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Lentil Mushroom Loaf

Lentil mushroom loaf is hearty, filling and so delicious. Made with simple ingredients that you likely already have on hand, this healthy mushroom lentil loaf is perfect for weeknight dinners, holiday meals or to take to potlucks or parties. This budget friendly, plant-based meal is packed with veggies, protein and fiber and will certainly please any crowd!

Slices of mushroom lentil loaf cut on a wooden cutting board.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Budget friendly – replacing meat with plant based protein is almost always going to save you money on your budget. Lentils are incredibly inexpensive (this recipe uses about $1 worth of lentils) and the rest of the veggies (besides the mushrooms) you likely have on hand from other recipes.
  • Filling plant-based meal – if you are trying to include more meatless meals in your weekly routine, this meatless version of classic meatloaf should be in your meal rotation. The lentils and ground flax provide protein and fiber which will help keep you full. The savory balsamic ketchup glaze makes this lentil loaf so incredibly satisfying and delicious.
  • Simple ingredients – you likely have most of the ingredients you need to make this mushroom lentil loaf in the pantry or fridge year-round. The mushrooms may require a trip to the store but they are worth it (and you can replace them with other veggies if needed). Be sure to check the substitution area if there is an ingredient that you don’t have on hand.
  • Great for meal prep or freezer prep – Although it takes some time to prep, you can do much of the prep in advance or even make an entire lentil mushroom loaf in advance and freeze it!
Ingredients for lentil mushroom loaf in ramekins on marble oountertop.
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Ingredients

  • Lentils (green or brown) – green or brown lentils are best for this recipe as they hold their shape when cooked. You could also use French lentils in a pinch. I do not recommend using red lentils, they will not hold together.  Cook the lentils in water or in vegetable broth for even more flavor.
  • Mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery) – these aromatic vegetables provide the base flavor for the mushroom lentil loaf. Be sure to give them time to cook down and start to caramelize for the best flavor.
  • Mushrooms – mushrooms provide a meaty texture to the lentil mushroom loaf and also give it a deep umami flavor (especially paired with the balsamic vinegar and coconut aminos). Use whatever mushrooms you have on hand. I recommend cremini or white button mushrooms since those are the easiest to find in most grocery stores.
  • Tomato paste – tomato paste adds another umami element to the dish as tomato paste has a rich tomato flavor and adds a depth of flavor to the mushroom loaf. You can use ketchup if you don’t have tomato paste on hand.
  • Balsamic vinegar – balsamic vinegar helps create a depth of flavor with the mushrooms and tomato paste and helps to add brightness to the mushroom lentil loaf.
  • Coconut aminos – coconut aminos are a gluten free and soy free alternative to soy sauce. They are slightly sweeter than soy sauce and not as salty. They provide a deep layer of flavor to the dish and also help add another layer of salt to the dish. You can also use gluten free tamari or soy sauce (if you are not gluten free).
  • Spices: Italian seasoning, salt italian seasoning helps to give the dish a deep layer of flavor from the mix of herbs used in the seasoning. Salt amplifies all the flavors in the dish.
  • Ground flax – ground flax is used to help hold together the lentil loaf when cooking in the oven. The flax absorbs any extra liquid that comes off the veggies and lentils as it bakes. Do not make flax eggs (no added water or liquid) in this recipe.
  • Walnuts – walnuts add some crunch and texture to the lentil loaf. They also provide healthy fats and Omega-3 fatty acids. You can also make this mushroom lentil loaf nut free by using pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.

Balsamic Ketchup Sauce

  • Ketchup – ketchup is sweet, savory and has a unique flavor that is hard to replicate. To get this mushroom lentil loaf tasting like a traditional meatloaf, you have to include a ketchup sauce topping! Note: You can use tomato paste if you don’t have ketchup on hand.
  • Balsamic vinegar – balsamic vinegar gives the sauce a deep layer of flavor and also gives it a bit more sweetness as it cooks in the oven.
  • Coconut aminos – coconut aminos give the sauce a depth of flavor and an added layer of umami and salt.

How to make lentil mushroom loaf

Start by cooking the lentils with water (or vegetable broth) in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low (keep covered) and cook 15 minutes.

Cooked lentils in a large pot.

While lentils are cooking, finely chop the veggies (onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms).

Preheat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Once preheated add onions and cook 2-3 minutes. After 2-3 minutes, add the carrots and celery and cook 6-7 minutes to soften the carrots.

Push all the veggies to the edge of the skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook 5-7 minutes until all the water has cooked off the mushrooms.

Mushrooms added to cooked veggies in stainless steel pan.

Combine all the veggies in the skillet and add the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, coconut aminos, italian seasoning and salt. Stir well and cook until tomato paste is well combined.

Before and after adding tomato paste, spices and balsamic vinegar.

Put the walnuts in the food processor and process until broken down into small pieces. Add half of the lentil and pulse 4-5 times (you don’t want to make this into hummus).

Walnuts in food processor before pulsing.

Remove the lentil mixture from the food processor into a large bowl.

Add half the veggies to the food processor and pulse 4-5 times. Add to the veggies to the bowl with the lentils along with the ground flax. Stir well.

Cooked veggies in food processor before pulsing.

Add the rest of the lentils and veggies to the bowl and stir well.

Place parchment paper down in a loaf pan. Spray with non-stick spray (olive oil or avocado oil).

Press the lentil and veggie mixture into the loaf pan. Press down until the top is flat and smooth.

Lentil mushroom loaf in a parchment paper lined loaf pan.

In a bowl combine the balsamic ketchup sauce ingredients. Pour the balsamic ketchup sauce over the lentil loaf and spread it out into a single layer.

Balsamic ketchup glaze being spread over the lentil loaf.

Bake at 400F for 45 minutes. Allow to cool 10-20 minutes before slicing.

Vegan lentil loaf with parchment paper in loaf pan.

Top tips

  • Be sure to drain off any excess liquid from the lentils before using them in the loaf.
  • Make this nut free by using pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds in place of the walnuts.
  • Line the loaf pan with parchment paper for easy removal after cooking.
  • Let the lentil mushroom loaf cool 10-15 minutes (or longer) before trying to remove it from the loaf pan. It’s very fragile right out of the oven.
  • Double the ingredients and make 2 at a time. This lentil loaf freezes well (up to 3 months). Bake, cool completely then move to the freezer. You can cut into individual servings before freezing (use wax paper or parchment between each serving before freezing).
  • Try not to over-process the lentils or they will create a hummus consistency which may need additional time to bake. Instead pulse the lentils 4-5 times to help break them down but not turn them into hummus.
  • Give the lentils even more flavor by cooking them in vegetable broth instead of water.

Time saving tips

  • You can buy steamed lentils from Trader Joe’s (no added salt) from the refrigerated section to use in place of the lentils in this recipe.
  • Chop the veggies in the food processor before cooking to make them cook faster and be the perfect size after cooking (no pulsing needed).
  • Prep all the ingredients in advance and cook the lentil walnut mushroom loaf in muffin tins instead of a loaf pan. The muffins will cook in about 25 minutes.
White plate with two slices vegan lentil loaf, sweet potato cubes and brussel sprouts.

How to serve

This mushroom lentil loaf works in place of a traditional meatloaf so is very versatile with what to serve along side it. You can also make leftovers into a meatloaf sandwich the next day! Here are some of my favorite size dishes to serve with vegan lentil loaf:

Other veggies you could use

You can swap out any of the veggies listed in the ingredient list for:

  • Bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green)
  • Fennel
  • Zucchini or yellow squash (shred this and squeeze out all extra liquid before cooking for best texture)

Common questions

What does mushroom lentil loaf taste like?

Mushroom lentil loaf has a deep flavor from the onions and mushrooms and is slightly sweet from the carrots and the balsamic ketchup sauce. It does not taste like meat but is well seasoned and is a delicious way of enjoying more plant based meals.

What are the best kind of mushrooms to use

This recipe is great with cremini mushrooms (baby portobello mushrooms) or white mushrooms. The white mushrooms have slightly less flavor, but will still add that meaty texture and taste, especially paired with the balsamic vinegar and coconut aminos.

Ceramic loaf pan filled with mushroom lentil loaf.

What kind of lentils to use

For this recipe I would recommend using only green, brown, or French lentils. I do not recommend using red lentils as they get mushy when they cook and don’t hold their texture.

You could also use white beans, chickpeas or black beans in place of the lentils.

Can you make this without mushrooms?

Yes, you can replace the mushrooms with more veggies or add in a veggie like bell peppers in place of the mushrooms.

What if you over blend the filling

I have done this so many times trying to rush through the steps. If you end up over blending the ingredients, add an extra 1 tablespoon of ground flax and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

When you over blend, the internal texture can get mushy, and the extra flax and cooking time can help that. The flavor will still be incredible, but you might still notice a slightly mushy center.

Can you make this without a food processor?

Yes, you can make this lentil mushroom loaf without a food processor.

  • Take the time before cooking to finely chop the vegetables.
  • Finely chop the walnuts with a knife.
  • Smash about half the lentils with a fork and combine them with the ground flax before adding the rest of the ingredients to a large bowl to combine everything.

Can you make this vegan lentil loaf in advance?

Yes! You can make the lentil mushroom loaf 2-3 days in advance (wait to add the balsamic ketchup sauce). The day you plan on serving, make the balsamic ketchup sauce, pour it over the top and cook for 45 minutes at 400F.

If you want to save time, you can cook the lentils and veggies in advance and put them in the fridge until you are ready to assemble. This saves about 20 minutes of prep time on the day you plan on serving.

Alternatively, you can make the entire dish, cook it through, allow it to cool then freeze it. Defrost in the fridge overnight and bake at 375F for about 30 minutes until warmed through.

How to reheat a whole lentil loaf

Whether defrosted from frozen or cooked ahead and reheating for the meal, you want to put the lentil loaf in the oven at 375F for about 30 minutes to ensure it’s heated through all the way.

Mushroom lentil loaf on wooden board with white napkin on the side.

Storing leftovers

  • Fridge: Store leftover mushroom lentil loaf in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer: Freeze cooled lentil mushroom loaf for up to 3 months in a freezer safe bag or container. You can freeze the entire loaf whole or cut it into individual slices (separate with wax paper or parchment paper) before freezing.
    • Defrost in the fridge for a day before reheating

Reheating leftovers

  • Microwave – microwave a slice or two of mushroom lentil loaf on high for 1-1:30.
  • Oven – place the lentil loaf slices on a baking sheet and cook at 375F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through.
  • Air Fryer – place slices of mushroom lentil loaf in the air fryer basket and cook at 375F for 5 minutes to reheat.

Substitutions

  • Lentils – you can use lentils you cook yourself or buy steamed lentils (find them in the grocery store in the refrigerator section). I have not tested this with canned lentils but it should work, just be sure to drain the excess liquid. You can also use white beans, chickpeas or even black beans in place of the lentils.
  • Mirepoix vegetables – use white or yellow onions in this dish. You can also use shallots in place of the onion if needed. If you don’t have onion, add about 1 tablespoon dried chives to the spice mixture to give it that onion flavor. Carrots – you can replace the carrots with yellow or orange bell peppers. They will provide the same sweetness. Celery – you can replace the celery with fennel (will change the flavor), zucchini or red or green bell peppers.
  • Mushrooms – mushrooms give a very “meaty” texture and flavor to the loaf. If you don’t have mushrooms or hate mushrooms, you can omit them and just use more of the mirepoix vegetables or use bell peppers, zucchini or squash in place of the mushrooms. Be sure to squeeze out extra liquid from the zucchini/yellow squash before cooking.
  • Tomato paste – Tomato paste can be substituted with ketchup if needed. The ketchup is slightly sweeter but will work well if you don’t have tomato paste on hand.
  • Balsamic vinegar – balsamic vinegar adds depth and flavor to the vegan lentil loaf. If you don’t have balsamic vinegar, just use more coconut aminos instead of balsamic vinegar.
  • Coconut aminos – coconut aminos can be replaced with gluten free tamari or soy sauce (not gluten free).
  • Ground flax – ground flax can be replace with chia seeds (grind them in a high speed blender to get the same texture as ground flax). You can also use  1/3 cup of oat flour in place of the ground flax.
  • Walnuts – you can replace the walnuts with almonds or pecans or make it nut free by using pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.
  • Ketchup – you can use tomato paste + 1 tbsp. maple syrup in place of ketchup in the sauce topping.

If you love this recipe, you should try

Walnut Lentil Loaf

Quinoa Lentil Meatballs

Walnut Taco Meat

Cauliflower Lentil Tacos

Baked Lentil Falafel

Lentil Shawarma

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Two slices cut from vegan lentil loaf.

Mushroom Lentil Loaf

Lentil mushroom loaf is packed with flavor and perfect for weeknight meals, holiday dinners or potlucks. Easy to make ahead and freezer friendly. This healthy lentil loaf is a great meatless veggie loaf that everyone will enjoy.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: lentil mushroom loaf, mushroom lentil loaf, vegan mushroom loaf
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Cooling Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Balsamic Ketchup Sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • In a large pot, add the lentils and water. Put a lid on the pot and heat over high heat. Bring to a boil, once boiling turn heat down to low and cook covered for 15 minutes.
  • Chop the veggies (onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms). If you finely chop them they will cook quicker.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Once preheated, spray with nonstick (olive oil or avocado oil) then add onions. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Add carrots and celery to onion mixture. Cook 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Move veggies to edge of the pan. Add mushrooms and cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, coconut aminos, Italian seasoning and salt to the veggie mixture. Stir well and cook 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat.
  • Add walnuts to the food processor and pulse until they are broken down.
  • Add 1/2 the cooked lentils to the food processor with walnuts. Pulse 4-6 times to break down lentils (don't make this into hummus or over-blend if possible). Remove lentil mixture to a large bowl.
  • Add half the cooked veggies to the food processor and pulse 4-6 times to break down. Add veggies to the bowl with the lentils along with the ground flax. Stir well
  • Add the rest of the lentils and cooked veggies to the bowl with the lentil mixture. Stir well.
  • Place parchment paper in a loaf pan. Spray with olive oil or avocado oil. Add the lentil mushroom mixture to the loaf pan and press down until the top is smooth.
  • Combine the ketchup, balsamic vinegar and coconut aminos in a bowl. Stir well. Pour over the lentil loaf and smooth it out across the top.
  • Bake in 400F oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes

Note: Each serving is about 2 slices of vegan lentil loaf. 
See the post for substitutions and ways to serve the lentil mushroom loaf. 
Top tips
  • Be sure to drain off any excess liquid from the lentils before using them in the loaf.
  • Make this nut free by using pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds in place of the walnuts.
  • Line the loaf pan with parchment paper for easy removal after cooking.
  • Let the lentil mushroom loaf cool 10-15 minutes (or longer) before trying to remove it from the loaf pan. It’s very fragile right out of the oven.
  • Double the ingredients and make 2 at a time. This lentil loaf freezes well (up to 3 months). Bake, cool completely then move to the freezer. You can cut into individual servings before freezing (use wax paper or parchment between each serving before freezing).
  • Try not to over-process the lentils or they will create a hummus consistency which may need additional time to bake. Instead pulse the lentils 4-5 times to help break them down but not turn them into hummus.
  • Give the lentils even more flavor by cooking them in vegetable broth instead of water.
Time saving tips
  • You can buy steamed lentils from Trader Joe’s (no added salt) from the refrigerated section to use in place of the lentils in this recipe.
  • Chop the veggies in the food processor before cooking to make them cook faster and be the perfect size after cooking (no pulsing needed).
  • Prep all the ingredients in advance and cook the lentil walnut mushroom loaf in muffin tins instead of a loaf pan. The muffins will cook in about 25 minutes.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftover mushroom lentil loaf in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer: Freeze cooled lentil mushroom loaf for up to 3 months in a freezer safe bag or container. You can freeze the entire loaf whole or cut it into individual slices (separate with wax paper or parchment paper) before freezing.
    • Defrost in the fridge for a day before reheating
Reheating leftovers
  • Microwave – microwave a slice or two of mushroom lentil loaf on high for 1-1:30.
  • Oven – place the lentil loaf slices on a baking sheet and cook at 375F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through.
  • Air Fryer – place slices of mushroom lentil loaf in the air fryer basket and cook at 375F for 5 minutes to reheat.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
380
Fat
 
10
g
Carbohydrates
 
55
g
Fiber
 
24
g
Sugar
 
9
g
Protein
 
20
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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