This easy Vegan Lentil Loaf Recipe is the perfect main dish to serve for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter. It’s a healthy vegetarian meatloaf that’s packed with veggies and plant-based protein. Easy to make and freezer friendly, you’ll come back to this lentil loaf again and again!
I don’t know about you guys, but when I think about the big food holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter, I am 100% in it for the side dishes.
Gimmie alllll the Greek Yogurt Mashed Potatoes and all the Miso Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts please. I’ll drink a literal jug of Amazing Vegan Gravy if you’ve got one, and I will pile my plate mile high with Mediterranean Roast Vegetables and top it with Crispy Fried Onions.
And if you make me some vegetarian stuffing? I will be your friend until the end of your stuffing-loving days.
As far as I’m concerned you don’t really *need* a vegetarian main dish on the holiday table, but that’s only because I (evidently) love the sides so, so much.
So you might be wondering then why I’m getting all up in your business with a Vegan Lentil Loaf today since this is anything but a side dish.
Why? Because this lentil loaf is so damn good that it deserves a place of honour nestled in the middle of all of those glorious foods.
Because this vegan lentil loaf is packed with veggies and plant-based protein and it’s every bit as good for you as it is delicious – and my friends, it is very, very delicious. It’s also freezer-friendly, practically begging to be made in advance, and is easily customized to suit your preferences.
What’s in this vegan lentil loaf?
Ok you guys, I know that looks like a lot of stuff. And it is. But there’s nothing weird or hard to find, and you can do a all of the chopping and grating ahead of time, which makes this dish actually come together fairly quickly.
I’ll hold your hand while we do this, and wipe your brow when needed. Ready? Here’s what you’ll need.
- Lentils –> we’re using green lentils in this case. You want the larger ones, as pictured, not the small fancy French lentils.
- Onion –> A big yellow onion will do the job just fine.
- Garlic –> Taking a tip to flavour town!
- Carrot –> We’re grating it up!
- Celery –> Diced up nice and good.
- Apple –> Grated apple will add a bit of tang to your lentil loaf.
- Raisins –> Yes! We’re doing this!
- Walnuts –> For those heart-healthy omega-3’s.
- Sunflower seeds –> Please and thanks.
- Flax seeds –> This is going to be our binder.
- Bread crumbs –> Regular unseasoned bread crumbs are fine, or choose gluten-free if you need.
- Oats –> Rolled oats here, choose gluten-free if you need.
- Thyme –> For that holiday flavour.
How do you make vegan lentil loaf?
I’ll walk you guys through this step by step. There is a printable recipe card at the end of the post, so no need to take notes, but you can refer back to these process photos when you’re making your lentil loaf.
Step 1: Give the lentils a once over to check for any small stones, and rinse them well.
Combine the lentils with vegetable broth or water (I use broth for the flavour) in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer with the lid ajar until the lentils are very soft and mushy. This will take about 30 minutes.
Note! We are aiming for overcooked lentils for this recipe. You’re going to want them to fall apart and mash up with the other ingredients, which will help to hold the loaf together. See the above photo for reference.
Do ahead: You can cook the lentils up to a day ahead if you want to.
While the lentils are cooking: Combine the flax seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside to gel while you’re preparing the other ingredients.
Step 2: Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then add the onions and sauté until translucent – this will take about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute more.
Step 3: Add the carrots, celery, apple, garlic, and raisins. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft.
Do ahead: The vegetables can be diced and shredded ahead of time. You can also cook the veggies and set aside until you’re ready to assemble the loaf.
Step 4: Combine the chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds in a small, dry frying pan. Place over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until the nuts are fragrant.
Note: This can be done at the same time as you’re cooking the veggies, just don’t forget to check them often!
Step 5: Combine the cooked lentils, cooked vegetables, toasted nuts, flax seed gel, oats, bread crumbs, thyme, and salt in a large bowl.
Mix well, taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
Step 6: Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (this will make it soooooo much easier to remove and slice the loaf later). Press the lentil loaf mixture into the loaf pan. Wet hands do well to form a smooth dome on top.
Step 7: In a small bowl whisk together tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup. Use a silicon brush to spread it generously over the top of the lentil loaf.
Step 8: Bake your loaf! It’ll bake for 40-50 minutes and should be slightly browned and crisp on top.
Remove your loaf from the oven and let it cool for at least 10 minutes before you try and slice it.
You did it! Yayyyyyyyy!!!
This vegan lentil loaf will be MUCH easier to slice into neat slices if you let it cool completely first. The loaf in these pictures is straight up cold from the fridge.
If you serve your loaf warm from the oven it will be more crumbly and harder to slice, but still every bit as delicious.
Can I freeze this lentil loaf?
You sure can! If you want to freeze your lentil loaf you can:
- A) Freeze the whole dang thing! Just wrap the loaf tightly with plastic wrap, toss it in a freezer bag, and it’ll last 3 months in the freezer.
- B) Slice your loaf and freeze individual slices. I wrap slices in foil and throw a whole bunch of them into a freezer bag.
- C) Serve your lentil loaf fresh and freeze leftovers as individual slices.
Can I make a bigger or smaller loaf?
Totes. A bigger loaf will require a longer cooking time and smaller loaves less. Note that you can toggle the number of servings in the recipe card below and it’ll adjust the quantities for you.
I’ve made individual tin lentil loaves by pressing the mixture into silicon muffin liners, but you can also use cute little loaf tins if you have them.
Can I make a gluten-free lentil loaf?
If you use gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free oats then your loaf will be gluten-free. Horray!
Can I replace / leave out the nuts?
Sure. The walnuts and sunflower seeds add great flavour and a bit of crunch, but if you’re allergic to nuts or don’t like them, you can leave them out.
Also feel free to switch up your nuts and seeds depending what you like / have on hand.
Can I use different vegetables?
I have only tested this recipe with the particular combination of vegetables listed in the recipe, but I imagine it would work out just fine with countless other combinations.
If you DO try this lentil loaf recipe with other vegetables, please let us know in the comments what you tried and how it turned out!
Hey Nutrition Lady, what’s the deal with lentils?
Friends! These lovely little legumes are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber. The soluble fiber in lentils helps to keep blood sugar stable, while providing a steady source of energy.
But the energy benefits don’t stop there, lentils are a rich source of iron, as well as being a good source of plant-based protein, which is good news for us veg heads. They’re also a great source of heart-healthy folate and magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, zinc, potassium, and B6.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Vegan Lentil Loaf
- 1 cup uncooked green lentils
- 3 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped and toasted
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds toasted
- 3 tbsp flax seeds
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 1/3 cup grated apple
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt & pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste
For the glaze
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat your oven 350°F / 180°C.
- Pick over your lentils and give them a good rinse. Combine them in a medium pot with the 3 cups of water or veggie broth (I used broth). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid ajar for 30 – 40 minutes. The goal is to slightly overcook the lentils so they become a bit mushy – the loaf will hold together better this way.
- Combine flax seeds and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl and set aside to soak for at least 10 minutes.
- While the lentils are cooking, combine the walnuts and sunflower seeds in a small frying pan. Set over medium heat and toast, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant. Set aside to cool
- In a large frying pan heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, until they are soft and becoming translucent. Add the garlic, celery, shredded carrot, apple, and raisins. Sauté for about 5 minutes more, then remove from heat.
- In a large bowl combine the cooked lentils, flax seed gel, cooked vegetables, breadcrumbs, oats, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, and firmly press the mixture firmly into the pan.
- Whisk the tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup together to make the glaze. Brush about half of it over the top of the loaf. You can reserve the other half to brush loaf slices with, or use as a dipping sauce.
- Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 40 – 50 minutes. The top should be slightly browned and crispy when it's finished.
- Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before you slice into it. But be warned, the loaf will slice more gracefully when it has cooled most of the way.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
This recipe was originally published October 2012. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated on October 1, 2019.
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