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This firm, savory, satisfying Lentil Mushroom Loaf is the perfect main dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, a dinner party, or any occasion. With its classic sweet and smoky flavor, it is sure to please the whole family. Or you can keep it all for yourself. ;)
Hey Internet, I’m bringing you a veganized classic today. It’s not meatloaf, but to me, it tastes WAY better!
Made of lentils, quinoa, veggies, and oats (trust me), this vegan main does NOT disappoint. I brought it to a holiday dinner at my husband’s family’s house this year and everyone loved it--not one of them was vegan. It also satisfies my husband’s appetite and he loves the flavor.
I LOVE how the mushrooms add to the smoky, umami (savory) taste, and they’re almost meat-like in texture, especially when combined with the lentils. Haven’t had traditional meatloaf in a while, but this tastes close to what I remember.
Though I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste of ground beef, I was always attracted to the smoky quality of its flavors. I’m happy that there are ways to recreate this as a vegan (thank you smoked paprika).
This delicious recipe requires a little bit of prep work, however parts of it can be done in advance. You could shred the carrot and celery the day before. The glaze can be made in advance, too. You could even cook the lentils and quinoa up to a few days before.
I love to serve this lentil loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. It would also be good with any veggie like broccoli or Brussels sprouts on the side. I am even developing a vegan creamed kale to serve with it, too!
This loaf is inexpensive to make, and you might find you already have many of the ingredients on hand--it’s also SUPER customizable in case you need to swap anything out.
Shall we discuss?
What You’ll Need
First lentils and quinoa. Though you can use other beans (more about that in the Substitutions section below), this recipe starts with a base of cooked lentils and quinoa. I recommend green or brown lentils; red lentils get mushy really fast and might not be enough structure for your loaf.
Next, veggies. A bunch of veggies give the loaf flavor, texture, and structure.
The classic flavors of onion, garlic, celery, and carrots give this loaf a beautiful flavor. I also recommend adding mushrooms. They won’t be present enough to offend people who are not mushroom fans, but they add a wonderful earthy and smoky flavor to the loaf.
Next, some sauces and spices for flavoring. We used apple cider vinegar, reduced sodium tamari / soy sauce, tahini, smoked paprika, dried thyme, and a pinch of salt. Feel free to play around according to your own tastes.
Finally, we’ll need a binder. I use a wet and dry binder, because I find that this makes it easier to compensate for however wet or dry the loaf mixture already is.
Flax eggs, made from mixing ground flaxseed and water, do a great job of binding. But sometimes the mixture can be wet. Oat flour (made in my blender from grinding rolled oats) or chickpea flour are GREAT at drying out the mixture but still holding everything together.
For the glaze, it’s really whatever you like. You could use a store-bought or homemade BBQ sauce, my loaf glaze (below), or even just ketchup.
What Substitutions Can I Make?
Lentils and Quinoa
If you don’t want to use lentils AND quinoa, that’s perfectly fine. But I wouldn’t suggest leaving out the lentils.
You could sub them for another bean, though. The idea with these is to mash them a bit so your loaf has an easier time sticking together.
A loaf made with just quinoa might be too crumbly. I like the mix of textures, but you could also try another grain like rolled oats or short grain rice.
I used onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and mushrooms in this loaf, but you can omit some or use other veggies in their place. I wouldn’t choose a really strong veggie flavor for this--the veggies I mentioned work really well together.
If you’d like to leave out the veggies altogether, I would compensate with more lentils, quinoa, and flour to bulk up the mixture.
Like meatloaf, the lentil loaf glaze is like the icing on the savory cake. That was kind of a gross metaphor.
Anyway, like I mentioned above, you could use BBQ sauce or ketchup, but I really love this simple glaze I quickly mixed up and spread over the top of the loaf before baking.
It’s made from tomato paste, maple syrup, onion & garlic powder, reduced sodium soy sauce / tamari, apple cider vinegar, and sriracha! It’s sweet, smoky, tangy, and delicious. Just mix it up to your liking, tasting along the way.
How to Prep Ahead
This delicious recipe requires a little bit of prep work, however parts of it can be done in advance.
Cook the lentils and quinoa up to a few days before.
Chop the onion and grate the carrot and celery the day before.
The glaze can be made in advance, too.
If you do all these things the day or two before, all you have to do is throw everything together, add the glaze, and bake it! Doesn’t get much easier than that. :)
Tips for Making A Delicious and Solid Lentil Mushroom Loaf
- This recipe uses a careful wet to dry ratio. You want the “batter” to be somewhat mushy and stick together, but not necessarily be sticky. If it’s sticky, add more oat flour (or chickpea flour).
- After sauteing your veggies, make sure you’ve drained them well. Mushrooms sweat a lot, and too much liquid in the batter will prevent it from holding together.
- The one thing you want to be careful about when modifying this recipe is to preserve the wet to dry ratio, and make sure to use a binder.
- Any veggie that goes into this should be chopped finely or grated. If you are having issues making it stick, add more binder (i.e. another flax egg).
- Before baking, really pack it into your loaf tin. Press it in there with hands or the back of a spoon and make sure it’s very solidly in there.
- If you’re not using oil, and I don’t, a good trick to getting your loaf out of the tin after baking is to use a sheet of parchment paper. Cut your parchment strip small enough to fit under the loaf on the inside with a little excess on either side to use as tabs after baking. After it’s cooled for 20 minutes or so, I just run a butter knife around the shorter edges that touch the pan and grip the two tabs, gently pulling until it comes out.
- The loaf does require a long time to bake because it’s so thick. It should feel much firmer to the touch and be lightly browned (if you can see any edges under your glaze).
What to Serve with Lentil Loaf
While a satisfying dish and packed with nutrients and protein, I love to serve a side or two with my lentil loaf. From the pictures you’ll see I paired my loaf with garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and creamed kale.
You could serve anything you like with it from steamed or roasted vegetables to a side salad or even a soup! I bet this simple butternut squash carrot ginger soup would be delicious with the loaf.
For portability, I’ve made lentil loaf in muffin cups before. I recommend my trusty silicone hybrid pan to easily push the lentil loaf muffins out without the need for oil or paper liners.
You could also fill individual silicone liners and place them on a rimmed cookie sheet. And unlike regular muffins, these don’t rise, so you can fill the cups to the brim if you like.
This makes them great for meal prep, portable lunches, and even snacks!
More Vegan High Protein Recipes
When you eat enough calories and a variety of healthy plant foods, it’s easy to get your recommended daily protein so you never need to think about it much.
However, if you prefer to focus on getting a little more protein, I’ve got a lot of other high protein vegan recipes if you’re interested:
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do and so does Mr. Zardyplants, who is vegan but occasionally misses the flavor of meat (but not the cruelty–he insisted I add that line).
This lentil mushroom loaf is:
- A little sweet
- “Meaty” (hold the cruelty)
- Chewy yet tender
- Packed with umami flavor
- and great for anyone in your life that either isn’t vegan or vegetarian yet and needs to be convinced or is already and just kinda misses the taste and mouthfeel of meat.
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!