Hearty, delicious, and full of plant-based protein. We're about to show you how to make the best lentil loaf ever! Seriously, you're not going to miss the meat in this one.
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We often get asked about vegan meal ideas during the holidays since people have a harder time thinking up recipes to match their meat counterparts. This is exactly why we're so excited to share our lentil loaf with you today.
Try serving this at your next holiday meal and watch your fam go nuts! It's full of all those cozy flavors everyone loves about the holidays, just without the meat. Plus, it pairs incredibly well with all the other festive dishes like mashed potatoes or roasted veggies.
Have we mentioned how delicious this loaf is in leftover sandwiches? Throw a slice between two pieces of bread with a dollop of vegan mayo and mustard to make a perfect on-the-go snack (drool).
Alright, alright, enough about how easy, delicious, and budget-friendly this meal is. Let's get cookin' people!
🍲 Key ingredients
- Lentils: this hearty, fiber-rich legume acts as the replacement for meat in this loaf. It's important to use the green or brown variety since red lentils will end up too mushy. Lentils are not only delicious, but they also contain high amounts of B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. Lentil up!
- Walnuts: to add a crunchy texture and "umami" flavor, we threw walnuts into this dish. You can use any nut of your liking, but we personally believe walnuts are the top candidate for this job. You'll be happy to know they also help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff). So, crunch away!
- Mushrooms: in addition to walnuts, mushrooms are our go-to for a savory, "meaty" effect. They've got the best flavor and texture to replace animal products. Plus, mushrooms contain vitamin D, making them one of the only non-animal sources of this important nutrient. We personally use cremini, but there are tons of other varieties to try!
- Celery: never underestimate the power of celery in your cooking. We use it in our lentil loaf to enhance the other flavors and add more crunch. Even if you aren't a fan of celery on its own, there is very good reason to include it in this entrée. It provides flavors of citrus, pine, and a slight bitterness that adds depth to this recipe.
To start off with, you'll need to prepare your lentils. We highly recommend pre-cooking the lentils if you are making them from scratch to help prevent a soggy loaf. Alternatively, you can use canned lentils to save more time (just remember to rinse them well).
When your lentils are ready, dice all the veggies and cook them in some olive oil in a pan over low-medium. This will help release all the umami flavors that make this loaf so delicious.
Once the vegetables are tender, add those along with the lentils (leaving out a ½ cup), flaxseed, liquid aminos, walnuts, oat flour, bread crumbs, and seasonings to a large food processor. Pulse everything together, making sure to leave some chunks for texture.
Then, you'll transfer this mixture to a large bowl and stir in the rest of the lentils. After you taste test (a very important step), firmly press the lentil mixture into a parchment-lined loaf pan. Prepare the glaze by mixing all ingredients in a bowl, then brush over top of the unbaked loaf.
Bake your loaf uncovered until the glaze appears matte. Note: once you take it out of the oven, let the lentil loaf cool for about 15 minutes before slicing it.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5-6 days in an airtight container. You can also freeze lentil loaf for up to 2-3 months.
For best results, store individual slices with parchment paper in between in a freezer-safe bag or container. Reheat individual slices in the microwave or oven at 350 degrees F for 5-10 minutes.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Switch out the olive oil for a cheaper vegetable oil
- Make your own vegetable stock
- Use up some stale bread to make your own bread crumbs
🍴 Tasting notes
This lentil loaf is one of our favorite dishes to serve for dinner or lunch! It's:
- Super filling
- Full of flavor
- Great for leftovers
If you try this lentil loaf, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
The Best Vegan Lentil Loaf
- 9x5 loaf pan
- Parchment paper
- Large skillet
- Food processor
- Large mixing bowl
- Chef knife
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.12)
- ½ medium yellow onion, chopped ($0.12)
- 2 ½ cups cremini mushrooms, chopped ($0.48)
- 1 large carrot, chopped ($0.28)
- 2 stalks celery, chopped ($0.10)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced ($0.12)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon ($0.11)
- 2 cups cooked lentils, green or brown ($0.40)
- 2 tablespoon ground flaxseed ($0.08)
- 2 tablespoon tamari or liquid aminos ($0.36)
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped ($1.16)
- ½ cup oat flour ($0.07)
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs ($0.44)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme ($0.04)
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano ($0.04)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika ($0.05)
- Sea salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
- 8-10 drops liquid smoke optional
- ¼ cup ketchup ($0.20)
- 2 tablespoon barbecue sauce ($0.09)
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar ($0.09)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup ($0.15)
- Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Then, add the onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic, and bouillon. Stir occasionally until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- In a large food processor, pulse together the cooked veggies, lentils (leave out ½ cup), flaxseed, liquid aminos, walnuts, oat flour, bread crumbs, thyme, oregano, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and liquid smoke (optional).
- Pulse until the mixture starts to stick together when you press it between your fingers. For the best texture, don't overmix. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the rest of the lentils.
- Then, pack the lentil mixture firmly into your parchment-lined pan. Stir the glaze ingredients together in a bowl and brush evenly on top of the loaf.
- Bake uncovered at 375°F for 40-45 minutes, or until the glaze appears matte. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift it out of the pan. Slice and serve warm.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of this recipe.
- For the glaze, balsamic vinegar also works as a replacement for apple cider vinegar.
- If your lentil mixture appears too mushy, add more panko bread crumbs or oat flour. If it appears too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it's sticking together.
- Cook time includes time to cook the lentils.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more hearty mains, check out our:
- Yellow split pea & sweet potato soup if you're in the mood to curl up with a good book.
- Easy lentil sloppy Joes for those weeknights when you need something quick and easy.
- Vegan fettuccine alfredo to prepare for your significant other (or yourself) on date night.
- Vegan basil pesto pasta because you can never have too much pasta in your life.
Your loaf is most likely mushy because it contains excess moisture from the cooked lentils. To prevent this, we highly recommend pre-cooking the lentils and letting them cool before making the loaf. Alternatively, you can use canned lentils.
To make this lentil loaf gluten-free simply swap out the panko bread crumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Absolutely! To prepare this lentil loaf beforehand, make the base and press it into your pan. Cover and store the pan in your fridge without the glaze. When you are ready to bake it, brush the glaze over top and cook as usual.