This vegan gumbo is packed with juicy tomatoes, Cajun spices and hearty red bean andouille meatballs! Serve it with rice for a hearty and flavor-packed vegan meal!
I'd had vegan gumbo on my to-make list for a while and I just happened to have some okra in the fridge. I never just happen to have okra in the fridge, but I spotted some in the produce department at my supermarket the other day and bought it on a whim. Perfect excuse to get to work on a recipe!
This gumbo is made with vegan meatballs (beanballs if you prefer). Traditional gumbo doesn't have meatballs, but we're rule-breakers around here.
Some versions of traditional gumbo do have andouille sausage, but homemade vegan sausage is a bigger project than I think most of us want to deal with for a weeknight dinner.
Having said that, if you're in real rush, there are even quicker options than meatballs. Try store-bought vegan sausage, seitan, or even just a can of red beans.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Olive oil. Use another high-heat oil like avocado oil, coconut oil, or canola oil if you'd like.
- All-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour also works.
- Bell pepper.
- Vegetable broth.
- Fire roasted tomatoes. Regular old canned diced tomatoes will work if these aren't available.
- Okra. Use fresh okra if you can find it. Otherwise, frozen okra works fine. Frozen orka is partially cooked, so thaw it and add it to the pot when your gumbo has about ten minutes of cook time left.
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce. Most Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, so be careful here. Whole Food's, Annie's and Edward & Sons brands are all vegan. You can also use homemade vegan Worcestershire sauce (it's easy!).
- Spices. You'll need paprika, cumin (for the beanballs only), thyme, oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and a bay leaf.
- Red kidney beans.
- Panko breadcrumbs.
- Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos can be substituted if that's what you prefer.
- Liquid smoke. You can find this near the barbecue sauces at the grocery store. It's totally vegan and will add lots of smoky flavor to your red bean meatballs.
- Hot sauce. I like Crystal or Tabasco sauce with my vegan gumbo.
- Rice. Gumbo is traditionally served with rice. I went with basic short grain brown rice, but feel free to use your favorite.
- Scallions. Also known as green onions.
Tip: One ingredient that I didn't include but you'll find in many traditional gumbo recipes is filé, which is a powder made from sassafras leaves that primarily serves as a thickener. If you'd like to serve your gumbo with filé, add a few teaspoons towards the end of cooking, or sprinkle a bit over each bowl when serving.
How It's Made
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you'd like to skip right to the recipe!
- Make your roux first. Heat the oil in a large pot and whisk in the flour. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it darkens a bit and begins to smell nutty.
- Stir in diced onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook the veggies for about 5 minutes, until they start to soften, then add the garlic and sauté it briefly until it becomes very fragrant.
Tip: Your roux is the thickener for your vegan gumbo, so don't omit it or skimp on the flour or oil.
- Stir in your broth, tomatoes, okra, Worcestershire sauce and spices.
- Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Now lower the heat and let your gumbo simmer until the veggies are tender and the base has thickened up.
- Make the beanballs while the gumbo simmers. Place the beans into a food processor bowl, along with panko breadcrumbs, soy sauce, liquid smoke, paprika, cumin, thyme, oregano and black pepper.
- Briefly blend the ingredients.
- Roll the bean mixture into balls, then brush or spritz them with some oil.
- Bake the balls until they're lightly browned, flipping them once or twice during baking.
- Remove the bay leaf from your gumbo and season it with salt and hot sauce to taste.
- Divide the meatballs among bowls, then ladle the gumbo over them. Serve each bowl with a scoop of rice and a sprinkle of chopped scallions.
Leftovers & Storage
Leftover vegan gumbo will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months. I recommend storing the stew separately from the meatballs (they get soggy!).
More Vegan Cajun Recipes
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Vegan Gumbo with Andouille Red Bean Meatballs
This vegan gumbo is packed with juicy tomatoes, Cajun spices and hearty red bean andouille meatballs! Serve it with rice for hearty and flavor-packed vegan meal!
For the Vegan Gumbo
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 (14 ounce/400 gram) can fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 cups fresh okra, tails and caps removed, cut into 1-inch pieces (measure after cutting) (Note 1)
- 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- Cayenne pepper, to taste (I used ½ teaspoon)
- Salt, to taste
- Hot sauce, to taste
For the Anduille Red Bean Meatballs
- 1 (14 ounce/400 gram) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Olive oil, for brushing or spraying (about 1 teaspoon)
- Cooked rice
- Chopped scallions
To Make the Gumbo
Coat the bottom of a large pot with the olive oil and place it over medium heat.
Whisk in the flour. Cook the flour, whisking constantly, until it darkens in color a bit and begins to smell nutty, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the onion, pepper and celery. Cook the vegetables, for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften, stirring frequently to prevent the flour from burning.
Add the garlic to the pot and cook it with the vegetables for about 1 minute, until very fragrant, stirring constantly.
Stir in the broth, tomatoes, okra, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, thyme, pepper, oregano, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf. Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is thick and the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes.
To Make the Meatballs
While the gumbo simmers, preheat the oven to 400° and lightly oil a baking sheet or oven-safe skillet.
Place all ingredients except for the salt and olive oil into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the machine until the ingredients are finely chopped and well mixed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Taste-test the mixture and season it with salt to taste. Adjust any other seasonings to your liking.
Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls (you'll get about about 24) and arrange them on the baking sheet or in the skillet. Lightly brush or spray the balls with olive oil.
Bake the meatballs for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned, flipping them once halfway through.
When the stew has finished simmering, remove the pot from heat. Remove the bay leaf and season the gumbo with salt and hot sauce to taste.
Divide the meatballs into bowls and ladle the gumbo over them. Serve with rice and top with scallions
- Frozen okra can be used if fresh isn't available. Thaw it and then add it to the stew when it has about 10 minutes of simmer time left.
- If you have any leftovers, store the meatballs separate from the stew so they don't get soggy.
- Nutrition information does not include rice.