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!
Lentil loaf with maple glaze sliced on a board.

Vegan Lentil Loaf

Brittany Mullins
This festive vegan lentil loaf is packed with flavor and makes for a lovely vegetarian main-entree for a holiday meal.
4.9 from 79 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 8 slices
Calories 173 kcal

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
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Stir in the reserved lentils and press mixture into parchment lined loaf pan. I used a 9" x 5" x 2½".
  • 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.
  • Store leftovers in a sealed container for up to 5 days in the fridge. Or freeze for up to 1 month.

Video

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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 173kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 8gFat: 8gFiber: 4gSugar: 3g
Keyword best lentil loaf, lentil loaf, vegan lentil loaf, vegan meatloaf, vegetarian lentil loaf
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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.

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Recipe Rating




    260 comments
    1. Erin
      May 9, 2021 AT 1:23 pm

      This looks delicious! Do you have any suggestions if we have a nut allergy in our house?

    2. Kerry Dudman
      April 8, 2021 AT 3:10 pm

      5 stars
      I never comment on anything but this really was so good I have to shout its praises. No special occasion, just lunch. I made a few swaps based on what I had in the house (mushrooms and green pepper instead of carrots and celery, pomegranate molasses instead of maple syrup) and I used cooked quinoa to replace half of the oats. Probably made it a bit too liquidy but delicious nonetheless!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 8, 2021 AT 7:47 pm

        Woo!! That makes me so happy to hear, Kerry. Thanks for coming back to leave a review. It means the world to me.

    3. MyraKey
      March 28, 2021 AT 6:47 pm

      5 stars
      Wow. This is delicious! I used an egg vs flax since I didn’t have any on hand. It was so good. My husband and I polished this off in a day and a half! I made it again today. I tripled the recipe so we could take it for lunch all week. It’s going in my ‘favorites’ category! When I made it today, I didn’t process in the food processor–I was too lazy to get it out. It still turned out great!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 28, 2021 AT 10:19 pm

        Woo! That makes me so happy to hear. I’m so glad this recipe was a hit! Thanks for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    4. Ginger
      March 26, 2021 AT 1:34 pm

      I’m making this lentil loaf and it seems like it’s mighty thick. Like it might be too dry. Is that the way it should be. Also, is it necessary to put it in the food processor? Can it be put it in the loaf pan the way it is?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 29, 2021 AT 1:48 pm

        Hey Ginger – Sorry, just seeing this! How did the lentil loaf turn out for you?

    5. Trish
      March 24, 2021 AT 2:18 pm

      5 stars
      OMGEEE!! This is Ah-Maz-Ing!!! Me and my Husband made this for Sunday Dinner with Cauli Mash and Green Beans and it was so good, we’re making it again for dinner tonight!! It’s defiantly a favorite in our house now♡︎♡︎

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 25, 2021 AT 12:46 am

        Yay!! So glad you loved this recipe, Trish! Thanks for the review. I so appreciate it!

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