Easy Lentil Vegetable Loaf

5 from 6 votes

Did you know you can use lentils as a beef replacement?

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 is 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.

Most varieties of oats will work, but whole-grain, old-fashioned oats will give you the biggest boost of nutrition. However, feel free to use the quick cooking oats. For this recipe, steel cut oats are not recommended.

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!

5 from 6 votes

Easy Lentil Vegetable Loaf

With skinny substitutes and terrific flavors, this vegetable loaf fits right in with your healthy eating lifestyle.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yield 6 people
Serving Size 1 slice
Course Dinner
Cuisine American



  • 2 cups lentils cooked, drained well
  • 1 onion small, diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms or button, 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


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Add 1/4 cup water to a large skillet, add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add more water as it evaporates.
  • Add carrots, celery, and mushrooms, and continue sautéeing until mushrooms have released their liquid. Drain well and set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bake 35 minutes, add topping and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to set 10 minutes before slicing.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 381mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 7
Keywords dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Kid-Friendly, Plant-Based, Vegetarian

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Gale Compton

Gale co-founded SkinnyMs. with a goal to provide women with delicious recipes, fitness routines, and ways to reach their ideal weight. Gale has been featured on the Today Show in which she won a cook off for the best Lasagna. Be sure to search for her winning recipe, Skinny Lasagna Rolls.

Guided by her firm belief in healthy eating and the power of exercise, Gale has written two cookbooks and several fitness ebooks. She earned her Fitness Training Certification from, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association. Gale loves to run with her dog Maggie and has completed numerous half-marathons.

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    1. 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.

  1. 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.

    1. Dotty,
      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.

      1. Confused by the oats….in recipe it says steel cut oats but may need to grind further…..But you say in comments they won’t work. Just want to make sure I’m using the correct oats. Can’t wait to make this! Thank you!

        1. Kaye, I just updated that paragraph of the introduction. Steel cut oats are better saved for a big bowl of oatmeal. 🙂

    1. 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.

    1. 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. 🙂

    1. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

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

  7. 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?

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