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September 8, 2020

by Alyssa Rimmer

Vegan Lentil Meatloaf with Quinoa

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The best vegan lentil meatloaf recipe made with lentils, quinoa, mushrooms, and walnuts, topped with a healthy tomato and maple syrup glaze.

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One of my favorite things to do in the world: take a somewhat “unhealthy” Italian favorite and give it a complete makeover. In the past we’ve done manicotti, lasagna, alfredo, and more. Today? It’s all about the meatloaf!

Honestly, I've never been a huge fan of meatloaf. It's probably because I wasn't really exposed to it as a kid; if my mom was making something with ground meat you better believe it was meatballs. And plus, the name just throws me off a little bit.

And yet, when I made my healthy spin on this classic dish, a vegetarian quinoa + lentil meatloaf, I loved it. In fact, I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Normally I'm not big into leftovers, especially after I've spent a long day testing the recipe, but this was pure gold. I had it for lunch and dinner for the next two days.

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Ingredients for Vegan Lentil Meatloaf

When you look at this recipe, I’m not going to lie, it has a fairly long ingredient list. But most of the items are designed to either add meaty texture or flavor. I think they’re all essential, but if you have substitution questions, let me know in the comments

That being said, here’s what we’re using for our base (and why):

  • Lentils: the bulk of our meatloaf is going to be cooked lentils. You can use either brown or green here!
  • Veggie mixture: to give this some texture, we’re adding in some sauteed carrots, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. It’s a stellar combo!
  • Gluten-Free breadcrumbs: we’re actually making our own homemade breadcrumbs using my fave Little Northern Bakehouse loaf! The breadcrumbs are there to help bind and absorb some moisture.
  • Cooked quinoa: I use cooked quinoa a lot in my meat-like recipes because it has a similar texture to ground beef. I love it in meatloaf!
  • Oats: another ingredient designed to help bind and reduce moisture!
  • Nutritional yeast: a quick and easy way to boost flavor!
  • Tomato paste: adds some moisture and gives the lentil meatloaf a more meatloaf-y flavor!

And then we’re also using some Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and maple syrup for flavor.

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How to Make Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs

One of the ingredients that you might have trouble finding – especially if you’re gluten-free – are breadcrumbs. Luckily, they’re a cinch to make at home!
All you need is your favorite loaf of bread, an oven, and a blender/food processor.

My go-to gluten-free bread is Little Northern Bakehouse. Not only are their breads wholesome and delicious, but they’re also gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and non-GMO. Not to mention they have multiple flavors and varieties to choose from!

Remember when we used their bread to make homemade croutons? The process for making breadcrumbs is very similar.

We’ll follow that exact same recipe (minus the rosemary), and once we have the croutons dried out, you’ll pop them in your food processor and blend them up until they're crumbly.

It’s as easy as that!

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How to Make Lentil Meatloaf

For this recipe, we start with a sauteed medley of carrots, mushrooms, shallots, and garlic which helps to elevate the flavor of the entire loaf. If we were to just add the veggies in raw, we would miss out on the smokiness they get from being cooked together on high heat.

After the veggies, come the lentils which bring a nice earthy, especially when paired with the buttery walnuts. The walnuts, quinoa, and oats also help give the loaf a little crunch. Remember…we're avoiding sogginess at all costs here, so the crunch was more than welcome.

Then I have the classic addition of tomato and Italian spices, as well as a little nutritional yeast which gives just a hint of cheesiness (with the actual cheese of course).

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Why You’ll Love This Lentil Loaf

Now I know some people might be a little put off by the sounds of this recipe. Meatloaf without the meat? Is it going to be any good?

Here’s why you’ll love it:

surprisingly meat-like texture
high in fiber
protein-rich
tender + juicy
super flavorful
easy to make
great for meal prep

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A Vegan Lentil Meatloaf that Isn’t Soggy!

I know that sometimes lentil loaves can be soggy. They either don’t cook through or they don’t slice. This doesn’t have any of those problems!

The combination of lentils, mushrooms, walnuts, and quinoa make it tender and juicy, but it still has structure so it's not just a slice of soggy mush.

I mean just look…aren't plants amazing? Vegan meatloaf that looks like real meatloaf. It's incredible what you can do with them!

So whether you're looking for a meatless meal or just want to change up your normal routine, this protein-packed quinoa meatloaf is definitely a recipe you need to add to your list. It's super easy to make, freezes well and makes for awesome lunch leftovers.

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More Healthy Vegan Recipes to try:

Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil Quinoa Meatloaf

Vegan Lentil Meatloaf

The best vegan lentil meatloaf recipe made with lentils, quinoa, mushrooms, and walnuts, topped with a healthy tomato and maple syrup glaze.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Refrigerate 5 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 10 slices
Calories 178kcal
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Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil + Quinoa Meatloaf -- it might sound strange, but it's absolutely AMAZING! Even meat-lovers will love this loaf! {gluten-free}
4 from 28 votes

Ingredients

for the lentil meatloaf:

for the glaze:

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, sauté the carrots, mushrooms, shallot and garlic until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the bowl of a food processor.
  • To the processor add remaining ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup lentils, and process until a dough starts to form. Pulse in remaining lentils.
  • Transfer dough to the prepared loaf pan, pressing it down with a wooden spoon or spatula. Smooth the top and prepare the glaze.
  • Whisk all glaze ingredients together then pour over the loaf. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Remaining slices can be frozen or kept in the fridge for 2 - 3 days.

Notes

recipe adapted from Eating Bird Food

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 178kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 371mg | Potassium: 529mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2394IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 3mg
Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil & Quinoa Meatloaf
Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil & Quinoa Meatloaf
Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil & Quinoa Meatloaf
Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil & Quinoa Meatloaf
Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil & Quinoa Meatloaf
Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil & Quinoa Meatloaf
Facebook logoTwitter logoPinterest logoVegan Lentil & Quinoa Meatloaf

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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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92 comments
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  1. I’m planning on making this recipe this weekend and I see a lot of people had trouble with the meatloaf being mushy. Has anyone figured out something we can do to prevent it?

  2. Like many others, it’s not ‘setting’. I’m pretty experienced with veggie meatloaf. The taste is great! I’ll try again and NOT use the food prices, that might work. It’s been cooking about 50 minutes and still not set. I’ll take it out and pan fry some slices.

  3. […] – Our favorite recipes: black bean burger, hummus, crispy tofu, lentil meatloaf […]

  4. I made this for Thanksgiving, 2 recipes of it. I wish I had read the comments first. It tasted great, but like so many others, both of my loaves came out like mush! It definitely needed a lot more dry ingredients. We enjoyed the flavor but I was hoping to impress some non vegans and I think many did not even give it a try due to its mushy texture.

    • I’m not sure why people are having this issue! Are you at altitude by chance? I’ll try to test this again this week and see if I can figure out what’s going on 🙂

  5. […] – Our favorite recipes: black bean burger, hummus, crispy tofu, lentil meatloaf […]

  6. I wish I noticed these comments before making the meatloaf tonight! Mine also turned to pudding.. but it tastes wonderful so we spread it on toasted sourdough with mashed potatoes too, haha. If anyone finds a way to firm it up, let us know!

    • I’m so sorry it didn’t work for you! I’ve retested this multiple times so I’m not sure why some aren’t firming up!

  7. haven’t tried this yet, but wondering if you could do this with poultry seasoning instead of Italian seasoning for a more “thanksgiving” type flavor? If so, what amount would work best?

  8. I made this and it was amazing! My question is can I assemble the lOaf and freeze it and take it out to bake later? I want to pre make a bunch of these!

  9. I had the same experience as some others, with the loaf being quite soft in the middle. I let it cool and then sliced it. Once sliced, I tried both baking the slices to get a better crust and also pan frying. Both worked to firm up the slices.

  10. Hi there! Going to try this out and wondering if “ground mustard” is mustard (like from a jar) or mustard powder/ground mustard seed. Thanks!

  11. Could you comment on how the lentils should look after you cook them? What is their texture? Firm/slightly mushy? How dry should they be? Totally dry, like sit in a strainer for a while? Thanks so much. I have a feeling that is where things are going wrong for others, and don’t want to have that happen. THANK YOU!

    • I would say in between firm and mushy. You want them to be soft like other beans that you eat out of the can. No crunch to them, but not mushy 🙂

  12. This is the best tasting bean loaf Ive ever had, and I have been a vegetarian for 25 yrs. My problem with this recipe, like many others in this thread, is it Never firmed up. It went in as mush and came out as mush. I even cooked it twice as long. I am super bummed. Next time I will add breadcrumbs and use a heartier lentil instead of red. I am curious why it worked so well for some and not for others. Followed the recipe to a tee, with the exception of the miso.

    • I’m not sure why others have had this problem 🙁 I’ve made this multiple times and not had that issue. I’ll make some notes in the recipe to add suggestions 🙂

  13. Hi, I recently saw a documentary called “What the Health?” on Netflix, and am seriously considering becoming a vegetarian…and even vegan so here I am looking for recipes to try. I love meat and esp eggs 🙁 I can’t believe how bad they are for you.. Anyway, is it possible for you to put up a youtube vid of how you made this? It’s just easier to follow nowadays when we see things made live.

  14. Hii Alyssa!

    I don’t know how you came up with this recipe…but the meatloaf was DELICIOUS!! So much flavour!
    The only difference that I did was I substituted the nutritional yeast for some shredded white cheese.

    One question, how do you get it out from the pan because mine is soft…do you turn the pan upside down?

    Thank you so much :))
    Jessy

  15. I made this last night for some guests that are open to vegan receipes, they loved it and I loved it!!! The texture was a little mushy but still able to slice out. Thank you so much!!!!

  16. Made this for me and my husband as part of our Sunday roast and have to say it was absolutely delicious. Will cut what’s left into portions and freeze for future dinners but it’s looking like it won’t get as far as the freezer as we keep attacking it. We had it with roast potatoes, broccoli and egg free Yorkshire puddings, it was amazing and well worth the effort to make. Will definitely be bookmarking this to make again.

  17. As a holistic nutrition coach, I’ve been following you for quite awhile and love all your recipes! I just made this last night, and I gotta say . . . it is absolutely awesome. The only thing different is that I baked it at 450 degrees in a convection oven — only b/c the oven was that temp for roasted veggies. It turned out great. This would also make great burgers… yum!

  18. The flavor was fabulous. However, like some others, mine did not firm up. Might add some whole wheat pastry flour or bread crumbs next time.

  19. Alyssa,
    First and foremost- Thank you so much for your website! I just found it and I am in love with the recipes!! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. I am vegan and I’ve just transitioned my kids over to veganism and I am so going to make this recipe. It looks amazing. But, I have a child with nut allergies..is there anything I can substitute for the nuts? And also any substitutes for miso paste? Thank you so much!

    • Excited to hear how you like it, Jennifer! I’m not 100% sure on the nut substitution as I haven’t personally tried it without nuts, but you could try sunflower seeds I think. And the miso? You could just leave that out, you just may want to add a touch more salt/tamari. Enjoy!

  20. […] image credit: simplyquinoa /  Alyssa Get the recipe here for this Vegan Lentil And Quinoa Meatloaf […]

  21. […] A way to eat less hormones, steroids and antibiotics while conserving energy is by making more meatless meals. And finally, if you have the resources to do so, try growing our own tomatoes/cucumbers/squash in […]

    • I had the same issue. I’ve made this twice now…second time I added more oatmeal, and although the flavour is there, it ends up just plopping out of the pan.

      • Hmm not sure why that’s happening for you! I’ll whip this up again this week and let you know if I can troubleshoot for you! xo

  22. Omg. I never leave comments on blogs.. But damn. I made this exactly as written and it came out SO GOOD. Even my omnivore husband tried multiple bites and really liked it. I’m gonna add this to the regular meal rotation and will probably make 2 loaves at a time. Thank youuuuuuuu!

  23. I had a hard time with this recipe. The flavor is great but it had a pudding consistency even after baking for twice the recommended time. Eventually I dumped it back in a bowl and added probably 2 cups cooked quinoa and a half cup extra oats and salvaged it. But it ended up taking me several hours in preparation and fixing it. Not worth it. I can’t understand how others were able to make this following the instructions and ingredients in the recipe. I’m not a novice cook and have experience with veggie meatloaf. Very mysterious.

    • I am also neither new to cooking nor making meatless loaves and wasn’t successful with this recipe.

      The flavor was great but it never did set, and I cooked it for well over an hour *more* than the recipe suggests. The outside was fine but the inside, even at the ends, was a mushy pudding consistency. I couldn’t get it to firm up at all.

      My guess is that either my cooked lentils (which are left up to interpretation in the recipe) had more liquid than required (though they seem to form the majority of the glue for the loaf) or the listed 3/4 cup quinoa is a pre-cooked rather than post-cooked measurement, which really makes a difference.

      It’s good enough that I’ll try again and will post if I can get a different result.

    • Hmmm I’m not sure what could have happened there? I’ve made this a bunch of times and never had any issues. Sorry about that!

  24. I made this for dinner last night as my first attempt at a meatless loaf. This was very delicious served with wild rice. I made no substitutions; but a few commenters stated that it didn’t hold together for them, so I added 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs and 3 tablespoons of aquafaba (replacing traditional egg) just in case. Leftovers tonight and putting this recipe in my rotation. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  25. Fantastic and satisfying recipe.
    It was delicious and very tasty.

    I didn’t have any miso on hand – so I simply left that out of the recipe, but wonderful just the same!

    Thanks Alyssa!

  26. Hi,
    This recipe looks wonderful…

    I’ve never used miso or tamari. (We have to cut down sodium) But, I’d like to try this recipe. (Also, we have to be soy-free)

    I was thinking about buying South River miso… They have a chick pea and azuki miso. They also have a chick pea and azuki tamari. Which flavor miso and tamari would you recommend?

    Also, any substitutions for the miso and tamari? Or, any organic low sodium soy-free miso and tamari that you would recommend?

    Thanks 🙂

    • I’m not sure about the low-sodium miso, but I LOVE their chickpea miso – it’s so yummy. You could also use coconut aminos to replace the tamari 🙂

  27. I made this and it was delicious. There were a lot of ingredients that I have never used before so it was somewhat intimidating but the picture made me want to give it a try. I’m glad I did because I will make it again for sure.

  28. I wasn’t aware that the lentils were brown and as it looked orange I used the orange variety. Turn out great anyway Thanks

    • Oh great! I’m glad to know that variety works as well 🙂 Yes, lentils come in all sorts of colors: black, brown, green, red. Glad you enjoyed it! xo

  29. hey question – am I supposed to cook the lentils or quinoa before adding them to the food processor?

    • I’m pretty sure you could just leave it out, but maybe try adding 1 tablespoon of flour and see how that goes. Chia meal would also be an option!

  30. Alyssa, here in Australia oats are not considered gluten-free. I think there’s too much potential cross-contamination and even organic ones are marked as containing gluten. Otherwise this recipe looks great. Do you think that quinoa flakes would work as a substitute?

    • I used rolled, but you could do any! Since they’re getting ground up, I don’t think the type will really matter that much 🙂

  31. I am so obsessed with this!!! I love bean loaves, so this is right up my alley. I’m loving that you added walnuts and quinoa (of course) for extra nutrition. Must try this soon!!

  32. Looks amazing — I will try this for SURE. By the way, not being a huge lentil person (yet), would you say all lentils are created equal? I know they come in different colors. I’m sure any would work in this recipe but do you personally have a fave? 🙂

    • Nope – actually not all lentils are created equal. I used brown lentils in this recipe (will update the description) and those are definitely different than beluga and French. I think they will all still work, the consistency of the loaf might just be a teeny bit different 🙂 Enjoy!

    • Hmmm you could probably do some more carrots and maybe some celery. I haven’t tested without the mushrooms, but I think as long as you have the volume right, you could really use any other type of veggie. Let me know what you end up trying! xo

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