No one will miss the meat in this savory, mouthwatering Lentil Loaf! Makes a wonderful main dish on a holiday, and is easy enough to make any day of the week. Pair with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans for a comforting, classic meal.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried several lentil loaf recipes. I’ve been vegan for nearly a decade now, and that’s almost 10 years of testing vegan recipes! I was never crazy about lentil “meatloaf” because I just couldn’t seem to get it right. Too often my loaf was mushy, sometimes even kind of “gummy” tasting. I remember one Thanksgiving making a recipe I was so excited about, and it just wasn’t good at all!
Well, no more! I will teach you how to make the best lentil loaf, ever. I tried making this lentil loaf kind of on a whim several weeks ago, and I was shocked at how good it turned out! As in, I could not stop eating it from the pan. It has the most delicious flavor, and the texture is spot on incredible. I also wanted to make the recipe as simple as possible! While it does take about 40 minutes to cook in the oven, there is only 20 minutes of hands on prep time required.
What kind of lentils should I use for Lentil Loaf?
I prefer to use the ready to eat, steamed lentils from Trader Joe’s in this recipe. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, you can usually find them in the produce section. Using pre-cooked lentils makes this recipe a lot faster and easier, plus the lentils are less mushy and wet.
However, you can certainly make your own! Get either green or brown lentils (not red, they just turn to mush). Simmer 1 cup lentils with 3 cups of water for about 30 minutes, then drain very well, and pat even drier with paper towels to remove excess moisture. This is key to a NOT MUSHY lentil loaf!
How to make Lentil Loaf:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper for easy removal.
In a large pan, cook the onions, mushrooms and carrots for about 5 minutes, until softened. Set aside.
In a food processor, add the walnuts and pulse until a bit crumbly. Add the lentils and pulse just a few times.
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Dump the lentils/walnuts into a large bowl, then add the cooked vegetables, ground flaxseeds, ketchup, vegan Worcestershire sauce, salt and thyme. Stir well, then add 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs and mix. Mix in the last 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs if the mixture is still quite wet, but not if it’s dry. If it happens to be too crumbly and dry, add a few tablespoons of water. This will largely depend on the moisture level in your lentils.
Push the mixture evenly into the pan, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil, top with the ketchup topping, and pop it back in for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.
I highly suggest the ketchup topping in this recipe, which is ketchup, pure maple syrup and vegan Worcestershire sauce. I think it’s just perfect on lentil loaf!
But if you don’t prefer a ketchup based topping, go with my Easy Vegan Gravy instead! Make the gravy while the loaf is in the oven, and then let everyone pour on the amount of gravy they desired on each slice.
What should I serve Lentil Loaf with?
Lentil loaf also makes a perfect main dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.
What can I do with leftover loaf?
Leftover loaf will keep in the refrigerator (covered container) for 3-4 days. A slice of this lentil loaf on a sandwich is SO delicious and satisfying, and is one of our favorite ways to use the leftovers! You can also freeze individual slices, or the entire loaf. I’d suggest leaving off the ketchup topping if you plan on freezing an entire loaf.
Want more wholesome vegan entrees? Try any of these:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped small
- 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and diced small
- 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
- 2 cups cooked green/brown lentils (*SEE NOTE)
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2-3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper, for easy removal.
- Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil, onions, mushrooms and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes until the vegetables soften and the mushrooms release their juices. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a food processor, add the walnuts and pulse a few times. They should be in small pieces, but not completely a powder. Now add the lentils and pulse a few times.
- Dump the walnuts/lentils into a large bowl, and add the cooked vegetables, ground flaxseeds, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt and dried thyme. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Now add 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs and fold in. Add the last 1/4 cup if the mixture still seems wet, but if it's dry (this will depend on the moisture level of your lentils) don't add more. If the mixture is crumbly for some reason, add a few tablespoons of water.
- Transfer to the prepared loaf pan, and press the mixture evenly and firmly into the pan. Cover with foil, and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Make the topping: Stir all topping ingredients in a small bowl to combine.
- After 30 minutes, remove the foil, spread on the ketchup topping and cook uncovered for 10 more minutes. Let cool for about 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
- For this loaf, I prefer to buy pre-cooked lentils. They tend to be less mushy than when I cook them myself, plus it makes the recipe faster. I find them at Trader Joe's in the produce section. You can make your own if you want. You will need 1 cup dried lentils and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain well, and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- If you don't have a food processor, you could chop the walnuts with a heavy knife on a cutting board instead, and then use a potato mashed to slightly mash the lentils in the bowl.