Check out this delicious and satisfying vegan version of meatloaf! Made with lentils, walnuts, and other healthy ingredients, this healthy Vegan Meatloaf Recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner.
You will love how easy it is to make this plant-based meatloaf recipe – simply mix together the ingredients and bake in the oven. So tasty and hearty, you won’t miss the traditional version made with animal products at all!
I developed this recipe for Bubbies and I'm so excited to share it with you!
This vegan meatloaf with no mushrooms was inspired by my Easy Vegan Meatballs recipe made with green lentils and walnuts. I love the combination of lentils and walnuts for a hearty vegan dish.
The ingredients, including the dill relish, make for a moist meatloaf that holds its shape. This lentil loaf has a fantastic texture and flavor!
You can serve my favorite meatloaf recipe as a main dish for a holiday or Christmas dinner with mashed potatoes and mushroom vegan gravy, green bean casserole, roasted vegetables, or Air Fryer Breakfast Potatoes for a delicious and satisfying plant-based feast!
These are the ingredients you'll need to make this healthy vegan meatloaf recipe with lentils, walnuts, and relish.
If you don't have some of the ingredients, refer to Substitutions below as well as Variations. I'd love to hear how it turns out!
Celery - cut into 1-inch pieces to process in the food processor
Onion - cut into 1-inch pieces to process further in the food processor. You can use yellow onion, white, or red onion.
Ketchup - look for a sugar-free version if you wish
Kosher dill relish - you can add a little of the liquid as you measure. I love a high-quality relish like Bubbies Kosher dill relish, as I mentioned earlier.
Rolled oats - for gluten-free rolled oats. If you aren't gluten-free, feel free to use regular rolled oats. Oats work as a binder. Keep extra handy in case the mixture is too moist.
Vegan Worcestershire sauce - check to make sure your sauce is vegan; I use The Wizards Organic Vegan Worcestershire sauce for savory flavor with umami.
Sprouted green lentils - you will need to cook them first. You can do this the day before to save time. I like to use sprouted lentils versus regular ones because they are easier to digest. Regular brown or green lentils work well in this recipe.
Flaxseed meal is the same as ground flaxseed and is a binder. The flaxseed helps absorb excess moisture from the raw vegetables.
How to make this healthy vegan meatloaf recipe
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have a center rack available. Line a loaf pan (9-inch x 5-inch) with parchment paper after greasing the inside of the pan with oil.
Hint: Make this a day ahead to let the flavors blend and for ease of serving. It's easier to serve the meatloaf once it has cooled completely. It's still delicious the day of baking, however.
Cook the lentils
To cook your lentils from scratch, it takes about 20 minutes of simmering on the stove for them to become tender. Take care not to overcook the lentils. While they are cooking, you can prep the rest of the ingredients, or cook them the day before to save time.
Place lentils in a medium pot and cover with 2 cups of water. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover loosely.
Simmer for around 20 minutes until the lentils are soft but not falling apart. If they are not done at this point, check every 5 minutes until done. Strain and let cool.
Pulse the ingredients
- Chop the rolled oats for several seconds in a food processor until small pieces are visible - place in a large bowl.
- Chop the walnuts for several seconds to chop them until you don't see any large pieces - place them in a large bowl.
- Then pulse the garlic several times to mince. Add the yellow onion and pulse for several seconds until chopped, not too fine. Add celery and repeat until chopped, not too fine. Place the mixture in the large bowl.
- Pulse the cooled lentils for a few seconds and place them in the large bowl. You want some whole pieces of lentils left.
Combine the ingredients
- Add shredded carrot to the large bowl (or shred the carrot in the food processor). Next, add the kosher dill relish, flaxseed meal, olive oil, parsley, coconut aminos, vegan Worcestershire sauce, poultry seasoning, sea salt, oregano, and black pepper, and lentils to the bowl.
- Mix everything thoroughly with a spatula. The mixture should be thick and chunky yet come together easily if you pinch the ingredients together.
- Hint: If the mixture seems too moist, add another ¼ cup of rolled oats, stir in, and check it again. Repeat as often as necessary until you get the desired texture.
Place in baking dish
- Place the mixture in the loaf pan, pressing it firmly with the spatula every time you add the mixture.
- Top the uncooked meatloaf with ketchup in an even layer.
Bake for 60 minutes. If you see any bubbling on the sides of your glass baking dish, let it bake for 5 to 10 more minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before lifting the meatloaf out of the loaf pan.
Garnish with fresh thyme if desired. Slice and enjoy!
Here are possible substitutions, be sure to read your product labels:
- Gluten-free: Be sure to use gluten-free rolled oats and gluten-free tamari. Check that your vegan Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free.
- Soy-free: Instead of soy sauce, try tamari or coconut aminos. Check that your vegan Worcestershire sauce is soy-free.
- Sprouted Green Lentils - This recipe also works with regular brown or green lentils. In addition, you can try beans that you like, or chickpeas, although I have not tried this recipe with them.
- Celery - You can substitute bell pepper if you prefer.
- Flaxseed meal - You use chia seeds instead as a binder.
- Walnuts - Try pecans, sunflower seeds, or almonds.
- Gluten-free Rolled oats - you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs, gluten-free panko breadcrumbs, or make a mixture with up to ½ cup quinoa flakes. If you're not gluten-free, feel free to use regular rolled oats or dried breadcrumbs.
- Sugar-free - Choose sugar-free ketchup, or use tomato paste instead of ketchup.
Here are some ways you can vary the recipe to suit your tastes.
- Spicy - Add cayenne pepper or add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or chopped roasted Hatch chiles in place of the relish. Start with a small amount of pepper and taste and adjust. You don't need to drain your lentils as thoroughly and may need to add up to ½ cup water or vegetable broth to ensure your mixture is moist enough without the relish.
- Oil-free - Omit the oil. I've made this recipe with and without oil; it's delicious both ways! You don't need to replace it with anything.
- Gluten-free - You can use gluten-free breadcrumbs or gluten-free panko breadcrumbs instead.
- Ketchup - you can top this vegan meatloaf with marinara instead of ketchup or tomato paste mixed with balsamic vinegar, or try BBQ sauce or mushroom gravy after the meatloaf is out of the oven.
- Poultry seasoning - try another type of seasoning such as Italian seasoning.
Standard loaf pan - I love a glass loaf pan that's approximately 9-inches x 5-inches. A metal loaf pan will also work well, although you might need to reduce the baking time slightly. You can use a large muffin pan for individual meatloaves; however, you will need to reduce the cooking time by at least half.
Food processor - I love my Cuisinart food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can chop the vegetables and nuts instead and process the oats in a blender for a few seconds. You can use a potato masher for the cooked lentils.
Refrigerate: Leftovers will keep in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days, stored in an airtight container.
Freezer: Freeze for up to 1 month. Cut into slices, wrap and freeze. Pull out the individual portions as you need them and follow the reheat instructions.
To freeze vegan meatloaf muffins, bake them first, let them cool, and then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a resealable plastic bag fin the freezer for up to one month.
Reheat: Remove the lentil loaf slices from the freezer and place them in the fridge overnight. Place them on the counter while the oven is preheating at 350°F. Remove any plastic and cover the slices tightly with foil to prevent drying out. Heat until warmed through, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
- Make sure the lentils are drained well to avoid a soggy loaf. Gently pat dry the lentils with a lint-free kitchen towel after they have cooled.
- Slice the meatloaf after it has cooled for 20 to 30 minutes. If you are not in a hurry, I recommend baking it the day before, letting it cool completely, and then placing it in the fridge overnight in an airtight container. Reheat to serve (instructions under Storage).
How to serve
- Serve with your favorite sides, such as roasted green beans, green bean casserole, roasted brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and mushroom vegan gravy, or air fryer potatoes.
- Use this meatloaf as a stuffing for bell peppers.
- Eat cold on sandwiches; add a bit of mustard if you like.
- To save time, make this vegan meatloaf a day ahead of time and reheat it; it can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature.
- To reheat, wrap the slices in aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes until it is warmed through.
Why call this meatloaf?
You may be wondering if this recipe doesn't contain meat, why call it meatloaf? Everyone knows what veggie burgers are, but does anyone question why they are called burgers? I have several reasons for naming my recipe; read on if you are curious.
- The edible part of walnut is called meat. The word meat originates from the Old English word mete, which meant food in general.
- This recipe can be called vegan "meatloaf," lentil loaf, or lentil walnut loaf. People search for all of those terms, and I wanted this recipe to be found online! I could have called this recipe veggie meatloaf, but I went with vegan meatloaf instead for online search purposes.
- The term meat does not refer to animal flesh exclusively, nor does butter refer to dairy-based butter exclusively. If we can have peanut butter and almond milk, why not meat-free meatloaf or vegan meatloaf?
Yes. I recommend baking it before refrigerating it. When ready to serve, remove it from the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes and bake until it is heated.
Yes, you can freeze this meatloaf after it's been baked. After it cools, slice it, and freeze. Refer to my Storage instructions.
Before baking, add another ½ cup to 1 cup of rolled oats. You can try adding quinoa flakes, although I haven't tried it. After baking, if it's too wet, bake it longer, for another 10 or 15 minutes.
If you think your meatloaf is not wet enough before you put it in the oven, add ¼ cup to ½ cup vegetable broth or water to the mixture.
If you make this healthy Vegan Meatloaf Recipe, please take a moment to ★★★★★ star rate it and leave a comment below. Follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me! Tag me @resplendentkitchen and hashtag #resplendentkitchenrecipes.
Healthy Vegan Meatloaf Recipe
- wooden spoon
- Medium-large mixing bowl
- 1 cup dry sprouted green lentils rinsed until water runs clear, or regular brown or green lentils, 313 g cooked
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats or regular rolled oats, have more available if mixture is too wet
- 1 cup walnut halves or almonds, pecans, or sunflower seeds
- 3 large cloves garlic chopped roughly
- 1 cup yellow onion cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup celery approximately 1.5 large stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup carrot shredded (or shred in food processor)
- 1 cup kosher dill relish with liquid is okay
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal or ground flaxseed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil optional
- ½ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari, or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup ketchup organic and unsweetened
- Fresh thyme optional for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the inside of the loaf pan with oil. Line the loaf pan (9-inch x 5-inch) with parchment paper.
- Place lentils in a small to medium saucepan and cover with 2 cups of water; add ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low to keep simmering and cover loosely. Cook lentils for around 20 minutes, until lentils are soft but not falling apart. If they are not done at this point, check every 5 minutes until done. Strain if needed and let cool. Gently pat dry with a lint-free towel.
- Pulse rolled oats for several seconds in food processor, until small pieces are visible. Place in large bowl.
- Pulse walnuts for several seconds to chop them. Place in large bowl.
- Pulse garlic several times to mince. Add yellow onion and pulse for several seconds until roughly chopped. Add celery and repeat until chopped, being careful not to chop too fine. Place the mixture in a medium-large bowl.
- Pulse the cooled lentils for a few seconds and place in the large bowl.
- Add shredded carrot to the large bowl (or shred in food processor if not shredded yet). Add kosher dill relish, flaxseed meal, olive oil, parsley, coconut aminos, vegan Worcestershire sauce, poultry seasoning, sea salt, oregano, black pepper, and cooked green lentils in the bowl. Mix together. If the mixture seems too moist, add another ¼ cup of rolled oats, stir in, and check it again. Repeat as often as necessary until you get the desired texture.
- Place the mixture in the loaf pan, pressing it firmly with the spatula. Smooth ketchup on top in an even layer with a spoon.
- Bake for 60 minutes until browning at edges. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes, lift the meatloaf out of the loaf pan. Garnish with fresh thyme if desired. Slice and enjoy!
- Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted green beans, or roasted brussels sprouts.
- Refrigerate for up to 4 or 5 days. Freeze for up to 1 month. Cut into slices, wrap and freeze. Pull out the individual portions as you need them and Heat until warmed through, approximately 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F.
- Bake the meatloaf in a muffin tin for smaller portions; you will need to reduce the baking time by half.
- Make this a day ahead to let the flavors blend. It's easier to serve the meatloaf once it has cooled completely.
Resplendent Kitchen offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site as a courtesy. Although resplendentkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information from online calculators, these figures are estimates.