Classic Vegan Meatloaf

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This hearty vegan meatloaf is made from a base of seasoned chickpeas, veggies and savory seasonings, all topped with a flavorful maple glaze. It’s not quite a classic meatloaf. It’s better.

I had a hard time figuring out what to include in this vegan meatloaf recipe? Why is that, you ask? Well, it’s been a loooooooong time since I had authentic meatloaf. In fact, I never even ate it that often as a kid.

But I got so many requests for a killer vegan loaf over the years that I decided to just have at it. Since I had no idea where to start, I did what any vegan cook would do.

I used chickpeas.

As luck would have it, chickpea loaf is pretty awesome. Chickpeas are hearty and substantial, so they’re perfect for taking the place of meat in a dish like this, particularly when blended up with all kinds of savory seasonings and veggies. Our loaf gets topped with a lightly smoky tomato maple glaze and everything comes together to create the most delicious of vegan comfort food flavor bombs.

I had to ask my husband if it tasted anything like normal meatloaf. He assured me that it was delicious, and about as much like traditional meatloaf as one of my veggie burgers is to a regular old burger. Perfect!

Jump to:
  • Ingredients You’ll Need
  • How It’s Made
  • Leftovers & Storage
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More Vegan Comfort Food Recipes
  • Classic Vegan Meatloaf

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chickpeas. The recipe calls for canned chickpeas, but you’re welcome to cook them yourself. Try this method and make sure you’ve got about 3 ¾ cups of cooked chickpeas for the loaf.
  • Onion.
  • Celery.
  • Carrots.
  • Garlic.
  • Panko breadcrumbs. Regular breadcrumbs work too — just check the ingredients to ensure they’re vegan.
  • Non-dairy milk. Look for varieties that are unflavored and unsweetened. Soy milk, almond milk and oat milk are all great options. Canned coconut milk is the only variety that I’d avoid using.
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce. Most brands of Worcestershire sauce contain anvhovy paste, so be careful here. Annie’s, Edward & Sons and Whole Foods are all anchovy-free. You can also use homemade vegan Worcestershire sauce.
  • Soy sauce. Gluten-free tamari or liquid aminos can be substituted if needed.
  • Olive oil. This adds some moisture to the loaf. Leave this out for an oil-free version.
  • Ground flaxseeds. Look for these in the natural foods section of your store.
  • Tomato paste.
  • Liquid smoke. Look for this near where the barbecue sauce is sold at your supermarket. I know not everyone is a fan of liquid smoke, so feel free to leave it out if that’s you. You could also substitute some smoked paprika.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Maple syrup.
  • Apple cider vinegar.
  • Paprika.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Place the ingredients for the loaf into a food processor bowl. This includes the chickpeas, diced onion, carrots and celery, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, oil, flaxseed, tomato paste, liquid smoke, and black pepper.

Tip: If you have a very large food processor you can add everything at once. Otherwise you’ll need to work in batches. I’m using an 11 cup model in the photos, and it’s filled to capacity.

  • Pulse everything in the food processor. Whatever you do, don’t let it start running and walk away. Your mixture will turn to mush and you’ll end up with a sad, mushy vegan meatloaf.
  • Every so often you’ll want to stop the machine, open the lid, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and redistribute the ingredients.
  • Taste-test the mixture at this point and season it with some salt if you’d like. Feel free to adjust any other seasonings to your liking.

Tip: Make sure you don’t overblend the mixture. Keep some texture and chunks of chickpeas and veggies.

  • Lightly oil the inside of a loaf pan and line it with a strip of parchment paper to make your vegan meatloaf easier to remove when it’s done baking.
  • Transfer the chickpea mixture to the loaf pan. Press it in and smooth out the top with a spatula. Pop the loaf into the oven.
  • Mix up the glaze by stirring together tomato paste, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and paprika while your loaf bakes.
  • After about 30 minutes, take the loaf out of the oven and cover the top with the glaze, then return it to the oven to finish baking.

Tip: I’ve made this loaf using a few different pans and had the best luck with a 9-inch glass Pyrex pan.

  • Let your vegan meatloaf cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving it.

Tip: This loaf firms up as it sits, so consider making it well in advance if you’d like it to be really sturdy.

Leftovers & Storage

Vegan meatloaf will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

Leftovers can be heated in the microwave or popped in the oven for a few minutes. Oh, and they make an awesome sandwich!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

Yes! Just use gluten-free vegan breadcrumbs, or substitute rolled oats. You’ll also need to use gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce, and make sure you’re Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free (Edward & Sons is).

Can I sauté the veggies before adding them to the loaf mixture?

Yes! I’ve heard from a lot of readers who did this with success. I skip the step to save time and because I find the loaf delicious without it.

Can I make this loaf without a food processor?

You can! Just chop your veggies up very finely, and mash the chickpeas with a fork or potato masher.

What are some good sides to serve with vegan meatloaf?

Traditional, savory vegan side dishes go great with veggie loaf! Try vegan mashed potatoes and gravy, vegan green bean casserole, wild rice pilaf, and/or vegan cornbread.

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