★★★★★

Easy Vegetarian Zucchini Meatballs

You don’t need meat to make meatballs! These vegetarian Zucchini Meatballs make a delicious meatless meal paired with pasta and your favorite sauce.

Add some zucchini meatballs to your Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe. Or serve them with your favorite Olive Garden salad and garlic bread!

Meatless zucchini meatballs in a white bowl with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian Meatballs

The search for the perfect meatless Monday dinner is over with these Zucchini Meatballs! So here’s what you want to ask me: DO THEY TASTE LIKE MEAT?

No. They don’t. I’ll be honest. But they taste AMAZING. Just as hearty and satisfying as biting into a meaty meatball but with a lighter twist.

In fact, I prefer meatless options that don’t try to imitate the taste of meat. It’s entirely it’s own thing! Pile your Zucchini Meatballs onto a sub or a bowl of pasta and you have a healthier alternative to meat that’s truly delicious.

The texture of these meatballs is wonderful. The breadcrumbs help hold them together, and baking them browns them up slightly. Zucchini meatballs are an easy vegetarian dinner idea that everyone at the table will enjoy.

Ingredient Notes

  • Zucchini – I shredded my zucchini with my food processor. If you want it even finer, return it to the bowl of the food processor for a second round of shredding. I don’t mind the coarsely shredded zucchini, however, I know my kids prefer it to be not as noticeable when you take a bite.
  • Breadcrumbs – White or whole wheat breadcrumbs (not Panko) work best. For a low carb alternative, substitute ground chickpeas or pork rinds!
  • Parmesan cheese
Zucchini meatballs on a foil lined baking sheet.

Easy Instructions

Cook Zucchini. The perfect meatless meatballs start like so many good things: sauteeing garlic in olive oil! Add the zucchini to create a tender texture and infuse it with that irresistible garlic flavor.

Most of the moisture will cook out of the zucchini as you saute it but you’ll still need to squeeze the extra water out using a colander or clean towel.

Make “meatball.” Combine the zucchini with the other ingredients for the meatballs, then roll the mixture into balls.

Bake. Place the meatballs on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.

Serve over spaghetti or Zoodles with a flavorful spaghetti sauce or on a toasted hoagie. Don’t forget the extra cheese on top!

Four zucchini meatballs in a dish with marinara sauce.

Tips and Tricks

  • Do not skip the draining of the zucchini process. Unless, of course, you want soggy meatballs that fall apart!
  • For an even browner meatball, you can flip them over after the 20 minutes, and brown them on the other side for an additional ten minutes. The extra baking time will also dry them out even more, giving them a chewier texture. I enjoy them both ways!
  • I use a 2 Tablespoon scoop to make my perfect meatballs. Scoop the “meat” then use your hands to press and roll them into a ball. Place them on a foil lined baking sheet.
  • Once these are cooked, add your sauce and enjoy warm. OR, let them cool, place them in a freezer safe ziploc bag and freeze until ready to use! Each batch makes about 20 meatballs.

Recipe FAQs

Can you substitute dried herbs for fresh?

I don’t recommend it as the flavor won’t be nearly as vibrant. The fresh basil adds an amazing dimension to these meatballs.

Can these be made gluten free?

Yes, swap out the breadcrumbs for a gluten free variety or ground up pork rinds for an easy gluten free option!

Are these meatballs vegan?

No. The cheese and egg in the meatballs make these unsuitable for vegan diets, but they are 100% vegetarian.

More Vegetarian Dishes

Yield: 20 meatballs

Zucchini Meatballs

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

You'll love these meatless Zucchini Meatballs for a healthy, fresh vegetarian dinner! Serve them up with your favorite pasta sauce and noodles for a dinner your friends and family will love!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • several cranks of black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with non stick foil. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, drizzle olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add in shredded zucchini.
  3. Cook for about 5 minutes, until most of the water in the skillet has evaporated. Transfer to a colander and press out remaining liquid.
  4. In a large bowl combine bread crumbs, egg, seasoning, basil, and parmesan cheese. Mix with the zucchini until fully blended.
  5. Using a 2 Tbsp scoop, form 20 balls, rolling tightly, and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until firm and lightly browned.
  6. Serve meatballs with your favorite sauce on pasta, zoodles, or a hoagie with cheese! ENJOY!

Notes

  • Do not skip the draining of the zucchini process. Unless, of course, you want soggy meatballs that fall apart!
  • For an even browner meatball, you can flip them over after the 20 minutes, and brown them on the other side for an additional ten minutes. The extra baking time will also dry them out even more, giving them a chewier texture. I enjoy them both ways!
  • I use a 2 Tablespoon scoop to make my perfect meatballs. Scoop the "meat" then use your hands to press and roll them into a ball. Place them on a foil lined baking sheet.
  • Once these are cooked, add your sauce and enjoy warm. OR, let them cool, place them in a freezer safe ziploc bag and freeze until ready to use! Each batch makes about 20 meatballs.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

4 meatballs

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 174Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 394mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Meatless Monday might just become your favorite day of the week when Zucchini Meatballs are on the menu! Whether you eat them with pasta, in a sub sandwich or on their own, these meatballs are heaven for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

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Posted on August 28, 2017

Comments & Reviews

  1. These were so delicious it’s ridiculous! I can’t stop eating them! However, I changed it up a bit by using a flax egg and Panko breadcrumbs… thank you for this great recipe!

  2. Have you (or anyone) baked these in an air fryer? Trying not to use the oven as it’s still warm where I live, so I think an air fryer may be the second best option for me. I’m wondering what temperature I would use & how long to cook them for? Thank you.

  3. These were delicious. I did add shredded onion to the mixture also, because I love Onion and garlic in many things. And I sprinkled the top with a little paprika to give it a little bit of Thank you

  4. I make something like this from time to time. I don’t saute the zucchini at first. I simply make sure to wring it out really well.

    1. I watch my carbohydrates as well and I used Parmesan cheese in place of the bread crumbs and it turned out yummy

  5. I made these today and they are delicious! I didn’t have enough zucchini so I used a zucchini/carrot combo, added nutritional yeast to the mixture, and I drizzled more olive oil onto the balls at the 10 minute mark during baking. I’m trying to sway my family towards a vegetarian diet and these definitely helped- amazing reviews by all.

    1. So happy to hear it! be sure to try the “greek” version of these as well with the homemade tzatziki. SO GOOD.

  6. The zucchini meat balls where delicious. I used nutritional yeast instead of cheese to bake the vegetables meatballs.

  7. Used egg replacement ( aquafaba ), 3 in total, and baked a little longer. A dash of hot sauce and maybe 1/2 tsp onion powder. Great!

  8. Made these today and they are delicious. We are whole food plant based so I made a flax egg and used nutritional yeast. Thank you for the great recipe. Zucchini is so good and it’s terrific to have another way to use it.

    1. They were delicious. I did change things a bit. Added an onion, added fresh basil, oregano, chives and parsley and some crumbled feta. Am making another batch tomorrow. I have an abundance of zucchini’s in my garden at the moment.

  9. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this recipe. I have a garden full of zucchini, so it’s much appreciated. I wonder if the uncooked “meatballs” will freeze well. I’m going to give it a try…wish me luck!

    1. Yay, so glad! My only concern with freezing BEFORE cooking would be the zucchini might get too soggy (if you’ve ever frozen shredded zucchini you’ll know what I’m talking about 🙂 ). However, freezing these AFTER baking is totally doable, and delicious! THAT I’ve tried for myself 🙂

    1. Many vegetarians eat egg…but if you prefer to leave it out, feel free! You may need to add a splash of water to help bind it together.

  10. I didn’t realize you were going vegetarian! These look delicious and I’m sure are making the change much easier 🙂

    1. So far it hasn’t been too hard, but thinking about Thanksgiving with no turkey??? Not sure what to do about that, LOL

  11. Looking forward to making this variation of how I have been using up my zucchini. Did you use fresh or dry bread crumbs?

    1. I used dry because I was afraid fresh would add too much moisture (and the zuccchini already has extra moisture). I would say if your fresh breadcrumbs are pretty moist (ie FRESH), maybe leave out the egg? Let me know if you try it!

  12. I think it’s awesome you’ve taken the vegetarian leap! Congrats! It’s wonderful to hear you feel great, too! 🙂

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