Plant-Based Meatballs with Lemony Yogurt Sauce over Quinoa Pilaf


These plant-based meatballs with lemony yogurt sauce are heavenly. Serve them with quinoa pilaf for the ultimate healthy dinner.

Prep time:

30 mins

Cook time:

45 mins

Total time

75 mins

Plant-Based Meatballs with Lemony Yogurt Sauce over Quinoa Pilaf

This recipe for plant-based meatballs with lemony yogurt sauce is heavenly. I love to serve it with quinoa pilaf but for an even simpler meal, it also tastes delicious with toasted bread and a simple salad.

I first stumbled across a yogurt sauce like this in Aran Goyoaga’s first cookbook years ago, and have been making variations of it ever since. Paired with herb-spiked meatballs, this dinner is always a winner in my home. 

Although meatballs are often heavy and not the healthiest, these plant-based meatballs are anything but! They’re light and healthy, thanks to the whole food plant-based ingredient list, and chock full of herbs. They pair beautifully with the pilaf and lemony yogurt sauce.

This meal comes together fairly quickly, despite the lengthy ingredient list. The yogurt sauce and quinoa transform the meatballs into a light and elegant meal that works just as well for a healthy dinner at home as it does for a dinner party with friends, as showcased in my Seasonal Spring Menu.

This is an image of a white bowl with quinoa, plant-based meatballs, and a creamy white sauce with green herbs scattered over top.

Ingredient Highlights in these Plant-Based Meatballs with Lemony Yogurt Sauce:

For this recipe, there are two main things that will make or break your final product.

First, you must use super firm tofu for the meatballs. Extra firm tofu is different and much softer with a higher water content and will not work well. Even pressed extra firm tofu will still yield a much softer meatball. I use the organic super firm high protein tofu from Trader Joe’s, but any super firm tofu should work.

This image shows a close up of plant-based meatballs on a baking tray.

Second, don’t overcook your quinoa! Although quinoa is incredibly easy to make, whenever I order it at restaurants, it’s always either mushy or still hard and crunchy, which makes me think that many people don’t know how to cook it. You want the grains to be open and the water fully absorbed, but they shouldn’t stick together into a mash.

To get the perfect fluffy quinoa, use slightly less than twice the water to quinoa, add them both to a heavy-bottomed pot with the lid on, bring to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer and cook for 14 minutes. Once done, turn off the heat but leave the pot on the burner with the lid on for 10 minutes. This post-cook time is vital to help the quinoa grains separate from one another in the residual steam. Finally, fluff with a fork, and voilá, perfect quinoa!

As a final note on ingredients, you can use either rolled oats or bread crumbs in this recipe. The bread crumbs provide a slightly better flavor, while the oats create a slightly bitter aftertaste, but the texture is similar when using either. If you’re going to use gluten-free breadcrumbs, I suggest making your own as store-bought options are often tasteless.

Time-Saving Tips for these Plant-Based Meatballs:

The meatballs in this recipe are super quick to make! Just throw all your ingredients in the food processor, roll into balls, and bake.

While the meatballs bake, you can whip up the quinoa pilaf and lemony yogurt sauce so everything is done around the same time.

This whole meal will take you about an hour to make. But to speed things up and make this a real weeknight meal, you can do a few things a day or two ahead of time.

  • Toast the almonds a few days ahead of time. Once completely cool, store them in a jar in your pantry. Wait to chop them until the day of though, so they stay crunchy.
  • Premake the meatball mixture a day or two ahead of time and then simply form it into meatballs and bake on the day of. 
  • You can completely make the quinoa pilaf ahead of time. Just store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days before you plan to eat it.
This is an image of a white bowl with meatballs in a creamy white sauce with green herbs scattered over top.
Now that you have the ingredient notes and time-saving tips you need to make this meal spectacular, let’s dive into the recipe!

And if you make this recipe, I’d love to see how it turns out for you! Tag me on Instagram or Facebook @plantssogood and feel free to send me a DM with any questions!

Plant-Based Meatballs with Lemony Yogurt Sauce over Quinoa Pilaf

These plant-based meatballs with lemony yogurt sauce are heavenly. Serve them with quinoa pilaf for the ultimate healthy dinner.

Plant-Based Meatballs with Lemony Yogurt Sauce over Quinoa Pilaf

Prep time:

30 mins

Cook time:

45 mins

Total time:

75 mins




For the meatballs

  • 8 oz (½ package) organic super firm tofu (not extra firm)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • ½ cup rolled oats or bread crumbs (gluten-free as needed)

  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 2 tablespoons filtered water)

  • 2 tablespoons sundried tomatoes in oil, drained

  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1 tablespoon miso paste

  • ¾ tsp course sea salt

  • ½ tsp ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 2 tablespoons each fresh parsley and mint, finely chopped

  • Olive oil, for coating the meatballs

For the quinoa

  • 3/4 cup quinoa

  • Scant 1 ½ cups water

  • ¼ small red onion, finely diced

  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted*

  • A large handful each parsley & mint, finely chopped

  • ¼ cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped

  • ¼ cup raisins

  • Zest & juice from half an organic lemon

  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the sauce

  • 1 400 ml can unsweetened canned coconut milk

  • ½ cup (125 ml) unsweetened yogurt (I like this cashewmilk one from Forager, but any cultured natural yogurt will work)

  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced

  • Juice from ½ a lemon

  • Generous pinch sea salt


Make the meatballs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line a sheet pan with baking paper.

  2. Make the flax egg. Whisk the ground flax seeds and water together in a small bowl and set it aside for five minutes to gel.

  3. Meanwhile, add all the other meatball ingredients to the bowl of a food processor except the fresh herbs. Pulse several times to combine. It should have a similar consistency to ground meat. Add the herbs and pulse again for a few seconds.

  4. Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture and roll it into balls. You should get about 20 of them. Place the balls on the lined sheet pan, then brush each ball with olive oil, use your hands to turn the balls over on the tray, and coat the other side. Bake them in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. 

Make the quinoa pilaf

  1. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to simmer and cook, covered, for a further 14 minutes. When the 14 minutes are done, check to make sure the water has evaporated, then turn off the heat, put the lid back on, and let sit for 10 more minutes. Fluff with a fork.

  2. Once your quinoa is cooked, add it along with all the other ingredients to a large bowl and toss everything to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Make the lemony yogurt sauce

  1. Heat the coconut milk with the minced garlic in a wide shallow pan over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

  2. Turn the heat to low and stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, and salt. Once combined, the sauce should be slightly thickened.

  3. At this point, your meatballs should be done. Add the meatballs to the sauce, put the top on, and let them simmer for 10 minutes. This step is optional but it does give the meatballs a juicier texture and added flavor.

To serve

  1. To serve, place a large scoop of quinoa pilaf in a shallow bowl. Top with the meatballs and spoon the sauce over the top. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice, and smoked paprika.


*If you don’t like olives, you can sub 1/4 cup capers for them.

Although the sauce tastes best fresh, this meal does well as leftovers. Store the quinoa pilaf in a separate container, and reheat it separately from the meatballs and sauce.

Meet Fiona

Meet Fiona

Hi, I'm Fiona

Founder of Plants So Good.

I love to help people eat more plants in a delicious and satisfying way, feel amazing, and live a life in which they can truly thrive!

Plants So Good is where I combine my passion for helping people with my education in plant-based cooking and holistic nutrition to bring you personalized cooking classes, special event catering, and one-on-one nutrition coaching.

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