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Best Vegan Meatloaf

When we are going to a family gathering and need to take a dish or two, this homestyle Vegan Meatloaf is always my first go-to. During the holidays, you can bet it will be on the menu.

vegan meatloaf on silver plate with mashed potatoes and gravy

There’s just nothing more comforting than delicious savory vegan meatloaf served with creamy mashed potatoes and either Brown Gravy or Golden Gravy. At my house, it doesn’t have to be a holiday or a special occasion.

Variations of vegan meatloaf

There are many different versions and variations of vegan meatloaf. One of the most popular is probably a lentil loaf, which I like. However, lentil loaves never achieve the texture that reminds me of the meatloaf my mom used to make when I was a kid.

That’s why I absolutely LOVE this home-style vegan meatloaf that reminds me of my childhood, especially when it’s paired with mashed potatoes and gravy. A couple of the secret ingredients are bulgur and crushed walnuts.

vegan meatloaf stacked on crumpled up brown paper bag on wooden background

Ingredients list

  • Grain- I use bulgur wheat as a binder and meat replacer. Other options include brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat groats.
  • Bread crumbs- Crumbled bread works best.
  • Oats- These work as a binder.
  • Tomatoes- Fire-roasted tomatoes add a ton of flavor.
  • Veggies- Onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and bell pepper.
  • Walnuts- These are optional but add a great texture.
  • Spices- Soy sauce, Dijon thyme, sage, salt, pepper

The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.

How to make vegan meatloaf

This vegan loaf is very easy to make and can be ready to put in the oven in only about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper or a deeper loaf pan.

Cook bulgur according to package directions. Cooks on the stove or in a rice cooker in about 15-minutes. I really like to batch cook bulgur in my rice cooker and freeze it for use in other recipes like this, spaghetti, lasagna, and nachos.

cooked bulgur in pan on wooden table

Though it calls for bulgur, a number of people have told me that they’ve subbed with buckwheat groats, quinoa, brown rice, and barley and it still comes out good.

Dice the veggies–onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, carrots, and walnuts. One tip here is that a blender or food processor makes it easy to make bread crumbs. It’s also great for chopping walnuts.

diced vegetables on cutting board

I am often asked which knives I use personally, and I have to say that it is Victorinox. They are the same company that makes Swiss Army Knives and the quality is excellent.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (including the fully-cooked bulgur). Mix with a spoon, or do like I do, and use your hands to mix thoroughly.

oats, breadcrumbs, bulgur, and veggies in stainless bowl

Press into prepared 9 x 13 baking dish. Poke holes all over the top with a finger then spread a thin layer of ketchup over the top with a spatula.

If you would like to make your own ketchup for this recipe, check out my 10-Minute Vegan Ketchup recipe.

I suggest using a baking pan rather than a loaf pan that is deeper so this will firm up nicely for you.

vegan meatloaf in pan on white background

Bake for 60 minutes. I broil mine for the last 5 minutes, just to get that browned top.

InstantPot Cooking Instructions: Add 1-1/2 cups of water. Cook in a springform pan and place it on a trivet. Set to Manual High for 25 minutes. Instructions from follower Pamela Hawkins who used a 6-quart IP.

Tips and substitutions

  • A blender or food processor makes it easy to make bread crumbs. It’s also great for chopping walnuts.
  • I save old loaf bread ends and freeze them for making breadcrumbs for this vegan meatloaf.
  • The bulgur can be soaked in warm water for 30+ minutes and not cooked if you prefer.
  • Though it calls for bulgur, a number of people have told me that they’ve subbed with buckwheat groats, quinoa, brown rice, and barley and it still comes out good.
  • For mixing these ingredients, I love using my hands and kneading. That’s how I used to make the traditional meatloaf and how I still like to do it.
  • I suggest using a baking pan rather than a loaf pan that is deeper so this will firm up nicely for you.
  • I highly recommend making the recipe exactly as listed the first time. If you prefer to tweak it later, do that on the next batch.

Serving suggestions

This vegan meatloaf recipe also pairs well with a number of side dishes like these.

brown gravy being poured over mashed potatoes close up

Originally published October 2014

This recipe is absolutely delicious! It is adapted from Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes.

This same basic recipe is what is used to make my Vegan Meatballs recipe that is fabulous served with marinara and pasta. Another variation of the meatballs is to coat them with bbq sauce and serve as an appetizer.

Your questions answered:

  • Q: Can tomato paste be used in place of ketchup? It sure can! However, it won’t be as flavorful as ketchup, especially for the topping, in my opinion.
  • Q: Can I use gluten-free bread crumbs? Absolutely! Gluten-free bread crumbs will work just fine.
  • Q: Can I prep this in a loaf pan and then cook it the next day? Yes, prepping ahead is actually a great idea.
  • Q: Is vegan meatloaf freezable? Yes, freezing this meatless loaf is a great idea. I like to make a double batch so we can eat one immediately and freeze one for later.
vegan meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy on silver plate

We love this vegan meatloaf because it’s…

  • Firm & not mushy
  • Makes a great main dish
  • Savory
  • Bursting with flavor
  • Hearty
  • Affordable
  • Delicious

More vegan main dishes

For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

If you try this recipe, please let us know how you like it by rating it and leaving a comment. We love to hear from you!

vegan meatloaf on silver plate with mashed potatoes and gravy

Vegan Meat Loaf

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

When we are going to a family gathering and need to take a dish or two, this No-Meat Loaf is always my first go-to. On Thanksgiving, you can bet it will be on the menu.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. Cook bulgur according to package directions. Cooks on the stove or in a rice cooker in about 15-minutes.
  3. Dice the veggies--onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, carrots, and walnuts.
  4. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (including the fully-cooked bulgur). Mix with a spoon, or do like I do and use your hands to mix thoroughly.
  5. Press into prepared dish. Poke holes all over the top with a finger, then spread a thin layer of ketchup over the top with a spatula.
  6. Bake for 60 minutes. I broil mine for the last 5 minutes, just to get that browned top.
  7. Helpful Hint– a blender or food processor makes it easy to make bread crumbs. Also great chopping walnuts.

Notes

Tips & Substitutions

  1. A blender or food processor makes it easy to make bread crumbs. It's also great for chopping the walnuts.
  2. I save old loaf bread ends and freeze them for making this vegan meatloaf.
  3. The bulgur can be soaked in warm water for 30+ minutes and not cooked if you prefer.
  4. Though it calls for bulgur, a number of people have told me that they've subbed with buckwheat groats, quinoa, brown rice, and barley and it still comes out good.
  5. For mixing these ingredients, I love using my hands and kneading. That's how I used to make the traditional meatloaf and how I still like to do it.
  6. I suggest using a baking pan rather than a loaf pan that is deeper so this will firm up nicely for you.
  7. I highly recommend making the recipe exactly as listed the first time. If you prefer to tweak it later, do that on the next batch.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 226Total Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 7gSugar: 11gProtein: 7g

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate and leave a comment because I love hearing from you. Remember SHARING IS CARING!

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Melinda

Sunday 20th of November 2022

Do you grind the oats or are they as is? I have family who doesn't like oats but can tolerate it when it's ground up a little.

Terri Edwards

Monday 21st of November 2022

Melinda- I leave the oats whole, but you could grind them just a little if that's what your family prefers. I wouldn't do it much because oats quickly become oat flour when grinding. Hope you all enjoy the loaf!

Paula Wright

Sunday 20th of November 2022

I really liked this recipe, however, I would saute the vegetables in advance so the meatloaf didn't have to cook so long. It was dry around the edges. I also would skip the catsup on top and use barbeque sauce. A great recipe.

Cheyenne

Tuesday 15th of November 2022

Regarding the bread crumbs. I'm not clear; you mention freezing them is best, but should they be dried, or thawed & fresh, or still frozen when added to the recipe?

Terri Edwards

Wednesday 16th of November 2022

Hi Cheyenne- The bread crumbs don't need to be frozen. I just tend to use old heels of bread which I store in my freezer until needed. It's just a way to keep them from going bad. Use fresh bread crumbs from slices of bread, prepackaged bread crumbs, or previously frozen bread crumbs. It really doesn't matter, though you will want them to be defrosted if they were previously frozen.

Betty

Saturday 3rd of September 2022

I fixing this meatloaf for our upcoming Food As Medicine - McDowell. We've finally started our potlucks again and your site is my go to for recipes!

Terri Edwards

Sunday 4th of September 2022

Hi Betty- How awesome! Wishing you all the best with the restart of your potlucks. It's wonderful to be getting back to some sense of normal. Take care!

Deb

Saturday 2nd of July 2022

This is my fave neatloaf recipe ever! I’ve made it numerous times in the past. Here’s my issue. I am away visiting friends across the country and cannot find bulgur anywhere here. I will be making this tonight for dinner for them and the closest thing I could find to bulgur is couscous so bought that (my friend hates quinoa). Do you think this is a good enough substitute?

Terri Edwards

Saturday 2nd of July 2022

Hi Deb- I'm so glad to hear that you love this no-meat loaf recipe! I think couscous would be worth a try. The only thing is that it's pasta instead of grain, but that might not even matter. Another great option to try if you have it on hand is brown rice. Either way, I think it will still turn out just fine. Good luck and enjoy the time with your friends!

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