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Spaghetti and Bean “Meatballs” {Gluten Free}

A healthy twist on an Italian classic, this plant-based spaghetti and bean “meatballs” dish is hearty and delicious. Get this easy-to-make recipe for a quick weeknight meal the whole family will enjoy!

bean balls and spaghetti

Today, I’m excited to announce that I will be co-hosting Fitness Friday with Jill Conyers! Fitness Friday is a weekly link up where anyone who writes about health and fitness-related topics or is interested in learning more about diet, exercise, nutrition, goal setting (and more) can join in on the fun! You can learn more about Fitness Friday here and link up with your own health-related post below!

Spaghetti and Bean “Meatballs”

When you think of comfort food, what comes to mind? For me, it’s some kind of pasta dish or pizza. In other words, give me all the carbs! I’ve made traditional spaghetti and meatballs a few times in our household and quickly realized my husband was not a fan. He will usually tell me he doesn’t prefer a certain dish not the first time, or the second time, but if I’m lucky, at least by the third time I make it. Better late than never, right?

But because I love this comforting dish so much, I was determined to make a version that was not only healthy, but one that both my husband and I could enjoy. And since we are trying to incorporate more plant-based meals into our diet, I decided I would experiment with beans!

You can make this dish with spaghetti squash (what I did), or you can serve it with your favorite pasta (what I did for my husband!). I’ve been loving the brown rice pasta fusilli from Trader Joe’s lately since it’s made from whole grains and has 4 grams of protein per serving. Plus, the shape holds the sauce well so you don’t end up with spaghetti soup at the end of the meal!

Get the recipe for these delicious and hearty Bean "Meatballs" and Spaghetti for an easy weeknight dinner or Meatless Monday meal! #meatlessmonday #recipe #plantbased

Let’s get cooking, shall we?

To make the bean balls, add your white kidney beans and chopped onion to a food processor and pulse until beans begin to form a paste-like texture. Next, add your breadcrumbs (or ground oats if gluten-free), egg, garlic cloves, nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese (I used both!), parsley, basil, dried oregano, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined, scraping down the sides to make sure you get all that yumminess incorporated.

If your mixture is a little dry, add some water or if it is too wet, you can add more breadcrumbs or ground oats! The mixture will be very moist, but will firm up in the oven.

bean balls with spaghetti

On to the fun part – making the balls! Sprinkle extra breadcrumbs or ground oats onto a plate for rolling. Using a cookie scoop (or spoon) form the bean mixture into golf ball-sized balls using your hands to help create a round shape. Roll in the breadcrumbs/oats until evenly coated and place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You should have approximately 20 balls by the time you’re finished.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, turning them over at the halfway point so that both sides get crispy and golden brown!

Meanwhile, make the spaghetti squash or pasta and heat up some marinara sauce. To make spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Place cut-side down in a baking dish and fill with 1” water on the bottom. Microwave on high for about 15 minutes or until fork tender (you could also bake in the oven with the bean balls). When cool enough to handle, scrape the squash with a fork into a bowl to form spaghetti-like strands.

Usually I’m all about things that are homemade, but sometimes during the week, convenience wins. For this recipe, I picked up a good-quality marinara sauce that had whole, minimal ingredients listed. Now, for the hard part! Dump the sauce into a small saucepan and simmer until heated through and ready to serve. Told you it was difficult, right?

bean meatballs and spaghetti

That’s it! In under 30 minutes, you will have the most delicious and healthy meal that is guaranteed to satisfy everyone at the dinner table. Now, who wants to come over and dig into these bean “meatballs” and spaghetti with me? Printable recipe is below!

[Tweet “Already thinking about #MeatlessMonday with this #heatlhy twist on Italian comfort food! “]

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Spaghetti and Bean “Meatballs”

  • Author: Carly at FitLiving
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Dinner



  • 2 14.5 oz cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c. onion, minced
  • 3/4 c. panko bread crumbs or coarsely ground oats, plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 c. parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 c. basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 14 oz. jar marinara sauce
  • 1 spaghetti squash


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add the beans and onion to a food processor and pulse until beans form a paste-like texture.
  3. Add in the breadcrumbs/oats, egg, garlic, nutritional yeast/parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, dried oregano, lemon zest, olive oil salt and pepper and pulse until well combined.
  4. If the mixture is a little dry, add some water. If the mixture is a little wet, add some more breadcrumbs. The mixture will be very moist, but will firm up in the oven.
  5. Sprinkle remaining bread crumbs or oats in a shallow dish.
  6. Form bean mixture into golf ball-sized balls, using your hands to create a round shape.
  7. Roll in breadcrumbs/oats until well-coated and place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You should get about 20 balls.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes, turning them over halfway so that both sides are golden brown and crispy.
  9. Meanwhile, make your spaghetti squash or pasta!
  10. To make spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half and spoon out the seeds.
  11. Lay cut side down in a baking dish and fill with 1” of water.
  12. Pop in the microwave on high and cook for about 12-15 minutes until fork tender.
  13. When cool enough to handle, scrape the squash with a fork into a bowl to form spaghetti-like strands.
  14. Simmer marinara sauce in a small saucepan until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  15. When the meatballs are cooked through, it’s time to serve!
  16. Layer 1 cup spaghetti squash with 1/4 c. sauce and top with 3-4 meatballs. Garnish with extra parsley and parmesan cheese!

Want more recipes like this one? This recipe for Spaghetti and Bean “Meatballs” is one of the 40+ plant-based recipes that will be included in the Healthy Living Jumpstart 2016! Want a sneak peek of the training plans? Look no further! Jill has put together a preview of the workouts we will all be participating in as part of the program. I can already tell the workouts are going to kick my butt into gear and I can’t wait to try this Jumpstart Circuit Workout today!

[Tweet “Get a sneak peek of Healthy Living #Jumpstart2016 with a recipe by @fitlivingblog and workout by @jillconyers! “]

In case you haven’t heard – I’ve teamed up with Jill Conyers to bring you a comprehensive healthy living guide that will provide you with all of the tools and support you need to give your body, mind and life a healthy jumpstart in the new year!

Have you signed up to join us for the FREE Healthy Living Jumpstart Week starting December 5th that will give a sneak preview of what’s to come in January 2016? You can sign up here!

Other link ups this week: Meatless Monday with The Fit Foodie Mama and Running on Happy and Meatless Monday with Tina Muir and Confessions of a Mother Runner.

What is your favorite comfort food? Share with me in the comment section below!


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-Carly Paige

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53 Responses

  1. This is such a creative meal and looks absolutely delicious! I haven’t made meatballs in a long time and I love the idea of using beans! Congrats on cohosting Fitness Friday, I look forward to following your blog!

    1. Thanks, Janelle! I’m super excited. I like the use of beans, too. It’s fun to switch it up every now and then!

  2. I have done a lot of bean items but I don’t think I have EVER made a bean meatball!!! I love the idea!! My oldest daughter loves beans so it will be interesting to hear her comments about this.

    Yeast and I don’t have a good relationship but I do have the parm cheese. This is so going to happen. Thank you!

    1. Yay! Let me know how it turns out, Rose. It’s definitely a delicious way to switch up traditional spaghetti and meatballs!

      1. Why did you choose white beans? Are they Canellini beans or a different type? My mom and I were discussing the lack of tatste/flavor in some types of beans compared to the others. I wondered whether I was going to do a grocery run or use beans I have on hand. Thanks!

        1. They are Canellini beans. I chose them because I like the subtle flavor so that the other flavors from the herbs can shine, but you can use any beans you have!

    1. I thought you did, too, Jill!! Can’t wait for you to review all of the recipes I’ve put together… I really can’t complain about the taste testing portion of the work 🙂

  3. This is brilliant and sounds soooo delicious! I absolutely love beans and my husband and I have been trying to avoid meat for a while now. This will definitely be working it’s way into my kitchen! Thanks 🙂 Pinned <3

    1. Ha! Probably not… it’s the idea of them that make them similar to meatballs, but definitely not the taste. Just as good, though!

  4. I am a spaghetti lover and I never thought it can be this healthy. Would love to give this a try. So healthy! Yet yummy!

    1. I’m not either. I would rather cook with whole foods and make it taste yummy. Hope you give them a try! 🙂

Hi! I’m Carly Paige, a culinary nutrition expert and chef who believes that healthy doesn’t have to be frustrating, boring or restrictive. I’m here to show you how through my Simply Swapped Method so that you can feel more energized and confident from within. You’ll find tips for focusing on nutrition in the kitchen, along with plant-powered, gluten-free recipes that proves healthy can be delicious.

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