Meatless “Meatballs”

Root formula for vegan tofu meatballs

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This is a Root Formula, a simplified recipe that shows which ingredients are core and which can be changed to create different flavor combinations or use what you have on hand.
See our Variations on this Formula below.

This Root Formula can be used to make endless flavor combinations. Our favorite flavor Variations are Classic Italian, Sriracha-Lemongrass, and Smoky Spanish.

Root formula for vegan tofu meatballs

Meatless "Meatballs" (A Root Formula)

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Yield: 6 people

Recipe Notes

We like how Aleppo pepper offers flavor and subtle heat, but if you don’t have it, simply substitute 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes. And if you’re serving these balls to young children, you may want to leave out the pepper altogether.


  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained, patted dry, & crumbled (no need to weight it)
  • 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon each: fine salt, Aleppo pepper and fine granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • ¼ cup Chopped Fresh Herbs
  • Flavorings
  • 2 tablespoons oil, plus a little extra
  • Sauce


  • Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Start by whisking chia seeds and water so they have time to thicken up before you add them. Measure the remaining ingredients, including Chopped Fresh Herbs and Flavorings, in a large bowl; whisk thickened chia mixture and add to the bowl. Using hands, mix thoroughly to combine. Divide mixture into approximately twenty-four 2-tablespoon portions, rolling each into a ball.
  • Meanwhile, bring 2 tablespoons of oil in a large (12-inch) oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. When whisps of smoke start to rise from the pan, reduce heat to medium, add balls and cook until well browned on one side. Turn the balls over and continue to cook on the remaining side until well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake until balls are firm, about 25 minutes. Serve with Sauce.

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