Simple, yet special, recipes for the home chef.

Black Bean “Meatballs” with Marinara #SundaySupper

Black Bean "Meatballs" with Marinara - A meatless meal that's a crowd pleaser! |

Somewhere along the way, I started eating A LOT of meatless meals. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it really started when I was in culinary school. To be honest, when I quit my full-time job to attend school, my husband and I didn’t have a lot of extra money. Eating vegetarian meals was one way we saved money during those years, because meat is expensive!

Over time, we got so used to eating these mostly bean-centric meals, that it didn’t really feel like we were giving up anything, or trying to eat cheaply. It just tasted good. We ate a lot of black bean tacos, pizzas topped with only vegetables, and filling pasta dishes that didn’t need meat. Now that we’re on more stable financial ground, we still eat these vegetarian meals a few nights a week. The money we save can be spent on other things, like traveling!

Black Bean "Meatballs" with Marinara - A meatless meal that's a crowd pleaser! |

As “Meatless Meals” is the theme of this week’s #SundaySupper, hosted by Tammi at Momma’s Meals, it seemed like the perfect time to break out yet another black bean dish. Black beans are my favorite, because they have so much flavor on their own, and take really well to being jazzed up with herbs and spices, too. Their dark color kind of fools your brain into thinking you might be eating meat, and they’re really sturdy, so they make for good “meatballs” and “burgers” and the like. These have an Italian slant thanks to the oregano and marinara (and would be good served with pasta), but they could also take on a Mexican flavor if you used salsa instead of marinara.

Black Bean "Meatballs" with Marinara - A meatless meal that's a crowd pleaser! |

Black Bean “Meatballs” with Marinara

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes


  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons NatureBox Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Seeds or regular pumpkin seeds, chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 jar (14 ounces) marinara sauce, warmed
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. In medium bowl, use potato masher to mash and stir together beans, egg, breadcrumbs, pumpkin seeds, oregano, salt and pepper. Form mixture into 10 golf ball-sized balls.
  2. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray skillet with nonstick spray. Transfer meatballs to skillet; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until browned on all sides and warmed through, turning occasionally.
  3. Serve Black Bean "Meatballs" with marinara, garnished with parsley.

This recipe originally appeared here on the Naturebox blog. Adapted from The Food Charlatan.


Don’t forget to check out all the other great meatless recipes from the Sunday Supper Group!

Salads, Soups, Stews and Starters


Pastas, Pizzas and Casseroles


Tacos & Everything Wrapped

Other Main and Side Dishes


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60 Responses to “Black Bean “Meatballs” with Marinara #SundaySupper”

  1. manusmenu — March 9, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Yum is all I can say! I love how creative these are! Beautiful pictures too!


  2. Shaina Wizov — March 9, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Black beans are a great ingredient for meatless meals, they are so versatile!


  3. Melanie Bauer — March 9, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I’m so intrigued by the use of pumpkin seeds in this recipe – definitely going to have to give it a try!


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 11:21 am

      Thanks, Melanie. The pumpkin seeds aren’t super critical, but they do give the “meat”balls a little bit of crunch, which I like.

  4. Jennifer Drummond — March 9, 2014 at 9:51 am

    You already know I love black beans and as meatballs! Oh my gosh! What a great idea!!


  5. Liz — March 9, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Lori, what a gorgeous dish! I adore black beans so I have a feeling I’d eat more than my share of your lovely meatballs :)


  6. Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious — March 9, 2014 at 10:38 am

    And…and…and…you could make a mean meatball sandwich out of those on some of your beloved English muffins!


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 11:20 am

      WHAT?!? Why didn’t I think of this?!? YES YES YES.

  7. Jennifer Miller — March 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

    These “meatballs” look simple to make and very tasty — a perfect meatless meatball! Yum!


  8. littleredkitchen — March 9, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    If I actually liked beans I’d be all over this because I will never say no to a meal with “meatballs”.


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 11:20 am

      I still can’t believe you don’t like beans. But, we all have our things. I get it :)

  9. Hezzi-D — March 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    I love black bean burgers so I can only imagine how good these meatballs are!


  10. Shannon R — March 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I love that they are soy free. Sometimes as a veggie it’s all soy, soy, soy! I try to only have it once a day and in moderation, now I don’t have to waste it on meatballs! Yum!


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 11:20 am

      Oh, glad I could may a soy-less version for you, Shannon!

  11. Renee Dobbs — March 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Add me to the list of people who love black beans! What a great way to make them into “meatballs”.


  12. cupcakekalechip — March 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Wow, I’ve never seen a black bean meatball before! Awesome! I wish I could get my hubby to eat more meatless meals.


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 11:19 am

      I’ve heard others bribe their husbands with dessert after a meatless meal? That could help :)

  13. The Wimpy Vegetarian — March 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I’ve been wanting to make meatless meatballs for awhile now, and these look so good. No sacrifice felt at all for eliminating meat. Pinning !!


  14. Bobbi Renee Hass-Burleson — March 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Black beans are a fave meat substitute for me along with chick peas. I hope I can get my meat love to give these a try!


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 11:19 am

      Oh yeah, I love chickpeas too. I ALWAYS have at least 1 can each of black beans and chickpeas in my cupboard, otherwise I get a little nervous.

  15. Tammi @ Momma's Meals — March 9, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    What a fabulous idea!! I’m totally trying these!! Thanks for sharing your yummy recipe and mouth watering pics!


  16. mommasangelbaby — March 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    They look like grilled meatballs to me! Beautiful pics & they sound yummy. HUGS


  17. Alice Choi — March 9, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    LOVE these black bean meatballs!!! I love black bean burgers so I know I would love these! Pinning!!


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 11:18 am

      Me too, Alice. There’s this restaurant near me that has the BEST black bean burgers! Wish I could figure out how they make them so good!

  18. Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere — March 10, 2014 at 4:48 am

    We’ve made black bean burgers, but never meatballs. I love the tomato sauce with them!


  19. Courtney @ Neighborfood — March 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I’ve never made a meatless “meatball” before but I love the idea. We’ve been eating a lot of meat this winter, but I’m looking forward to a lot more meatless meals in the warmer months. Pinning this one for later!


  20. Sarah R — March 10, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    OMG I love black beans… they make perfect burgers, so why not meatballs?


  21. The Hubs — March 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    While I have eaten plenty a black bean burger, I was skeptical of how “meat-less-balls” would be in an Italian dish . . . And the verdict was very good. I didn’t even miss the meat. Well done honey!


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 11:17 am

      Thanks, family. Maybe next time I’ll serve them with actual pasta instead of barley ;)

  22. Cindys Recipes — March 10, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    I love black beans. This is a must try!


  23. Lori | Foxes Love Lemons — March 11, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Thanks Cindy!


  24. Lori | Foxes Love Lemons — March 11, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Thank you, Jennifer :)


  25. supperforasteal — March 11, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Anything with the words black beans and I automatically want it! These sound great. I’ve yet to experiment with meatless meatballs.


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

      Thanks so much, Lane. I feel the same way about black beans!

  26. Laura Hunter — March 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    We made black bean burgers last year that didn’t quite work out like I wanted, your meatball versions seem to have succeeded where mine failed as far as holding together so I am so excited to master these and then try the burgers again.


    • Lori | Foxes Love Lemons replied: — March 11th, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

      Awww, that’s the main reason I’ve been nervous to try making bean burgers. The great thing about meatballs is that they’re so small – so they’re a lot easier to turn without any crumbling!

  27. Soni — March 13, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Love your twist on the meatballs and it sounds so flavorful and satisfying!!Great idea for a meatless meal :)


  28. Ivana Barbaric — March 14, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Sounds and looks delicious!


  29. Webicurean — March 15, 2014 at 11:07 am

    These meatballs look like the real deal! I could see those piled up on a fat soft roll, smothered in that marinara, and maybe topped with some provolone. OK maybe I’ve gone too far now


  30. jbuggica — March 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

    As a Cuban Italian, this dish is pretty much perfect. Gorgeous photos too!


  31. kate crook — March 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    YUM! We make a version with lentils – recipe from The Meatball Shop in NYC – to be honest, its sometimes hard to tell there is no meat. These are a must try, black beans are even tastier than lentils!


  32. Lori | Foxes Love Lemons — March 18, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Thanks so much, Jen :)


  33. Lori | Foxes Love Lemons — March 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Ummmm no, Anne, that was NOT too far. Because that sounds AMAZING! Why didn’t I think of this for the leftovers I had of these?!?


  34. Marion@Life Tastes Good — May 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I never would have guessed these are meatless!! What a great idea! Thank your for sharing! I pinned and stumbled to make sure I can find it!! Looking forward to giving these a try soon :)


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