Hearty, savory, and satisfying, this lentil-based vegan meatloaf contains no tofu or gluten. Delicious on its own or as a sandwich filling.
I’ve been looking for a great lentil loaf recipe, and finally I’ve found one!
Unfortunately, I can’t claim credit for this delicious dish. That goes to Dreena Burton and her new book, Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family. Fortunately, Dreena and her publishers have given me permission to share the recipe for this hearty, savory (dare I say “meaty”) loaf with you.
What I love about Let Them Eat Vegan! (which is also available in a Kindle version) is the emphasis on whole foods. Dreena’s recipes contain no processed vegan “meats,” cheeses, sour creams, and the like and use no white flour; the recipes, even the desserts, are built around whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. If you’re following an allergen-free diet, you’ll find plenty of gluten-free and soy-free recipes that fit your diet, as well as suggestions for adapting many of the other recipes.
Though most of the recipes do contain oil, it’s usually such a small amount that those of us who are used to adapting recipes can easily leave it out, and Dreena actually marks it as optional in some of her recipes. Many of the dishes do rely on nuts, so bear that in mind if you’re following a completely fat-free diet.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that two big chapters are devoted to cookies and other desserts, and though they’re healthier than most dessert recipes, even the raw recipes look wildly decadent and most are rich with nuts, unrefined sugar, and sometimes coconut oil. If you’re trying to lay off the sweets, skip those chapters because reading them in bed had me planning a raid on the refrigerator and wondering where I could get my hands on some vegan chocolate in the middle of the night.
Let Them Eat Vegan! is a very attractive book, with a clean layout and ample space around the recipes, each of which fits on one page or on two facing pages so there’s no flipping back and forth as you cook. Dreena provides a wealth of information about ingredients and cooking techniques, plenty of kid-friendly ideas, and lots of variations and menu suggestions. An insert includes 27 photos taken by the talented Hannah Kaminsky, each depicting several dishes, so you get a good look at many of the 200 recipes.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been obsessed with this No-fu Love Loaf ever since I made it. I’ve served it for dinner once and made “meatloaf” sandwiches out of it twice (using my Tofu-Cashew Mayonnaise, of course). I made it exactly as written, with the small exception of the blackstrap molasses, which I omitted because I didn’t have any. I didn’t miss it because my loaf came out full of flavor, dense with grains and lentils, and very satisfying. Served with a side of mashed potatoes and some mushroom gravy, this vegan “meatloaf” was the ultimate comfort food.
Dreena's No-fu Love Loaf
- 1/2 cup brown or green lentils
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3/4 cup bulgur or toasted cracked wheat for gluten-free version, use certified gf steel cut oats
- 1 cup water boiled
- 1/4 cup natural ketchup
- 1 cup rolled or quick oats ensure gf certified for gluten-free
- 3 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos use wheat-free for wheat/gluten-free version
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons ground white chia or can use flax meal
- 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce see note for gf version
- 2 tablespoons tahini or sunflower seed butter
- 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel optional
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3-4 tablespoons natural ketchup
- 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce OR 2 tsp vegan bbq sauce optional
- Combine the lentils, vegetable stock, 1⁄3 cup of water, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until just about tender. Once done, add the bulgur and boiling water, cover, and cook on medium-low heat for another 8 to 9 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil an oven-proof glass loaf pan and line the bottom of the pan with a strip of parchment paper to cover (place it in to protrude along the short ends of the pan; this helps for easier removal of the veggie loaf from the pan). Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl.
- Once the bulgur is cooked, remove the bay leaf and add all the remaining ingredients (except topping). Stir very well. Transfer the mixture to prepared pan and pack it in. Spread the topping mixture over the top.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 28 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes or so, before cutting to slice and serve. Serves 5-6.
Allergy-Free or Bust! Despite its not having any tofu, tempeh, or TVP, I cannot technically categorize this recipe as “soy free” because of the inclusion of tamari and vegan Worcestershire sauce. These are important seasonings in the loaf. That said, to replace the Worcestershire for a gluten-free version, use instead an extra 1⁄2 tablespoon of wheat-free tamari, along with an extra 1⁄2 teaspoon of molasses, and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. Savvy Subs and Adds: If you’d like to add some veggies to the loaf, try adding 1⁄2 cup of seeded and finely chopped green pepper, or 1⁄4 cup of finely chopped celery (stir into the mixture with the seasonings). Serving Suggestions: Rosemary Gravy is excellent with this loaf, but this dish is equally delicious served with condiments as a burger of sorts: Pop slices of the loaf into pita or a folded tortilla, along with ketchup and vegan mayonnaise (or “Almonnaise”). (Susan’s note: Try it with my Vegan Mushroom Gravy or Tofu-Cashew Mayo.) From the book Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2012. www.dacapopresscookbooks.com
Nutritional info is approximate.
Disclosures: Da Capo Lifelong provided me with a review copy of the book. This post contains Amazon affiliate links; when you buy something through them, a few pennies on each dollar goes to me to support my work on this site.
HT LevineApril 19, 2015 at 11:05 pm
My family “tolerates” my FF Vegan cooking and usually they pretty much like what I cook. This loaf got RAVE REVIEWS, hooray! I mixed in 1 large carrot pulsed in the food processor into pea-sized chunks and 2 large minced green onions before turning it into the loaf pan. I used your options of flax seeds, steel cut oats with french green lentils. I served it with your Vegan Mushroom Gravy and my own fat free vegan garlic mashed potatoes and the crowd went wild.
Thank you so much for the time and care you put into your blog. I really truly appreciate it!
Nancy NurseSeptember 14, 2015 at 8:07 am
Gosh, I SO WANTED to love this, but just didn’t. It was like too sweet or something; can’t get our taste-buds around it; t
he texture was too soft but I suppose that could have been my fault.Not sure how to fix it, but probably won’t try again. There’s a Dr. McDougall loaf that I think I’ll try. Had it at his Ten day Program and it was lovely…
AshleyOctober 23, 2015 at 6:47 pm
Bragg’s Amino Acids can be used instead of Tamari. No soy in Bragg’s. Can Quinoa be used instead of Oats? I have celiac disease and Oats (even when GF) are not good on my stomach.
Loni GofranNovember 22, 2022 at 5:34 pm
Amino Acids, even Bragg’s are made of soybeans. Coconut aminos (Braggs also makes this, among other brands) is soy free.
Mayana J. CliftonNovember 23, 2015 at 7:13 pm
Yes! This was excellent, even better the next day. I added a few dashes of liquid smoke and topped with BBQ sauce My whole family loved it.
cherylNovember 23, 2015 at 9:32 pm
I skipped the molasses and used black chia as that is what I had. Mine did not hold together…..did I not pack it enough?? Was making mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy and missed that step. I added onions and may add celery next time. Yummy even though mine did not hold together.
DeanaNovember 26, 2015 at 1:54 pm
This is an excellent loaf recipe. HIGHLY recommend. Nice dense texture, lovely flavor. Thanks for sharing.
CynthiaNovember 27, 2015 at 6:58 pm
Hello Susan. I have been stalking your site for some time now, but haven’t commented before. I made this loaf tonight and it was Lovely and much appreciated by my partner and the neighbours (not vegan or even vegetarian).. Instead of the chia seeds, which I assumed were there to work as a kind of egg replacement, I used aquafaba (5 table spoons in this case). Seemed to work fine. Unfortunately my carefully placed piece of parchment paper ripped on both sides, so I had to turn it over upside down and back up again. Worked fine too, ketchup still in place. I didn’t have dried basil or fennel seed, so left that out. I enjoy reading your blog and recipes, even though I am vegetarian rather than vegan.
AmyMarch 28, 2016 at 5:31 am
I made this for Easter dinner, and this was beyond amazing! The loaf held together perfectly. The texture was very meat-like, and super satisfying. The flavor was savory and perfectly balanced. My search for the perfect loaf is over…it was seriously that delicious!! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. I am definitely looking to buy this cookbook.
SarahMay 9, 2016 at 5:07 pm
I rarely leave comments on recipes, but after trying multiple vegan loaves and just not being impressed, I am so beyond happy I stumbled across this one!
This held together so well, had great flavor, and packed perfectly for lunch. Thank you for sharing it, this is now my go to!
NicoleOctober 18, 2016 at 1:54 pm
Can you freeze this vegan loaf? I would like to make this ahead of time before Thanksgiving.
StacyDecember 1, 2016 at 7:56 pm
I made this loaf using short grain brown rice and it turned out great! I also used Bell’s Seasoning and a little rubbed sage as my seasonings. Everyone loved this and I’ll be making it often. Thanks!
Lady GrayJanuary 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm
Hi, I found this post on PInterest and was hoping to make it for dinner tonight. I was wondering if the Nutritional Yeast is necessary or if there’s a substitute. I’m new to the vegan world, my son has developed an allergy to eggs & most meats so I was looking for something to use as substitute. He LOVES the meatloaf I used to make (ground meat and eggs). I thank you in advance for your help.
Susan VoisinJanuary 9, 2017 at 2:16 pm
The nutritional yeast just adds a little flavor, so you can leave it out with good results. I hope your son likes it!
Kary IrleJanuary 16, 2017 at 5:09 pm
I have made this no-fu lentil loaf before and loved it. Today, however, I tried something different, I used quinoa since I had no bulgur or steel cut oats, added some onion and hot sauce. Then I used my slow cooker. I placed sliced carrots and potatoes on the bottom of the cooker. Then, I put the loaf in a glass loaf pan and put that in the slow cooker. Four hours later at low temp, I had an amazing entire meal!
Cindy WinderSeptember 7, 2017 at 4:42 am
I was so excited to make this but it was horrible. The flavor was so bland and over powered by the rolled oats, tasted like oatmeal.
Sorry but I really wanted to do an honest review.
Patricia GianneliaSeptember 10, 2017 at 8:22 pm
Hi Susan – a great tip for baking savoury loaves, etc from Ann Esselstyn and the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook – brush the inside of your loaf pan with barbecue sauce (oil free of course), put in your mixture and bake. The sauce is absorbed into the loaf as it bakes, giving it great flavour, and the loaf just pops out. You can also use a silicone pan, which requires no oil, or a silicon muffin tin, which makes a dozen “mini” loaves.
Kathy AdkissonNovember 7, 2017 at 10:05 am
I’m always looking for a good vegan non fat loaf. Awesome loaf……I only added smoke paprika, chopped onion and bell pepper, changed the chia seed to flax seed mill and did not use fennel seed. The best veggie/vegan loaf I’ve ever had. We will see if my family likes it as well. Thanks so much for this recipe. It’s goimg to be my go to loaf recipe for now on.
Eydie DesserNovember 13, 2017 at 2:54 pm
Thinking about making this for Thanksgiving. What size loaf pan did you use? And is using a glass pan important? Thank you.
RebeccaNovember 25, 2017 at 6:39 pm
I have made this amazing recipe for the last 6 Thanksgivings, as well as other times during the years. This Thanksgiving, my husband came up with a new way to cook it that (in our opinion) tastes even better, or, at least makes for a nice change. 🙂 I made the lentil loaf mixture as usual (w/ the provided GF substitutions and the addition of the celery–all listed with the original recipe). Then, instead of baking it in the loaf pan as usual, my husband formed the mixture into small patties and pan-fried them. We served the patties with gravy and also the traditional mushrooms w/ shallots & sherry that I always make for Thanksgiving. It was so delicious this way as the lentil “loaf” had a crisper texture in the patties and was almost like chicken fried steak (which I vaguely remember from when I last ate meat as a pre-teen;-). Anyway, super easy–just coat with flour (we used Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free flour) and pan fry for something a little different. Love this recipe so much!
Sharon ZachariasFebruary 2, 2018 at 9:17 am
I made this today! Absolutely LOVE it! I will be purchasing a copy of Dreena’s book, just based on this recipe. One thing I did differently. Instead of using a loaf pan, I shaped it into a loaf on a foil-lined cookie sheet.When I used to eat meat, I would make meatloaf that way. It seems to cook all the way through better than in a loaf pan, and it is hard to get a loaf out of the pan, then the pan is hard to clean. It worked well. The mixture is sticky enough to stay in shape, and it came out very nicely cooked. Thank you for posting a tofu-free lentil loaf recipe!
DougMarch 7, 2018 at 5:14 am
I have made lots of various lentil loafs, but this is the 1st one with bulgar and the results were excellent. This is the meatiest one ever. It’s a keeper. I did add onions and peppers to the recipe.
KandiJuly 2, 2018 at 7:34 pm
I have tried several lentil loaf recipes, but were always a bit “gummy” for my taste. This was just perfect! Great texture and lovely flavor. Thank you!
DiannaJuly 11, 2018 at 7:29 pm
This was really good! I had to substitute quinoa for the bulger because I had none. And put barbecue sauce as the topping. But otherwise made it as written. This is the best textured and best tasting plant based meatloaf I’ve made so far. Its nice and firm. Ive got a double batch in the oven right now before the 1st loaf rund out!
wernerApril 29, 2019 at 5:38 pm
Hadn’t made this for awhile, forgot about its delicious savoriness and perfect texture. Whiteout spring snowstorm here calls for comfort food – the best vegan loaf I’ve found! Added finely chopped celery and onion, 1.5 tsp Costco brand No-Salt Seasoning instead of listed spices, subbed 1 tsp brwn sugar for molasses. Served w mashers and all drizzled w your mushroom gravy. TY for recently reminding us about this awesome recipe.
janetNovember 13, 2019 at 2:01 pm
What is NATURAL ketchup?
Susan VoisinNovember 13, 2019 at 4:12 pm
Ketchup without additives like high fructose corn syrup.
NicholeNovember 18, 2019 at 3:29 am
Delicious vegan version of meatloaf! Thanks for sharing this – I made a version
without the molasses as the vegan Worcestershire already had that in it, and I used sprouted wheat berry flour instead of bulgar, and didn’t add the topping (and used sprouted boiled lentils) .
Nutritious and easy to make,
SusanMarch 24, 2020 at 7:10 pm
Another winner Susan! I added a minced green pepper and used coconut aminos because I didn’t have tamari. The whole family enjoyed it. I imagine the leftovers tomorrow will be even more delicious! Thank you for another great recipe!!!!
FrannyFebruary 15, 2021 at 1:59 pm
Yay!! This is my new favorite savory loaf!! I followed the recipe and added 1/4 c. each finely chopped onion and celery, plus 2 large cloves minced garlic. The mix seemed kinda wet when I poured it in the loaf pan, but baked up nice and firm. It was delicious warm but even better chilled, in hearty sandwiches with slatherings of Vegenaise and more ketchup. This recipe is a keeper and I will make it often!! Thanks, Susan and Dreena!!! 😍
LisaOctober 13, 2021 at 3:36 pm
This is amazingly good! Just the right amount of savory flavor, and the texture is perfect. My carnivore husband devoured it and went back for seconds, which is saying something! The only change I made was to add 1/4 cup sautéed mixed onions and celery.
Teri of NCNovember 24, 2021 at 2:42 pm
I enjoyed this recipe! I did add onion, carrots, celery and mushrooms just to get more veggies into it. Will definitely make again. Thank you!
KayKayNovember 28, 2021 at 10:04 pm
This is my first vegan meatloaf I have made and it is delicious. I followed the recipe except the topping as I only had enough ketchup for the loaf. I used a wholegrain mustard and coconut sugar for the topping. This is the recipe I was searching for. Thank you!