I filled these Vegan Mushroom-Walnut Balls with delicious umami flavor and nourishing, filling ingredients to create an incredibly satisfying plant-based entrée! They’re easy to make and pair perfectly with your Thanksgiving dinner…or over pasta!
I get a lot of requests for plant-based main dishes, and this is one I’m really excited to add to the site! These are Vegan Mushroom-Walnut Balls that are perfect for Thanksgiving, pasta night, snacking, or an appetizer. Walnut creates the perfect textural base for these, and the mushroom and caramelized onion flavors infuse the whole dish with the most incredible savory umami flavor! I really think you’re going to love them.
Vegan Walnut Meat
I’m often met with some skepticism when I say I use walnuts as a vegan meat option! Hear me out, though: the texture works so well, and when seasoned properly, it honestly tastes like the real deal. I make a Vegan Walnut Taco Meat that’s delicious! Walnuts are filling and can control blood sugar levels, which make them an excellent choice for creating vegan taco meat. Walnuts also contain omega-3 essential fatty acids that could lower your overall risk of heart disease, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In addition, omega-3s also reduce joint pain and improve brain function and development. Walnuts are also a good source of magnesium, which can lower blood pressure.
So much of the delicious flavor in these Vegan Mushroom-Walnut Balls comes from the addition of caramelized onions! When caramelized, onions get this rich, deep, almost-sweet flavor that’s unbelievable. They’re so good on top of salads, bowls, or mixed into this recipe! Since it takes a full hour for onions to caramelize, I recommend doing this ahead of time.
All About Mushrooms
Mushrooms are low in calories and high in dietary fiber and riboflavin. They are also a good source of niacin, copper and pantothenate. Make sure to select mushrooms that are firm and well-shaped without any slimy spots on them. You can refrigerate mushrooms for up to a week, but I prefer to use them within a day or two of bringing them home from the grocery store! For this recipe I recommend shittake mushrooms because their flavor is just so incredible in this recipe. I have. not yet tested this recipe with other mushroom varieties. Mushrooms do vary in texture and flavor so I do highly recommend shittake in this particular recipe.
Gluten-Free Vegan Mushroom-Walnut Balls
I used oats as a binder and to add more substance to these Vegan Mushroom-Walnut Balls. Oats have the added benefit of being really good for you! It’s full of soluble fiber, and they’re higher in protein and healthful fats than most other whole grains. I love getting an energy boost and feeling full a little longer after eating oats!
This entrée is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and made without refined sugar. I hope you make and enjoy it! Please tag me on Instagram if you do; I love seeing my recipes in the wild. It’s incredibly helpful if you leave a review for this recipe below!
More Vegan + Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dishes
Herb Roasted Root Vegetables
Easy Cranberry Sauce
Cauliflower Steak Marbella with Roasted Chickpeas
Sweet Potato Rounds with Vegan Ricotta and Toasted Walnuts
Sweet Potato Casserole
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus
Best Creamy Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic
Vegan Mashed Cauliflower
Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Quinoa Salad
Quinoa-Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash
Pecan Pie Bars
These Vegan Mushroom-Walnut Balls are made with walnuts, oats, caramelized onion, mushrooms, and the perfect blend of spices!
- 1 cup cooked brown rice (tip: microwave frozen brown rice to keep it easy!)
- 1 caramelized onion
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1 cup oats (gluten-free if desired)
- Prepare brown rice ahead of time. I like to use frozen brown rice that microwaves in two minutes to keep this recipe quick and easy. Stovetop or instant pot brown rice also works.
- Prepare the caramelized onion in advance since this takes an hour to fully caramelize.
- Add oil, mushrooms and all seasonings to a non-stick, non-toxic skillet and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes until the mushrooms have released their juices and softened. I like to give them time to sear a bit and allow their umami flavors to fully develop. Set cooked mushrooms aside.
- To a 7-cup food processor add walnuts and oats and process for 20 seconds until crumbly. Add cooked brown rice, caramelized onion and cooked mushrooms. Pulse until everything is well combined and no large chunks of anything remain. Do not over-process the mixture – you don’t want it to turn into mush. A little texture is good.
- Use a 1.5 tablespoon retractable cookie scoop and form the mixture into balls with your hands. You should have about 18 balls. Preheat a large non-stick, non-toxic skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom of the pan in olive oil. Once the oil is hot, place the balls in the skillet. The balls should not be touching. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook the balls about 5 minutes per side until all sides are seared, crispy and golden brown.
- Serve immediately as a main course overtop spaghetti with marinara sauce, fresh basil or parsley and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese if desired! Use them for Thanksgiving dinner alongside my Fluffy Creamy Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Easy Refined Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce and my Vegan Green Bean Casserole!
- Store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.