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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Recipe rating

    259 comments
    1. Kerry Dudman
      April 8, 2021 AT 3:10 pm

      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.

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

      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. 🙂

    3. 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?

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

      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!

    5. Amy Valceus
      March 10, 2021 AT 10:30 pm

      Was so good. Had to substitute a couple things so it was more vegetarian. But overall super yummy!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 11, 2021 AT 1:36 am

        So glad you enjoyed this recipe, Amy! What did you swap out? Just curious. 🙂

    6. Tracy Lazenby-Paterson
      March 6, 2021 AT 7:50 am

      5+++ stars! Have made this several times and it’s always a hit! I omit the oil as I eat plant based but it doesn’t sacrifice on anything. Still a delicious ans nutritious loaf. Thank you for posting!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 7, 2021 AT 10:46 pm

        So glad you’ve been loving this recipe, Tracy!! Thanks so much for the review. I really appreciate it!

    7. Marilyn
      March 3, 2021 AT 2:44 pm

      OMG! This was so so good. We’ve been vegan for about 6 months and have been craving the texture of meat without going the processed route. This was amazing. It tasted fantastic and had just the right kind of texture. Served with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli and you would swear we were eating meatloaf! Whole family devoured it. Thank you so much for the recipe!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 3, 2021 AT 10:04 pm

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

    8. Amanda Frye
      February 26, 2021 AT 8:02 pm

      Love this recipe! Will i mess up the recipe if i don’t let ingredients cool before mixing together?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        March 2, 2021 AT 11:59 pm

        Nope! It should be just fine. 🙂

    9. Sara
      February 24, 2021 AT 9:36 am

      Thank you for this great recipe, we fell in love with the dish in an instant. I didn‘t plan to make something THAT delicious when I made it, I just had some cooked lentils leftover…but BOOM. We will absolutely make this again and add it to our favorites. Today, we reheated the leftover from yesterday – cut up and topped with vegan metly cheese – and it was even better. I will recommend this dish also to may parents, so they can have a vegan loaf too. Greetings from Germany!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        February 24, 2021 AT 3:46 pm

        Ahh yay that makes me so happy to hear, Sara!! So pumped you loved this lentil loaf. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a review. I SO appreciate it. 🙂

    10. Amy
      February 9, 2021 AT 10:51 pm

      This was incredible! I was going to swear off lentil loaves after my first attempt (think saw dust). But this! Only thing I did different was added some chopped red bell pepper and mushrooms because I love them both. This recipe is going on repeat

      1. Brittany Mullins
        February 10, 2021 AT 12:13 am

        Omg that makes me SO happy to hear!! So glad you loved it, Amy. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!!

    11. Brooke Rana
      February 5, 2021 AT 12:27 am

      Omg. It was amazing, I didn’t have celery but I added zucchini, mushrooms, cilantro, & parsley -it wasdelicious!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        February 5, 2021 AT 2:14 pm

        Woo!! So glad you loved this recipe, Brooke. Thanks for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    12. Jess
      February 1, 2021 AT 11:16 am

      Absolutely delicious!!!!! Made it yesterday, there were no leftovers so I’m making it again today!! Thank you for this new family favourite!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        February 1, 2021 AT 3:22 pm

        Woo!! That makes me so happy to hear, Jess. I’m pumped you loved this recipe. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    13. Ruth lloyd
      January 28, 2021 AT 7:37 pm

      I’m not vegan or a vegetarian however my doc suggested that I move in this direction.This is the first vegan recipe I’ve ever made. Saying that, if all your vegan recipes are as delicious as this loaf, I don’t think I’ll have any issues converting! Very good and company worthy.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 28, 2021 AT 7:41 pm

        Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Ruth!! I’m so glad you loved this recipe. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I really appreciate it. 🙂

    14. anita
      January 27, 2021 AT 5:55 pm

      This recipe is delicious. This gets cooked at least once a week in my household. I modify it slightly to avoid nightshades and it is still delicious!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 27, 2021 AT 6:44 pm

        Ahh yay!! That makes me so happy to hear, Anita. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    15. Danielle
      January 17, 2021 AT 7:24 pm

      Amazing! As my partner took his first bite he said “this is amazing. I love this”. It turned out really well!

      I subbed the balsamic in the glaze for tamari as I didn’t have any. Otherwise, made it exactly as directed! Served it with roasted sweet potato, red peppers and kale.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 17, 2021 AT 8:04 pm

        Ahh yay!! So glad this lentil loaf was a hit!! Thanks for the review. I really appreciate it!

    16. Tina
      January 14, 2021 AT 12:09 am

      This is the best meatloaf period. I was going to make one using beyond meat but found this recipe instead. Amazing it tastes just like the meatloaf I used to make.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        January 14, 2021 AT 10:36 pm

        Woo!! That makes me so happy to hear, Tina. I’m so glad you loved this lentil loaf. Thanks for coming back to leave a review. It means the world to me. <3

    17. Judy
      December 22, 2020 AT 6:41 pm

      I made this for Thanksgiving and have just made it again for Christmas – the perfect centerpiece for a vegan feast, enjoyed by vegans and carnivores equally. We cooked up leftovers as a hash the next day – delicious! Thank you for the best vegan ‘meatloaf’ recipe I’ve found yet.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 22, 2020 AT 6:42 pm

        Woo!! So glad this lentil loaf is a hit. Thanks for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    18. Brynn Katler
      December 14, 2020 AT 9:45 pm

      Meal prepped this for the week with some veggies and it turned out sooo good! My lentils cooked weird and came out very mushy and it still tasted great. Definitely making again!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 14, 2020 AT 11:33 pm

        I’m glad this lentil loaf still turned out for you, Brynn! What kind of lentils did you use?

    19. Caitlin
      December 8, 2020 AT 4:38 pm

      AMAZING! So flavorful, good texture. Reminds me exactly of meatloaf. Thank you!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        December 8, 2020 AT 6:49 pm

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

    20. Victoria
      November 27, 2020 AT 3:20 pm

      I made this loaf yesterday. It was delicious! I’ll definitely make it again.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 28, 2020 AT 11:24 pm

        Yay!! So glad you loved this recipe, Victoria. 🙂

    21. 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. 🔥🤤

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 28, 2020 AT 11:26 pm

        Ahh yay, I’m so pumped this lentil loaf was a hit with your family for Thanksgiving.Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

    22. 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!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 28, 2020 AT 11:26 pm

        So glad you’re loving this recipe, Jenn!! I appreciate the review. 🙂

    23. 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.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 28, 2020 AT 11:29 pm

        Woo!! I’m so glad this lentil loaf turned out for you, Annie. I really appreciate you making it and coming back to leave a review. It means the world to me. 🙂

    24. 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!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 28, 2020 AT 11:31 pm

        Yay!! So glad this lentil loaf turned out for you, Melissa. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I really appreciate it!

    25. 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. 🙂

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