These Quinoa Balls are soft and crispy vegan mock-meatballs perfect as nourishing, fun finger food for kids or appetizers. Plus, these healthy quinoa bites are also perfect to use leftover mashed sweet potato!
Quinoa is a nourishing grain that everyone should add to their plate for so many reasons.
First, for vegetarians or vegans, quinoa is a high source of plant-based proteins. It contains 12 essential amino acids you need – which is not the case with all plant-based proteins.
Plus, it also adds a boost of fiber, vitamins, and magnesium.
But sometimes, people find it hard to enjoy quinoa because it can be bitter or not as fun to serve as a rice swap.
So these quinoa balls are the perfect deal to make quinoa fun and tasty.
How To Make Quinoa Balls
To make soft and crispy balls of quinoa, you need some simple ingredients:
- Cooked quinoa – the recipe use 1 cup cooked quinoa which is about 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa. Cook your quinoa following the packaging instructions. I usually rinse uncooked quinoa in a sieve to remove any dust or bitter flavor. Then, I cook in a saucepan for about 10 minutes in boiling water with a pinch of salt. Rinse and let the cooked quinoa steam out in the sieve before using it in the recipe.
- Orange sweet potato – peeled, boiled, or steamed until fork tender and mashed into a puree.
- Panko Crumb – you can use gluten-free Panko crumbs too
- Nutritional Yeast – kids love this dairy-free option, it adds a cheesy flavor, and it keeps the recipe vegan-friendly. However, the recipe works perfectly with grated parmesan.
- Garlic Powder
- Ground Paprika
- Ground Cumin
Cook sweet potato
First, peel and cut the sweet potatoes into cubes and place them in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water, add a lid on top of the saucepan and bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook the sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes or until fork-tender.
Drain in a sieve and let steam out for 10 minutes.
Then, mash the sweet potato with a potato masher or fork and measure 1 cup.
Place the mashed sweet potato puree in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients: cooked, cooled quinoa, panko crumb, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast.
Stir with a spoon until it forms a sticky quinoa mixture. I like to squeeze ingredients by hand to bring them all together nicely.
Forming into quinoa bites
First, line a baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper. Set aside.
Slightly oil hands with olive oil and scoop out 1 tablespoon of batter. Roll between hands and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat until all the batter has been rolled into quinoa bites.
Leave half a thumb of space between each sweet potato quinoa balls to make sure they don’t touch each other.
Spray a little bit of oil on top of the balls.
Baking or Air-frying
I personally love air frying these quinoa balls because they come out fluffier in the center and so crispy outside. Let me share both options.
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Bake the vegan quinoa meatballs for 20 minutes in the center rack of your oven, flipping them halfway and spraying more olive oil after 10 minutes.
The oil is optional, but it ensures a nice crisp around the quinoa balls.
Place the quinoa balls in the air frying basket, leaving some space between each ball. Spray oil on top of the balls. Air fry 15 minutes at 400°F (200°C), give a good shake in the basket, spray slightly more oil on top of the balls, and air fry for 5 extra minutes
You can also fry these quinoa balls in a large non-stick skillet. Warm a little olive oil or coconut oil in the skillet.
Add the quinoa balls into the hot oil and fry on all sides until golden and crispy.
Cool them down for a few minutes onto a plate covered with absorbent paper to remove extra oil from frying.
If you need a great quinoa appetizer idea, this is the one!
Serve the quinoa snack bites hot with a dipping sauce you love like:
- Tomato sauce
- Yogurt dip
- Cucumber dip
You can store the cooked quinoa balls in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days and rewarm in a hot oven or air fryer at 320°F.
You can also freeze the balls, cooked or uncooked, for later. Bake the frozen quinoa balls or air fry frozen, no need to thaw.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Swap Sweet Potatoes For Something Else?
Absolutely, you can use 1 cup of mashed potato – perfect to use leftover potato puree after the holiday. Or you can also try mashed pumpkin or butternut squash.
Can I Make This Baby-friendly?
For babies, skip the salt and avoid frying the food.
Bake the balls without oil and wait for 15 minutes before offering them to your little one to make sure the center is not too hot.
More Family Recipes To Try
Have you made these sweet potato and quinoa balls? Share a review or comment below.
- 1 cup Cooked Quinoa cooled or at room temperature
- 1 large Sweet Potato (450g/16oz unpeeled), peeled, boiled, mashed (equivalent 1 cup mash)
- 1 cup Panko Crumb gluten free if needed
- 2 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast or grated parmesan
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Cumin
- Peel, cut the sweet potatoes into cubes, and place them in a small saucepan. Add cold water to cover the vegetable, cover saucepan with a lid, and bring a boil. Boil until fork-tender. Drain in a sieve and wait 10 minutes to steam out.
- Line a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Slightly oil the paper with coconut oil. Set aside.
- Mash the cooked sweet potato with a potato masher or fork. Measure 1 cup mash sweet potato and place in a mixing bowl.
- Add in the remaining ingredients: cooked quinoa, Panko Crumb, nutritional yeast or parmesan, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, salt.
- Stir with a spatula, and when the mixture starts to be thick and difficult to stir, use your hands to squeeze ingredients together and form a sticky dough.
- Slightly oil hands and roll balls of about 1 tablespoon. Place each ball on the prepared baking sheet. Slightly spray or brush olive oil on top of the balls for extra crispiness.
- Bake in the center rack at 400°F (200°C) for 20 minutes, flipping halfway. You can also air fry the quinoa balls. See the instructions above in this post.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can freeze the cooked or uncooked balls and bake/air fry frozen. No need to thaw before.