Bread-Free Stuffing Balls

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on November 23, 2017

5 from 11 reviews

Bread-Free Stuffing Balls

Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free


My recipe tester Nicole likes to call these “bread-free stuffing balls,” and I think I would have to agree! These festive bites have all the flavours of traditional stuffing, but they’re protein-packed, bite-sized, and gluten-free as well. This is a new and improved version of my popular Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls recipe. I've streamlined the procedure and provided a make-ahead version in the Tips below. This recipe moves quickly using quite a few components, so my advice is to gather all of the ingredients and do as much prep as you can before you begin. If you aren't a cranberry sauce fan, my Vegan Mushroom Gravy is a nice option too!

14 to 15 balls
Prep time
Cook time


For the Bread-Free Stuffing Balls:
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (8-ounce/225 g) package cremini mushrooms*
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups (50 g) stemmed kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (100 g) walnut halves**
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced)
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) ground flax
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12.5 mL) sherry vinegar
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Cranberry-Pear Sauce:
  • 2 cups (210 g) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 large (230 g) ripe pear, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) pure maple syrup
  • Small pinch fine sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add the oil to a large pot and turn heat to medium. Finely chop the mushrooms until they’re roughly the size of peas. Add chopped mushrooms to the pot along with minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir until combined. Sauté for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the water from the mushrooms cooks off, reducing heat to low if necessary to prevent burning.
  3. Meanwhile, tear the kale into large pieces and place into a food processor. Pulse (do not process) the kale until finely chopped (pieces roughly the size of almonds), being careful not to overprocess it. Remove and place into a bowl for later.
  4. To the processor (no need to clean it out!), add the rolled oats. Process the oats until they’re finely chopped and resemble coarse flour, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the drained lentils and walnuts to the processor bowl with the oat flour. Pulse the mixture, stopping to check on it every few pulses, until it’s coarsely chopped. Be sure not to overprocess it into a paste as you still want a lot of texture and crunchy walnut pieces. Set aside.
  6. To the pot with the mushrooms and garlic, add the herbs and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the kale and chopped dried cranberries, then turn off the heat.
  7. Stir the flax and water together in a small cup (no need to let it sit).
  8. Now add all of the food processor contents, vinegar, and flax mixture to the pot. Stir until thoroughly combined. The dough should be heavy and dense. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. With lightly wet hands, shape and roll about 14 to 15 balls, roughly 3 to 4 tablespoons of dough each. Place them on the prepared baking sheet about two inches apart.
  10. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden on the bottom and firm to touch. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.
  11. While the Bread-Free Stuffing Balls are baking, make the Cranberry-Pear Sauce. Add the cranberries, pear, maple syrup, and salt to a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over high heat and then reduce to medium. Simmer uncovered for 10 to 20 minutes until thickened. Use a potato masher to mash up the pear near the end of cooking, if desired.
  12. Leftover balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days. To reheat, add oil to a skillet and fry over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until heated through.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size 1 of 15 large balls | Calories 140 calories | Total Fat 6 grams
Saturated Fat 0.5 grams | Sodium 160 milligrams | Total Carbohydrates 18 grams
Fiber 2 grams | Sugar 9 grams | Protein 4 grams

Nutritional info (per large ball) includes 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Cranberry-Pear Sauce. I used 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt in the calculation as well.
* Nutrition data is approximate and is for informational purposes only.


* You can save a tiny bit of chopping time by buying sliced mushrooms instead of whole. You’ll still need to dice them up finely, but it’ll go a little faster with the first chop already done for you!

** You can toast the walnuts beforehand, but this step is optional. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C) and toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 9 to 12 minutes, until lightly crisp and fragrant.

MAKE-AHEAD OPTIONS: You can store the uncooked balls in the fridge (tightly wrapped up on a plate) for up to 36 hours before baking so there's less fuss the day of a big meal. The uncooked balls can also be frozen in a freezer-safe zip bag for 1 to 2 weeks. To bake, simply pop the frozen balls on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 32 minutes (they need roughly 7 to 9 minutes more bake time when baking from frozen). The Cranberry-Pear Sauce can also be made 1 to 2 weeks in advance and frozen until ready to use.

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura November 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm
Recipe Rating:

I made these today and really enjoyed them! They’re super-easy – I had pre-cooked lentils ready to go (used 1.5 cups). I just used the food processor to chop the mushrooms. I didn’t have cranberries, so used raisins and actually just added them to the food processor at same time as the lentils and walnuts to chop them. These came together super-well – sometimes it’s difficult to get burgers/meatballs to stick together, but these were perfect, and delicious. Thank you!


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 28, 2017 at 8:02 am

Hey Laura, Oh I’m so glad you made them and enjoyed them! Thanks for the great review. I love your extra time-saving hacks too. I’ll be adding in the dried cranberries in that step next time!
I also tried chopping the mushrooms in the food processor as a first step (pulsing), but I found my machine chopped the mushrooms too small (which made the balls have less texture) and it was quite inconsistent in terms of size. That could just be my machine though. :)


Laura December 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

Hi Angela,I just saw your comment. Thanks for responding! Yes, pulsing the mushrooms in the food processor made them smaller than the “pea-size” in your instructions and I did need to scrape down the bowl a few times (I used a 7-cup KitchenAid food processor; I think my larger food processor would have just made the mushrooms fly around and then stick to the sides of the bowl). I tried the recipe again, chopping the mushrooms by hand and will agree that the finished balls do have more texture when the mushrooms are chopped a bit larger than what was possible for me in the food processor. Either way, this is a great recipe and I think my laziness will win out and I’ll stick with the “everything in the food processor” method. Thank you again!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Hey Laura, Thanks so much for your reply! I totally had the same experience with the processor vs. hand-chopping methods. It’s nice to have two options, anyway!


Tereza November 30, 2017 at 6:44 am
Recipe Rating:

I also want to report on how great this recipe is. Made the balls last weekend (not that we celebrate Thanksgiving in my country, but they just sounded so appealing:). I followed the recipe exactly, only used my Vitamix instead of food processor which I do not own. The result was more than satisfying and next week I will be definitely preparing the balls for my family lunch as I believe they will like them as well. Many thanks for the recipe.


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 1, 2017 at 7:41 am

Hi Tereza, Thank you so much for your feedback! I’m so happy you love them so much. It’s so great to know that it worked in the Vitamix too. It just occurred to me that you can “pulse” the on/off button with a Vitamix!


Yulia Elfimova December 1, 2017 at 11:40 pm
Recipe Rating:

Made these for Friday dinner tonight… It was absolutely delicious and wonderful. It felt like turkey dinner without turkey. My family loved it! Served it with boiled rainbow potatoes and brussel sprouts -very simple, so so so good! Thank you for this recipe.


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 3, 2017 at 8:11 am

This makes me so happy to hear, Yulia! Thanks for trying them out.


Olivia December 1, 2017 at 11:46 pm
Recipe Rating:

loved this balls.


Kay December 3, 2017 at 3:21 am

I made these on Friday and used the food processor to chop the mushrooms, too, to save time. I don’t like dried cranberries, so I chopped frozen whole cranberries (again, in the food processor!) and it was a very easy dinner. I was too lazy to make the sauce, but I had some applesauce on hand and used that! Thanks for an easy, delicious, Christmasy dinner!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 3, 2017 at 7:58 am

Hey Kay, Oh I love your applesauce idea. Good call. I’m so glad these were a hit! Thanks for letting us know.


Kristina Zack December 6, 2017 at 9:50 pm

Lingonberry preserves would also be excellent here. I plan on adding allspice and nutmeg, just like my grandmother used to add to her Swedish meatballs. (Walnut farmer here, so I’m always looking out for ways to use up the gallon bags of walnut meats I’ve got in the freezer this time of year.)


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2017 at 7:50 am

Hi Kristina, Oh that sounds so good. I’ll have to try this next time. Enjoy those walnuts!


Cindy December 7, 2017 at 9:43 am

These are so delicious ! I made them for Thanksgiving and they will be served at Christmas. You rock!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 7, 2017 at 11:13 am

Hey Cindy, I’m so happy you love these as much as I do. Merry Christmas!


Andrea December 11, 2017 at 12:04 pm

These look SO good! I’ll definitely need to give them a try for the holidays ♥


ilona December 17, 2017 at 9:22 pm
Recipe Rating:

I’ve been making these since the original recipe was posted a few years back! I also chop the mushrooms in my food processor (pulse in two batches) – works beautifully. Today I made a double batch and stashed them in my freezer (unbaked). Looking forward to serve them for Christmas celebrations….with plenty leftover for workday lunches too :) Thanks for a winning recipe!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 18, 2017 at 7:50 am

Hey ilona, So glad you tried the new version out! I’ll be making these for our Christmas dinner too. Have a great Christmas!


Frances December 19, 2017 at 7:37 am

Recipe looks great! Two questions, I can’t eat nuts, can I replace it w oatmeal. Secondly, what other sauce can u use rather than suggested or applesauce, can u use a gravy? Going to try for Christmas!


Frances December 19, 2017 at 7:39 am

I just saw yr recommendation on using yr gravy. Great. Just wondering about the walnut/oatmeal substitution.


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 20, 2017 at 8:30 am

Hey Frances, I would probably recommend using finely chopped pepita seeds instead of the nuts. I fear that the oats would absorb too much moisture, and then you wouldn’t have that nice crunch from the nuts too.


Beth December 21, 2017 at 8:22 am

Thanks for this recipe! I can’t wait to try it. Quick question – my husband has a walnut allergy. Any recommendations for replacing the walnuts?
Happy holidays! Joyeuses fêtes!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 21, 2017 at 8:34 am

Hey Beth, Maybe chopped pecans or pepita seeds? I think both of those would be fine. I’d probably opt for pecans!
Happy holidays to you and your family!


Heiba December 23, 2017 at 6:15 pm
Recipe Rating:

Delicious! A friend and I finished them in nearly one sitting!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 24, 2017 at 8:34 am

haha oh we’ve been there! They are addictive, don’t you think?! So happy you enjoyed them.


Heather January 7, 2018 at 6:05 pm

These look perfect for holiday cooking! I haven’t yet found a go to recipe for these occasions. My only problem is that I’m not a huge mushroom fan. Is there anything that could be substituted here?


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 8, 2018 at 10:54 am

Hi Heather, Thank you! They are quite festive for sure. I haven’t tried anything aside from mushrooms yet so I’m not entirely sure, but maybe finely grated carrot?


25 Health Benefit of Honey January 11, 2018 at 11:45 am
Recipe Rating:

Made these for Friday dinner tonight… It was absolutely delicious and wonderful…


Marit April 2, 2018 at 3:58 pm
Recipe Rating:

My friend brought these for Easter and they were amazing. I am vegan and gluten free and wanted to feel like I was celebrating. Everyone loved them – and I used my leftovers in a salad the next day.


Angela (Oh She Glows) April 3, 2018 at 2:44 pm

That’s so sweet of your friend to make these…I’m so glad they were a hit! Good call on adding leftovers to salads. I like adding them to my flax wraps too.


Caroline June 21, 2018 at 9:36 am

YUM! I plan to make this tonight. I don’t have any sherry vinegar; would apple cider vinegar work, or what would you suggest? Thank you! :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 21, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Hey Caroline, I haven’t tried it with another vinegar so I can’t say for sure, but I think ACV might be lovely! I would add just a tiny bit at a time and taste test.


Teniesha Collins September 17, 2018 at 2:47 pm



Leslie October 11, 2018 at 9:00 am

Hi Angela,

Do you think it would work to bake this in a pan instead of in ball form?

Thank you!



Angela (Oh She Glows) October 12, 2018 at 6:30 am

Oh good question! I haven’t tried it, but that’s such a great idea. I would probably follow similar heat and cook times as my lentil walnut loaf, but just start checking it earlier in case it cooks faster. If you try anything please let me know how it goes!


RN November 18, 2018 at 7:31 am

What can I substitute for the oil? Making these for Thanksgiving in a couple of days, normally would use applesauce in a recipe but thinking that would not work here.

Thanks in advance!


Carin November 19, 2018 at 6:44 am

I am making this meal for Thanksgiving. Can’t wait! Quick q…I don’t have sherry vinegar. Will apple cider vinegar work? Thanks!!


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 19, 2018 at 8:03 am

Hi Carin, I haven’t tried it before but it could…I may be more inclined to try white wine vinegar, but it’s up to your personal preferences! :) I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Carin November 22, 2018 at 8:53 pm

Thank you so much. It worked well. And the meal was a HUGE hit with my entire family today for Thanksgiving! Thank you for keeping us so well fed 😊. So grateful for you!


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 23, 2018 at 11:16 am

Awww I’m so grateful for you Carin! I’m thrilled these were a hit! I am making them this weekend and can’t wait. Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving!


Amy November 20, 2018 at 9:05 pm

First of all these photos are beautiful! I also love this recipe and will be making this very soon. I will let you know how if turns out.


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 21, 2018 at 8:12 am

Thank you so much Amy!


Danielle November 21, 2018 at 7:07 pm
Recipe Rating:

Hi Angela, Happy Thanksgiving, American time! I made these today and tried the unbaked filling today. Amazing! Thank you again for your awesome recipes! I am especially thankful that this is bread-free as I seem to have inflammation from white flour. ((Alas, my mom’s stuffing had to go this year.) Have a wonderful time with your husband and kids this weekend! Blessings to you all!


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 22, 2018 at 7:48 am

Hi Danielle, Oh I’m so happy you love these so much!! Thanks for your review an have a fantastic Thanksgiving!!


Christy December 3, 2018 at 2:28 pm

These were so yummy, crunchy on the outside with great flavor (I’ll follow the upper end of your salt recommendation next time). I can’t find canned lentils where I live (is that a Canadian thing?), so I’m not sure the ratio was right. How many cups would you use if you are just cooking and draining the lentils?


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 6, 2018 at 8:16 am

Hey Christy, Oh that’s a great Q about swapping cooked lentils. I think there are roughly 1 1/2 cups of lentils in the can so you’d probably be safe to swap that amount. I’m so glad you enjoyed them!


Bev December 8, 2018 at 8:11 pm

In which of your cookbooks can I find this recipe?


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 9, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Hi Bev, I’m sorry it’s not in either of my books…just on the blog and app!


Mona Lewis December 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm
Recipe Rating:

I made these for thanksgiving, and now I’m looking up the recipe for Christmas! They were a huge hit, and really give the vegans in our family a true taste of a holiday dinner! Angela, as usual, another great innovative recipe. BTW, I used slivered almonds in place of walnuts because of a nut allergy – excellent!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 19, 2018 at 5:38 pm

Aww thank you Mona, I’m so thrilled to hear that! I know what you mean about “taste of a true holiday dinner” they are now my go-to for holiday mains.


Sarah December 30, 2018 at 9:08 pm
Recipe Rating:

Made this as a loaf, and it turned out great. Even the skeptics loved it! Didn’t miss the meat one bit. Baked at 350 for about an hour. Next time I make this in loaf form, I will double the recipe, as it doesn’t fill a standard loaf pan. Thanks for this healthy comfort food recipe. I can’t wait to make this again!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 31, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Hey Sarah, Thank you so much for sharing how you made it into a loaf! Such a great idea.


Nikole Samoleski October 9, 2019 at 7:26 pm

Hi Angela,

Any substitute for lentils? They don’t do well with me!



Breagh October 12, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Is it possible to make these into a loaf rather than balls?
Thank you


Lisa November 16, 2019 at 11:21 am

I noticed on the app that the instructions for the kale have been crossed out. Just wondering what to do with the kale instead. Add it to the food processor with the mushrooms?


Eric Liddon January 17, 2020 at 10:04 am

Hey Lisa,

Sorry for the delayed response I just noticed this now. When ingredients are “crossed out” in the app it is actually a feature that you are able to cross out the ingredients yourself. The idea is that you can cross things off either while grocery shopping or while cooking to track your progress. So most likely it was crossed out because you accidentally hit it. Another feature with the ingredient list is if you tap on an ingredient and hold it will pop up a menu and you can copy the list so that you can paste it into another program whether you want to email, text, or just create a grocery list in a different app. Hope this helps!


karen vader April 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm

so excited to try! turkey dinner without the turkey…doesn’t get any better.
thank you


Corinne October 12, 2020 at 2:59 pm
Recipe Rating:

I made these for our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and will definitely make them again. Very yummy. This was my first vegan Thanksgiving and I thought I would miss the poultry seasoning/sage flavour, but I didn’t. I didn’t miss the turkey either! I too put the mushrooms in my 7-cup KitchenAid food processor. But after a couple of pulses, I saw that some were getting way too small with others hardly touched. So I took them out and finished with a knife. In future, I’m sticking with the knife because I prefer the texture with the larger pieces. My 11-year old son, who is having a very hard time with this vegan transition, gave them a 4 out of 10 (which is high praise from him!) I give them a 10 out of 10! Thanks Angela!


Sarah October 18, 2020 at 1:32 pm

These were fabulous! My non-vegan family members absolutely loved them! Are the cooked balls suitable for freezing? Thanks so much for another fab recipe!!


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