Easy Lentil Vegetable Loaf

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Meatloaf is kind of one of those polarizing meals. Everyone has an idea of what a perfect meatloaf is, and most of us have nightmarish memories of it from childhood. Personally, I’m a bit of meatloaf purist – just beef, eggs, and oatmeal (because that’s how my mother made it). No onions or peas, and certainly none of this let’s-add-last-night’s-leftover-peas nonsense. Well, that’s how I used to think, anyway, until I made this easy lentil vegetable loaf.

We were throwing a dinner party for a diverse group of guests, and a bunch of them were vegetarian. I wasn’t really sure what to make because meatloaf happened to be the main entree. “Let’s make an easy lentil vegetable loaf,” my friend suggested, “lentils are a great meat replacement.” And so we whipped it together and, spoiler alert, it tasted better than the beefy loaf!

There is one, super important key step to making this the best vegetable loaf you’ve ever had. Hang tight – we’ll get there in a minute – first let’s look at why we chose lentils and oatmeal as our main ingredients.

Substituting Lentils for Ground Beef

If you’ve never tried lentils as a ground beef substitute, now is the best time to give it a try. Their texture resembles crumbled ground beef and their flavor is neutral enough to pick up the flavors from the seasoning. In addition to their amazing flavor, lentils are a great source of lean plant-based protein and fiber.

When shopping for lentils, look for brown or green lentils. They’re milder in flavor and hold their shape better than red lentils, which allows them to mimic beef a little bit better. Always make sure to cook your lentils in a well-seasoned broth, too. As I said, they pick up other flavors quite nicely so cooking them in a flavorful broth is the best way to get started.

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love using lentils in this easy lentil vegetable loaf, either. All it takes is one cup of dried, uncooked lentils to replace one pound of ground beef. Think of the savings at the grocery store!

Use Oatmeal Instead of Bread Crumbs

Some people swear by bread crumbs (or saltine crackers) in their meatloaf. I’ve always used oatmeal, primarily because it’s what my mother used but also because I think it makes a better loaf. That’s especially true in this vegetable version. And before you worry about anyone noticing the oatmeal flavor – oatmeal is so neutral it will get lost in the flavorful lentils and mushroom mixture

Like breadcrumbs, the oatmeal’s role is to absorb liquid and fat. Nutritionally speaking, the oatmeal has a one-up on breadcrumbs, offering more fiber and less sodium than commercially prepared breadcrumbs. Not to mention that oatmeal makes your loaf gluten-free, making it acceptable to eat for a wider audience.

Any variety of oatmeal will work, but whole-grain, steel-cut oats will give you the biggest boost of nutrition. You may need to further grind steel-cut or rolled oats to get them to the correct consistency, so if you’re running short on time feel free to use the quick cooking kind.

Make the Best Lentil Vegetable Loaf Ever

Okay, now we’re ready to reveal the super key step that makes this the best vegetable loaf you’ve ever had. Are you ready? It’s cooking the vegetables before they go in the loaf.

I’ve had way too many bad meatloaf experiences where I bit into a semi-raw piece of onion and it crunches in an unsavory way. A good vegetable loaf should be loaded up with vegetables but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going for a consistent texture.

So make sure you cook those onions, carrots, and celery until they’re soft and tender and let the mushrooms cook until they release their liquid. Trust us, this will taste so much better than tossing in raw vegetables.

Now we’re armed with all this knowledge, let’s get to cooking. Have you ever used lentils as a substitute for ground beef, and how did it turn out? Where do you stand on the breadcrumbs vs. oatmeal debate? Let us know in the comments!

Easy Lentil Vegetable Loaf

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Easy Lentil Vegetable Loaf

Yields: 1( 5x7-inch) loaf | Servings: 6 | Calories: 226 | Total Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 381mg | Carbohydrates: 34g | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Protein: 12g | SmartPoints: 7


  • 2 cups cooked lentils, (drained well)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package white or button mushrooms, cleaned and diced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Liquid Aminos, optional Tamari or gluten-free lite soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked (for a gluten-free recipe, check the label)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
    Ketchup Topping
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, optional yellow mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add 1/4 cup water to a large skillet, add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add more water as it evaporates.
  3. Add carrots, celery, and mushrooms, and continue sautéeing until mushrooms have released their liquid. Drain well and set aside.
  4. Add lentils, tomato paste, liquid aminos, balsamic vinegar, oats, almond meal, and oregano to a food processor and pulse until ingredients are combined. Add to a mixing bowl.
  5. Add veggies and mushrooms to the food processor and pulse until combined and chunky. Add to the lentil mixture and stir to combine. Lightly spray a 5 x 7-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add ingredients and form into a loaf.
  6. Bake 35 minutes, add topping and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to set 10 minutes before slicing.

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36 Comments on "Easy Lentil Vegetable Loaf"

  1. Jane  February 3, 2018

    Are the oats cooked first
    And what amount of kidney beans

    • Gale Compton  February 3, 2018

      Jane, The oats are uncooked. This recipe calls for 2 cups cooked lentils, not kidney beans. If you prefer to use kidney beans instead of lentils, also use 2 cups cooked kidney beans.

      • Laura  February 3, 2018

        Your recipe directions say kidney beans. Did you mean lentils or add kidney as well?

        • Gale Compton  February 3, 2018

          Laura, Whoops! Yes, lentils not kidney beans. Recipe was corrected.

          • Heather  May 17, 2020

            What kind of lentils please? Red, green or brown? Thanks

          • Nichole Furlong  May 18, 2020

            Any lentils will work.

      • Mia  February 3, 2018

        Within your instructions it does say add kidney beans…….I am assuming you meant the lentils.

        • Gale Compton  February 3, 2018

          Mia, I must have been typing two recipes at once. Sorry about that. It’s corrected!

  2. Dotty  February 3, 2018

    I am going to try this, but first I have a few novice questions, so please bear with me. How do you recommend cooking the lentils? And I assume the 1 cup of oats is the pre-ground measurement, is that correct. Can you explain what you meant by “grind to the correct consistency”? I happen to have steel cut oats on hand that I have never tried to cook with…..so please help explain this new way to cook to me. Thanks.

    • Gale Compton  February 3, 2018

      Follow the instructions on the lentil bag for cooking.
      The uncookedoats are the old-fashioned style, no grinding needed.
      Steel cut oats won’t work for this recipe.

  3. Dotty  February 3, 2018

    Is this freezable? And if so, how do you recommend we do so.

    • Gale Compton  February 3, 2018

      Dotty, Yes it is freezable. I prefer to: make the loaf, add to the loaf pan, place in a ziplock freezer bag and freeze. Be sure to defrost in the fridge then bake as instructed.

  4. Kim  March 17, 2018

    Is there a sub for the mushrooms? That’s the one ingredient that makes me hesitate to make this.

    • Gale Compton  March 17, 2018

      Kim, The mushroom taste and texture is not a big part of this recipe. You can eliminate them by add some more carrot and you could even add peas. 🙂

  5. Elizabeth  July 12, 2018

    Can I substitute corn meal or wheat flour for the almond meal/flour?

    • Nichole Furlong  July 14, 2018

      Hi Elizabeth, you can substitute wheat flour but only use about 1/4 cup. You can always add a little more if your loaf seems like it might need more binding!

  6. Malou  July 18, 2018

    I don’t use tomato paste. I make my own tomato passata with the tomatoes I grow in my garden. Is that OK to use instead. Should I use more almond meal to absorb the liquid?

  7. Diana  August 14, 2018

    I’m allergic to almonds. Can I use regular flour?

    • Nichole Furlong  August 15, 2018

      Hi Diana, yes you can use regular flour!

  8. Rachel  November 24, 2018

    I tried this and it was very tasty but it was a bit dry and fell apart when I cut it. Should I add a tablespoon or two of olive oil?

    • Nichole Furlong  November 24, 2018

      Yes, you can add a tablespoon of olive oil and also reduce the cook time.

  9. Debbie Vann  January 3, 2019

    This looks wonderful. I will try it. Thank you.

    • Nichole Furlong  January 3, 2019

      Debbie, make sure you let us know how this recipe turns out for you!

  10. Taunya  March 10, 2019

    Made it for dinner. I could have added salt but can add later. It’s tasty. Looks like meatloaf. Not exactly sure what it taste like but it’s not bad at all.

    • Gale Compton  March 11, 2019

      That was the plan, to look like a meatloaf. I make this once a week…love it! 🙂

  11. Rachel  April 26, 2019

    I made this lentil loaf recipe this week and it was delicious! I substituted 1/2 cup of walnuts for the almond meal and it gave the loaf great texture. I also put everything in the food processor together (instead of splitting it up) and it worked beautifully. Highly recommend!

    • Nichole Furlong  April 26, 2019

      Thanks for the tip, Rachel! We’re so glad you loved the recipe!

  12. Marissa  August 3, 2019

    Is there anything I can substitute the mushrooms with? I just can’t do mushrooms.

    • Nichole Furlong  August 3, 2019

      You can leave out the mushrooms.

  13. Karen Miletic  November 9, 2019

    What about substituting flax meal for the almond meal? I’m looking for something super easy that will please meat eaters for Thanksgiving! This is my first vegan family holiday.

    • Nichole Furlong  November 9, 2019

      Hi Karen, this recipe wouldn’t work as well using flax meal. The almond helps to give flavor, texture, and holds the loaf together.

  14. Dee  November 19, 2019

    A question about the lentils. I always get confused when a recipe says “cooked lentils”. Your recipe says “2 cups cooked lentils”. Now I know when cooking lentils they get larger, thicker. So am I cooking 2 cups of dry lentils? Which will turn out to be more than 2 cups cooked lentils. Or do I use a lesser amount of dry lentils?

    • Gale Compton  November 22, 2019

      Hi Dee, I would use 1 cup lentils if they aren’t cooked yet.

  15. Cindy  August 9, 2020

    This sounds so delicious!!! And easy to make! How long does it last in the fridge?


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