Vegan Meatloaf is a hearty vegetarian meal that will impress your dinner guests. Featuring a satisfying mixture of lentils and walnuts, it tastes just as delicious as the traditional version!
Why You’ll Love It
It’s wholesome. Instead of relying on fake meat substitutes, this vegan loaf is made with simple real food ingredients. The combination of lentils and walnuts create a satisfying texture you’ll love, with plenty of plant-based protein.
It tastes amazing. If you are serving vegan guests at Thanksgiving, they will love this meat-free main dish. It pairs perfectly with classic holiday sides, like mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and vegan gravy.
It’s allergy friendly. Instead of using breadcrumbs as a binder, this recipe uses oats to keep the recipe gluten-free. (Be sure to buy certified gluten-free oats, though, to avoid any cross-contamination during the manufacturing process.) This recipe is also dairy-free and egg-free.
It’s easy to make. When you start with cooked lentils (you can buy them in a can just like beans!) all you’ll have to do is saute a few veggies, pulse them together, and bake the mixture in a loaf pan.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in vegan meatloaf?
- Ground flaxseed
- Tomato paste
- Sauteed vegetables
The addition of tamari (a gluten-free soy sauce) gives this recipe an umami flavor, and I think it’s an easier ingredient to find than a vegan worcestershire sauce. Feel free to use regular soy sauce if you don’t need a gluten-free recipe.
If you don’t want to make your own glaze for the topping, you could also use store-bought BBQ sauce, instead. Or use ketchup as the base, to replace the tomato paste and maple syrup.
Want to switch up the veggies? You can use mushrooms instead of the carrots and celery, if you prefer. Be sure to roughly chop them, to give them a “ground beef” texture for this vegan meatloaf.
How to Make Vegan Meatloaf
1. Cook the veggies.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until they soften up, about 8 minutes.
Then, add in the garlic and thyme and stir for 1 more minute.
In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade, combine the cooked lentils, oats, walnuts, flax seeds, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Add in the cooked veggies, then pulse several times, just until the mixture starts to stick together.
You can test this by pressing it between your fingers. When it sticks together when pressed, it’s ready to go into the loaf pan. (You don’t want the mixture to be totally smooth, or it could turn out gummy in the center.)
Note: If you don’t have a food processor, you can mix this loaf in a large mixing bowl, instead. Simply use a potato masher, or fork, to mash the ingredients until they stick together.
Prepare a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan by spraying it with oil, then press a piece of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan, then press firmly to pack it in. Stir the glaze ingredients together and brush it over the top of the loaf.
Bake in the oven, uncovered, at 375ºF for 30 minutes.
Let the loaf cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift it out of the pan. Slice and serve warm, with your favorite sides.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
I don’t recommend baking this entire loaf ahead of time, as it may dry out when you reheat it. However, you can cook the components ahead of time (like the lentils and veggies) and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the loaf.
If you’d like to assemble everything in a loaf pan ahead of time, I recommend letting the loaf come to room temperature for at least 1 hour on the counter before baking it, to make sure the center is heated through. Let the loaf cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes to help it set and be easier to slice.
Vegan Meatloaf (Lentil Loaf)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 large onion , chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 carrot , chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 celery , chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (green or brown; see notes)
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats (certified gluten-free, if needed)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. (I like to use a spray oil on the pan first, so that the parchment paper will stick in place.)
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, carrot and celery. Stir occasionally until softened, about 8 minutes, then add in the garlic and thyme and stir for 1 more minute.
- In a the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, combine the cooked lentils, oats, walnuts, flax, tamari, cayenne, salt, and several grinds of black pepper. When the vegetables are tender, add them in, too.
- Pulse several times, just until the mixture starts to stick together when you press it between your fingers. You don't want it totally smooth, for the best texture. (See the photos in this post for reference.)
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan, then press firmly to pack it together. Stir the glaze ingredients together and brush it over the top of the loaf. Bake uncovered at 375ºF for 30 minutes.
- Let the loaf cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift it out of the pan. Slice and serve warm.
- Leftover slices can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, but the leftover loaf will be a little more dry in texture when you reheat it, so you might want to serve it with gravy for added moisture.
If you try this vegan meatloaf recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it!