It’s that time of year where I’m starting to crave hearty, warm meals like chili, sloppy joes, lasagna and of course a good meatloaf. You too, huh?
Since the days are becoming cooler, I thought that I would share my absolute favorite recipe for meatloaf. And guess what you guys? It’s vegan and gluten free! That’s right; lentils replace meat in this lip-smacking super good meatloaf drenched in some complete awesome sauce. You won’t believe how healthy this is either. The nutrition is rockin!
Did I just say rockin’? Ugh I’m getting old.
FREE Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide (+ printable checklist!)
Whether you’re hosting or just attending, this Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide email series is for everyone. Enter your email below to get all of my best recipes, tips, and a FREE printable checklist for all of your Thanksgiving needs.
My mom introduced me to this meatloaf a few years ago. At first I was like WTF… did my Mom really just cook up lentils and veggies and then slab it all in a pan? She must be off the rocker. But then of course I tasted it, and it was GLORIOUS.
So good I felt the need to eat half the pan that night. Now every time I see Mom, I’m practically begging for her to make me this lentil loaf for dinner. MAKE ME THE LENTIL LOAF, MA! She thinks I’m nuts now. Probably true.
I asked her where she got the idea for a vegetarian meatloaf and she pointed me to The Simple Veganista, a blog that I now absolutely adore. Check her out, she has tons of wonderful recipes that are plant-based and delish.
Mom adapted the recipe and added a few more spices and herbs, but really this vegetarian lentil loaf is great to make your own special way. Mix up your topping, try a hawaiian sauce, sweet and sour or perhaps a spicy BBQ sauce. I think my sauce is pretty great, but making your own always makes it fun, too!
Make your own oat flour for this lentil loaf
Good news, you can easily make your own oat flour right at home to use in this vegetarian lentil loaf recipe. Check out my tutorial with all of my best tips & tricks. So easy!
As mentioned above, one of my favorite reasons I love this meal is because not only is it satisfying, but it’s also packed with some pretty amazing nutrition stats. Not only do lentils contain tons of fiber, but they are an excellent source of protein, too. I mean 16g of fiber and 14g of protein for one serving? Dream come true.
I hope you guys enjoy Mom’s lentil loaf. She’s super excited for you to try it, so let me know what you think. xo!
Be sure to follow AK on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!
More healthy vegetarian recipes you’ll love
Ultimate Vegan Black Bean Burgers with Tahini Garlic Sauce
Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Lentil Moroccan Stew
Vegan Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchiladas with Jalapeño Cashew Crema
Vegan & Gluten Free Curry Chickpea Pot Pie with Sweet Potato ‘Crust’
Mom's Ultimate Vegetarian Lentil Loaf
- 1 cup dry green lentils
- 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small white or yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup diced onion)
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced, optional
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
- 1/2 cup gluten free oat flour (you can make your own!)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (omit if you don't like spicy food)
Rinse the lentils in a large mesh strainer. Add 4 cups of water to a large pot with lentils and a dash of salt, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils absorb most of the water and become tender. Drain lentils and set aside.
While the lentils cook: Mix flaxseed meal and 1/3 cup water to a small bowl and place in the refrigerator while you make the rest of the loaf. The flaxseed meal will help bind the loaf together.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
Place large pan over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is hot, add in garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrot, jalapeno and cilantro; saute for 5-7 minutes or until onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften a bit.
Add in spices and cook for 30 more seconds, then transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
Using a blender or food processor, blend about 2 cups of the cooked lentils.
Transfer to the bowl with the sauteed veggies, and stir in the remaining lentils along with the oats, oat flour, and flaxseed meal (from the fridge!). Add salt and pepper, then taste and add more spices or salt and pepper if desired.
Add mixture to prepared loaf pan, pressing and smoothing to the sides to make sure it bakes evenly. Quickly prepare your glazed by combining all ingredients in a small bowl then spreading half of the sauce on top.
Bake loaf for 45 minutes. Top with remaining sauce.
Remove from heat and cool for 10-15 minutes before removing it from pan. Cut into 6 slices and serve! I like to enjoy it with a little extra ketchup or bbq sauce. Also delicious served with mashed potatoes!
This is freezer-friendly, simple wrap tight or place in a freezer safe ziploc bag. Will stay good for up to 3 months. You can also bake and then freeze it in the loaf pan, just ensuring that it is tightly covered.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Sarah Fennel // Broma Bakery
I love that recipes like this can be eaten at any meal! SO yummy!
Amazing comfort food!
I adore lentils, cannot wait to make this! Thanks for the blog recommendation too- will be sure to check it out!
What could I substitute the oats and oat flour with?
I’m definitely going to try this (esp. for Thanksgiving) since my sister has gone vegan!
Wow – this sounds wonderful! I especially love the addition of the jalapeno 🙂
Mine didn’t look near as pretty as yours but it still turned out delicious!! I’ve got to say, your tomato sauce really made the dish (:
WHEN DO YOU ADD THE SAUCE??
SNAP …DID NOT READ THE WHOLE INSTRUCTION ( MY BAD)
GOING TO TRY IT TODAY… THANKS
I am from the UK what is flaxseed meal? I don’t think we have here?
Flaxseed meal is just ground flax seed.
Can I use the orange lentils or they may be called red lentils, instead of green? I imagine these break down the same? I know the brown/ French have a lot more body.
looks great! thanks for sharing this.
This is fabulous…as long as people know there are very few brown sugars out there that are vegan. Make sure you check out a reputable company to make sure the brown sugar is not processed with bone char.
Glad you enjoyed! And good to know about the vegan brown sugars.
Did you calculate the nutrition with or without the sauce? Looks great, can’t wait to try it!
With the sauce! Enjoy 🙂
Woohoo. A vegan dish that is husband approved. He went back for thirds! So delicious. The sauce really does make it!
Yes absolutely! I would use two eggs max.
I made a double batch for the staff at the vegetarian yoga retreat center I am working at- it was a big hit!
this is my favorite!
This is shameful. Next level disgusting. A waste of time money and food. If I wanted bland oatmeal with ketchup on it I would do exactly what this recipe states. Do not post recipes that do not create edible results . I’ve made many a meatloaf in my day and am vegetarian, this couldn’t even be amended to get edible results. The worst recipe I’ve found on Pinterest or online at all.
This recipe is a favorite! It’s so flavorful and hearty. But for a family of four, it’s tiny. Next time I will quadruple it and bake in a larger Pyrex. This also seems more efficient because it’s a bit more time consuming than most of our weeknight meals. But worth it, especially if I make a lot more. Thanks for another family favorite.
So happy everyone loves it! Feel free to double (or quadruple) for everyone to enjoy throughout the week 🙂
It was perfect the first time. This is very really unique helpful information.I learn so much from you as well! Thank you so much for sharing your helpful information. Keep it up.
Absolutely – enjoy!
So I was very surprised that my 14 year old and my husband liked this! We didn’t like the sauce as It was too mustardy for us, Next time I’d do about 1/2 the mustard instead. I don’t love love this dish, but since they did, I’ll make it again as it’s a great meat alternative & protein packed substitute dish!!
My goal has moved from one meatless dish per week in 2019 to two per week in 2020. It’s tough with boys in the house to fill them up (and they’re not tofu fans).
I’m glad they both loved it! And feel free to adjust the mustard to your taste preferences. You’ll have to give these recipes a try next and let me know if you find new favs: https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/vegetarian-recipes/
Love this recipe, One of the best lentil loafs I have tried! Delicious and a winner with the whole family! Proof from 100% clean plates! Not a crumb to be found! Thank you!
Amazing! So happy to hear that, Kelli 🙂
This “meat” loaf was very dry, flavorless, and resembled a bird seed block. It’s only saving grace was the pores accepting copious amounts of BBQ sauce. When asked why my wife made this, when we have lots of meat in the freezer, she sheepishly replied, “It had good reviews…”
I hope this has corrected that.
Oh mon dieu! So very good, hearty, flavourful, dense etc etc. Keep in mind that you can throw flax seeds into a spice/coffee grinder and voilà flax meal easy peasy. I did not have ketchup as it is not a thing here in France and I don’t think I’ve ever bought any BUT you can make homemade ketchup (which has clove in it…who knew?!). My only regret is to not have made 2 and portioned it out in the freezer. Definitely will next time. Thank your mother for me, I love this recipe and the link will be shared! Bravo!!
Great tip! So glad you loved this one!
This tastes great! I recommend shredding the carrots instead of dicing. Also, I didn’t puree half the lentils. Definitely do that if you have time, but I ran out of time and it’s fine without that step–not ideal, but not going to kill the end result. Also, just spread some ketchup and mustard on top. Basically, if I made it under pressure and skipped a couple of steps and it turned out this nicely, it definitely a good recipe. I plan to make it again with the extra steps and serve with mashed potatoes–kids loved it!
Perfect! I’m glad it was still delicious in a pinch. Perfect dinner!
Since I my body cannot tolerate oats in any form, could you suggest an alternative?
Made this yesterday, it is not pretty but it is so yummy! I was shocked at how well it stuck together and how flavorful it is!
Meatloaf isn’t the most beautiful dish but the flavors are so good! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
This Lentil Loaf was delicious. Added extra spices, cilantro and mushrooms. Made double batch of ketchup sauce on top which was so good! Question… wondering if can use Red or Brown Lentils. I ran out of green. 😌
Perfect! I’d recommend brown lentils if you’re out of green 🙂
If you were to make this the night before – would you recommend cooking all the way through and then just reheating the next day, or working it through and then putting it in the fridge right before it needs to go in the oven (and then bake it the next night when ready to eat)?
I just made the Lentil Loaf. It turned out very well. I like the texture. I enjoyed the spice combination. I think it would be a good basic loaf recipe that would be conducive to many different spice combinations!
Absolutely! Glad you enjoyed 🙂
This recipe looks wonderful but due to allergies in my house we are unable to use lentils. Is there any other type of bean that you have used in it’s place? Thanks
Try this recipe instead!
I was wondering if I can use brown lentils instead of green here?
Also anything in place of Ketch-up for the glaze? Am avoiding ketch-up with my kids. if not, will the loaf still be enticing for the younger ones? I have a kid who doesn’t min veggies so ma hopeful she would still go for it with the glaze.
Brown lentils will work! And tomato sauce or bbq sauce would be good subs.
I am going to try this — but I wonder if it can be made with regular oats instead of gluten-free?? Or will gluten impact the consistency?
Regular rolled oats will be fine!
So flavorful and great texture! My family had meatloaf for dinner (I’m the lone vegetarian), and my mom kindly made me this lentil loaf. It was SO GOOD, and everyone tried it (some liked it more than the traditional meatloaf!). I can’t wait to make this again. I recommend pairing it with Ambitious Kitchen’s, “warm brussels sprouts salad” (served bacon on the side so I could enjoy it vegetarian). 🙂
Amazing! So happy to hear that. And LOVE the idea of serving it with the brussels salad!
The glaze makes this dish! Love recipe – it is a great option for a filling vegetarian meal, especially with a side of mashed potatoes. The glaze is so good that I make it as a sauce for veggie burgers or sweet potato fries. Love the kick from the chipotle powder.
Absolutely! Glad you love this one!
i dont have flaxseed meal -but im vegetarian not vegan-cant i substitute an egg ???
As a vegetarian, I typically am opening to trying most non-meat proteins but for some reason a “lentil loaf” just didn’t sounds appetizing. All said, I was craving a meatloaf and decided to give it a try and WOW.. it is actually delicious! I made it exactly as described. Only suggestion, cook the night before, cool, and then sear for texture. I did this.. amazing! My kids and meat eating husband enjoyed it too!
I love all sorts of beans and this looks so delicious! Are your recipes also Low Cholesterol?
Thank you! It totally depends on the recipe; I’d recommend copy/pasting the recipe you’re interested in making into an online nutrition calculator, as the one I use doesn’t calculator cholesterol (sorry!)
Hey Patricia, the nutrition calculator I used indicates this recipe has 0 cholesterol. Plus, it’s a recipe super high in fiber.
For anyone interested, here’s why fiber is AWESOME. Bile acid (used in digestion) is made from cholesterol. Normally when eating, your body dumps bile acid into your gut to help digestion, then reabsorbs the bile, to be recycled for later use. However, when you consume fiber, it binds up bile acid and allows it to be removed from the body instead of recycled. To make new bile acid to replace what was lost, the body pulls cholesterol from the blood, lowering cholesterol levels!
As my professor says, “eat food, mostly plants.”
I was apprehensive to try it, but I enjoyed this recipe. My carnivore partner was on the fence, but I’d personally make it again. Omitted (aka forgot lol) the cilantro, but it was still tasty!
I’m glad you enjoyed it! I also have couple real meat meatloaf recipes your partner might like: Cheddar-Stuffed Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf + Cheddar-Stuffed Sweet Potato BBQ Turkey Meatloaf 🙂
I’ve been trying to find vegetarian options for my meat-loving husband, but this wasn’t it. I enhanced the spices as the unbaked version was lackluster, hoping that the finished dish would prove more flavorful. It wasn’t.
So sorry you guys didn’t love this one! I’d recommend browsing my vegetarian recipe category which has tons of meat-free recipe ideas 🙂
I plan to make two of these and freeze one for my husband to reheat or cook after baby arrives. I plan to add about half a pound of ground beef to each loaf (of course adjusting seasoning).
Would you recommend cooking the loaf that will be frozen for future enjoyment, or freeze raw?
Hi, Ilona! So excited for you! I think it might work better to cook it before freezing just to ensure the inside gets fully cooked since you’re adding meat. (That way you don’t need to worry about thawing the raw loaf before cooking.) Enjoy!
This recipe is awesome – so versatile and so much flavor – a keeper! The only thing I changed is I added some mushrooms. Delicious ! Thanks!
I think I will try this recipe. Did you notice you say it makes 6 servings, but you say to cut it into only 5 slices? Hmmmmm.
Thank you for the catch! I’ve updated. Hope you love this one!
Hi! Can you clarify if you freeze it raw or cooked, and how best to thaw if it’s frozen raw vs cooked?
This is a wonderful recipe and one my boyfriend loves! I have made it a few times with consistent results. A few times I added 1/4 – 1/3 cup of vegetarian beef crumbles to make it a little less dense. Not Beyond meat because it’s too oily but one that is a little more dry in texture, there are quite a few out there. But I like it with or without that addition. I’m not sure why some haven’t had good results but I’ve never had an issue following the recipe exactly and adding the jalapeño is a real boost in addition to the sauce. Thank you for sharing!