Vegan Apple Sage Seitan Meatballs

These vegan meatballs are savoury, spiced with sage and a little heat from the BBQ sauce, with tons of fun texture and luscious tenderness from combining the wheat gluten with TVP. Grated apple helps create more little pockets of flavour, where more simmering broth and BBQ sauce can seep in. Yum!

Makes 6-8 servings (~36 meatballs)

Variety Tip: *or your favourite local tart cooking apple


Simmering Broth
8 cups water (or vegetable broth) (2 L)
1 tbsp vegetable broth paste (omit this if you're using vegetable broth) (15 mL)
2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 carrots, cut into 2 inch chunks
3 ribs celery, cut into 2 inch chunks
1/4 cup tamari (60 mL)
1 tsp ground sage (5 mL)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns (5 mL)
2/3 cup TVP (texturized vegetable protein) (85 g)
2 small (about 1 cup) Ontario Empire apples*
1 tbsp tamari (15 mL)
1 tsp marmite (if you don't have this, you could also use dark miso) (5 mL)
1 tbsp vegetable broth paste (or vegetable broth powder + 2 tsp little water) (15 mL)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (30 mL)
1 tsp ground sage (5 mL)
1 tsp garlic powder (5 mL)
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten (gluten flour) (210 g)
BBQ Sauce
2 medium onion, finely diced
2 tbsp vegetable oil (30 mL)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic powder (5 mL)
1 tsp onion powder (5 mL)
1/2 tsp chili flakes (2.5 mL)
1 tsp sage (5 mL)
2 tbsp ketchup (30 mL)
1 tbsp soy sauce (15 mL)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (15 mL)
2 Ontario Empire Apples* (about 1 cup diced apples)
2 cups of the simmering broth (after meatballs have been cooked in it) (500 mL)


Simmering Broth

  1. Prepare the simmering broth by combining all ingredients in a large pot and let come to a boil. Lower to a steady simmer and cover. Cook for at least 30 min (up to 1 hour is good, but 30 min is fine). Remove large chunks of vegetables from the broth, and set aside to simmer the seitan.


  1. Soak the TVP in boiling water to reconstitute for 10 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, grate 2 small Empire apples to get about 1 cup of grated apple. Add the wet ingredients & spices (tamari, marmite, broth paste, vegetable oil, reconstituted TVP, and ground sage). Stir until everything is well incorporated.
  3. Add the vital wheat gluten and knead until everything is incorporated. Try not to overknead because it'll be too tough. You'll lose some TVP bits in the process but it's okay. As long as you get most of it in the dough, it'll be fine.
  4. Roll into 1 inch meatballs. If you want to maintain a better shape for the meatballs, I highly recommend baking for 20 minutes (at 350F) before putting into the simmering broth. It's not absolutely necessary, but it definitely improves the texture. In any case, simmer in the simmering broth for 40-60 min (40 if you did a prebake, 60 if you didn't bake). Try not to boil the seitan, just let it cook in a very gentle simmering broth. Once the meatballs are cooked through, strain the broth and reserve 2 cups for the BBQ sauce.
  5. If you have the time, transfer the meatballs into an airtight container with about 1 cup of the simmering broth and let refrigerate overnight, or at least 4-6 hours.*
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the BBQ sauce.

Apple BBQ Sauce

  1. In a small saucepan cook onions in oil until browned, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add garlic powder, onion powder, chili flakes and ground sage and stir to cook the spices (about 1 minute).
  2. Add ketchup, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, diced apples and two cups of the strained simmering broth. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium low heat until everything is softened. Use a blender or immersion blender and blend until smooth.


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a casserole dish, arrange meatballs into a single layer.
  3. Pour BBQ sauce on top and bake for 25 minutes until bubbling. Remove from oven.
  4. Optional: garnish with some fried sage (sage + vegan butter, fry the leaves until they're crisp).
  5. Enjoy!

Recipe developed for Ontario apple Growers by The Viet Vegan