Vegan Lentil Loaf (Vegan Meatloaf)

This vegan lentil loaf makes for a lovely vegan main entree for a holiday meal. It can be prepped 1-2 days in advance and leftovers can be frozen! 

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.

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:

 

To make sure the lentil loaf has plenty of flavor, we’re cooking the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and adding a variety of spices to the mix. For texture we’re using some chopped toasted walnuts and reserving about 1/2 cup of the lentils to stir in after pulsing the mixture in the food processor (affiliate link).

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

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. Just 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!

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

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.

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.

Leftovers should keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, but you can freeze the lentil loaf too. To freeze, just 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.

If you decide to try this vegan lentil loaf, please let me know how it turns out by leaving a comment and star rating below!

This delicious LENTIL LOAF is the perfect vegetarian main for the holidays!
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Vegan Lentil Loaf


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

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 (affiliate link). 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.

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    107 comments
  1. I love this recipe so much and it wows every person I feed it to, but HOW can you can you get the prep time to 20 minutes? I’ve made it multiple times and feel like I’ve really streamlined the process and I start at least 2 hours until I want it on the table. Just the time of washing, boiling cooking and letting the lentils cool is 30 minutes…

  2. Sorry to be annoying but since my bariatric surgery I need to be precise on making sure I get my protein in, especially when eating vegan. Serving size says “1 slice” which is kind of subjective – how many slices would you say are in one of these lentil loaves? Thank you!

  3. Thanks for this delicious recipe! I’ve made it twice now, and it turned out great. My husband is on a plant-based, oil-free diet for his heart, and I just sauteed the veggies in a little vegetable stock instead of oil and eliminated the nuts. I will make this on a regular basis.

  4. Perfect recipe! I added a little liquid smoke to the glaze, was a well paired addition. Definitely adding to the rotation.

  5. WOW! This recipe is the bomb! I made it last night and the smell wafting throughout the house was drool worthy! I used canned lentils for ease and it turned out perfectly. I think the sauce covering the loaf is what really makes it, sweet yet savory and only 4 simple ingredients. My boyfriend wasn’t able to try it fresh out of the oven but he’s certainly looking forward to the leftovers tonight!

  6. Absolutely delicious! I made this exactly as the recipe stated except I didn’t have any ground flax so I omitted it. The texture was perfect and the taste exceptional. This is my favourite lentil loaf recipe. I served with potatoes,green beans and babied beans. My meat eating friends even raved about it.

  7. Wow!! I have never made or eaten a lentil loaf before! My family does a completely Vegan Thanksgiving every year and I thought this would be a healthier substitute for our traditional Tofurkey. It was DELIGHTFUL! I doubled the recipe, not realizing how filling one small slice would be!! This recipe was packed full of flavor and really hit the spot- Tofurkey was NOT missed:)

  8. I make this every Thanksgiving, and a few other days when we also enjoy mashed potatoes and gravy. The meat-eaters in my family all love it too. Thanks for a really great recipe. The balsamic, maple, and tomato paste glaze is just fantastic.

  9. Hi I was just about to make this, I don’t have quite enough of brown lentils so I was wondering could I add a few split green peas to make a 1/2 cup? Thanks in advance, Denise

  10. Hi there I am currently in the making of this recipe, and am stuck at the celery… when you say celery stalk do you mean one rib of celery or the whole stalk? Thanks

  11. This has become one of my favorite recipes. When I bring it to work potlucks, even the meat-eaters love it. I always make 1 1/2 times the amount of glaze, it’s so tasty.

    I noticed several commenters asked about making it without a food processor. When I first started making it, I didn’t own one, so I know it can be done. What I recommend is dicing up the carrots and celery very fine before cooking them, and crushing the nuts with a mortar and pestle. Then just mash up your cooked lentils with a fork (no need to set any aside, as they’re already not getting as pureed this way) and mix in everything else. It’s definitely more time-consuming, but delicious enough to be worth the effort.

    I recently got a food processor, and of course this recipe was one of the first things I used it for. Way easier! The results are pretty much the same, so yes, even if you don’t have a food processor you’ll get an excellent version of this recipe if you’re willing to put in the time. But if you do have one, by all means use it!

    Also, chia seeds work instead of flax seeds if they happen to be what you have on hand; in fact, if you’re working without a food processor, I would recommend chia seeds since they don’t need to be ground.

    Thank you for such a delicious recipe!

  12. I have made many lentil loafs and yours is by far the BEST I have made. I left out the nuts, added a 1/2 cup corn and mushrooms. I also added a light sprinkle of cayenne in the topping. I served it with mashed potatoes and gravy. Next time I will double to make two, one to eat now and freeze.

  13. Made this tonight for the first time. I really like it, but me my dad said “meh”.
    We decided next time we’d substitute Worcestershire sauce for the maple syrup & also add black pepper & some diced green chilies.
    We thought the texture was good. I’ll need to be careful with the chilies so it doesn’t get too soft.
    Thank you for the yummy recipe!

  14. Seriously this is the best Vegan meat loaf. I don’t have a food processor, so I used my blender. I had the oats at the very bottom and it turned it into oat flour. I was worried I screwed up the recipe. I had to stop the blender every so often and mix to make sure everything blended evenly. It was more work, but to my surprise this loaf came out firm yet very tender with a similar consistency to meat. I believe it had to do with using the blender. What I thought I screwed up ended with a good outcome.

  15. Made this today to taste before making making it for guests. I did add some chick pea flour to the mixture. It cooked well, Sliced well but it tasted better cold

    Made this today to try before I do it for guests. I did add some chickpea flour to the mixture. It cooked well and sliced well but I felt it need something for more punch, next time I will add some smoke paprika. It tasted better cold like a courgette cake.

  16. Can I️ make this loaf a day or two in advance and keep it in fridge until time to bake? Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving . Thank you!

  17. I’d like to try preparing this ahead of time for Thanksgiving. Could I get it all in the loaf pan and store in the fridge overnight, then bake the next day?

  18. What is the texture like? I am thinking about adapting this into a baked lentil meatball recipe because my previous attempts have come out with a mushy texture instead of the chewy texture of meat. Is it chewy or mushy?

  19. Just took this lentil loaf out of the oven 30 minutes ago and tried a taste. It is DELICIOUS! Only change I made was to add a sprinkle of nutmeg in the glaze. I recommend it! ????

  20. HI just made this recipe for my meal prep this week super excited about it but not sure where you came up with the nutrition facts when I typed the recipe into my tracker I came up with very different results… I followed the recipe almost to a tea so not sure why the macros are so off

  21. I made this and it is delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I will definitely be making this again. I noticed several people asked if it freezes well. Indeed it does! I sliced it, wrapped each slice in platic wrap, then put them all in a zip lock bag. I will likely double or triple the recipe next time just so I can keep it on hand for quick weeknight dinners and as sandwich filling for packed lunches. Thanks again, great recipe!

  22. I have green lentils I bought from Trader Joes. I assume they are cooked becuase they are in a bag of liquid (new to this). Are dry lentils uncooked? Where do I find those? Or can I use the lentils I got. Does it make a difference? Thanks

    • Hi Clara. I’ve bought those cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s before so I know exactly which ones you’re referring to. Dry lentils are uncooked, usually in a bag and on the same aisle as canned goods and uncooked rice. Cooking dry lentils increases their volume so 1/2 cup of dry lentils will give you about 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils. If you’re planning to use the pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s (which is totally fine) I would measure out about 1 1/2 cups and skip steps 2 and 3 within the recipe. Let me know how the recipe turns out for you!

  23. Just made this and loved it! So good! I guess we have big appetites bc I had to cut it into 4 slices otherwise the slices looked super small ????

  24. After looking thru several recipes for lentil loaf I settled on this one, mostly because I had all of the ingredients, it was excellent. The blend of seasonings was just right and the homemade glaze instead of ketchup added a special zing. The only change I made was to add the herbs to the veggies while I sauteed them and I only did that out of habit. Otherwise I followed the recipe which I rarely ever do. Im going to put this in my recipe book. Thank you!

  25. You mentioned something about enjoying the crunchy texture. I am not into crunchy meatloaf and was wondering what ingredient gives it the crunch so I’ll be sure to omit that ingredient. Is it the walnuts?

  26. I made this for my family for Thanksgiving and they loved it!! I can’t eat oats or wheat. What can I use in place of oats/breadcrumbs?

  27. This loaf is AMAZZZIIINNNNGGGG!!!! Made with without walnuts and used liquid aminos instead of tamari but came out tasting seriously incredible. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but I’m so glad I tried it because now this will definitely be in my weekly rotation for meals! Thanks for much for the recipe — I LOVE IT!!

  28. I can’t wait to try this. How do you get it out of the loaf pan without messing up the glaze? This is a perennial problem for me when I make loaves.

  29. This is absolutely delicious. I have it on a bun with some mustard, much like a veggie burger. Thanks for posting this great recipe.

  30. Very yummy!
    I forgot to put in the ACV, and accidentally put in 2TB maple syrup (instead of tsp), but it still turned out yummy! I also used fresh herbs just because I had them on hand. 🙂

  31. Could I use Beluga lentils instead of Green lentils for added texture (as I’m thinking about dropping the walnuts)? Or do you need the Green to help bind the thing together?

  32. I’m looking forward to trying this. Soon. Do you think omitting the tamari will matter? I need very low salt recipes. Also, do you think it will freeze well as I’m the only veggie in a house of carnivores. Thanks

  33. I don’t see where the total amount of lentils is listed. Ingredients says 1/2 cup but later in the preparation it says all lentils except for the reserved 1/2 cup.

  34. I made this loaf yesterday but subbed more oats for the walnuts to keep the fat and calories lower – and even with those changes it was fantastic! Even the guys in my house like it. Thanks for such a great recipe.

  35. I am new to the whole lentil thing so could I use my Earthly Choice Lentil Trio (red split, green and Black Beluga) lentils for this?

  36. I made this for dinner last night and it was great! Even my skeptical omni husband loved it. Will definitely be making again. Served with mashed potatoes and vegan gravy, and roasted veggies.

  37. My daughter is allergic to walnuts. Would almonds be a good replacement or would it be better just to leave nuts out altogether? Thanks!

  38. Hi, I don’t own a food processor. Is it the walnuts that need grinding up? How to make this without a food processor? Blender? Thank you!

    • The food processor combines everything and chops the walnuts, but I think you could chop/crush the walnuts small enough without a food processor. I would just mash the lentils (reserve the 1/2 cup as normal so some are fully intact) and then stir everything together really well.

    • Hi Allyson. The nuts aren’t necessary for holding it together — just flavor and texture. You could try using seeds instead… maybe sunflower seeds? If not, you could also try it without the nuts. Let me know how it turns out it!!

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