Vegan Meatloaf (Easy Lentil Loaf)

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Vegan Meatloaf is a delicious vegetarian main entree that will impress your dinner guests. It gets its hearty texture from a mixture of lentils and walnuts, so it’s loaded with plant-based protein and plenty of filling fiber.

vegan meatloaf sliced on a plate

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!

lentil loaf in food processor

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.

lentil loaf before and after baking

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 slices on a white plate

vegan meatloaf sliced on a plate with thyme
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4.83 from 57 votes

Vegan Meatloaf (Easy Lentil Loaf)

This Vegan Meatloaf is a delicious vegetarian main entrée that will impress your guests! Made with lentils, walnuts, and oats, it's hearty & filling. You'll love how this recipe doesn't get soggy in the middle.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword lentil loaf, vegan meatloaf
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 slices
Calories 166kcal

Ingredients

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

Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 491mg | Potassium: 314mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1497IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 4mg
Vegan Meatloaf Nutrition (per slice): Calories: 166, Fat: 8g, Carbohydrates: 19g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 6g

Recipe Notes:

  • 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!

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Comments

Kayla

Amazing recipe!

Candi

We enjoyed it, but thought the walnut flavor was over powering.

Cathy

We loved this recipe! We have been vegetarians for just over a year and have tried a few different meatloaf recipes and this is our favorite. The only request my husband had was for more of the topping. 😋 thank you!

Cathy

Oops forgot to rate it!

Kim Rowland

I love this recipe as it is a “grab and go” food I can have on hand and leftovers are good. I don’t care for celery and carrots, so used chopped bok choy as a substitute (worked great) or just left it out, and still worked great.

Rachel

delicious! I am sensitive to onion so use only a tiny bit, but added 5 mushrooms in it’s place. Worked out well!

Jess Carvey

I liked this one better than the nut loaf. The nut loaf was a little too mushroom-y for me but this one tastes like the traditional vegan loaf everyone makes!

Diane

Finally a meatloaf that doesn’t come out soggy! I have tried four or five different recipes and this is a keeper. I only had rolled oats, so I pulsed them a few times in the food processor to break them up (a suggestion from an earlier comment). I didn’t make the glaze, because I prefer my meatloaf with ketchup, but the next time I think I will try it. I can’t wait to have a meatloaf sandwich with the leftovers. Thank you!

Sarah

Delicious! The texture and flavor are perfect and so simple to make! Will definitely be making this again soon.

Mary

It cooked fine. It was a lot to fit in a standard size food processor and I had to do two batches. It’s not terrible, but there are easier and tastier vegan loafs out there. My family hated the glaze as it’s very sweet and tangy. Leftovers were not too dry for me the next day.

Karen

I made another lentil loaf you had on this website, with quinoa instead of oats. I liked it because I didn’t need to dirty a food processor and it reheated well after being frozen. But I can’t seem to find it anymore. What happened to it?
Your recipe notes mention that this version won’t freeze well. I’m cooking for one so I need something that will freeze so I’m not eating lentil loaf all week! Any tips on freezing this?

    Megan Gilmore

    I would try freezing it in individual slices that are tightly wrapped, so that they will thaw and reheat easier. I don’t recall ever making a loaf with quinoa before, but I hope you’re able to find what you’re thinking of!

Penny Briddell

We love this loaf. The only thing that I changed was the seasoning, we put 3 time the amount listed. Otherwise it’s quote bland.

Carol

Love this lentil loaf and have made it a couple of times now. I use pecans instead of walnuts, Italian spices instead of thym, and a mixture of dijon mustard and ketchup for the glaze. By the way, after its cooled, I cut it into 8 slices and freeze the unused slices with parchment paper in between the slices. Great for a quick dinner or In a sandwich. Thank you.

RICHARD C SHOEMAKER

This was my first attempt at making lentil meatloaf, and I’m happy to report that it was very successful. The lentil loaf tastes very good, and the glaze is quite tasty. I cooked the lentils in an Instant Pot the day before and stored them in the refrigerator overnight. During that stay in the fridge, I’m supposing they soaked up any liquid that was left in the cooking. This left the lentil loaf a little drier than I’d like. This is just a guess. Might you suggest some ways to add a little more moisture to the loaf? Thanks! Richard

    RICHARD C SHOEMAKER

    Sorry, I forgot to rate the recipe in my original post. ~Richard

Karen

Made this last night and it’s a definite keeper! I did have to sub pecans for the walnuts, and did not have quick cooking oats, only regular rolled oats. I did not read the comment to pulse those first, and the texture would have been better had I done that, but will definitely make again and pulse the regular oats first. LOVED the glaze. Looking forward to a meatloaf sandwich for lunch today.

Shana Dugan

Definitely on my menu!! Texture is in believable. I added vegetable base to my water while I cooked the lentils and also added vegan worcestershire sauce in mix!! Yummy

Tahwa

Its not bad . I also added dried cranberries on another try because my eaters said they wanted it to be a jit sweet.all in all a very filling meal. Thank you

Ally

I will definitely make this again. Even my meat eater Dad enjoyed it! 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

Sarah

Favorite vegan loaf! Been making it every week. Love how healthy it is…and easy to make too! Thank you for an awesome recipe!

Margie

Can this be frozen after baking? I cook for myself and really don’t like having the same thing every day!

Erin

So delicious! Will definitely be making this again and again!

terry filla

I made this meatloaf as posted. It was absolutely wonderful. I make a lot of your recipes and love them all. This is a fantastic taste. I did use coconut aminos. Thank you for all your delicious food.

Lucy

Tried this today and it was delicious!!

Jill Stephens

My husband is a meat eater… but he tasted your meatloaf and is converted! Great recipe, thank you!!

Marian D Brown

This MEATLOAF recipe was off the chart ! My family loved it!

Robin

I just made this for my meal prep this week and it’s delicious! Very flavorful and filling. I paired mine with some vegan gravy and roasted vegetables and it definitely hit to spot. It’d be a great addition to the Thanksgiving table as well. I highly recommend!

Jamie

This is sssooo yummy! I didn’t have vinegar for the glaze so I substituted 1 TBSP of apple butter and it was delicious while adding a nice tang. My meat eating husband went back for seconds!

Emily

The best vegan lentil log I’ve tried! This is so moist and delicious, even my husband loves it! He never likes anything with lentils and he went back for seconds of this. Love it!

Jen

Can u use a frozen mirepoix mix? Would you just use 2 cups?

Melody Holeman

My favorite vegan recipe is spinach souffle. I can eat the entire thing in 1 sitting, so I have to measure it out–only half in 1 sitting!Melody Holeman

    Megan Gilmore

    Ooh, I’d love to see the recipe for the spinach souffle. That sounds delicious!

      Melody Holeman

      2 19 oz packages frozen chopped spinach, OR 2 cans chopped spinach
      1/4 cup butter or margarine (I use Smart Balance.)
      2 cups cooked rice
      2 cups shredded American cheese (or 12 slices of American cheese)
      2/3 cup milk
      4 eggs
      1/2 cup chopped onion
      2 Tbsp parsley flakes
      1 tsp salt (unless using canned spinach)
      1/4 tsp thyme
      1/2 tsp nutmeg

      Drain spinach well. In a 2 qt glass (or Corningware casserole dish)stir in butter, rice and cheese. Combine milk and eggs in a 4 cup glass measure. Blend in remaining ingredients. Stir into spinach mixture until well blended Cover with glass lid.or plastic wrap.

      Microwave on DEFROST 30-35 minutes. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes before serving.

      (from Litton’s Exciting World of Microwave Cooking, 1978)

Rybkah Yasharal

Do you have a nut free version? Also, could I maybe use brown rice in place of the walnuts?

Natalie

I’ve made this recipe and haven’t tasted it yet, although it smells delicious. This being said, the inside is not cooking and is still very mushy, even after raising the temperature and leaving it in longer, it’s been in almost an hour and still doesn’t seem cooked. I don’t think I blended it it too liquid, it looked like the picture. Not sure what to do… Maybe leaving it sit for 10 minutes as directed should help it seem more like a meatloaf texture. It this normal?

    Megan Gilmore

    I hope it firmed up for you as it cooled, Natalie. Let me know how it turned out!

Jake

This is the best! Thanks so much. We loved it immensely. The next day cold leftover sandwiches were honestly next level.

Sheila

I made it and added all the herbs and seasonings I usually add to my meatloaf and it has wonderful flavor. The mix smelled like meatloaf going into the oven and tastes like meatloaf when it came out. Texture is a little soft but it’s really tasty.

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