These high-protein baked vegan apple cider meatballs are full of fall flavors and smothered in a tangy and sweet apple cider glaze. They are perfect for the holiday season.
Vegan meatballs sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? If vegans, and vegetarians for that matter, don’t eat animals, why in the world would they want to make a food that’s reminiscent of meat from an animal?
Why Do (some) Vegans Eat Meat Substitutes?
Simply put, most vegans have not been vegan from conception. Many of us were raised on animal products alongside our family, friends, and peers. We grew up with these products and flavors and they have a familiarity to us. With so many traditions and holidays revolving heavily around food, these familiar products bring us comfort and nostalgia.
Most vegans and vegetarians do not give up meat because they dislike the taste of it. It’s the unwillingness to be a part of the cruel animal agriculture industry and a desire to live a lifestyle of compassion while minimizing harm to animals. This undeniably means abstaining from meat.
Since vegans are not morally or ethically opposed to meat-like alternatives, some choose to eat the substitutes. There are some delicious vegan substitutes that you can buy ready-made or in the freezer section of many chain grocery stores. You can also make your own meat alternatives using more whole food plant based ingredients.
A very condensed list with some of my favorite alternatives are:
*putting a reminder to myself to do a full master roundup alternatives list here on the blog in the future. I’ll make sure it’s expansive and link it here when I’m done. Hold me to this, y’all*
The most amazing meatball should hold itself together well, be slightly crisp on the outside, and tender and chewy on the inside. These things on their own may make a meatball good, but what takes it from good to incredible. These meatballs have it all.
- Solid Formation: The gluten from the vital wheat gluten and the binder made from flax meal ensure that these meatballs hold their shape and stay together.
- Slightly Crisp: baking these meatballs at a high heat gives them a slightly crispy outside without them becoming overdone in the middle
- Tender and Chewy: Textured vegetable protein (TVP) gives these apple cider meatballs a “meaty” mouthfeel.
- Saucy: The apple cider glaze that covers these meatballs is sticky, sweet, and slightly tangy. The flavors are perfect for fall.
More Vegan Fall Recipes
Looking for more hearty and comforting recipes that just scream “Autumn is here!”
Never fear. I’ve got you.
And if you’re looking for dessert after you devour your apple cider meatballs, here are some ideas to get you started.
Apple Cider Meatballs
Apple Cider GLaze
- 1 cup apple cider*
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- green onions
- Combine the flax meal with the 3 tbsp of water, stirring until well mixed. Set aside. This flax egg will be the binder for your meatballs.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once heated, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Stir and saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions begin to turn translucent and soft.
- Add the TVP, liquid aminos, and water. Stir and turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes so that the liquid is mostly absorbed and the TVP is rehydrated and meaty.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before forming the meatballs. To speed the cooling process up, you can add the TVP mixture to a covered bowl and place it in the fridge.
- Once the TVP mixture has cooled, add the flax mixture, nutritional yeast, and vital wheat gluten and stir. Use your hands to combine and knead the dough so that the gluten becomes activated. The dough should do a fairly decent job staying together on its own now that the gluten is activated.
- Preheat oven to 350*F and spray nonstick spray on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- Form the meatballs by taking a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and forming a ball, almost as if you were making a snowball. Squeeze the meatballs tightly to remove any excess water if any remains.
- Add the formed meatballs to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat until the TVP mixture is all formed into balls. I got 18 balls from my mixture.
- Bake the meatballs at 350*F for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- During the final 10 minutes of your meatballs baking, return your large skillet to a burner and heat over medium. Add all of the apple cider glaze ingredients to the skillet and stir with a rubber spatula or whisk, making sure the corn starch doesn't clump.
- Once the glaze comes to a bubble, turn the heat to low and allow it to thicken for 5 minutes.
- Once the meatballs have finished baking, use tongs to add the meatballs to the apple cider glaze. Flip them individually to make sure each meatball is fully coated.
- Serve the meatballs over rice and top with chopped green onions
- I used Trader Joe's seasonal pumpkin spice apple cider