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This Vegan Lentil Loaf is the best, healthy main dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas or memorable weeknight dinners. Enjoy with your favorite fuss-free sides for the ultimate feast. Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Oil-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free Option.
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This Vegan Lentil Loaf is easily one of the healthiest, most flavorful meatless loafs out there. It combines brown lentils, red lentils and walnuts to create the perfect, non-mushy texture. You’ll be able to slice and serve this loaf with ease, then enjoy with a highly-recommended serving of Tahini Gravy!
A Delicious Plant-Based Protein
Let’s be real – finding a protein to serve for the holidays that will suit everyone’s dietary needs isn’t always the easiest feat. But this vegan meatloaf alternative checks off all the boxes. It’s naturally gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and easy to make nut-free. Plus, when you serve it with my creamy Tahini Gravy and mashed potatoes, I promise no one will be complaining.
This lentil loaf is crispy-on-the-outside, textured-on-the-inside and is really just the most delicious healthy, plant-based protein. It’s a bit more time-intensive than my dump & bake casseroles or one pot dinners, but every step is worth it. Play some good tunes and grab a friend or family member to cook this with.
What You Need for the Best Vegan Lentil Loaf
The base of this lentil loaf is made with a mix of red lentils, brown lentils, mushrooms and walnuts. It’s then seasoned with fresh herbs and tender veggies and held together with my favorite egg-replacer – ground flaxseed.
Each ingredient used serves a specific purpose and for best results, significant substitutions should be avoided.
How to Make Vegan Lentil Loaf
- Cook the lentils with vegetable broth and water in a large pot for 30 minutes.
- Sauté the onion, celery, and carrot in olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add the mushrooms, spices, tamari and garlic and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
- Strain the lentils using a fine metal strainer and remove as much extra liquid as possible.
- Mix the lentils, vegetable mixture, walnuts, ground flax, and tamari and firmly pack the mixture into a loaf pan.
- Bake for 50 minutes then allow to cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Serve warm with vegan gravy, or as desired.
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Take your time sautéing the vegetables. Keep cooking until all of the moisture released from the vegetables evaporates and the vegetables are as dry as possible. Rushing this step will affect the texture and cook time of your lentil loaf.
- Use fresh herbs. Fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage are significantly more flavorful than dried herbs and truly make this lentil loaf taste like Thanksgiving!
- Make sure to use ground flaxseed. In stores you’ll find both ground flaxseed and whole flaxseeds. Ground flaxseeds are essential to properly binding the vegan loaf together. If you only have whole seeds, grind them into a mealy consistency before adding to your loaf.
This vegan lentil loaf is an amazing main dish to serve for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Make it a full vegan meal and serve alongside classic holiday sides like Vegan Mac and Cheese, Candied Sweet Potatoes, and Vegan Green Bean Casserole. Topping your loaf with my savory Tahini Gravy is a must, too.
If you’re looking for more holiday main dish recipes, you’ll also love this Vegan Holiday Roast and this Vegetable Lasagna with White Sauce! Or, plan your own menu using my Vegan and Gluten-Free Thanksgiving guide.
How to Store Lentil Loaf
Leftover lentil loaf slices are preserved best in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Leftovers are best reheating in the oven or toaster oven at 300F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until warmed through. Readers have also had success warming individual slices through in a dry skillet over medium heat.
- Nut-free option: If you are allergic to nuts, substitute the chopped walnuts for chopped sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
- Lentil options: I developed this lentil loaf using brown lentils, but green lentils can be used as a 1:1 substitution. Substituting the split red lentils with green or brown lentils, however, is not recommended.
- Soy-free option: Tamari can be substituted for coconut aminos. Or, if you are not gluten-free, soy sauce is also an option.
Yes, this vegan meatloaf can be frozen. Cook and cool the lentil loaf according to instructions. Once cooled, slice into 6 to 8 slices and place each individual slice on a parchment lined baking sheet. Flash freeze the loaf slices for 1 to 2 hours, or until frozen solid. Transfer the slices to a freezer safe bag or container for up to 2 months.
Traditional meatloaf recipes typically use eggs and breadcrumbs to bind the loaf together. This vegan lentil loaf uses ground flaxseed as a binder to keep it grain-free, gluten-free and plant-based.
When the lentils are done and ready, they will be soft and tender. The red lentils will be softer and paste-like and the brown lentils will be tender, but still intact.
If your vegan lentil loaf came out mushy, I would guess the “batter” was too wet. This can happen if the vegetables are not dry enough. Once you begin to sauté mushrooms, they will release moisture. In order to avoid a mushy loaf, it is important to sauté until the excess moisture has evaporated.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Vegan Lentil Loaf
For the Lentils:
- 1 cup brown lentils dry
- 1 cup red lentils dry
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
For the Lentil Loaf:
- cooked lentils above
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 stalks of celery diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 cup carrot shredded
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme finely chopped
- 4 leaves fresh sage finely sliced
- 2 tbsp reduced sodium tamari divided
- 5 cremini mushrooms finely diced
- 3/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- Cook the Lentils: Add the brown lentils, red lentils, vegetable broth, and water to a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 375F once 10-15 minutes have passed. Line a 4×8” loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Aromatics: Warm the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Seasonings: Add the mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, sage, and 1 tablespoon tamari. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. You want the vegetables to be as dry as possible!
- Strain the Lentils: Once the lentils have finished cooking, transfer them to a fine METAL strainer (do not use a strainer with large holes) and use a spatula to “stir” the lentils and remove as much extra liquid as possible. The Red Lentils will break down and become a thick puree, while the Brown Lentils will remain relatively intact.
- Combine: Transfer the lentils and cooked vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Add in the walnuts, ground flax, and remaining tablespoon of tamari. Mix until everything is evenly incorporated, then use a spatula to firmly pack the “batter” into the loaf pan. There should be a little extra batter protruding from the top of the pan – I like to round this out to create an even top of the loaf.
- Bake: Bake the loaf in the oven for 50 minutes, then remove and let sit in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can also let the lentil loaf sit in the fridge overnight if you’d like it to be firmer.
- Serve: serve warm, topped with gravy or as desired. Leftovers can be reheated in the oven or toaster oven at 300F for 20-25 minutes. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days, or pre-slice and freeze for up to 2 months.
- Substitutions: tamari can be substituted for liquid aminos or soy sauce (not GF). I have not tested this recipe with any binder other than ground flax, and cannot recommend substitutions
- Oil-Free: omit the olive oil in step 3 and sauté the onion in 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water instead; adding more water as necessary to prevent sticking.
- Make-Ahead: the lentil and vegetable filling can be made up to 3 days in advance; simply store the filling in the fridge until ready to use and proceed with mixing and baking the loaf.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and will last for up to one week; you can also pre-slice and freeze the completed loaf to save it for another day!
Hi! What measurement of tinned lentils would I need to replace the dry lentils?
Hi Maz, about 2.5 cups of tinned brown lentils should do the trick. Though I don’t recommend substituting the red lentils for more brown lentils (or any other type).
Hi Caitlin, I am new to a vegan/plant-based diet and would love to try this. In particular, I was looking for something to bring to my daughter’s house for Thanksgiving this year. I do have a question about the recipe. Are store-bought ground flaxseeds the same as ground flaxseed meal? (Bob’s Red Mill makes an organic whole ground flaxseed meal, for example.) Thanks so much, and I look forward to your response. I will be trying the recipe before bringing it for Thanksgiving. (The tahini gravy sounds delicious, too!)
Hi Jan, yes, ground flaxseed (store-bought or home ground) is the same as ground flaxseed meal. Excited for you to try the recipe!
Any substitutions for mushrooms?
Hi Sharon, you can try substituting the mushrooms for another hearty vegetable, like zucchini, eggplant, etc. You can also add extra carrot or celery. Let me know how it goes!
Made this lentil loaf for thanksgiving and loved it! My non-vegan family members enjoyed it too! What was especially great was that it kept its shape and did not fall apart at all. I’ve had this happen many times with vegan loafs so I was happy this was able to sit on a table in it’s shape and not crumble when cut into. I forgot to make the gravy but I bet that would make it even better.
Thanks, Emma! So glad to hear you and your family enjoyed it. 🙂
Thus recipe is bursting with flavor! My non- vegan guests were very impressed.
Awesome, Thank you Sarah! 🙂
This was SO so delicious, and satisfying! I made one two weeks ago on a Saturday, and wanted to eat it every day for nearly every meal all week. I froze 2 slices, and ended up getting both of them out of the freezer to eat last week, and now it is once again a Saturday, and I will make this again today, for sure! My husband is not vegetarian, and he liked it too, although he ate his meats for several of the meals when I was having this lentil loaf. I think he would have had another helping or two, but he saw how “obsessed” I was, and wanted to leave the rest for me. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made a couple of adjustments, because I am such a fan of mushrooms: I used mushroom stock instead of veggie, used a mix of 3 different kinds of fresh shrooms, and added a tablespoon of mushroom umami powder from Trader Joe’s.
Super yummy! I used vegan better than beef bullion instead of the vegetable stock and it was amazing! I also only used ⅓ cup of flax and it was perfect!
So glad you enjoyed it!
I made the Lentil Loaf and while it tastes delicious mine was very mushy. I hate mushrooms so left them out and added more veggies but even with straining everything it was very soft. Maybe I should have added more ground flax seeds to help it bind better? I did add pumpkin seeds for some textural bite but maybe my lentils were too soft as well. Next time I make it I’ll use 1 1/2 cup brown lentils and 1/2 cup red lentils. Thanks for the recipe and I’ll let you know how it goes the next go round.
Getting the vegetables as dry as possible when you’re cooking them out – what sort of vegetables did you add in? Totally let us know how it goes!
I made this yesterday to have for dinner today as a test run since I was looking for a vegan option to bring to my extended family’s Christmas dinner. It was perfect! Everyone liked it and it’s definitely going to be at the Christmas dinner. 🙂 I loved the consistency and flavour, plus it hols up very well when sliced, you can even slice it pretty thinly.
I used ~2/3 cups ground flax seed husks since you cannot get whole ground flaxseed here and that worked very well.
Thanks for the recipe!
That’s awesome! I hope everyone enjoys it – have a nice Christmas dinner!
Amazing — loved the moist and tender interior paired with the crunchy exterior, and the flavor had so much depth. I was pleased to find that the texture remained intact even two days after baking the loaf…it didn’t last any longer than that because my family and I wanted leftovers!
Thank you! Happy to hear you and the family enjoyed it!
Hey, could mushrooms be substituted? I was thinking eggplant perhaps, to add some variety in the loaf instead to just more celery and carrot. Thank you for cool recipes!
Hey! If you’re not a fan of mushroom, eggplant could probably work well. If you give it a try let us know!