Not Meatballs – Nutballs

This recipe has been a tried and true favourite for some time now. The cashew nuts, sunflower seeds and tofu contribute plenty of protein. The balls are full of flavour and very simple and quick to make – we’ve had a lot of success with school-aged children making these at our workshops for vegan spaghetti bolognaise & not meatballs 🙂


Substituting other nuts/seeds: You can swap the nuts/seeds for others if you prefer, although think about the flavour profiles. Hazelnuts for example are quite strong, and give a distinctive flavour which could be overpowering in this recipe. Good choices for nuts are cashews, almonds, other milder nuts (walnuts, macadamia, brazil etc). I don’t usually go for peanuts as they are quite different nutritionally, and not a true nut. Seeds are wonderful, and usually a lot cheaper than nuts. Organic sunflower seeds can be hard to get for long periods of time in NZ, so it’s important to be able to substitute. Organic pumpkin seeds are my pick, as they are high in iron and zinc, making them a great option for both men’s health (zinc) and women’s health (iron). Smaller seeds (sesame, linseed) are harder to grind up and tend to have a stronger flavour, but a small amount would work fine, if you can grind them well (spice/coffee grinder works the best.)

You can make this recipe ahead of time and just bake them (or fry them) around 20 mins prior to serving. The baking option keeps you hands-free and mitigates the need for oil.

Not Meatballs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Tbsp = Tablespoon 15ml,  tsp = teaspoon 5ml,  cup = 250ml



  1. Dice onion finely, place in a warm dry pan and stir over a med heat until soft (don’t brown). Add a (very) little water to the pan to prevent sticking.
  2. Crush garlic, add and cook 1 min, but don’t brown anything. Place lightly cooked onion and garlic in a mixing bowl.
  3. Grind nuts and seeds as fine as you can (like fine breadcrumbs). Add to mixing bowl.
  4. Blend tofu to a paste, add to mixture.
  5. Add breadcrumbs and measured seasonings, mix well (hands work well).
  6. Form into small balls (1 Tbsp each) with your hands, and place on a lined baking tray.
  7. You can put them aside (refrigerate) at this point until you are ready to bake them.
  8. Bake on baking paper at 180°C with the fan for 15-20 min. You may need to turn once during baking if the oven doesn’t bake very evenly, or if they are not in the centre (or fan not on).
  9. Serve while hot, goes really well with wholegrain pasta and a hearty tomato sauce. Also great with roast root vegetables – they don’t necessarily need a sauce as they are flavourful and moist enough to enjoy on their own. Kids seem to like just picking them up with their fingers and munching on them – lunch box inspiration?


One Comment Add yours

  1. aspoonfulofnature says:

    these look amaziiing!!


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