This vegan meatless loaf is so moist and flavorful that you won’t need stuffing or even gravy. It’s gluten-free and soy-free, too!
This is not your mama’s meatloaf. This is not even your mama’s seitan loaf, tofu turkey, or nut roast. It doesn’t taste like meat. It doesn’t even pretend to have the texture of meat. But if you like savory, Thanksgiving flavors so concentrated that you can just skip the gravy and dressing, you will want to give this recipe a try.
I was inspired by the Comfort Loaf in Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap*, but instead of using vital wheat gluten, oatmeal, and bread crumbs, I decided to make my meatless loaf gluten- and grain-free. So it’s brown and slightly crispy on the outside like a traditional meatloaf, but the inside is almost as tender as mashed potatoes, partly because it does, in fact, contain mashed (sweet) potatoes. The heady flavor and aroma come from the holy quartet of fall herbs–parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme–and believe me, they will have you singing!
In order to get a crispy crust on all sides of this vegan meatloaf, I formed it into a mound on a baking sheet instead of using a loaf pan. It cooks a little faster this way, and the slightly crunchy sides add a great texture. I don’t recommend baking it in a loaf pan, but if you do, allow for more cooking time.
*If you’re interested in the original recipe, I highly recommend getting a copy of Vegan on the Cheap.
More Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes
I’ve compiled a list of my readers’ favorite Thanksgiving recipes, along with my own favorite main dish, Mushroom Seitan Roast. For even more holiday recipes, please visit my Thanksgiving Recipes page for all of my holiday dishes, from side dishes to desserts.
Thanksgiving Meatless Loaf
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 medium onion
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 medium carrot
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 15- ounce can cannellini beans or other white beans drained and rinsed
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu or an additional can of white beans
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon spicy brown or whole-grain prepared mustard
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon rubbed sage
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaf
- 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary crushed
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional
- 3/4 cup quinoa flakes or quick oatmeal
- Wash a medium sweet potato (about 7 ounces), pierce it several times with a fork, wrap it in a paper towel, and microwave until done, 4-5 minutes. (Alternately, bake or steam the sweet potato.) Allow to cool enough to handle and then peel and set aside.
- Mince the onion, celery, and carrot. You can do this quickly by cutting each vegetable in quarters and then pulsing in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Heat a large, non-stick skillet. Add the minced vegetables, including garlic, and cook, stirring regularly, until they become tender, about 6-10 minutes. Add water by the teaspoon if necessary to keep the vegetables from sticking or becoming dry. Once they’re softened, add the drained beans and mash them lightly with a slotted spoon or spatula.
- Place the peeled sweet potato into the food processor along with the tofu, soy sauce, and all seasonings, including nutritional yeast. Process until fairly smooth. Add the walnuts and pulse a few more times. Scrape the tofu mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the quinoa flakes and the cooked vegetables. Stir well.
- Preheat oven to 375F. If you have a silicone baking mat (recommended) place it on a baking sheet. Otherwise line the baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray. Spoon the tofu mixture onto the prepared baking surface, using dampened hands to shape it into an oblong or oval loaf about 2 1/2 inches high. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is evenly browned. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and cook for 20 more minutes. Check to make sure that the center is firm; if not, give it a little extra time. (You can also remove the foil and cook for 5 more minutes for a crunchier crust.) Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Serving Suggestion: Serve alone or with Mushroom Gravy on the side.
Nutritional info is approximate.
MaggieNovember 10, 2018 at 5:59 pm
I followed this to the letter. I got mush… and honestly the flavor was not the best. I tried to redeem it by slicing it and cooking it longer. Honestly it was in the oven for about an hour and a half and still mushy. I would definitely add some kind of binder, maybe chickpea flour instead of the white beans. It also needs flavor. MORE SPICES. Sorry but I will not be making this again, I feel like I wasted money.
MaureenNovember 16, 2018 at 2:25 pm
Made this last night as a test for Thanksgiving. I formed a big loaf and a very small loaf so that I could try it first. Since that’s less than a week away, I was wondering if I can freeze this. I know I can, but I”m not sure how to reheat without drying it out. Do you have any advice on this?
Susan VoisinNovember 16, 2018 at 3:18 pm
I haven’t tried freezing it, but I think that as long as you keep it well-covered it shouldn’t dry out. Hope you enjoy it on Thanksgiving!
Taza G.November 22, 2018 at 1:28 pm
It’s still in the oven after an hour. I covered it with foil after 30 minutes, and just now lowered the temp to 250°, but I knew when I shaped the loaves (2 small vs. one large) that the texture was too gooey to bake well. I’m sure it will taste fine, but I’m disappointed in the texture & am grateful that it’s not the centerpiece of our family’s meal later on! 😕
Brad LevyDecember 1, 2018 at 8:01 pm
Hi! I have a no-meat ball dish with eggplant and mushrooms I use at Thanksgiving time, but was intrigued by this. I made it by doubling the cannellini beans (w/o tofu) and used quinoa (not flakes). It was delicious! BUT it didn’t set up firmly enough. I can try the flakes or quick oats, but what should I reasonably expect as far as firmness? I think it should hold up to the knife without falling apart.
Susan VoisinDecember 1, 2018 at 9:02 pm
It should be firmer with quinoa flakes or oats, but some people haven’t found it firm enough. I would try using a 1/4 cup more if the flakes or oatmeal.
RoulaDecember 22, 2018 at 9:52 pm
Hi! Just wondering if this could be made the day before and then baked just before serving. Or even baked the day before and heated in the oven before serving
Susan VoisinDecember 22, 2018 at 10:18 pm
Either one of those options should work. Set aside extra time when you cook it, especially if it’s been refrigerated.
KerrieJune 27, 2019 at 12:48 pm
Thank you for the recipe. I usually make my seitan in a pressure cooker in broth. Do you think this recipe would work with that cooking method? I don’t wrap it or anything. It’s just floating in the broth.
Susan VoisinJune 27, 2019 at 2:42 pm
This isn’t seitan, so it can’t be cooked in broth. It would totally fall apart. It’s a very moist loaf so it can’t take any added liquid.
AnnieSeptember 27, 2019 at 11:25 pm
Hi, at the top of the page it says it is soy free, but the ingredients include soy sauce and tofu?
Susan VoisinSeptember 28, 2019 at 8:16 am
It has soy-free options for both of those ingredients.
JessicaOctober 13, 2019 at 2:37 am
How is it the no walnut version has 32g fat??!
Susan VoisinOctober 13, 2019 at 8:33 am
It has 4 grams of fat, not 32, from the tofu, beans, and quinoa flakes mostly.
Ashley SNovember 23, 2019 at 8:12 pm
I used super firm tofu with no water from Trader Joe’s and quick oats and it turned out amazing!! Not mushy at all. I did have to blend the tofu mixture a lot to get it smooth but I have a crappy blender. Almost had a meatloaf type texture too! I thought the spices were spot on.
JessicaNovember 28, 2019 at 11:14 pm
I made it today and also used Trader Joe’s super firm tofu + quick oats and I thought it turned out great, too. Not mushy at all and nice flavors. It was a hit at the Thanksgiving table! The meat eater at the table said she liked it more than the Tofurkey and Gardein loaf. I will definitely make it again.
Susan VoisinNovember 29, 2019 at 9:51 am
I’m so happy you all liked it!
Amy GeistNovember 25, 2019 at 8:10 pm
I made this tonight. It’s tasty and holds together. Didn’t brown as much as pictured but otherwise it’s a good loaf.
MelindaDecember 9, 2019 at 5:26 pm
Can I make this without nutritional yeast? I have a guest who is allergic to it
Susan VoisinDecember 9, 2019 at 6:10 pm
Yes, it’s just for flavor, so you can leave it out.
ElleApril 30, 2020 at 1:39 pm
Hi I’m planning to make this but have picky eaters and I was wondering if there is anything I can substitute for the sweet potato. Can’t wait to try it!
Susan VoisinApril 30, 2020 at 1:42 pm
Regular potato would work or pumpkin. But for picky eaters, let me suggest Dreena’s No-Fu Loaf. It has a meatier texture than this one. https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2012/04/dreenas-no-fu-love-loaf.html
MichelleAugust 21, 2020 at 11:40 pm
I must have done something wrong. I pressed the water out of the extra firm tofu and used more quick oats. It has been in the oven for over an hour and it is still super soft. Is there any way of saving this?
Susan VoisinAugust 22, 2020 at 12:27 am
Have you tested it by cutting it in the middle to see if it’s done? It’s not the type of loaf that gets super-hard, but the middle should be cooked by now.
Jen KeiJanuary 28, 2021 at 10:19 am
Came out all mushy and with a low amount of flavor. I had to cook it extra time. It looks like meat, especially the next morning when I took a mushy slice and fried it up. But, I needed to put siracha or catsup on it to make it palatable. Will not make again, or if I do I will double the seasoning, add some chile powder or maybe a Tsp or 2 of Worcestershire sauce?? Unfortunately it made a huge amount, so we will force it down…
Deborah DunnApril 5, 2021 at 8:38 am
I have made this twice and both times it has been delicious!! The spices are perfect and the loaf is not mushy at all. Tip…. I find that it is essential to press the tofu for about 30 minutes first. The mushroom gravy is delicious too! The meatloaf recipe makes a large loaf but the leftovers freeze well too.
Tracy PeelOctober 27, 2021 at 1:46 pm
Thank you for this recipe. I thought it was delicious. I adapted it a bit as I didn’t have any instant oats or quinoa flakes so I exchanged them for cooked coucous and rolled oats. I split the mixture in two to make two smaller meatloafs and cooked them about 20 minutes longer. The outside was crispy and the inside fairly soft. I didn’t have time to make the gravy so ate a few thickish slices with kale and a spot of sriracha. I’ll definitely make this again.
LizNovember 24, 2021 at 12:10 pm
I have made this meatless loaf a few times and we love it. I have had to bake it longer than the time suggested and I noticed in the comments that others have had that issue. I’m sure there are a lot of variables that go into that like the brand of tofu, the actual oven temperature, etc. How do you think it would work to make two smaller loaves, instead of one large loaf?
Also, do you think the mixture could be made a day ahead and baked the following day?
Karen JamesDecember 4, 2021 at 7:53 pm
This was the best vegan meatloaf recipe I have made so far! The seasonings were very flavorful. I liked the fact that it had tofu and white beans in it. The texture was great. I cooked it a little longer and broiled the top a few minutes at the end. Thank you for this delicious recipe.
JackieDecember 27, 2022 at 6:53 pm
This is an amazing meatless loaf! I followed the instructions exactly and the loaf formed a nice crust and sliced well. It’s very moist, as the recipe says. It is like eating stuffing as the main course! Yep, nothing like meat, nothing like seitan. It’s fluffy! It looks like a lot of steps but it actually came together fairly quickly. The spices are perfect. It was good plain, but when we have leftovers I’m going to make gravy to go with it. It was a nice change from the heavy holiday meals we’ve been having lately.