The Best Vegan Meatloaf With Lentils + Walnuts (Gluten-Free)

hearty vegan lentil loaf with red glaze on some parchment paper on a wooden chopping board

Do you think that only eating plants cannot be satiating or filling? Meet our scrumptious, simple vegan meatloaf made with lentils, walnuts, carrots and all the savory spices.

This hearty and delicious main dish is perfect during the holidays but can be served any day all throughout fall and winter. The best part? Nobody will miss the meat.

Plus, it’s made from wholesome, accessible pantry staples. You won’t believe how flavorful and filling this simple vegan meatloaf is! One slice and you’ll be good for a few hours.

Paired with root vegetables like mashed potatoes, green salad, steamed green beans or roasted vegetables, you have yourself an easy, healthy and really delicious meatless meal that works for the whole family!

Even die-hard meat-lovers or those amongst us who have never been crazy about traditional meatloaf (myself included), really appreciate the chewy texture and flavorful, filling lentil vegetable mixture.

Our vegan meatloaf features cooked brown lentils combined with crunchy walnuts, shredded carrots and spices galore, topped with a simple homemade glaze — now, that is how you can get your protein on a plant-based diet!

About 10 minutes of hands-on time and around 10 ingredients (give or take a spice) are needed plus around 45 minutes of baking for a wonderful, crowd-pleasing ThanksLiving or Christmas dinner!

Luckily, this vegan meatloaf recipe is so easy to make and convenient, you can make it on any Sunday evening and have leftover slices for lunch the next few days!

And if you’ve been invited to a social gathering, you can bring this hearty meatless entree for everyone to enjoy — if you don’t mention at first that it’s fully vegan, it’ll taste even better to the other guests, trust us.

white plate with two slices of healthy lentil loaf next to some parsnip fries and a green salad for a vegan thanksgiving dinner

Why Make a Meatless Meatloaf?

Before we tell you why this is (from our experience) the best vegan meatloaf recipe, let’s quickly go over the important reasons for serving meatless meals.

As a personal anecdote, it was a noticeable moment for myself and my husband as little children when we understood that there were actual once-living beings on our plates — the thought of which made us sad and a little sick. Needless to say, we never ate a piece of meat again.

Luckily, more and more people have been making the connection and listened to their hearts because in reality, nobody wants an animal to die. We just keep eating what we have been taught to eat.

But the benefits of going meatless go far beyond the ethics of not killing! Those who follow plant-based diets rich in fruits,vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are on average at a lower risk of heart disease, stroke or diabetes.

Worried about meeting your nutrient needs on a plant-based diet?

Each serving (2 slices) of this vegan meatloaf offers 19 g of plant-strong protein, 10 g of fiber (that’s ⅓ of what you need per day), 3.5 g omega-3 (that’s around double what you need per day) and the omega-3 to omega-6 balance is 1:4 —  which is exactly what many health organizations recommend and what has been shown to reduce mortality in coronary heart disease. 

If you’ve become curious now and want to make more plant-based goodness like this, check out our favorite fully vegan yet super delicious holiday recipes!

The Best Vegan Meatloaf

We love that this vegan meatloaf isn’t just low in saturated fats and completely free from cholesterol, it also offers a good amount of essential fatty acids.

The texture is fantastic, every slice is packed with fiber and flavor and even meat-lovers appreciate this lentil walnut loaf!

Guide to Plant-Based Protein
baking dish with parchment and vegan lentil loaf with red topping and a wooden spoon

How to Make Vegan Lentil Loaf

Start by cooking your brown lentils. Green lentils work as well but definitely don’t use red ones as they will just turn into mush!

While your lentils are cooking on the stove, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients by measuring, washing and shredding. If you like this vegan meatloaf recipe to be quick and more convenient, you can also use canned brown lentils — which need to be drained well so that your loaf doesn’t become mushy!

Now, you can preheat your oven and line a loaf pan with some parchment paper for easier removal of the vegan meatloaf.

Once the lentils are cooked, place them into a food processor together with all of the other ingredients and pulse until crumbly and just combined, making sure not to overmix!

If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop everything and mix in a large bowl with a spoon.

Get your prepared loaf pan and tightly pack the lentil, carrot, walnut mixture in there. Press down with a spatula to evenly distribute everything and create one dense loaf.

Whisk together the 4 ingredients for your homemade tomato glaze and spread onto your meatloaf mixture. Now, you just need to put your pan into the oven and let it bake until fragrant and slightly browned which takes around 40-45 minutes.

different sized bowls on a grey surface with ingredients for a vegan lentil loaf such as lentils, oats, flax and mustard

Healthy Vegan Meatloaf Ingredients

  • Brown Lentils — the plant-strong protein star of our vegan meatloaf.
  • Rolled Oats — to absorb any excess liquid and add some more texture.
  • Flaxseeds — our favorite easy & healthy egg replacer!
  • Walnuts — for the crunchy and rich texture plus some added omega-3.
  • Carrot — we’re all about hiding a few delicious vegetables here and there, after all.
  • Onion & Garlic — every good savory recipe needs some of that strong flavor!
  • Herbs & Spices — this might be the first meatless meatloaf you have ever served, so we need to make this taste fantastic!

For the glaze, we like to whisk together some basic ingredients in a small bowl but you can go for store-bought ketchup or BBQ sauce, too.

If you’ve ever wondered how to create really satiating plant-based entrees from scratch, this is the answer! This vegan meatloaf works well for healthy weight loss or maintenance, too, especially when enjoyed alongside some veggies which we’ll go over now.

white plate with green salad, two slices of lentil loaf and a fork next to some parsnip fries

Let’s Make a Healthy Vegan Menu

If you want to create a healthy meatless dinner and aren’t sure what to serve with your homemade vegan meatloaf, here’s what we love to make!

Since the lentil walnut loaf needs around 45 minutes total in the oven, you can pop in some sliced root veggies at the same time to make a delicious side.

Either follow this recipe to make sweet potato fries or simply cut some white potatoes or parsnips into strips and place them onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet into the oven alongside your lentil loaf for around 20 minutes.

Make sure they don’t burn by checking in after 10-15 minutes to see if your fries are done and feel free to cover them with some spices!

In the meantime, you can create a simple green salad to complete your healthy fall or winter menu. Here’s how to do this!

white speckled bowl with two handfuls of homemade oil-free parsnip fries

Simple Green Salad + Dressing

  • 2 cups of seasonal leafy greens, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ½  cup fresh herbs or sprouts
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Place the first three ingredients into a bowl and whisk together the rest of the ingredients in another bowl, then pouring it over the green goodness.

You can add any other veggies or fruit like avocado, tomato, radishes or bell pepper. If you’re in the mood for some chopped apple, pear or dried cranberries, these taste delicious, too!

Alternatively, we can recommend this savory sweet potato arugula salad.

hand holding a knife and slicing vegan meat loaf on a chopping board

Tips for The Best Vegan Meatloaf

Ready to make your own vegan lentil loaf? Here are a couple more ideas and tips for you before you get started.

Suggested Ingredient Swaps

You can add more vegetables, color and texture by finely chopping celery, bell pepper, zucchini or mushrooms and sautéing them in some vegetable broth before adding to the food processor with the lentils.

For a more flavorful vegan meatloaf, you can add some nutritional yeast and tamari or soy sauce for the umami flavor. Vegan Worcestershire sauce works, too!

Instead of brown lentils, you can use cooked kidney beans or chickpeas (same quantities) and the walnuts can be replaced by either another nut or ¼ cup tahini.

What to Serve With Lentil Loaf

As you can see in our pictures, we like to enjoy our vegan meatloaf with some type of root veggies (in this case, parsnip fries) and some type of green salad.

Here are some more serving suggestions!

plate with green salad, parsnip fries and two slices of homemade vegan meatloaf

Reheating & Storing Leftovers

Even though this scrumptious vegan meatloaf is usually gobbled up by our family the day we serve it, there have been times when we intentionally planned to eat from the lentil loaf over a few days.

If you’re in the same situation, you can just let your vegan meatloaf cool down completely and then transfer it to a sealed container before storing it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Sliced lentil loaf can be frozen when put between parchment paper so that the slices don’t stick together and then put into freezer-safe containers.

When reheating your vegan meatloaf, get as many slices as you like and put them back in the oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees.

More Protein-Rich Plant-Based Recipes

Would you like to serve more plant-based protein instead of animal protein? Here are our favorite scrumptious recipes that you need to try next!

Have you tried making vegan meatloaf before and how did you serve it? We’d love to read about it in the comments below. Feel free to leave a rating, Pin the lentil loaf here or tag us on Instagram – we’d love to see your creations.

hearty vegan lentil loaf with red glaze on some parchment paper on a wooden chopping board

Best Vegan Lentil Meatloaf

Yield: 8 slices
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

This hearty and nutritious vegan lentil loaf is perfect as a delicious plant-based addition to any holiday meal or winter day! It's really easy to make and requires only 10 minutes of hands-on time. This whole food plant-based vegan meatloaf is full of healthy lentils, crunchy walnuts and all the savory spices! 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown lentils, dry (190 g)
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly crushed (100 g)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 yellow onion, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp parsley dry
  • ½ tsp oregano, dry
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt

For the Glaze

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Add the lentils into a medium pot, cover with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid and simmer until the lentils have absorbed all the liquid (about 20 minutes). 
  2. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool, then preheat your oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  3. Put the cooked lentils into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pulse three or four times to incorporate — don't over-process because you want to obtain a textured mixture, not a puree.
  4. Transfer the lentil mixture into your loaf pan and pack it down firmly to make sure it stays together. 
  5. Mix all of the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl, then spread it onto the meatloaf. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Once this time has elapsed, remove the lentil loaf from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes before taking it out of the pan and cutting it into slices.
  7. Serve alongside roasted veggies, root vegetables and some salad or see our serving suggestions in the article above.
  8. Once fully cooled, you can transfer any leftovers to a sealed container and keep in the fridge for about 5 days.

Notes

  • Instead of our homemade glaze, you can use any ketchup or BBQ sauce.
  • Make sure the lentils have absorbed all of the cooking water, otherwise your vegan meatloaf will become mushy due to the excess liquid.
  • When using canned instead of home-cooked lentils, make sure most of the liquid is drained and feel free to skip the flax seed because no binder will be needed.
  • You can skip the tomato glaze if you like your vegan meatloaf better that way and serve it with lots of vegan gravy!
  • Find lots of tips and serving suggestions in the article above.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 slices
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 291Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 153mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 8gSugar: 6gProtein: 11g

Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated automatically, their accuracy is not guaranteed. Just focus on whole plant-based foods and eat until satiety!

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Alena enjoying a bowl of fresh plant-based food and coffe in a restaurant
Alena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

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14 thoughts on “The Best Vegan Meatloaf With Lentils + Walnuts (Gluten-Free)”

    • Hi Ellie,
      thanks for your question! You can just omit the walnuts in the lentil load and add a bit more lentils, oats, or even veggies, instead. Same goes for the flax seeds, though they work as an egg substitute and I haven’t tried making this recipe seed-free so far – let me know how it turns out if you do that!
      Awesome to see that you’re looking for lower fat versions of recipes, btw. I’m the same way usually but wanted to offer something more “rich” for the whole family (including meat eaters) during the holidays. Hope that makes sense.
      Warm wishes,
      Alena

      Reply
  1. Days are getting shorter and greyer… not all your readers are in the northern hemisphere – here in Australia we’re in the middle of a heat wave!

    Reply
  2. This was realy delicious. All my family loved it! I added a small sweet potato. I don’t have a food processor, so I do it by hand. Tourns out great! Thanks!

    Reply

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