Vegan Lentil Loaf (Vegan Meatloaf)

This festive vegan lentil loaf is packed with flavor and makes for a lovely vegetarian main-entree for a holiday meal.

Oh boy do I have a treat for you today! It’s a vegan lentil loaf that’s like the meatloaf my mom used to make only with lentils instead of meat. It’s amazingly flavorful and works beautifully as a vegetarian or vegan main-entree for a holiday meal. That said, don’t be surprised if you find the meat-eaters in your life enjoying it as well.

This lentil loaf has plenty of flavor and texture and like traditional meatloaf, this vegan lentil loaf has a sweet and savory tomato-based glaze, but it’s homemade and free of refined sugar. Maple syrup is one of my favorite natural sweeteners and I knew it’s subtle sweetness would pair nicely with the flavors of the loaf so I started experimenting. It gives the loaf the perfect amount of sweetness and a bit of a nostalgic factor for those of us that were served traditional meatloaf as kids.

The nice thing about this particular lentil loaf (besides the flavor, which is amazing btw) is that it holds together really well and doesn’t crumble when you cut it for serving.

Vegan Lentil Loaf with a Maple Glaze sitting on a white counter. Two slices of the loaf cut.

WATCH HOW TO MAKE THIS VEGAN LENTIL LOAF:

Ingredients & Substitutions:

  • dry brown or green lentils – I wouldn’t recommend making this loaf with red lentils because unfortunately they’re too soft.
  • vegetables – celery, carrot, onion and garlic 
  • walnuts – pecans would work as well. You can also swap in more lentils for the nuts if you’d like to keep this recipe nut-free.
  • rolled oats – you can sub the oats for breadcrumbs if needed.
  • tamari – soy sauce, liquid aminos or coconut aminos can be subbed for the tamari. I just prefer to use tamari to keep this loaf gluten-free.
  • tomato paste
  • ground flaxseed – or ground chia seeds
  • nutritional yeast – you can leave out the nutritional yeast if needed. It does adds a nice savory flavor, so I do recommend picking some up at the grocery store if you don’t have any on hand. Look for it in the natural foods section or with the condiments at your local grocery store. Of course you can also order it online.
  • olive or avocado oil
  • pure maple syrup – remember to use 100% pure maple syrup, not the processed syrups sold for pancakes. Literally the first ingredient on those syrups is corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup… no thanks!
  • apple cider vinegar
  • balsamic vinegar
  • seasonings and spices – bay leaf, dried thyme, dried oregano, dried basil, cayenne pepper, ground pepper and sea salt 

Dry vs. Pre-Cooked Lentils

For this recipe I used dry lentils. The 1/2 cup of dried lentils results in about 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils. To make this recipe even easier, you can totally use pre-cooked, steamed lentils. I would measure out about 1 1/2 cups and skip steps 2 and 3 within the recipe below.

I’ve seen steamed lentils at different grocery stores in the produce section. Stores like Kroger carry the Melissa’s steamed lentils and steamed lentils are one of  my favorite items to buy from Trader Joe’s.

Lentil Loaf Ingredients in a food processor sitting on a marble countertop.

How to Make Lentil Loaf

Prepare the lentils by rinsing them and adding to a pot with water and a bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat down and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, discard the bay leaf and set the lentils aside to cool. This step can be done in advance.

Toast walnuts by spreading them onto a baking sheet and toasting in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sauté pan and cook onions, garlic, carrots and celery until they’ve softened and become fragrant. About 5-10 minutes. Once cooked remove from stovetop to cool.

Add lentils (reserve ½ cup for later), cooked veggies, toasted walnuts, oats, tamari, tomato paste, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, ground pepper and sea salt to your food processor. Pulse until mixture is just combined and the texture is to your liking. You want the mixture to be combined enough to stick together, but you don’t want it to be completely pulverized.

Stir in the reserved lentils and press mixture into parchment lined loaf pan.

In a small bowl stir together glaze ingredients and spread the glaze over top of the loaf.

Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 8 more minutes. Let the loaf rest 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Lentil Loaf with a Maple Glaze sitting on a white platter with three slices of the loaf cut.

How to Prep Lentil Loaf in Advance

If you want to prep the lentil loaf ahead of time I recommend prepping it fully, covering it with foil or plastic wrap and keeping it in the fridge for 1-2 days before baking as instructed in the recipe.

How to Store Leftovers

Leftovers should keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, but you can freeze the lentil loaf too. To freeze, just bake the lentil loaf and let cool to room temperature, wrap slices in foil or plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, thaw slice(s) in the fridge then heat in the microwave or bake in a 275°F oven until the lentil loaf slice has heated through, about 15 minutes.

More Lentil Recipes to Try:

More Holiday Recipes to Add to Your Menu:

If you make this vegan lentil loaf be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting us know how it turned out. Your feedback is so helpful for the EBF team and our readers!

This delicious LENTIL LOAF is the perfect vegetarian main for the holidays!
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Lentil loaf with maple glaze sliced on a board.

Vegan Lentil Loaf


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 slices
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This festive vegan lentil loaf is packed with flavor and makes for a lovely vegetarian main-entree for a holiday meal.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry brown (green) lentils
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 large onion (about 1 heaping cup), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 Tablespoons tamari
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Maple Sweetened Glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Prepare lentils by rinsing them and adding to a pot with water and a bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat down and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, discard the bay leaf and set the lentils aside to cool. This step can be done in advance.
  3. In the meantime toast walnuts by spreading them onto a baking sheet and toasting in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sauté pan and cook onions, garlic, carrots and celery until they’ve softened and become fragrant. About 5-10 minutes. Once cooked remove from stovetop to cool.
  5. Add lentils (reserve ½ cup for later), cooked veggies, toasted walnuts, oats, tamari, tomato paste, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, ground pepper and sea salt to the food processor. Pulse until mixture is just combined and the texture is to your liking. You want the mixture to be combined enough to stick together, but you don’t want it to be completely pulverized.
  6. Stir in the reserved lentils and press mixture into parchment lined loaf pan. I used a 9″ x 5″ x 2½”.
  7. In a small bowl stir together glaze ingredients and spread the glaze over top of the loaf.
  8. Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 8 more minutes. Let the loaf rest 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
  9. Store leftovers in a sealed container for up to 5 days in the fridge. Or freeze for up to 1 month.

Notes

  • To prep the lentil loaf ahead of time: I recommend prepping it fully, covering it with foil or plastic wrap and keeping it in the fridge for 1-2 days before baking as instructed in the recipe.
  • To freeze the lentil loaf: bake lentil loaf and let cool to room temperature, wrap slices in foil or plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, thaw slice(s) in the fridge, then heat in the microwave or  bake in a 275°F oven until the lentil loaf slice has heated through, about 15 minutes.
  • Category: Lunch/Dinner
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 173
  • Sugar: 3
  • Fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 8g

Keywords: vegan lentil loaf, vegetarian lentil loaf, lentil loaf, best lentil loaf, vegan meatloaf

This post is part of a partnership with Pure Canada Maple. Maple syrup is one of my favorite natural sweeteners and as always, opinions are my own.

This post may include affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

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    215 comments
    1. Leanne
      November 27, 2020 AT 12:37 am

      I made this recipe for my boyfriend and I for Thanksgiving and my goodness did it come out amazing! It looked like meatloaf and my family (non-vegans) liked it too. Thank for sharing your brilliant talent. 🔥🤤

    2. Jenn
      November 26, 2020 AT 11:42 pm

      I LOVE this! Perfect main dish for thanksgiving, especially being able to prep ahead of time. I also made this before my daughter was born and froze it for easy meals during those newborn days. Thanks for this recipe!

    3. Annie B
      November 26, 2020 AT 8:12 pm

      My whole family was amazed at this lentil loaf.
      Firstly, it looked dry in the photos. It isn’t! I did add about 1/2 cup water while in the food processor because it was too dry when blending.
      Secondly, I am not someone who has ever liked the tomato paste on top of meatloaf (when I ate meat) so I don’t know why I thought I’d be different now. Go with your instinct-don’t put the tomato on if it is not your style and it’ll still be delicious. I think I’ll do a much room gravy for it instead of tomato next time.
      Thirdly, my 2.5 year old helped me with this and I am positive almost all my measurements were off. It did not matter in the least!!! This recipe is so good it has built in fail safes. Thank you!!!! Can’t wait to try some more.

    4. melissa
      November 26, 2020 AT 12:54 pm

      absolutely delicious! had a seitan roast gone wrong and made this. didn’t put the glaze on since I made for thanksgiving and didn’t want those flavors with the meal. Really great recipe, will be making many times again. gracias!

    5. Isabelle
      November 24, 2020 AT 8:12 pm

      This was delicious! Perfect texture and flavour. My husband who usually hates lentils went back for seconds!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 25, 2020 AT 3:24 pm

        Ahh yay, that makes me so happy to hear, Isabelle! I’m super glad this lentil loaf was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    6. Donald Blasky
      November 24, 2020 AT 4:33 pm

      Is this recipe possibe to make without a food processor? If so, how..blender, nutribullet? Sounds delicious.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 24, 2020 AT 6:58 pm

        Hey Donald – You can certainly try making this in a blender, it might just require a little extra effort. Keep me posted how it turns out for you!

    7. Jenni
      November 24, 2020 AT 3:26 pm

      Could you use pre cooked lentils?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 24, 2020 AT 6:45 pm

        Definitely! I make a note about that in the blog post. 🙂

    8. Mel
      November 16, 2020 AT 12:40 pm

      I’m new to a plant-based diet and my boyfriend is a carnivore but both absolutely LOVED this! Thanks !

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 16, 2020 AT 4:03 pm

        Ahh yay, this makes me so happy to hear!! I’m pumped it was a hit with both of you. 🙂

    9. Beth
      November 15, 2020 AT 2:37 pm

      Wow! Just made this and it is fantastic! I made it in muffin tins for individual servings to freeze. It is perfectly seasoned and holds together well. The only thing I did differently was to do half celery, half bell pepper. This is definitely going into the rotation. Thank you so much for a great recipe!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 15, 2020 AT 7:49 pm

        Love that you made this recipe in a muffin tin and super happy to hear that it turned out well. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    10. SuzyM
      November 12, 2020 AT 6:26 pm

      This is incredible! I made it for dinner tonight. My Husband and I really enjoyed it and I will definitely be making it regularly. I served it with steamed Broccoli, but will also serve it with Mashed Potatoes the next time. I already had Mashed Potatoes this week! Thank you for such a great recipe.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 13, 2020 AT 4:01 pm

        Yay!! So glad you both enjoyed this lentil loaf, Suzy. Thanks so much for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. 🙂

    11. Alex
      November 7, 2020 AT 6:49 pm

      Great recipe! I only had whole flax seeds so I was worried about the binding factor, and so I added some chia seeds as well. Not sure if that did the trick or if it would have been OK without them, but the texture was just right. I also accidentally put in 1/2 teaspoon of thyme instead of 1/4, and could tell that was too much, but that was my fault, not yours! I will definitely make this again (with the correct amount!). I love a tasty, healthy, affordable meal made with pantry staples. I served with roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 7, 2020 AT 7:20 pm

        So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Alex! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I appreciate it. 🙂

    12. Marli
      November 4, 2020 AT 1:47 am

      Great recipe ! I really like this rich taste and texture even though I have used red lentils instead of brown ones. Definitely going to do it again !

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 4, 2020 AT 9:00 pm

        I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe and good to know it worked with red lentils. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    13. Lexi k
      November 2, 2020 AT 9:38 am

      I made this last year for thanksgiving and Christmas and I’m coming back to it again for the holidays this year 🙂 Vegan or not, everyone who has tried it has loved it!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 2, 2020 AT 4:23 pm

        Ahh yay, that makes me so happy to hear, Lexi. I’m so glad this lentil loaf has been a fit with everyone who’s tried it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!

    14. Robin
      October 26, 2020 AT 11:28 am

      I only have red lentils on hand – will they still work? I know they get a little less firm than green/brown. How should I adjust?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 26, 2020 AT 12:12 pm

        Hi Robin. I wouldn’t recommend making this loaf with red lentils because unfortunately they’re too soft.

    15. Carolyn
      October 18, 2020 AT 3:04 pm

      I made this vegan meatloaf just as the recipe said, My meatloaf came out good but its dry..other than that. It was awesome. Thank you eating bird food for the great recipes.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 19, 2020 AT 12:42 pm

        I’m glad you enjoyed this lentil loaf overall. Sorry to hear that it came out dry. Did you change anything about the recipe? It might have just been cooked too long.

    16. Mary A Kenwood
      October 17, 2020 AT 5:43 pm

      Made this wonderful loaf for our recent Thanksgiving dinner. Was lovely with a huge pan of assorted roasted vegetables. I doubled the recipe to ensure everyone had their fill. Had a bit leftover for following night’s dinner. Yum. Thank you for posting. About to make it again!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 19, 2020 AT 12:53 pm

        Yay! So glad this lentil loaf was a hit, Mary! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!

    17. JMVS
      October 14, 2020 AT 9:57 pm

      This recipe is too good! I didn’t have celery so omitted it, and I chose not to make the glaze. Used shredded carrots. Really flavorful and filling! I made a 2nd batch right after the first.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 16, 2020 AT 2:38 am

        Ahh yay!! I’m so glad this lentil loaf was a hit! Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. <3

    18. hannah
      October 2, 2020 AT 5:15 pm

      WOW. Absolutely delicious. I just made two substitutions….I had leftover pine nuts from a recipe and used them instead of walnuts….and coconut aminos instead of tamari. SO SO GOOD!!!! I cannot wait to make this again. 10/10! Thanks

    19. Kian
      September 18, 2020 AT 6:06 pm

      Can I use chia seed instead of flax?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 20, 2020 AT 2:44 pm

        Yes! A chia egg should work great instead of a flaxseed egg.

    20. Blair
      September 9, 2020 AT 1:40 pm

      I forgot to buy walnuts. Do you think pecans would work?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 9, 2020 AT 3:26 pm

        Yes, I think pecans will work fine!

    21. Ree
      August 12, 2020 AT 8:56 am

      I’d love to make this recipe, but I don’t have flax seeds. Can I omit this ingredient when making it?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 12, 2020 AT 7:54 pm

        Yes, that should be just fine, Ree!

    22. Pamela
      August 1, 2020 AT 8:08 pm

      Wow! This was pretty outstanding. We served with a vegan gravy so I didn’t use the glaze. But the texture and taste were very satisfying. Would definitely recommend and would happily serve to non vegans.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 3, 2020 AT 12:41 am

        Ahh yay! So glad this lentil loaf was a hit, Pamela! Thanks for trying my recipe and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it. 🙂

    23. Mindy
      July 20, 2020 AT 2:20 pm

      Love this Lentil Loaf. Second time I made it, I left out the nutritional yeast & only 2 Tb of tamari. Love it without the nutritional yeast!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        July 20, 2020 AT 11:22 pm

        Yay! So glad you’re a fan of this loaf, Mindy. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!

    24. Rachel
      June 15, 2020 AT 6:22 pm

      When I have made a lentil loaf in the past it turned out either disappointing flavor-wise or did not come out like the picture/description. This recipe worked great and tastes delicious. My husband and I actually enjoyed it so much we made it two weeks in a row.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        June 17, 2020 AT 5:46 pm

        Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Rachel!! I’m so glad this lentil loaf was a hit! Thanks for giving my recipe a chance and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    25. Becky
      June 14, 2020 AT 11:34 pm

      I was unsure about how this would come out since I was making it with a screaming child attached to my leg so I only eyeballed all my measurements, but it was delicious! Everyone in my family ate it (including the screaming child). I did leave off the glaze since I have a tomato hater in the house, but we topped with guacamole and it was wonderful. Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        June 15, 2020 AT 12:49 am

        Ahh that makes me so happy to hear and kudos to you for still making this with a screaming child attached to your leg! So glad this recipe was a hit with the fam. 🙂

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