Vegan Holiday Meatballs in Gravy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and in our house, we are busy cooking.  Today I invited mom to join me in cooking one of our favorite Holiday Vegan Meat Substitutes.  As we were growing up, we would have something called “Festboller” for the Christmas meal. They are wonderful little meatballs in a flavorful sauce, usually served with mashed potatoes, and all the trimmings for the Holiday meal, but though they were vegetarian, they were not vegan.  As we became more committed to a plant based diet, we longed for a substitute for these wonderful Holiday meatballs.  So we set about recipe testing.  It took many tries, too many to list here, but we came up with this version, and I think they are absolutely awesome.  I prefer these Vegan Holiday Meatballs in the recommended gravy, but they are also wonderful just browned in the skillet or served with our Holiday gravy.

Hope your Holiday Season is filled with wonderful things!  Happy Holidays!



1 cup vital wheat gluten (135g)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons ground dried mushrooms

1/2 cup walnuts (60 g)
1 cup panko bread crumbs (55g)
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/16 teaspoon cayenne
(1/2 teaspoon Herb de Provence, optional)

1/2 cup tofu, firm (110g)
1/2 cup cold vegetable stock (or water)
3 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos (soy sauce)

2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped onions (70 g)

  1. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a food processor or blender, blend all the wet ingredients together.
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes by hand to make sure everything is incorporated
  5. Prepare the broth

Broth ingredients:
8 cups water
1/3 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos

  1. When the broth comes to a rolling boil, do a consistency test (see note below)
  2. Shape the dough into little meatballs
  3. Add the meatballs, cover with lid, reduce heat to medium until the meatballs float, then reduce the heat to low.
  4. On low, gently boil the meatballs for 60 minutes
  5. Turn off the heat.

To prepare the gravy:

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/3 cup Cashews

1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos

1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt

11. Drain the cooking liquid into a blender

12. Add the gravy ingredients and blend until smooth.
13. Pour over meatballs, and let simmer for 10 minutes on low to medium heat (see note)


Test: Boil one meatball for about 15 min. on medium heat. If it stays together, it is safe to put the other meatballs in the broth. If it falls apart, knead in another tablespoon of vital gluten flour to the dough, and repeat test. This is an extra step, but it is well worth the effort.

It is important that the broth is boiling when adding the meatballs, but as soon as they have been added, lower temperature to medium, and when they float, lower the temperature to low.

Option:  I usually add about 1 tablespoon of vegan margarine to the gravy when it is nearly finished, it is definitely not necessary, but it adds some to the flavor of the gravy.

Sometimes when I want the meatballs to look a little browner, I will lightly brown them in a skillet before I put them in the sauce.  It adds a nice color.

Be careful not to simmer the meatballs in the gravy for too long, the meatballs may fall apart.  Just simmer in the gravy for 10 min. and serve.


8 Replies to "Vegan Holiday Meatballs in Gravy"

  • comment-avatar
    December 26, 2017 (9:02 am)

    Chef Ani,

    These were absolutely wonderful! Again you have ended my search for the perfect meatball. I didn’t have Panko so I used regular cornflake crumbs, but with the same weight recommendations. I was able to make about 26 good sized meatballs, and could eat about 4 in one sitting. My two-year-old ate about 2 1/2-3 at one meal, she loved them so much, more than the mashed potatoes 🙂 Thank you again! The gravy is the best too! I will be making these many times in the future.

    • comment-avatar
      January 4, 2018 (11:15 am)

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the meatballs! Cornflake crumbs sounds like a great idea! Happy New Year!😃

  • comment-avatar
    Tiffany Stewart
    January 21, 2018 (6:09 pm)

    CHEF ANI! I made these for pot luck and everyone loved it it was a hit. They all wanted the recipe. It came out great.

    • comment-avatar
      February 6, 2018 (10:24 am)

      I am so happy to hear that, Tiffany! Thank you so much for trying them and glad that they were a hit at pot luck! 😃

  • comment-avatar
    April 13, 2018 (8:28 am)

    Can’t wait to try these! Just ordered some nutritional yeast and wheat gluten online so I could try. Should I brown the meatballs before adding to the gravy?

    • comment-avatar
      June 20, 2018 (8:28 am)

      Wonderful! I would brown the meatballs before adding them to the gravy! Hope you enjoy the recipe!😃

  • comment-avatar
    Michelle Harding
    June 10, 2018 (4:33 pm)

    Hi Chef Ani , do these meat balls freeze well …how do you freeze them if you do ..? Do you freeze them before simmering in The gravy ? Or ? Thank you so much ! We love your videos and enjoy trying the recipes so much …wishing you Gods special care ,Michells

    • comment-avatar
      June 20, 2018 (7:58 am)

      Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, they freeze well, but I would freeze them before simmering in the gravy. God bless!

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