The Easiest (and Best!) Vegan Meatloaf

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This vegan meatloaf is insanely easy to make and hearty enough for a main dish. Packed with protein, it’s a stick-to-your-bones kind of meal reminiscent of that American favorite.

Plate of vegan meatloaf with a side of peas and mashed potatoes.

Meatloaf has such a bad reputation, and to be honest, I don’t really understand why. Growing up, I actually really loved my mom’s meatloaf recipe.

What’s not to love? It’s like a hamburger with even more flavor! In cozy baked form.

So when I stopped eating meat, that was yet another meal on the list of things I wasn’t going to be able to eat again.

It came as no surprise to me that a meatloaf recipe was one of the first foods I was going to attempt to veganize. In fact, I actually created this recipe over 10 years ago. It has gone through variation after variation to become what it is today.

In those variations, I’ve made it easier, healthier, and so much more delicious.

In fact, I have to say, I actually love this vegan meatloaf More than the recipe I grew up with all those years ago.

If you’ve been missing this American staple in your life now that you’re eating less meat, I urge you to give this recipe a try. You (and your family) will not be sorry!

Ingredient Spotlight

You know what I love about the ingredients in this meatloaf? They’re REAL!

I have tried many different vegan meatloaf variations, and there has always been something missing each time. They’re either too dry or too mushy. Or they use ingredients I’m not thrilled with (ie, manufactured meat-product).

This vegan meatloaf is full of super simple whole food ingredients that I have no complaints about.

Bowls of the ingredients needed for vegan meatloaf.

Cooked Lentils

Onion

Quick-cook oats

Dairy-free cheddar cheese

Flax egg

Tomato sauce

Various seasonings

Prepared barbecue sauce

Look how easy it is to make this classic homestyle meatloaf! 

Step-by-Step Instructions for Vegan Meatloaf Recipe

Step 1 – In a large bowl, add cooked lentils, onion, quick oats, dairy free cheese, flax egg, tomato sauce, and seasonings.

Step 2 – Mix ingredients together really well until it’s combined, smashing some of the lentils with the back of a fork or mixing spoon.

Step 3 – Add the lentil mixture into the prepared loaf pan, pressing down into the pan evenly. Spread barbecue sauce on top of the mixture and place in the oven for 45 minutes.

Step 4 – Let sit for about 5 minutes before cutting into and serving.

These plant-based meatloaf is everything you’d ever wish for in a comforting main dish meal:

  • Super simple to come together.
  • Budget-friendly, using many pantry staple items.
  • Delicious for the entire family.
  • One of those meals that reminds you of the food you grew up with.
  • Stick-to-the-bones hearty, keeping you satisfied for hours.

Insider Pro Tips

Save yourself time on the lentils

When I first started making this recipe over a decade ago, I would always cook the lentils from dried lentils, wait for them to cool, and then go about finishing up the recipe.

As I’ve become busier, I’ve found little shortcuts to making my recipes come together faster. When it comes to lentils, I keep plenty of cans of already-cooked lentils to just add to recipes whenever I need. No waiting for them to cook, and then cool. If you’re short on time, like I always am, this is a great hack.

Splurge on the barbecue sauce

Of course, there is a lot of flavor in the meatloaf itself, but much of it does come from the flavor of the barbecue sauce. I’m always sure to choose a barbecue sauce that we all love the flavor of. For me, that’s Sweet Baby Rays or Jack Daniels brands, but everyone has a favorite. Choose what you love the most.

Make preparations ahead of time

This is already such a simple recipe as it is, but there are a couple things you can do to make the process come together even quicker.

If you’re cooking the lentils from scratch, you can make up a batch earlier in the day or even the day before. That way they’ll be plenty cooled down and ready to use when you’re ready to mix everything together.

Also, you could mix the loaf ingredients together earlier in the day. Store in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to bake, press it into the loaf pan and cook per the instructions. It may take an extra 10 minutes or so to cook all the way through as your ingredients will be colder.

Plate with a fork and vegan meatloaf with a side of peas and mashed potatoes.

Vegan Meatloaf FAQs

What is vegan meatloaf made of?

Many vegan meatloaf recipes are packed with manufactured plant-based meats such as Impossible or Beyond brand products. This meatloaf is made with whole food ingredients such as lentils and oats.

What makes meatloaf fall apart?

Often, meatloaf falls apart because it doesn’t have the right amount and combination of binders to hold everything together. Ensuring you have binders in your meatloaf will keep it all together instead of making a big crumbly mess.

What can you use as a binder in meatloaf?

Most traditional meatloaf recipes use eggs as a binder to hold everything together, but of course, we are switching it up to make it a plant-based recipe. This recipe uses a flax egg as well as tomato sauce to really bring the lentils and oats together. Using rice or even mashed potatoes is another option I’ve seen in other meatloaf recipes as well.

What are other popular main ingredients for making vegan meatloaf?

Vegan meatloaves are made with many different base ingredients. The most common base ingredients are tofu, chickpeas, white beans, tempeh, commercially-manufactured meat products, and lentils.

How do I store leftovers?

This vegan meatloaf stores in the refrigerator for up to about 5 days.

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What should I serve with Vegan Meatloaf?

Of course, I generally like to keep it simple. Steamed broccoli, peas, carrots are all staple side dishes for this meal. I also love a good simple pan of roasted brussels sprouts.

A tasty salad is also a great accompaniment for this Meatloaf. Watermelon Basil Salad is a vegetarian, not vegan recipe, but the only thing in it that is not vegan is Feta cheese – substitute or remove that and it is a beautiful vegan salad!

But sometimes, I do like to serve something a little enhanced. Thankfully, here are a couple side dishes that come together in the time it takes to bake the vegan meatloaf.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Vegan Baked Beans

Looking for more Vegan Main Dish Recipes?

Vegan Pot Roast

Vegan Ratatouille

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Vegan Enchilada Casserole

Now that you know how to easy it is to make this Vegan Meatloaf recipe, please give it a star rating below and comment letting me know how it turned out for you.

Vegan Meatloaf

VEGAN MEATLOAF
This vegan meatloaf is insanely easy to make and hearty enough for a main dish. Packed with protein, it's a stick-to-your-bones kind of meal reminiscent of that American favorite.
Louisa
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free cheddar cheese
  • 1 flax egg (mixture of 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed and 3 Tablespoons water)
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup prepared barbecue sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, add cooked lentils, onion, oats, dairy-free cheese, flax egg, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Mix really well until it's combined, smashing some of the lentils with the back of a fork or mixing spoon. It may work best to use your hands to be sure everything gets worked together.
  • Add the lentil mixture into the prepared loaf pan, mashing down into the pan evenly.
  • Spread barbecue sauce on top of the mixture and place in the oven for 45 minutes or until the loaf seems dry on top and cooked through.
  • Let sit for about 5 minutes before cutting into and serving.

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