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These Chickpea Meatballs Are the Perfect Vegan Swap for Spaghetti Night

Looking for a meatless swap for spaghetti night? Try this chickpea meatballs recipe. The texture is spot-on, and they're loaded with protein.

Written by
Josie Blakeslee

Meatballs... without the meat? That might seem a little weird at first, but this version is every bit as tasty, flavorful, and satisfying as a classic beef- and pork-based option. And it's all thanks to one of the mightiest, protein-packed legumes around: chickpeas.

The next time you're making spaghetti, consider swapping in these chickpea meatballs. Aside from providing plenty of protein (39 grams per cup from the chickpeas alone!), the texture is also on-point. In order to make them, Max La Manna, a food waste expert and the author of More Plants Less Waste, used a meaty mixture of chickpeas, couscous, red onion, fresh garlic, and soy sauce.

Aside from eating them with spaghetti, La Manna says slathering them with his "fire sauce"—which is made up of hot sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, cornstarch, and water—will make you want to enjoy them by themselves. No pasta required. You can also enjoy these chickpea meatballs immediately or store them in the freezer for future use. (Aka don't shy away from making multiple servings!)

Overall, these chickpea meatballs are a quick and easy 30-minute staple. So the next time you're thinking of cooking up something Italian, check out La Manna's recipe below for a more sustainable and eco-friendly option.

Chickpea Meatballs Recipe

Makes 12 to 16 meatballs


2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
1 1/4 cups couscous
1/2 red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp parsley
1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari 
Black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 395°F.
2. In a bowl, add the couscous and cover with hot water. Place a tea towel and a plate over the bowl. Let the couscous stand for 5 to 10 minutes. 
3. In a food processor, add the chickpeas, red onion, garlic, seasonings, soy sauce, and cooked couscous. Pulse until combined, but be sure to not over-pulse or the mixture will be mushy.
4. Roll the chickpea mixture with your hands and place on a greased baking sheet.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through until lightly browned and crispy. 
6. Enjoy plain or with spaghetti!