These crisp Italian cauliflower quinoa meatballs are an easy to make, nourishing meal the whole family loves. A delicious vegan meat replacement, they're made without eggs or dairy, are oil-free and gluten-free adaptable, and are just as fabulous cooked in the oven or the air fryer.
Get ready for your new favorite vegan meatball!
Cauliflower quinoa meatballs are a delicious, healthy and flavorful vegan meat alternative. The combination of sweet roasted cauliflower, Italian spices, sriracha mayo and fresh basil is beyond incredible - I'm obsessed.
But feel free to switch up the spice mixture and make your favorite Asian, Mexican, Indian or spicy Buffalo vegan meatballs.
Easy to make, freeze like a dream, and everyone loves them - vegans, vegetarian, and meat eaters alike!
Here's what you'll need to make these simple vegan meatballs with only a few pantry ingredients:
Cauliflower - cauliflower baked in Italian spices for the most flavor and then riced.
Quinoa - cooked in broth until light and fluffy.
Breadcrumbs - use fresh Italian breadcrumbs or panko (gluten-free option).
Spices - Italian spices both dry and fresh for depth yet delicate flavor.
Binder - since vegan meatballs are made without eggs, they need something to bind them. For extra flavor and moistness I used spicy mayo and flour.
How to make Cauliflower Meatballs
- Make the quinoa and roast the cauliflower until tender.
- Mix the sriracha mayo in a small dish.
- Add the ingredients together with 1 tablespoon of flour and 2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce to bind the mixture together - it will be slightly sticky.
- Form into 18-20 golf ball size balls by firmly pressing together in your hands.
- Bake or air fry until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The texture is incredible!
- Serve with the remaining sriracha-mayo drizzle.
Roasting the cauliflower adds time to this recipe, but the flavor payoff is enormous so I think it's worth it. Make a double batch of meatballs and freeze half for next time!
Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil on the baking sheet and then roll them through the oil to lightly coat the balls. Alternatively, give them a light coat of baking spray.
Use a spoon to gently flip the cauliflower balls when baking. They are more tender while baking, but firm up when cooled.
Make patties instead of balls and enjoy as a cauliflower veggie burger with all the fixins.
FAQ - Vegan Meatballs
Because vegan meatballs are made without eggs or dairy, they need something to stick them together. Common choices include a vegan egg replacement like aquafaba, flax egg, flour or mashed beans/chickpeas. But for added flavor try adding some tahini or spicy mayo.
These vegan meatballs freeze well - great for meal prep! Place leftovers in an airtight container or bag and freeze for up to several months. Remove from freezer and warm in the oven, air fryer or pan fry to reheat.
Make a double batch (for meal prep), these vegan cauliflower meatballs are super versatile and completely irresistible. Here's a few of our favorite uses:
- as an appetizer - serve with dipping sauce at holiday parties and large gatherings. Make them ahead, freeze, and then pop into the air fryer before serving - so easy and tasty.
- as a vegan meat replacement for buddha bowls (protein-rich, gluten-free)
- as a sandwich stuffing - stuffed in homemade pita bread with hummus and tahini sauce
- or form into patties and serve with veggies and sweet and spicy tahini as a veggie burger
- as a vegan meatball replacement in Italian pasta dishes
- on a healthy, nourishing garden salad for lunch or dinner
Baked Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs (vegan)
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- food processor
- air fryer (optional)
- 1 head cauliflower, florets (5-6 cups)
- 2 cups quinoa, cooked
- 2 teaspoons dry oregano
- 1 /2 teaspoon dry basil or Italian spice
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes, more to taste
- S&P to taste
- ½ cup breadcrumbs (fresh or panko)
- 1-3 tablespoons flour, all purpose or gluten-free
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup Vegenaise
- 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce, more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon soy sauce
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment or a reusable baking sheet.
- Toss the cauliflower florets (approximately 5-6 cups) with 1 tablespoon of oil and the spices in a large bowl or on the baking sheet. Arrange on the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes, stir and return to oven for another 8-10 minutes until tender.
- Transfer baked cauliflower to a food processor and pulse several times to rice it; but don't overprocess so it's mushy. Should be the size/texture of rice.
Make the Quinoa
- Cook ¾ - 1 cup quinoa* in broth as per package instructions until light and fluffy.
- Pro Tip: uncooked quinoa increases by roughly 2.5 - 3 times when cooked.
Cauliflower Quinoa Meatball Mixture
- Place riced cauliflower, cooked quinoa, breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of flour, 2 tablespoons sriracha mayo, and chopped basil-parsley in a large bowl. Mix until well incorporated.
- The mixture will be sticky and bind together when pressed. If not sticking together, add another tablespoon of flour - mix thoroughly.
- Using your hands, gently squeeze to form 18-20* equal size balls. Place on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and roll the balls to lightly coat the meatballs.
Oven Baked Method
- Bake for 12 minutes until golden.
- Gently roll them to flip and cook for another 10 - 12 minutes.
- Let them cool before transfering from baking sheet.
Air Fryer Method
- Spray air fryer basket with baking spray. Set to 350º F.
- Place cauliflower balls in the air fryer basket without touching each other.
- Fry for 15 minutes stopping after 10 minutes to gently shake the basket to flip the cauliflower balls.
- Continue to fry for another 5-7 minutes until hot and crispy. Carefully remove from air fryer.
- The cauliflower balls firm up as they cool down. Serve with remaining sriracha mayo drizzle, with pasta, soup, salad or in sandwiches!
This recipe is from simplyceecee.co food blog. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images or republish this recipe without prior permission. Thank you.
Originally posted January 2018, updated November 2021