (makes 24):

  • 1 large white onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 14oz (400g) chestnut mushrooms, cleaned with a damp cloth and sliced
  • 14oz (400g) tin of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of oats
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of hot paprika
  • 1/4 cup of basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of oil and a little extra for cooking


What you’ll need for the tomato and basil sauce:

  • Tin of chopped tomatoes 14oz (400g)
  • One onion, finely diced
  • About a handful of basil (1/3 of a shop-bought plant)
  • Some olive oil for frying
  • Some sugar (optional)

Meatballs in Sauce

Method for the meatballs:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pan and place over a medium heat, add the onions and cook until translucent. Remove and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the mushrooms. When they are almost done, add the garlic and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the porridge oats into a food processor and whizz until you have a flour that’s as smooth as possible. Remove from the food processor and place in a bowl, add the beans and the other ingredients, including the onion and the mushrooms, and mix well. If you have a very large food processor, you can just add everything to it but mine is medium-sized and the mix is a little too big for it.
  3. If this is the case for you, add the mix back into the food processor in two or three separate batches, and blend until smooth. Combine the batches all together in the bowl.
  4. Using a tablespoon as a measure, scoop up some of the mix and form into balls, you should get about 24. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Add a little oil to a pan and place the pan over a medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook gently until they are warm all the way through and are browned nicely on the outside.
  6. Add the sauce to the pan and serve with pasta or however you like.


Method for the tomato and basil sauce: 

  1. Add a little oil to a large pan and gently heat over a low flame. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent. Add the tinned tomatoes and give it a good stir. Chop your basil and add to the pot. Have a little taste and add some sugar if needed. Simmer on a low heat until the sauce becomes a beautiful, deep orange color (approx. 20 mins). Using a hand blender, give the sauce a good whizz until smooth. A large pan comes in handy here as it can get a tad messy. 

Share and enjoy!


If you try this dish at home please take a photo of it and tag @thetinyvegankitchen on Instagram or @thetinyVK on Twitter. I’d love to see them!

Tanya x

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