Black Bean “Meatballs” with Marinara

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! |

Black beans are my favorite ingredient for meatless meals, 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.


Making one of my recipes? Please let me know by sharing a photo on my Facebook page, or uploading to Instagram or Twitter with the tag #foxeslovelemons. It would make my day!


Stay Connected


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. 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!

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

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

  13. 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. 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!

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

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

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

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

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

  21. 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!

  22. I love black beans. This is a must try!

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

  24. 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.

  25. Love your twist on the meatballs and it sounds so flavorful and satisfying!!Great idea for a meatless meal 🙂

  26. Sounds and looks delicious!

  27. 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

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

  29. 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!

  30. 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?!?

  31. 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 🙂

  32. Curious…about how many golf ball-sized “meatballs” do you get out of this recipe?
    Thanks! Can’t wait to try them with spaghetti and meatballs! 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *