Best Vegan Meatloaf

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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.

This meatless loaf recipe was shared on T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies website as well.

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 baking dish with parchment paper or a deeper loaf pan. I like to use something like this 12 x 8 glass baking 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 as I do, and use your hands to mix thoroughly.

oats, breadcrumbs, bulgur, and veggies in stainless bowl

Press into the prepared 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 like to use something like this 12 x 8 glass baking pan.
  • 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
4.41 from 136 votes

Vegan Meat Loaf

When we are going to a family gathering and need to take a dish or two, this Vegan Meat Loaf is always my first go-to. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can bet it will be on the menu.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups cooked Bulgur
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs about 2-3 slices of bread
  • 1-1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup fire-roasted tomatoes with juice (fire-roasted diced tomatoes add a lot of flavor)
  • 1/2 cup small onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 celery sticks diced
  • 3/4 cup carrots diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • sea salt to your taste
  • 1/2 cup ketchup plus enough to top the loaf with before baking

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. I like to use something like this 12 x 8 glass baking pan.
  • Cook bulgur according to package directions. Cooks on the stove or in a rice cooker in about 15-minutes.
  • Dice the veggies--onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, carrots, and walnuts.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bake for 60 minutes. I broil mine for the last 5 minutes, just to get that browned top.
  • Helpful Hint– a blender or food processor makes it easy to make bread crumbs. Also great chopping walnuts.

Video

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. I like to use something like this 12 x 8 glass baking pan
  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.

Nutrition

Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 5g | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g

Disclaimer

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.

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About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy.  I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

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135 Comments

  1. How can I make my own bulgur wheat? I have lots of food storage wheat. Is it just cracked wheat? Can I just crack it in my blender and then cook it like rice? Would I have to sift out the finer flour like particles? I’m anxious to try this!

  2. Terri, this looks like exactly the recipe I’ve been looking for. I’m curious if you would know what is the best way to reheat from the freezer. My black bean sweet potato burgers that I freeze, I simply take one from the freezer and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes. It is perfect. Do you think if I froze slices of this that I could reheat in the same manner and have them come out correctly?

    1. Bev, this recipe freezes very well, and the reheating method you described should work great. We love to reheat this and have on sandwiches.

  3. Since we’re talking meatloaf here, do you mean regular dice or small dice. The pics look like very small (almost shredded} pieces of carrots, medium/small celery, but much larger pieces of onion. What’s best?

    1. It really depends on preference. I like mine just a little chunky, so I leave the celery and onions just a bit larger.

  4. Amount of ketchup – Do you mix the 1/2 cup in with the other ingredients and then use “enough for topping” after it’s in the pan?

    1. Yes, that is correct. The 1/2 cup goes into the recipe. Then top with the amount that you prefer. I recommend a nice layer over the top. Enjoy!

  5. Recipe says 1 1/2cups bread crumbs, 2-3 slices of bread. Is that both ingredients? Or just one or the other?

    1. Great question, and thank you for bringing that to my attention. Recently, I switched over to a new recipe card program, and it made a few strange changes like this that I’m still trying to catch and fix.

      The vegan meatloaf recipe requires 1-1/2 cups of bread crumbs which is approximately 2-3 slices of loaf bread. Thank you again for letting me know about the typo, and I hope you enjoy the recipe.

    1. Hmmm, no it should definitely not fall apart but should be very firm. Sounds like you needed more oats in the batter. Did you sub out any ingredients or adjust measurements?

  6. I made this vegan non-meatloaf last night for dinner, it was great! I did note on the recipe ingredients list that garlic was one of the spices to add. However on the print recipe itself it does not include garlic. I did not add any when I made it and the loaf came out very tasty. My wife said “best vegan meatloaf ever” and ate a second piece. However have you added garlic to this recipe before and did it change the flavor significantly? I personally like the flavor of garlic and use it in most everything. Your thoughts?

    Thanks for the great vegan recipes and please keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Al, I really appreciate you letting me know about the garlic discrepancy in the Meatloaf recipe. I do often use garlic in mine but not always. Since it sounds like you’re a garlic lover as I am, I suggest adding about a teaspoon of fresh minced garlic. I think it makes the flavor even better! I’ll add that information to the recipe card. Thanks again!

  7. Teri,
    I’ll be making this tonight! Comfort food is what we need.
    Question, as we avoid nuts, what would you sub? More bread crumbs, oats, or ?
    Thank you!

  8. Made this tonight for the first time. I used a large loaf pan, but like a previous comment, it was not firm like meatloaf usually is. Should I have waited to let it set? My husband suggested the same thing you did—maybe add more oats next time. I will also try using the larger pan opposed to loaf pan. And, by the way, first time cooking bulgar too. Good to know 2 cups of uncooked bulgar yields about 5 cups cooked ?! So, with that said, I will make a second batch and freeze or just freeze the leftover bulgar in 1 cup bags. Thanks for the recipe, husband and I enjoyed this “keeper” recipe!

    1. Hi Sharon- You’re right, a baking pan should work better than a much thicker loaf pan. I’ll make that note in the recipe card. And, yes, this will firm up even more in the refrigerator. I’m so glad you and your husband liked the recipe. The leftovers are great on sandwiches too!

    1. Hi Mary- What I usually do for the bread crumbs is to use any kind of bread I have on hand. Simply tear loaf bread (or another type) into small pieces to use in this recipe.

  9. So good! I forgot to add the soy sauce, didn’t miss it, I’m glad I left it out. Didn’t need the added salt. I loved everything about this recipe. We like to dip each bite in quality mustard and ketchup.
    Today’s lunch I spread ketchup, mustard and homemade hummus with avocado on my bread and put this in the middle. It’s good cold. So amazingly delicious I wanted more. 5 stars!

  10. We are isolating, due to covid.
    I substituted Freekah for the bulgar ,whole pepper for 1/2 pepper , mushrooms for carrots, oat bran for a cup of the oatmeal, and my own canned roasted garlic pepper sauce for the tomatoes.
    It is firm , delicious, my husband, a big meat eater, loves It!
    Thanks so much!

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