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Chickpea Balls in Marinara Sauce (Vegan Meatballs) & Make Ahead Vegan Cookbook Review

Vegan Meatballs

Vegan Chickpea Balls in Marinara Sauce… in other words, round, perfect and smothered in tomato sauce VEGAN MEATBALLS that come together in just short of an hour. Stick a toothpick in and you literally have the perfect, crowd-pleasing appy. We ate these Vegan Meatballs over penne pasta last night with LOTS of the Slow Cooker Marinara doused on top and our entire family agreed that the texture of the chickpea balls was exactly spot on. 

I can’t take credit for the Vegan Chickpea Balls OR the Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce guys – they are both from my friend Ginny’s brand, NEW cookbook The Make Ahead Vegan

the make ahead vegan cookbook cover jpg

Have you visited Ginny’s blog the Vegan in The Freezer? The Make Ahead Vegan Cookbook is filled to the BRIM with such a variety of comfort-food inspired recipes to try from appetizers to impress your guests, easy to throw together dinners, lovely breakfasts and delicious desserts (including a section dedicated to frozen desserts!). EACH recipe is paired with a gorgeous photo which will have your drooling (ha!) before you even make the recipe. I mean look at that gorgeous creamy pasta cassrole Tetrazzini on the cover – I know what is on my list to make next! 

Vegan Meatballs

Vegan Meatballs

Other recipes from Ginny’s cookbook I can’t wait to try:

Soft Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzel Bites
Crunchy-Topped Coffee Cake
Loaded Breakfast Burritos
Italian Cannellini Soup
Cauliflower Tots
Black Beans and Rice Enchiladas
Cowboy Lasagna
Almond Butter Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I am a big fan of Ginny’s comforting, easy-to-throw together recipes that remind me of my favorite meals (and sweet treats) I LOVED growing up. I was super excited to see a recipe for Magic Cookie Bars which was a family favorite at every holiday get together we have! Every one of Ginny’s recipe also includes a method for freezing. Which is perfect if you are like me and love to make a little bit extra for easy dinners later. You can purchase The Make Ahead Vegan cookbook on Amazon here.

Vegan Meatballs

These Vegan Chickpea Balls – Vegan Meatballs – are a simple, easy-to-make and party-pleasing recipe. We served our with lots of hot sauce! I can’t wait to make these Meatballs from Ginny’s awesome new cookbook again (and again) and experiment with different spice combos. Enter the giveaway below to enter for a chance to win a SIGNED version of Ginny’s cookbook and an 18-piece assorted freezer/oven safe container set! 🙂

Vegan Meatballs

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Chickpea Balls in Marinara Sauce

  • Author: Ceara
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 48 chickpea balls 1x


This is a good basic hors d’oeuvre ball to have in your repertoire. It holds together well and can be served with a variety of sauces. This recipe calls for a red sauce, and marinara sauce is always a great option for pleasing a crowd.


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more for baking sheet
  • ¼ cup white onion, diced small
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with coconut oil.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion and sauté for about 10 minutes. Place in a food processor along with the chickpeas, flour, salt, and pepper.
  4. Pulse until combined but still chunky. Do not turn it into a puree.
  5. Roll into 48 balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  7. Serve with the hot marinara sauce.


Storing in the refrigerator:
Will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.

Freeze in a hard-sided freezer container for up to 4 months. This will better protect the balls. To defrost, put in your refrigerator overnight.

To serve, heat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes. Lightly toss with heated marinara sauce and serve with toothpicks.

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Appetizer
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Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

  • Author: Ceara
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 mins
  • Yield: 5 cups sauce 1x


A marinara sauce that is spiced just right can’t be beat. The fact that you can make it and take advantage of a slow cooker at the same time is a real prize.


  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


  1. Put all the ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. Remove the bay leaves and stir.
  2. Serve hot or let cool for storing.


Storing in the refrigerator:
Will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Freeze in 1-pint freezer jars for 5 to 6 months.

Reprinted with permission from “The Make Ahead Vegan Cookbook” by Ginny Kay McMeans

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: Main


Vegan Meatballs

Vegan Meatballs

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  1. I just made these and found I had to make some alterations to the recipe because of the chickpeas I used… I had dry uncooked chickpeas on hand so I used those which I found to be dryer by nature vs having canned chickpeas, so when I went to form my balls the mixture was too dry. I’m not a vegan so I used two eggs and a bit more flour to get the right consistency I needed. I cooked them at the same temperature for the same amount of time and they came out great!
    I hope this is helpful to someone, and if anyone has a vegan friendly substitute recommendation for the eggs I used I’d love to hear it!
    Side note: I also used all purpose gluten free flour but I don’t that makes a difference on how they cook.

    1. Lilith, I find that if I add baking soda to the soaking water the garbanzos come out creamy smooth. I don’t usually measure the baking soda, but guess I use a tablespoon or 2 per pound of dried beans. Be sure to rinse well before cooking and to taste before salting. I think they cook more quickly after the baking soda soak.

  2. these meatballs look amazing. i’m a sucker for different beanball recipes (natural extension of my desire to try all veggie burger iterations) and look forward to trying this. i generally use white beans or lentils so chickpeas will be a fun change!

    1. These chickpea balls are delicious 🙂 I am going to try them next with herbes de provence! I love how versatile this recipe is – it really is such a crowd please 🙂 Enjoy!

  3. So–in the freezing instructions, does the book also say when to freeze them (like before cooking, after cooking, or partially cooked?) and how to reheat? That is where I tend to run into problems–I’ll freeze pot pies and have to guess on how long to cook and at what temperature, just for a recent (unpleasantly frozen in the center burnt crust) example…

    If it does that it is worth its weight in gold.

    I looked in the Amazon comments and saw others asking similar questions but no answers yet.

    1. Nevermind–looking through the WHOLE recipe answers my question. I just got excited to soon and forgot to finish reading 🙂

  4. These look delicious! I especially love the sans pasta appetizer idea, but I could imagine they’d be great as a spaghetti and “meatballs” too. Every single recipe I’ve seen from Ginny’s book so far looks amazing. And I can totally understand why Soft Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel Bites are at the top of your list to try, those sound heavenly! Lovely review 🙂

  5. Hi Ceara, can you update the marinara sauce for what the last item is? All it says is 1/4 teaspoon….I presume it’s black pepper? Thanks!

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