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Vegan Walnut Lentil Loaf

$2.89 Recipe/$0.36 Serving

Vegan lentil loaf is an epic plant based entrée that is easy to make and so delicious! Made with lentils and walnuts, this vegetarian lentil loaf is the ultimate comfort food. Just 9 ingredients and 25 minutes to make this vegan meatloaf.

Sliced vegan meatloaf on a white plate.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Made with pantry staples and budget friendly – this recipe has just 9 ingredients, all pantry and fridge staples! This is perfect for weeknight meals or entertaining!
  • Ultimate comfort food – this vegan meatloaf is so filling and made with wholesome whole food ingredients. Perfect for holiday meals and the leftovers are great the next day.
  • Healthy plant-based ingredients – this plant based meatloaf is made with walnuts and lentils and is filled with protein, healthy fats and fiber. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian friendly!
Ingredients to make vegan lentil loaf.
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Ingredients

  • Mirepoix vegetables – the combination of onions, celery and carrots are the perfect base for this vegan meatloaf. The veggies help provide
  • Tomato paste – tomato paste helps to add a depth of flavor to the plant based meatloaf. You could also use coconut aminos or soy sauce in place of the tomato paste if needed.
  • Cooked green or brown lentils – this recipe is a great use for leftover cooked lentils. If you need to cook lentils, it will add about 20 minutes to the cook time for this recipe. You can also use steamed lentils from the grocery store or canned lentils that have been rinsed and drained well.
  • Walnuts – walnuts add crunch and healthy fats to help make this lentil loaf more filling. You can also use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds if you cannot eat nuts.
  • Spices: Salt and ground sage – these help to make these lentil meatloaves so savory and delicious. The dried ground sage makes this vegan loaf taste like Thanksgiving dinner!
  • Ground flax seeds – the ground flax seeds help to bind the loaf and ensure they don’t fall apart.

How to make lentil walnut loaf

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Chop the onions, carrots and celery. Add them to a large skillet and cook 5-6 minutes over medium heat until the onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften.

Chopped veggies on a cutting board and added to a skillet.

Once veggies are cooked, add tomato paste to the veggies in the skillet and cook 1 minute. After 1 minute, turn off the heat.

Skillet filled with cooked veggie with tomato paste added.

In a food processor, process ¼ cup of walnuts into a fine powder.

Before and after chopping walnuts in food processor.

Add 2 cups of lentils, the cooked veggies, salt, dried ground sage and ground flax to the walnuts in the food processor. Pulse until well combined and the lentils are broken up. Don’t overmix the lentils.

Before and after pulsing lentil loaf ingredients in food processor.

Add the lentil mixture to a large bowl along with 1 cup of cooked lentils and ¼ cup chopped walnuts. Stir well to incorporate.

Lentil loaf ingredients in a bowl with lentils and chopped walnuts added.

Add parchment paper to a loaf pan. Spoon the lentil mixture into the loaf pan and press down well to pack in the lentil loaf. Top the lentil loaf with ¼ cup chopped walnuts. Press them down to ensure they stick well to the lentil loaf.

Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.

Steps on how to bake vegan meatloaf.

After 25 minutes, remove from the oven. Allow the lentil loaf to cool at least 10 minutes before removing from the loaf pan and slicing.

Top tips

  • Use cooked green or brown lentils – red lentils are too soft and mushy and will not create the texture you are looking for.
  • To save time, you can buy precooked lentils canned or steamed in the produce section of grocery store (Trader Joe’s always has steamed lentils in the produce section). You can also make a large batch of lentils and freeze them in 1 cup servings to use later. To use frozen lentils, let them defrost at least 4 hours in the fridge before using them in this recipe.
  • Pulse the veggies, lentils, and walnuts together until well mashed but not pulverized.
  • Line the loaf pan with parchment paper to make it easy to remove.
  • Let the lentil loaf cool in the pan at least 10 minutes. This helps it set up and makes it easier to cut into slices.
Vegan meatloaf on white plate, mashed potatoes in background.

What to serve with lentil meatloaf

Common questions

How to cook lentils

You will need 1 cup of dry lentils + 3 cups of water in a large pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring the lentils to a boil then turn the heat down to low. Cook 15 minutes covered on low heat.

Let the lentils stand covered for 5-10 minutes to finish absorbing the liquid. If there is any leftover liquid in the pot, drain it out before using the lentils in this recipe.

Why is my lentil loaf mushy?

Lentil loaf can be mushy if the lentils were too wet. If you think your lentil loaf is too wet, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of oat flour or an extra tablespoon of ground flax.

TIP: Sometimes canned lentils can have more moisture than lentils cooked on the stove. If using canned lentils, add an additional tablespoon of ground flax to help absorb extra moisture.

Why did the lentil loaf fall apart?

If the lentil loaf is too dry, it won’t stick together well. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 4 tablespoons) to the lentil mixture if it appears too dry.

Can you make vegan meatloaf ahead of time?

Yes! You can prepare the lentil loaf up to 2 days in advance and store it covered in the fridge. Before baking, let the lentil loaf come up to room temperature or add 5 minutes to the cooking time.

Vegan lentil walnut loaf on a large white plate.

What to do with extra lentils

Storing leftovers

  • Fridge: Store leftover walnut lentil loaf in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat the lentil loaf in single pieces vs. the entire loaf. This will help ensure that it doesn’t get dried out during reheating.
  • Freezer: Freeze individual slices of lentil loaf for up to 3 months. Slice the loaf and freeze on a sheet of parchment paper. Once frozen, freeze in individual bags or with pieces of parchment paper between the slices. Let thaw on the counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour before reheating or thaw in the fridge 4-8 hours (or longer).
  • Reheating: Reheat the lentil loaf in individual slices to avoid it drying out. Use the microwave 30-60 seconds or a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes.

Substitutions

  • Veggies: You can easily omit any of the veggies listed if needed. You can also use leeks or green onion in place of the onions. You can use parsnips or sweet potato in place of the carrots, however these may need to be cooked a few more minutes to ensure they get soft while baking.
  • Tomato paste: the tomato paste helps to create a deep savory flavor in the lentil loaf. You could also use 1-2 tablespoons of coconut aminos or soy sauce in place of the tomato paste if needed.
  • Lentils: you can try replacing the lentils with a combination of chickpeas and black beans or kidney beans for similar results. The combination of these will help to mimic the texture from the lentils.
  • Spices: If you don’t have ground dried sage, you can use poultry seasoning or ½ teaspoon dried thyme + ½ teaspoon of dried parsley.
  • Walnuts: you can use sliced almonds, pecans or cashews in place of walnuts. If you want a nut free vegan meatloaf, you can use roasted sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
  • Ground flax: you can also use ground chia seeds in place of the ground flax.
Lentil walnut loaf sliced into 3 pieces on a white platter.

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Vegan lentil loaf sliced and placed on white plate.

Vegan Lentil Loaf

$2.89 Recipe/$0.36 Serving
Vegan meatloaf is so easy to make and the ultimate comfort food. Easy enough for weeknight meals but also great for entertaining! Would be great for holiday meals too!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lentil loaf, lentil walnut loaf, vegan lentil loaf, vegan meatloaf
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
10 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion - $0.17
  • 2 medium carrots - $0.22
  • 2 medium stalk celery - $0,25
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste - $0.08
  • 3 cups cooked lentils, divided - $0.75
  • 1 tsp. dried ground sage - $0.10
  • 1 tsp. salt - $0.05
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, divided - $0.99
  • 1/4 cup ground flax - $0.28
  • water, if needed 1 tablespoon at a time - $0.00

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Prepare the lentils as directed below or purchase them in the refridgerator section of your grocery store or canned and drained.
  • Chop the onion, carrot and celery. To save time, you can use the food processor for this step.
  • Add chopped veggies to a hot skillet thats been sprayed with olive oil or avocado oil (or use 1/2 tablespoon or olive oil). Saute veggies for 4 minutes to soften slightly.
  • Add tomato paste and 1/4 tsp. salt to veggies. Cook 1 more minute to cook out some of the tomato paste. Turn off heat.
  • Add 1/4 cup of walnuts to the food processor and process until the walnuts resemble flour.
  • To the food processor with the walnuts, add 2 cups lentils, the cooked veggies, the rest of the salt, dried ground sage and ground flax. Pulse until well combined and the lentils broken down some. Don't over mix or will start to become hummus.
  • Remove the lentil mixture from the food processor into a large bow. Add 1/4 cup walnuts chopped and the remaining 1 cup of lentils. Stir well to fully incorporate. If you notice the texture is dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until mixture comes together easily. This typically is not needed though.
  • Line a loaf pan with parchament paper for easy removal. Add the lentil loaf ingredients into the loaf pan and top with additional 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional).
  • Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.
  • After 25 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Top tips
  • Use cooked green or brown lentils – red lentils are too soft and mushy and will not create the texture you are looking for.
  • To save time, you can buy precooked lentils canned or steamed in the produce section of grocery store (Trader Joe’s always has steamed lentils in the produce section). You can also make a large batch of lentils and freeze them in 1 cup servings to use later. To use frozen lentils, let them defrost at least 4 hours in the fridge before using them in this recipe.
  • Pulse the veggies, lentils, and walnuts together until well mashed but not pulverized.
  • Line the loaf pan with parchment paper to make it easy to remove.
  • Let the lentil loaf cool in the pan at least 10 minutes. This helps it set up and makes it easier to cut into slices.
How to cook lentils
You will need 1 cup of dry lentils + 3 cups of water in a large pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring the lentils to a boil then turn the heat down to low. Cook 15 minutes covered on low heat.
Let the lentils stand covered for 5-10 minutes to finish absorbing the liquid. If there is any leftover liquid in the pot, drain it out before using the lentils in this recipe.
Why is my lentil loaf mushy?
Lentil loaf can be mushy if the lentils were too wet. If you think your lentil loaf is too wet, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of oat flour or an extra tablespoon of ground flax.
TIP: Sometimes canned lentils can have more moisture than lentils cooked on the stove. If using canned lentils, add an additional tablespoon of ground flax to help absorb extra moisture.
Why did the lentil loaf fall apart?
If the lentil loaf is too dry, it won’t stick together well. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time (up to 4 tablespoons) to the lentil mixture if it appears too dry.
Can you make vegan meatloaf ahead of time?
Yes! You can prepare the lentil loaf up to 2 days in advance and store it covered in the fridge. Before baking, let the lentil loaf come up to room temperature or add 5 minutes to the cooking time.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftover walnut lentil loaf in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat the lentil loaf in single pieces vs. the entire loaf. This will help ensure that it doesn’t get dried out during reheating.
  • Freezer: Freeze individual slices of lentil loaf for up to 3 months. Slice the loaf and freeze on a sheet of parchment paper. Once frozen, freeze in individual bags or with pieces of parchment paper between the slices. Let thaw on the counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour before reheating or thaw in the fridge 4-8 hours (or longer).
  • Reheating: Reheat the lentil loaf in individual slices to avoid it drying out. Use the microwave 30-60 seconds or a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes.
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
199
Fat
 
10
g
Carbohydrates
 
21
g
Fiber
 
9
g
Sugar
 
3
g
Protein
 
10
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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Recipe Rating




Taylor

Saturday 6th of October 2018

This is so amazing. We keep it on hand for healthy snack!

rachel @ athletic avocado

Monday 19th of September 2016

This vegan "meatloaf" sounds awesome! Love that it's made with lentils too! Perfect for meatless monday :)

Julie @ Running in a Skirt

Friday 16th of September 2016

What a great idea!!! I haven't tried a meatless loaf yet. Yours looks wonderful. My Mom too made meatloaf pretty often... she made hers in the microwave though....... Yes. Let that sink in. Might be one of the reasons I'm a vegetarian. :-))) (She would have found this funny too!)

Julie @ Running in a Skirt

Friday 16th of September 2016

What a great idea!!! I haven't tried a meatless loaf yet. Yours looks wonderful. My Mom too made meatloaf pretty often... she made hers in the microwave though....... Yes. Let that sink in. Might be one of the reasons I'm a vegetarian. :-))) (She would have found this funny too!)