This Vegan Meatloaf is the perfect main dish to make when you’re craving something both hearty and healthy. It’s high in protein from lentils, vegetable-rich, and naturally gluten-free and oil-free. You only need about 1 hour to make this whole food plant-based favorite!
Meatloaf was one of Chris’ favorite recipes growing up, so I wanted to create a special meatless version for him to enjoy now that he is vegan. This lentil version is not only reminiscent of the flavors of traditional meatloaf but packed with veggies and is naturally gluten-free and oil-free. Top it off with our healthy mushroom gravy and a side of vegan mashed potatoes for the ultimate comfort food meal!
Why Lentils are the Superior Choice for Making Vegan Meatloaf
Lentils are one of our favorite healthy meat substitutes. Compared to legumes like chickpeas, lentils are higher in protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, and various B vitamins. Most importantly, the texture of lentils makes for a much less mushy meatloaf! All in all, lentils are our top choice for making vegan meatloaves and roasts like vegan Wellington.
Vegan Meatloaf Ingredients
Aromatics: This vegan meatloaf is packed with tons of veggies, giving it both a boost of nutrition and flavor. You’ll need onion, carrots, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and mushrooms.
Lentils: We developed this meatloaf using cooked brown lentils, but green lentils will work as well. Avoid red lentils – these are too soft to use when making this meatloaf recipe. Reserve them for recipes such as Feel-Good Red Lentil Soup.
Oats: Quick-cooking oats work similarly to breadcrumbs and absorb extra liquid and add a nice texture to the lentil meatloaf.
Flaxseed Meal: Whether you’re new to vegan cooking or a seasoned pro, you’re likely familiar with using flaxseed meal as a vegan egg replacer. In this lentil meatloaf recipe, we’ll add flaxseed meal directly to the mix – no need to whisk it with water beforehand.
Ketchup: Classic meatloafs are topped with a ketchup glaze. We went with store-bought ketchup to make the glaze quick and simple, but if preferred, opt for homemade ketchup.
Tamari & Vegan Worcestershire: These two vegan kitchen staples add an umami flavor that mimics the flavor profile of traditional meatloaf. If you prefer and are not gluten-free, feel free to use soy sauce or even coconut aminos for a less salty lentil meatloaf.
Fresh herbs and spices: Using fresh herbs in our Thanksgiving cooking is one of our favorite tricks for boosting flavor and making the meal as vibrant as possible. In this vegan meatloaf, we recommend fresh rosemary, sage, thyme as well as smoked paprika to give this lentil meatloaf a smoky undertone.
Lentil options: Either home-cooked or store-bought canned lentils (drained and rinsed) will work in this vegan meatloaf recipe. If you opt for home-cooked lentils, we’d recommend making them ahead of time and allowing them to cool completely. If you add hot lentils to the meatloaf mixture, it can make the lentil meatloaf mushy.
Oats substitution: If you cannot find quick cooking oats, opt for regular rolled oats and pulse them a few times in the food processor until slightly broken down. This will help them cook faster like quick oats.
Walnuts substitution: If preferred or allergic to walnuts, use finely chopped pecans or brazil nuts.
Vegan Worcestershire sauce options: We always use store-bought, but on the off chance you cannot find a vegan-friendly version in stores near you, try this highly reviewed homemade vegan Worcestershire sauce.
Oil-free vegan meatloaf: As written, this vegan meatloaf recipe is oil-free. If you use oil in your vegan cooking, feel free to substitute the water saute with oil.
Gluten-free vegan meatloaf: If you are gluten-free, opt for tamari and gluten-free certified quick cook oats.
How to Make Vegan Meatloaf
Cook the mirepoix. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of water or 1 tablespoon oil. Once warm, add in the onions, carrots, bell pepper, and celery, and cook for 3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Add mushrooms. Stir to combine. Cook until the moisture the mushrooms release evaporates and the mushrooms have browned and shrunk in size, about 5 minutes.
Mash the lentils. Push the sauteed vegetables to one side of the skillet, then add the cooked lentils to the empty side of the pan. Mash the lentils using a fork or potato masher until the texture resembles refried beans. Once sufficiently mashed, mix the lentils meatloaf mixture together until uniform.
Add remaining meatloaf ingredients. Stir in the quick oats, walnuts, flaxseed meal, ketchup, tamari, vegan Worcestershire sauce, fresh herbs, smoked paprika and black pepper. Mix until uniform.
Transfer to a 9-inch loaf pan. Gently pack the mixture into the loaf pan and spread evenly.
Bake. Tightly cover the loaf pan with foil, then bake for 30 minutes.
Make your meatloaf glaze. While the vegan meatloaf bakes, prep the ketchup glaze. In a small bowl, add the ketchup, vegan Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Mix together until smooth and combined, then set aside.
Top meatloaf with glaze and bake again. After 30 minutes, remove the vegan meatloaf from the oven, discard the foil, top with the ketchup glaze, then bake uncovered for 25 more minutes.
Cool, then slice. For best slicing results, we recommend allowing the lentil meatloaf to cool completely before slicing. This will allow it to firm up and crumble less when sliced. However, it is still delicious straight from the oven!
Traditional meatloaf recipes typically use eggs and breadcrumbs as a binder. Our healthy lentil meatloaf uses flaxseed meal and quick oats instead of these traditional ingredients. Work just as well, yet is vegan-friendly and much more nutritious.
How do you keep a vegan meatloaf from falling apart?
There are 3 things to do to ensure your vegan meatloaf does not fall apart and is easy to slice. 1.Chop the ingredients finely. This allows the ingredients to blend together seamlessly and prevents the meatloaf from being chunky. 2.Pack it into the loaf pan. If you do not press the lentil meatloaf ingredients into the pan and form it into a tight loaf, it will not hold together well. 3. Allow it time to cool. The longer it cools, the less likely it will fall apart when slicing. If an option, make your vegan meatloaf 1 day in advance and slice when cool.
Why is my lentil meatloaf mushy?
The vegetable mixture was likely too moist. Just like when making our vegan Wellington, it is important to cook the vegetable mixture until the excess moisture from the vegetables has evaporated out, and the vegetables are pretty dry. Doing this will prevent the lentil meatloaf from being mushy.
This vegan meatloaf stores best in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. If freezing, freeze without the ketchup glaze and thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating.
To reheat, place individual slices of vegan meatloaf in the toaster oven/conventional oven or microwave and heat until warmed through.
Who knew you could make a meatloaf out of vegetables? This easy to make Veggie Meatloaf requires simple ingredients and just about an hour of your time. It’s free from gluten and added oil, and makes the perfect holiday entree.
1/2 medium (113g) onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup (73g) finely chopped carrots
1/2 (75g) green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 rib (30g) celery, finely diced
4 cloves (7g) garlic, finely minced
16 oz. baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups (112.5g) cooked brown lentils, cooled* (see notes)
1 cup (111g) gluten-free quick oats * (see notes)
3/4 cup (78g) finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons (15g) flaxseed meal
1/4 cup (68g) ketchup
2 tablespoons (36g) tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten-free)
1 tablespoon (15mL) vegan Worcestershire sauce (we used the Portland brand)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly oil a 9-inch loaf pan or line it with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add in 3 tablespoons of water. Once warmed through, add in the onions, carrots, bell peppers, and celery, and cook for 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for 3 minutes more or until fragrant. Add 2 tablespoons of water if needed to prevent burning since we are not using oil.
Add in the mushrooms. At this point, the pan might seem dry, but don’t worry! The mushrooms will release a lot of moisture while they cook down. Cook until no moisture remains and the mushrooms have browned, mixing often, about 5 minutes.
Once everything has cooked through, remove from heat and using your cooking utensil, push everything to one side of the pan. Add the cooked lentils to the empty side of the pan and using a fork or a potato masher, mash all of the lentils until they become similar to a refried bean texture. Mix everything together and then mash the vegetables in a few times for good measure.
Add in the quick oats, walnuts, flaxseed meal, ketchup, tamari, vegan Worcestershire sauce, fresh herbs, paprika and black pepper. Mix everything together until uniform.
Pour the veggie meatloaf mixture into the lined pan, spread it out evenly and gently pack it down into the pan to ensure that it stays together when slicing after it is cooked. Cover the pan with foil and place it into the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, make your topping. In a small bowl, add in the ketchup, vegan Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder, and mix everything together until uniform. Set aside.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven and discard the foil. Add the topping onto the meatloaf and spread it out evenly until the whole surface is covered.
Place it back into the oven to bake for an additional 25 minutes.
Remove the loaf from the oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes before slicing as it will crumble less when it is cooled. We recommend that you it completely before slicing for best results.
Sprinkle the top with fresh parsley and serve with a side of gravy if desired.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate linksthat we earn a commission through, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!
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