This Vegan Meatloaf is a delicious vegetarian main entree to impress your dinner guests. It gets its hearty texture from a mixture of lentils and walnuts, so it’s loaded with plant-based protein, healthy fats, and plenty of filling fiber. The flavor goes perfectly with your favorite holiday sides, like mashed cauliflower and vegan gravy.
How to Make Vegan Meatloaf
This lentil loaf is relatively easy to make, but you will need to start with cooked lentils. (Or you can save time by using canned lentils– I only recently found out that’s an option at stores!)
If you need to cook your lentils from scratch, they only take about 20 minutes of simmering on the stove to become tender. That time will fly by if you multi-task as they cook!
Maximize Your Time
While the lentils are cooking on the stove, use that time to chop the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, and start sautéing them in a separate pan. By the time the lentils are done, the sautéed vegetables should be ready to go, too– and then the rest of the process moves quickly.
To complete this vegan meatloaf, you’ll process the cooked veggies and lentils in a food processor with rolled oats, walnuts, and spices. And ground flax acts as a binder in the meatloaf, instead of using eggs. The flax will help absorb any excess moisture from the cooked vegetables, and makes this lentil loaf easy to slice and serve later.
How to Make this Lentil Loaf in Advance
I don’t recommend baking this entire loaf ahead of time, as it may dry out when you reheat it, but 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 Glaze
I like to top this vegan meatloaf with a quick glaze made of tomato paste, vinegar, and maple syrup– which basically makes a quick homemade ketchup. You can use store-bought ketchup if you prefer, or BBQ sauce, as an even faster solution. The glaze helps lock-in moisture, and adds a nice contrast of flavor for this savory loaf.
Vegan Meatloaf (Easy 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 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 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
- 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, celery, and garlic. Stir occasionally until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- In a the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, combine the cooked lentils, oats, walnuts, flax, tamari, thyme, 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 easiliy 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.
Vegan Meatloaf Nutrition (per slice): Calories: 166, Fat: 8g, Carbohydrates: 19g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 6g
- To cook lentils from scratch, start with 3/4 cup dry lentils and cover it with 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Measure the lentils after cooking them to make sure you only use 1 1/2 cups in this recipe. You can cook extras to use in a lentil salad, if you want to!
- To save time, you can use a 15 oz. can of cooked brown lentils in this recipe. Make sure the can has no added salt, otherwise you’ll need to adjust the added salt in this recipe.
- This recipe is gluten-free when you use tamari and certified gluten-free oats, but you can use soy sauce if gluten isn’t an issue for you.
- To make this recipe soy-free, try using coconut aminos instead of the tamari. You’ll need to add a little extra salt to compensate, as the aminos are sweeter than tamari.
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from your experience!
More Vegan Recipes You’ll Love:
If you need some more ideas to go with your Vegan Meatloaf, try one of these popular recipes!
- Vegan Mac n’ Cheese
- Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Dairy-Free Creamed Spinach
- Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Curried Butternut Squash Soup
- Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Vegan Pecan Pie
- Vegan Potato Salad
- Vegan Quinoa Salad
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite vegetarian main entree?