Quinoa Balls with Pine Nuts and Raisins: Vegetarian Meatballs

These Quinoa Balls with Pine Nuts and Raisins are delightfully easy vegetarian meatballs packed with protein. And the raisins and cinnamon provide a touch of sweetness that even picky kids will love.

So read on for all the tips and tricks to make this recipe. Or grab your quinoa, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make veggie meatballs!

four quinoa balls on a pita with feta, lemon herb tahini sauce, and parsley on a plate.
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bowl of quinoa, can of white beans, raisins, pine nuts, cilantro, tomato paste, eggs, and spices on a countertop.

Quinoa is the seed of a plant that originated in the Andes. Although some varietals of quinoa are now grown in high altitude regions worldwide, the vast majority of quinoa is still grown in Peru and Bolivia.


Quinoa can be served in place of rice or other whole grains. Or it works well as a binder like in these veggie balls or veggie burgers like my BBQ quinoa and pinto bean burger or cauliflower burger.

The rest of the ingredients in this recipe are from my favorite Mediterranean-inspired lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins. I was inspired to make these vegetarian meatballs for a pescatarian friend who exclaimed that I only made meaty dishes.

Tip from the wise quacker: quinoa can be a challenge if you have a young child who’s messy or who likes to throw food. I think of it like edible glitter.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Recipe tips and tricks

Meatballs and meatloaves are easy meals that come together quickly. Making these vegetarian quinoa balls is pretty much like how to make meatballs with meat.

Toasting the white beans decreases the moisture in the quinoa balls. This is a trick I learned when I perfected my Southwestern black bean burgers.

Mash the beans, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir them together. Two lightly beaten eggs further helps bind together the quinoa balls.

four panels showing steps in making the quinoa mixture.

If you have time, let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up. Use a medium-sized (about #40) cookie scoop or a spoon to scoop about a tablespoon and a half of the mixture and shape into golf ball-sized balls.

unbaked quinoa balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet to prevent sticking, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes until the quinoa balls have browned. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

baked quinoa balls in a small bowl.

How to serve these quinoa balls

Check out options for what to serve with meatballs for dinner. For these Mediterranean-inspired quinoa balls with their pine nuts and raisins, I like to serve them:

Recipe FAQs

Do you have to rinse quinoa before cooking?

Some people say you have to rinse quinoa in order to remove the bitter coating. Others say that the quinoa we buy is pre-rinsed, and rinsing is a waste of water. Some online taste testers say they can taste the difference, while others don’t. I’ve personally never rinsed quinoa.

Can I freeze these quinoa balls?

Yes, once they’ve been baked and cooled, pop the quinoa balls into the freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. They’ll keep for three to six months.

What can I make with leftover quinoa?

Serve as a side, in a salad, or part of a grain bowl.

Check out other vegetarian recipes from the Ugly Duckling Bakery archives like:

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.


Quinoa Balls with Pine Nuts and Raisins

4.67 from 3 votes
Category: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6
Calories: 234kcal
This recipe for quinoa balls with pine nuts and raisins are vegetarian meatballs adapted from my favorite Mediterreanean-inspired lamb meatballs with pine nuts and raisins. Serve these quinoa balls with a creamy herb lemon tahini sauce, homemade pita, and a pumpkin couscous salad, and you've got a Mediterranean meal.
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  • 1 can (15 ounces) white beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa from about 1 cup uncooked
  • ½ cup raisins coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nuts toasted and cooled
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten


  • Turn on the oven to 375°F. Put the drained white beans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 15 minutes until lightly toasted and dried. Let cool and then partially mash in a large bowl, leaving some pieces of bean. You can use this baking sheet for baking the quinoa balls.
    1 can (15 ounces) white beans
  • Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the eggs in into the bowl with the beans. Stir to mix.
    2 cups cooked quinoa, ½ cup raisins, ¼ cup pine nuts, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 1 clove garlic, minced, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, ½ teaspoon coriander, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Add the lightly beaten eggs to the bowl and stir in completely.
    2 eggs
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and then use a medium cookie scoop or your hands to shape about 24 firmly-packed, golf ball-sized balls. Cook them on the parchment paper for about 20 minutes until lightly browned.


This recipe makes about 2 dozen quinoa balls.
Use a #40 cookie scoop or your hands to shape veggie balls that are about one and a half table-spoons in size. Wetting your hands will help them from sticking.
If you have time, let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
Cooked quinoa balls can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for three to six months.


Serving: 4quinoa balls | Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 462mg | Potassium: 562mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 217IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 4mg
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  1. 5 stars
    Very healthy (I used egg whites) and quite good taste. I did not have cilantro and had no other excuse to go to the store so used frozen spinach and a bit of mint; overall a very forgiving recipe.
    I did give it the half hour in the fridge, didn’t pack the balls just formed them and they stayed together well.
    It will be on repeat for sure

  2. I too love pine nuts, and I was kind of sorry to give them up…but so goes this world.

    On the balls, I’d say they were good but not socks-knocking in flavor. The squashiness was clearly my own impatient fault. Flavor-wise, though, I think I just prefer falafels (or, you know, fa-waffles.) But if the 4-star rating gums up your stats in any way, I can change it to five with a clear conscience. It’s not like the recipe’s in any way bad, and it is relatively quick and easy, as well as being protein-packed and something a little different. 🙂

    We also made meatballs recently, though not with your recipe. Like you, I feel as though it’s hard to have too many. So compact and tidy! So responsive to sauces! So easy to nab out of the fridge for a quick protein bite!

    1. No, please don’t change the rating – it’s always helpful to know when things aren’t perfect. I’m sure I’ll make them again (and again), so I’ll keep playing with flavor.

  3. 4 stars
    We made them! And they were very good. Because my cooking style is more jugaad than Julia, I didn’t let the mixture rest in the fridge, and I subbed cashews for the pine nuts*, but they still came out well–a bit squashy, but that was due to my own impatience, and they baked up beautifully.
    *Yeah, so, pine nuts. They’re just ungodly expensive, and they’re being overharvested, and–the clincher–many years ago Brian gave himself a ripsnorting case of pine mouth by keeping some pesto around too long and eating it. So there hasn’t been a pine nut in this house for at least a decade. But the cashews worked out fine.

    1. Thank you, Catherine, for making these quinoa balls, for teaching us two new words/phrases (jugaad, pine mouth), and for writing such a poetic comment. Your brother suggested that I should respond in kind with whatever poetry I could muster. However, after he made a martini AND poured a glass of wine, I was destined to pass out at 9p and respond only now while he is lightly snoring. Is the need for improvement because they were squashy, because I suggested pine nuts (and agree with your comments, though I love pine nuts so), because the flavor didn’t knock your socks off, or some other reason n.o.s.?

  4. 5 stars
    I had accidentally opened a can of white beans when I was in a hurry reaching for chickpeas and then I’d remembered seeing this recipe. I’d had most of the other ingredients on hand, so I made these last night. I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out or what they’d taste like but it surprised me. A little difficult to roll into balls but I made it work (probably made them slightly bigger than called for) and they baked up very well. Ate them with some vegan chili and chickpea burgers and I thought they fit nicely with this meal. The nutty flavor and slight sweetness of the raisins was a great mix and I will definitely be making more again soon.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for sharing that you made these quinoa balls and liked them! Can you tell me what your challenge was in shaping them? Joanne

      1. I rolled them by hand, so just getting them to stay together more than sticking to my hands. After the first few I dampend my hands a little which seemed to help some.

        1. Great solution – that’s what I would have done too. The other thing that can help, if your quinoa and/or beans aren’t totally dry and you have the time, is giving the mixture a 30 minute rest to let it set up a bit more. It’s still going to be a bit sticky.

4.67 from 3 votes

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