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A while back, my mom requested that I create a tasty yet easy veggie “meat” ball recipe.  She was disappointed with what was available in the frozen foods section of the grocery store, and really hoped I could provide a delicious homemade option for her.

From that point on, I was on a mission! And after a handful of hours in the kitchen, this recipe was born.  This one’s for you, mom! I hope you love it.


This is how you make these d-lish bean ball babies…

1. First, decide if you’d like to bake the meatballs in the oven or cook them stovetop in a frying pan.  Both methods will result in moist and flavorful balls, the main difference is…

When they’re cooked in a frying pan:

  • They’ll require a bit more work due to having to rotate them every five minutes.  But the trade off is you’ll get a little extra chewy/crispy texture on the outside of the balls that you wouldn’t necessarily get if they were baked in the oven.

The good part about baking them in the oven is:

  • Less labor on your part and likely more perfectly round-shaped balls in the end.

I know – decisions, decisions! If you decide to bake them, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Next, combine the water and ground flaxseed in a small bowl and set it aside.

3.  Then, mash your beans in a mixing bowl using a potato masher.

4. Grate your zucchini using the second largest wholes on a box grater… so not the part you’d normally grate cheese on – that’s too big.  And not the tiny wholes you’d zest a lemon on – that’s too small.  You want the option right in the middle!

Once that’s done, firmly press the grated zucchini between 3-4 paper towels to drain off as much excess water as possible.  When it’s all said and done, you should have about 1/2 cup grated and drained zucchini.

5. Add the zucchini, spices, salt, pepper and tomato paste to the bowl containing the mashed beans and stir very well until the zucchini and tomato paste are evenly distributed throughout.

6. Next, add the bread crumbs and the flax/water mixture and stir well again.

7. Lastly, form this mixture into 11 to 12 equal-sized balls and either place on a lightly oil pan over medium-high and allow them to cook for five minutes on each side until browned all over…

Or place them on a baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.  You can’t go wrong either way!

Once they’re cooked, decide how you’d like to eat them! You can go the traditional route and pile them on a plate of pasta with marinara sauce…

Or, just dip them in some ketchup!

Of course, feel free to get creative.  I find they go best with slightly sweeter sauces since they are on the savory side.


If you give these meatballs a try, please let me know what you think of them in the comments below!

Italian Bean “Meat” Balls

Makes 11 – 12 balls


  • One 15 oz. can of Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium Zucchini (about 1/2 cup grated and drained)
  • 1 Tb. Ground Flaxseed
  • 3 Tb. Water
  • 1 Tb. Tomato Paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Onion Powder OR 1 Tb. Fresh White Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Dried Basil
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tb. Panko Bread Crumbs, (regular or gluten free)



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I cannot wait to try these. I do have a question about ground flax seed, I bought some to make your veggie burgers (which I love), but it seems to go bad really quickly. Is there a way to store it so it doesn’t turn so fast?


Audrey Dunham

Thanks for the kind words, Karen! To answer your question -Yes, absolutely. I keep my ground flaxseed in the freezer! Keeping it in the fridge would also suffice, but placing it in the freezer should give you an extra month or so.


Vanessa Jones

Greetings from Upstate NY! I love this recipe and I would like to know if you could suggest an alternative to the bread crumbs? I am following a Keto diet plan and I have seen positive results. Any ideas would be wonderful.

Kindest regards,


Audrey Dunham

Hi Vanessa, you can probably leave them out entirely. They will probably still be delicious.


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