Sweet and tangy with a hint of smoke and herbs, these easy BBQ cranberry black bean meatballs are the perfect vegan party food or appetizer for your next holiday get-together! Naturally vegan, gluten free, and soy free, you can make these bean balls from start to finish in just 30 minutes.
And if you’re really rushed, it ain’t no biggie to make them a day ahead, pop them in a travel dish, and heat on arrival. For more vegan party food, serve this delicious smoky vegan cheese ball, easy guacamole and spicy salsa with chips, and this ramen noodle salad too.
Black bean meatballs are the perfect vegan party food
Vegan party food can be tricky to serve if you are trying to satisfy tastes across the board.
Picky eaters, or guests that think vegan food is “weird” can certainly throw a wrench (or candy cane?) into your holiday festivities. When I first went vegan back in 2010, I can testify that I personally struggled with trying to create dishes that would satisfy both the veg and the anti-veg, in hopes of being spared from any furrowed brows.
Thankfully, despite self-doubts that set in minutes before any party, I’ve always had an overall positive reaction to my vegan party food.
Yes, there have been times when someone got a little too sloshed on spiked cider and rolled out their list of complaints about vegans, or got hung up on the letters V, E, G, A, N, written in that exact order on the index card in front of my party dish. But mostly, I’ve been quite successful in my attempts to please the hungry crowd (and avoid the line of fire).
Because at the end of the day, when your food tastes good, it makes people happy, regardless if it’s vegan or not. And I always aim to make people happy, ESPECIALLY when it comes to food. Which is why I know that these BBQ cranberry black bean meatballs are the perfect appetizer for any holiday party.
Here’s what you need for these simple black bean meatballs, plus substitutions if needed.
- Black beans. I like using canned black beans to make this recipe a snap.
- Rolled oats. This adds texture to your black bean meatballs, and keeps them gluten free.
- Whole berry cranberry sauce. Be sure to get whole berry, and look out for gelatin (which is not vegan).
- Mixed nuts. I like to use a simple peanut-free mixture (like pecans, walnuts, pistachios, etc.). You can also substitute with ground flaxseed or gluten free pinko breadcrumbs if needed.
- BBQ sauce. I like using a sweet tangy BBQ sauce.
- Liquid smoke. This adds extra smoked flavor. You can also substitute with a teaspoon of smoked paprika if preferred.
- Fresh sage. This gives your black bean meatballs a little herb flavor and compliments the cranberry.
How to make it
- Preheat oven to 375º F. Add the black beans, rolled oats, part of the cranberry sauce, the mixed nuts, part of the BBQ sauce, liquid smoke, and sage leaves to a food processor (I use an 11-cup, but this recipe fills only half), and PULSE until mixed, but NOT paste– you want half of it to be chunky.
- Shape bean mixture into 24 balls and transfer to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. I like to use a mini ice cream scoop to make this less messy and more uniform. You can scoop out 24 balls and then go back and pack them tighter with your hands. Bake for 20 minutes (turning once halfway) or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce by heating the rest of the cranberry and BBQ sauce on medium heat in a large skillet. Once it starts bubbling, turn the heat down to low and stir occasionally.
- Once bean balls are finished baking, transfer to skillet and toss gently in sauce, making sure to fully cover each one evenly with sauce. Transfer to a serving tray. Sprinkle with fresh sage, if desired. You can also pierce each one with a toothpick for guests.
- These black bean meatballs are 100% vegan, meaning they are meat-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. They are also naturally gluten-free and soy-free.
- To make these nut-free, replace the nuts with ground flaxseed or gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.
- Switch it up and use white or pinto beans if you’re not a fan of black beans.
More vegan party food:
BBQ Cranberry Black Bean Meatballs
- Food processor
For the bean balls-
- 26.8 oz black beans that’s 2 boxes OR cans, drained and rinsed well
- 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- ¼ cup whole berry cranberry sauce no gelatin!
- 3 tablespoons mixed nuts no peanuts, finely chopped (or substitute ground flaxseed)
- 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke natural hickory flavor
- 2 medium fresh sage leaves
For the sauce-
- ⅔ cup whole berry cranberry sauce no gelatin!
- ¾ cup BBQ sauce
- Extra fresh sage for garnish.
- Preheat oven to 375º F (190 Cº). Add all bean ball ingredients to a food processor (I use an 11-cup, but this recipe fills only half), and PULSE until mixed, but NOT paste- you want half of it to be chunky.
- Using a mini ice cream scoop (or your hands, but that can get messy), transfer bean ball mixture one scoop at a time to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce by heating the cranberry and BBQ on medium heat in a large skillet. Once it starts bubbling, turn the heat down to low and stir occasionally.
- Once bean balls are finished, transfer to skillet and toss gently in sauce, making sure to fully cover each one evenly with sauce. Sprinkle with fresh sage, if desired.
Thank you for taking the time to invest in your heath and happiness!
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. Psalm 95:2