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!

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vegan meatloaf on silver plate with mashed potatoes and gravy
4.42 from 143 votes

Vegan Meat Loaf

Author: EatPlant-Based.com
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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144 Comments

  1. I finally made this meatloaf yesterday… It is delicious! Big hit with my husband when I served it with Yukon Gold baked potato and onion gravy – a perfect healthy comfort food. I will be crumbling it my salad later today. Thank you for creating and sharing this recipe.

  2. Hi Terry, I am going to make your meatloaf, I was wondering, I could not find buckwheat groats I did however find organic Stone ground buckwheat you use to make cereal,can I use that?

      1. I made this recipe,changed a couple things,in place of celery I used mushrooms and for the bread crumbs I found gluten free stuffing cubes,I ground those into crumbs and added a tablespoon of vegamite,it was by far both the best texture and flavor of any vegan meat I have tried thus far thank you so much for this wonderful recipe

  3. Hi Terri. This meatloaf is delicious. I use something smaller than a 9 x 13 to bake it in. Just wondering Why do you say to use a 9 x13? It is way too big for this recipe?
    Anne

    1. Anne- I think when this recipe was published, I was trying to encourage people not to use a regular loaf pan because deeper pans don’t allow this recipe to get nice and firm. You’re right, though, I use a little smaller pan that is more like 12 x 8. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, and it’s been updated. I’m glad that you like the recipe!

  4. Hi terri,followed the recipe exactly, even refrigerated it for a couple hours before baking, I was so excited for this to be good sorry to say it was edible at best made your ketchup though, that was awesome!!

  5. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

    1. 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.

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