Homemade Swedish Lentil "Meatballs" (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free)

Fresh, homemade lentil balls in creamy mushroom gravy.
It's a bit seasonally inappropriate to post a Swedish Meatball recipe after the winter holidays have ended. However, this hearty and satisfying meal is one we enjoy year-round. I think I made it four times between November and January - mostly due to the fact that we keep getting stuck with a few lingonberries left in the jar and need to use them up. It's kind of like a chip-dip cycle: buy chips and dip, run out of chips and buy more, run out of dip and buy more, run out of chips... you get it.

The fourth time I set out to make this, I aimed to use up the last of the lingonberry preserves, but I had run out of store-bought veggie meatballs. By making them from lentils, I'd save the $4-$7, be sure to use the best ingredients and get the seasoning right for this special dish.

I could not find a recipe that seemed just right, so I chose ingredients for protein, texture, and a flavor balance of salty, savory, sweet, and spice. I have to say they turned out pretty great! The texture rivals some of the store brands, but healthier with more "whole food" ingredients. They stood up well to frying, although I would wait until the last minute to add them to sauce. Like most veggie meatballs, they will absorb the sauce and break down if stirred too much, and these held up as well as can be expected.

Lentil meatballs in creamy mushroom gravy over egg noodles
Swedish Lentil “Meatballs”
Yields: 24 “meatballs”
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes 


Cook lentils and rice a day or two ahead (or use leftovers) to make these quick and easy vegan meatballs. These are seasoned with spices used for Swedish Meatballs, but could be adjusted for flavorings by switching out the sugar, nutmeg and allspice for any herbs or spices.

1 T olive oil + ¼ cup or more for browning the formed balls
1 small onion, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, sliced
2 C brown or green lentils, cooked and drained (30-40 minutes)
1/3 C cooked rice
1/3 C whole rolled oats (uncooked)
1 T fresh parsley or 1 tspn dried
1 T light soy sauce (Tamari for gluten-free, Coconut Aminos for gluten-free/soy-free)
1 T brown sugar
½ tspn sea salt
1/8 tspn black pepper
1/8 tspn nutmeg, freshly ground
1/8 tspn allpice
2 T water

1. In a skillet, sauté onion in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Set aside.
cooked lentil balls

2. In a food processor, place lentils, cooked rice, dry oats, and seasonings. Grind until combined. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if needed to make the mixture a bit more sticky. It should not be a paste, but well ground up and mixed together.

3. Form small 1-1/2” firmly packed balls, about 1 tablespoon each. Set aside in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

4. In a skillet, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the balls in batches, turning to brown all sides. You may need to add oil for each batch. This should take about 8-10 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.

5. Eat right away or add to sauce just before serving.

Vegetarian Swedish Meatball Gravy
Lentil Meatballs in a Creamy Sauce
2-3 servings
3 T butter
½ medium onion
1 cup white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 T flour
1/3 C Sherry cooking wine
1 C vegetable stock
¼ C heavy cream
2 T sour cream
1 T soy sauce
1/8 tsp (pinch) dry mustard powder
salt & pepper to taste
1. Heat 2 T butter in skillet and brown the frozen veggie balls. Remove to the side.
2. Add 1 T butter and sauté mushrooms and onions until browned.
3. Sprinkle with flour.
4. Deglaze with sherry and add stock. Stir, cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add cream, sour cream, soy sauce, and mustard. Cook 2-3 minutes and season with salt and pepper as needed.
6. Add back the balls and cover, simmer just until heated through.
Serve with egg noodles and lingonberry preserves.

Vegan meatballs in a soy cream and mushroom gravy
Vegan Swedish Meatball Gravy
(with gluten-free and soy-free options)
3 T butter
½ medium onion
1 cup white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 T arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1/3 C Sherry cooking wine
1 C vegetable stock
¼ C soy creamer or cashew cream
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 T soy sauce, tamari for gluten-free or coconut aminos for soy-free
1/8 tsp (pinch) dry mustard powder
salt & pepper to taste
Partially blending this sauce will help it thicken.
Serve with lingonberry preserves.


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