You won’t miss the meat with this hearty vegan lentil loaf! It’s filled with veggies and lentils, and is full of flavor. It a wonderful holiday entree, and is also easy enough for weekday meals.
This lentil loaf is a great vegetarian or vegan entree for Thanksgiving or Christmas! It’s absolutely delicious! Paired with some mashed potatoes, vegan gravy and some green vegetables makes a perfect feast.
It’s very similar to the classic meatloaf you might remember, but healthier because it’s made with lentils and vegetables. It’s full of flavor, with a great meatloaf texture. And it can be topped with your favorite glaze or sauce.
Lentils are a great plant based source of protein! They’re also high in fiber, potassium, and folates. Not to mention, they’re budget friendly!
This recipe is so tasty, easy, and healthy, it deserves a spot on your regular weekly menu rotation.
Ingredients & Substitutions
(Find the complete recipe with measurements and instructions at the bottom off the post.)
- Brown lentils – you can use pre-cooked lentils if you want.
- Vegetable broth – use vegetable bouillon cubes or paste, or store bought or homemade broth. If you are watching sodium, be sure to use a low sodium broth.
- Bay leaf
- Ground flax seed
- Vegetables – the standard mirepoix of onion, celery, and carrrot.
- Garlic – I prefer fresh garlic, but you can use jarred minced garlic or a heaping teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Quick oats – I use quick oats because they absorb more liquid than old fashioned oats.
- Panko bread crumbs – if you’re gluten free, use gluten free Panko.
- Walnuts – if you are allergic to walnuts, you can substitute with sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Grind the seeds a bit to break them up, but don’t grind to a powder.
- Ketchup – choose a ketchup that is free of high fructose corn syrup. Alternatively, you can use a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.
- Low sodium soy sauce – for a gluten free option, use gluten free tamari or liquid aminos.
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce – sure to use a vegan sauce. Many Worcestershire sauces contain anchovies. Kroger Brand and Wizard’s are both vegan.
- Seasonings: dried oregano, dried parsley, dried thyme, salt, and black pepper. You can vary the herbs and spices to your liking.
How to make vegan lentil loaf
First rinse your lentils and check for small debris. Drain them and place them in a medium sized sauce pan along with the vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
When the lentils are done cooking, drain any excess liquid and set them aside.
While the lentils are cooking saute the onion, celery, and carrot in a non-stick or stainless steel pan over medium heat until the onion begins to caramelize. When the vegetables start sticking to the pan, add a bit of water or veggie broth to loosen them and deglaze the pan.
Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Transfer the lentils, vegetables, and remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir together until well combined.
(In the image, it shows flax “eggs” added to the bowl. I changed the recipe to include the ground flax seed, but not the water to create the flax eggs. The additional water made the lentil loaf too moist. But if you want moister lentil loaf, go ahead and make the flax eggs by mixing the flax meal with hot water and letting it sit for a few minutes to gel.)
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Leave some of the paper extending over the long sides of the pan. This will make it easier to remove the lentil loaf from the pan after it is baked.
Transfer the lentil loaf mixture into the prepared loaf pan and press down to pack it firmly.
Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Removed the foil and spread ketchup, barbecue sauce, or another favorite sauce on top of the loaf. Bake for another 15 minutes uncovered.
Allow the lentil loaf to sit for about 10 or 15 minutes before removing from the pan and slicing.
How to serve this lentil loaf
Some great side dishes for this lentil meatloaf are:
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Vegan Gravy
- Sauteed Kale
- Vegan Caesar Salad
- Vegan Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Vegan Scalloped Potatoes
- Glazed Carrots
- Cranberry Sauce
Leftover lentil loaf makes a great vegan meatloaf sandwich!
Frequently asked questions
To prevent mushy lentil loaf, make sure there is not too much moisture in your lentil mixture. Be sure to drain any excess liquid from the cooked lentils after cooking them, and be careful not to overcook them. They need to be tender, but not mushy.
If your lentil loaf mixture seems too moist before baking, add a bit more oatmeal or breadcrumbs.
Yes. This is a great make ahead recipe! The lentil loaf mixture can be made in advance and placed in the loaf pan, then refrigerated for a day or two before baking. When you are ready to eat it, follow the baking instructions.
Refrigerator: Store leftover lentil loaf in a covered container the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Leftovers make wonderful vegan meatloaf sandwiches!
Freezer: You can also freeze leftovers by first letting it cool completely. Slice the leftover loaf into serving size portions and freeze with a piece of parchment paper between the slices. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Reheating: reheat individual slices in the microwave at 30 second intervals, or in a 350° oven until warm.
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Vegan Lentil Loaf
- 1 cup dry brown lentils
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 rib celery diced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup quick oats dry
- ½ – ¾ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Rinse and drain the lentils. Then place them in a medium saucepan along with the vegetable broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are soft but not mushy.
- When the lentils are soft, drain any excess vegetable broth, and remove the bay leaf. Set them aside.
- Saute the onion, celery, and carrot in a non-stick or stainless steel pan over medium heat until the onion begins to caramelize. Add a small amount of water or vegetable broth if the vegetables start to stick.
- Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Transfer the lentils, veggies, and remaining ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Stir to completely combine
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving some paper extending over the two long sides of the pan to assist with removing the lentil loaf.
- Transfer the lentil loaf mixture into the loaf pan and pack it firmly.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Then remove foil, add ketchup or sauce of choice, and bake another 15 minutes uncovered.
- Allow the loaf to sit for 15 minutes before slicing.