This vegan lentil loaf recipe is made with walnuts, mushrooms and loads of other delicious ingredients. It’s an easy recipe to prepare and absolutely packed with nutrition!
If you’re looking for a tasty protein option to serve, this is a great choice. It’s also fantastic for vegans to bring to gatherings or holiday meals, especially if other protein options aren’t available.
Skill: Easy | Time: 60 min | Servings: 6
Get the Veg Out newsletter for new vegan recipes + nutrition content!
This post contains affiliate links (including Amazon Associates) and I earn from qualifying purchases.
Is Lentil Loaf Vegan?
Most lentil loaf recipes are targeted towards vegans who want a meatloaf alternative. However, some recipes are vegetarian (include eggs and/ or dairy). They may even contain meat and use lentils to add texture or nutrition to the dish.
You can make lentil loafs in many ways. I like mine rustic, with veggies throughout and the lentils mostly whole. Some prefer a smoother mashed or even blended texture. Experiment to find the best taste and texture for your preferences!
Ingredients and Substitutions for Lentil Meatloaf
While the ingredient list for this recipe is longer, you should find them all in a typical grocery store. There are lots of herbs, spices and other flavorings to create an ultra-tasty loaf.
- Lentils: I use canned brown lentils for this recipe, but home-cooked lentils work too! If canned, drain and rinse your lentils first. Brown lentils are the best choice as they’re small and help the loaf hold together.
- Onion, garlic, carrot, celery: Cook these tasty veggies together to build a delicious layer of flavor. I like to cut everything very small as it creates the best lentil loaf texture.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are a tasty replacement for ground meat and pair well with lentils, walnuts and the other flavors in this recipe. Use white button or cremini mushrooms to add an earthy flavor.
- Olive oil: For some healthy fats, start with olive oil. You’ll cook the veggies in oil to enhance their flavor and make this a more satisfying meal! If you don’t have olive oil or would rather a different type, use any oil for this recipe.
- Walnuts: Chopped walnuts add the perfect crunch and some richness for a delicious lentil loaf. I like to finely chop the walnuts so they’re evenly distributed in every bite! Any nut or seed could work in this loaf so use what you like and/or have on hand.
- Quinoa: If you have some cooked quinoa ready-to-use, it’s a great addition to this loaf. If you don’t have any prepared, use extra lentils to keep the recipe quick and simple.
- Ground flaxseed: Flax helps hold the loaf together while providing nutrition! You could also use ground chia seeds.
- Gluten flour: The loaf is mostly held together with gluten flour (vital wheat gluten). You could also use all-purpose flour if you don’t have gluten flour on hand; if that’s your preference then add an extra 2-3 tsp to help the loaf hold together properly. I haven’t tried this recipe with gluten free flours, but a gluten free flour blend, chickpea flour or oat flour may work.
- BBQ sauce and ketchup: These sauces add a nice flavor, both directly in the loaf and spread on top before baking. You can use more or less of either, depending on your preferences. I like an even 1:1 mix of BBQ sauce and ketchup on top of the loaf.
- Apple cider vinegar: Some acidity always helps enhance flavors, and vinegar is a quick and easy way to achieve that. Any type of vinegar can work in this recipe. If you use a strongly flavored vinegar, it’s likely to come through in the final loaf.
- Maple syrup: A touch of sweetness is another great way to enhance and balance flavor. I use maple syrup, but other types of syrup should work as well.
- Fresh thyme: Fresh herbs always enhance recipes, and fresh thyme is the star herb for this one. If you don’t have fresh thyme on hand, use 1 tsp dry thyme instead. Rosemary could also work as a replacement, but I strongly prefer thyme!
- Sage: Another seasonal favorite! Sage adds a delicious, earthy flavor to the loaf.
- Herbamare: This specialty seasoning adds a savory flavor from its blend of sea salt, dry herbs and dry vegetables. As a replacement, you can use ½ tsp sea salt (or any salt) with ½ tsp herb blend of your choice.
- Smoked paprika: While this isn’t a super “meaty” loaf, some smoky flavor helps bring in a meaty flavor. You can use regular/ sweet paprika if you don’t like smoked paprika.
- Black pepper: As with any recipe, add black pepper to your own taste preferences!
How to Make This Recipe: Instructions and Tips
This is an easy recipe to prepare, but there are a few important steps to note. Read the detailed directions below or watch my short video in the recipe card for a visual of how to make this lentil loaf.
I purposely avoided using a food processor for this recipe, but you can certainly use one to help speed your prep.
Since my ingredients aren’t blended, the final texture is looser. The loaf holds together well enough but is prone to crumbling while serving. I like this texture but read the tips below if you want a loaf that holds together really well!
Step 1: Prep Vegetables
As with any recipe, start by preparing the vegetables.
Finely chop some onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms. The smaller your pieces, the better your loaf will hold together.
Mince the garlic, then finely chop your walnuts.
Have the rest of your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking the vegan lentil loaf.
Step 2: Cook Ingredients
In a large pan, warm some olive oil over medium heat. Once warmed, add the onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms.
Cook for 4-5 minutes, until you’ve softened the vegetables. If the mushrooms release a lot of liquid, keep cooking until the liquid evaporates.
Next, add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
At this point, add all the other ingredients except for the gluten flour. This includes lentils, quinoa, walnuts, ground flaxseed, ketchup, BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, fresh thyme, sage, Herbamare, smoked paprika and black pepper.
Stir everything together until well combined.
Next, sprinkle gluten flour over the surface of your ingredients. This is important as the flour tends to clump; spreading it out ensures it’ll mix evenly through the filling.
Carefully mix the gluten flour into the lentil and vegetable mixture; trying to keep the flour evenly distributed throughout.
Step 3: Bake Lentil Loaf and Serve
Grease a loaf pan with oil, vegan butter/ margarine or a cooking spray.
When your lentil loaf mixture is ready, add to the pan and press it firmly.
Top with additional ketchup and/or BBQ sauce.
Bake in an oven preheated to 375 °F for 30-35 minutes. Once out of the oven, let the loaf rest for a few minutes before you slice and serve.
Tips to Hold the Loaf Together
This loaf holds together well but crumbles slightly while serving. I like this “rustic” look and texture but there are some ways you can get the loaf holding together even better:
- Mash the lentils: Use a fork or potato masher to mash the cooked lentils. Do this before adding them to the vegetable mixture. Don’t mash completely if you want some nice texture in the final loaf.
- More gluten flour: This is the main ingredient that holds the loaf together. You can use an extra 1-2 tbsp to help everything stick together better.
- Chop everything extra-fine: The smaller you chop everything, the easier it is for gluten flour to hold it together.
- Use a food processor: For a smoother texture, blend some of the loaf mixture in a food processor before transferring to the loaf pan for baking. I wouldn’t blend more than half to keep some nice texture in the loaf, but you can do whatever you prefer.
How to Serve Lentil Loaf: Create a Balanced Vegan Meal
On its own, this recipe has it all! There’s protein in the lentils, walnuts and gluten flour. You’ll get nutritious carbs from the lentils and quinoa. In addition, there’s healthy fats from the olive oil and walnuts plus lots of vegetables!
Of course, you’ll likely serve this loaf alongside other foods. It’s great to use as a meat alternative in roast/ holiday dinners alongside typical side dishes (potatoes, vegetables, gravy, etc.).
For a simple meal, serve with some roasted vegetables or a salad. Add potatoes or bread for some extra carbohydrates if you like!
How to Store Leftover Vegan Meatloaf
Refrigerate leftover lentil loaf in an airtight container for up to 5 days (maybe up to a week). You could also place plastic wrap or tin foil over the top of the loaf, once your pan cools fully.
If you’ll reheat in the oven, I recommend storing leftovers in the loaf pan covered with tin foil as you can place this directly into your oven. Reheat at 350 °F until warmed through. You can also reheat in a microwave oven.
I haven’t tried freezing this recipe, but I don’t think it would work as the vegetables would likely become watery.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make it, please rate and comment below so others benefit from your experience.
More Vegan Recipes with Plant-based Protein
Vegan Lentil Loaf (with Walnuts and Mushrooms)
- ½ C onion , finely diced
- ½ C celery , finely diced
- ½ C carrot , finely diced
- 1 C mushroom , finely diced (white/ button or cremini)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 C lentils (19 oz can drained and rinsed)
- ½ C quinoa , cooked *
- ½ C walnuts , chopped
- ¼ C gluten flour (vital wheat gluten)
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 tbsp ketchup , plus more to top
- 1 tbsp barbecue sauce , plus more to top
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme , stems removed (or ½ tsp dry thyme)
- 1 tsp Herbamare seasoning **
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (or sweet paprika)
- ½ tsp dry ground sage (or poultry seasoning)
- ¼ tsp black pepper
Step 1: Prep Vegetables
- Finely chop some onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms. Mince or press the garlic.½ C onion, ½ C celery, ½ C carrot, 1 C mushroom, 3 cloves garlic
- I recommend finely chopping the walnuts too.½ C walnuts
Step 2: Cook Ingredients
- Warm olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.1 tbsp olive oil
- Add the chopped onion, celery, carrot and mushrooms. Cook 4-5 minutes until the vegetables soften. If there’s a lot of liquid in the pan (likely from the mushrooms), continue cooking until the liquid evaporates.½ C onion, ½ C celery, ½ C carrot, 1 C mushroom
- Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.3 cloves garlic
- Next, add all the remaining ingredients except for the gluten flour. This includes cooked lentils, cooked quinoa, chopped walnuts, ground flaxseed, ketchup, BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, fresh thyme, Herbamare seasoning, smoked paprika, dry ground sage and black pepper.2 C lentils, ½ C quinoa, ½ C walnuts, 2 tbsp ground flaxseed, 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp barbecue sauce, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 tsp Herbamare seasoning, 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp dry ground sage, ¼ tsp black pepper
- Stir until well combined.
- Sprinkle gluten flour over the surface of your lentil-vegetable mixture. Carefully stir in the gluten flour until it’s evenly mixed throughout.¼ C gluten flour
Step 3: Bake Loaf and Serve
- Preheat your oven to 375 °F.
- Grease a loaf pan (use oil, vegan butter/ margarine or a cooking spray).
- Add the lentil mixture to your pan and press firmly.
- Top the loaf with additional BBQ sauce and/or ketchup.
- Bake 30-35 minutes, until the edges of the loaf brown.
- Remove your loaf from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before you slice and serve.