Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on January 1, 2011

Do I ever have a delicious vegan meal for you to kick off 2011!

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I must admit, this lentil loaf gave me a few grey hairs over the past couple days.

I made 4 trials of this lentil loaf.

I tried the Lentil Apple Walnut Loaf from Clean Food cookbook and also the old-fashioned Lentil Loaf from The Vegan Table Cookbook, in addition to a couple others. I was on a mission to find my perfect lentil loaf!

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This one below is from The Vegan Table:

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I had problems with binding, so I decided to process (in food processor) 75% of the cooked lentils to help it stick together. I also ground up some oats to make oat flour and added some flax in addition to some other modifications. Good things happened!

Note: This recipe below has been updated and improved! Feb. 2016

5 from 24 reviews
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Ultimate Lentil Walnut Loaf

Vegan, soy-free

By

This lentil walnut loaf is so delicious, you'll find it hard to resist. Raved about by readers, husbands, children, and recipes testers alike, many claim it’s better than traditional meatloaf. The beauty of creating a lentil loaf (as opposed to a meatloaf) is that you can taste the mixture as you go without having to worry about the raw meat. This results in a perfectly seasoned loaf and, trust me, the batter tastes so good! Lentil loaves can be temperamental, so it’s best to follow the directions exactly as written as I’ve tested this multiple ways. Even minor changes to this recipe can result in a loaf that doesn’t stick together as well. I love to serve this loaf with my stunning Cauliflower Carrot Mash, applesauce, and/or steamed broccoli or greens. This lentil loaf is inspired by Terry Walters' Clean Food Lentil Loaf recipe.

Yield
8 slices
Prep time
Cook time

Ingredients:

For the Lentil-Walnut Loaf:
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans of lentils, drained and rinsed*
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped sweet onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet apple
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (chopped) or raisins
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Fine sea salt, to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt bread crumbs (or bread crumbs of choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
For the Balsamic-Apple Glaze:
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce or apple butter
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan, and then line it with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the length of the pan.
  2. If using canned lentils, rinse and drain them in a colander. If using lentils cooked from scratch, follow the directions in the note below. After draining, add them into a very large bowl and mash the lentils with a potato masher. The goal is to create a lentil paste while still leaving about 1/3 of the lentils intact.
  3. Spread the chopped walnuts onto the baking sheet. Toast the nuts for 8 to 12 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
  4. Increase the oven heat to 350°F.
  5. Add the oil into a large skillet, and increase the heat to medium. Stir in the onion and garlic and season with a pinch or two of salt. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the onion softens.
  6. Stir in the celery and carrot, and continue cooking for another few minutes.
  7. Finally, stir in the grated apple, dried cranberries (or raisins), thyme, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cook for a couple minutes longer.
  8. Into the bowl with the mashed lentils, stir in the walnuts, ground flax, oat flour, and bread crumbs until combined.
  9. Stir in all of the the veggie mixture until combined. Add the red pepper flakes, if using. Taste and add more salt (I usually add another 1/2 teaspoon). If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water and mix again.
  10. Press all of the lentil loaf mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Pack it down as firmly as you can as this will help it hold together after cooling.
  11. In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, applesauce, vinegar, and maple syrup until combined. Using a pastry brush (or simply a spoon), spread all of the glaze over top of the lentil loaf.
  12. Bake the lentil loaf, uncovered, at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes until the edges start to darken and the loaf is semi-firm to the touch. Place the loaf pan directly onto a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then, slide a knife around the ends to loosen, and carefully lift out the loaf (using the parchment paper as "handles") and place it directly onto the cooling rack for another 30 minutes.
  13. After cooling, carefully slice the loaf into slabs. Serve immediately. The loaf will continue to firm up as it cools. Some crumbling is normal if sliced while warm.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size 1 of 8 thick slices | Calories 300 calories | Total Fat 12 grams
Saturated Fat 1 grams | Sodium 530 milligrams | Total Carbohydrates 37 grams
Fiber 4 grams | Sugar 10 grams | Protein 12 grams
* Nutrition data is approximate and is for informational purposes only.

Tips:

  • * If you'd like to make lentils from scratch, swap the two cans of lentils for 1 cup of uncooked lentils. Add the lentils into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a low boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-high, and then simmer the lentils uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until tender. Drain well.

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When the lentils are finished cooking (and cooling), take 75% of the lentils and process them in a food processor until almost smooth.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the rest of the recipe. 

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Sautee your garlic and onion.

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Add in the grated carrot and optional celery or green onion.

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Mix well and cook over low heat for several minutes.

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Add in the grated apple, raisins, and chopped walnuts (do not chop the walnuts as small as shown below- it was from an earlier trial).

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Cook for a couple minutes.

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Add in kosher salt, Thyme, and black pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the flax, lentils (processed and non-processed), breadcrumbs, veggie mixture, oat flour (I processed 1/2 cup regular oats), and ground flax. Stir well.

It will look like this:

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Press firmly into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.

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When I pressed it into the pan, I immediately knew that this loaf would hold together thanks to the ground oats, flax seed, and processed lentils.

It was much different than the previous trials…(note how crumbly it looks even in the pan before baking)

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Now spread on the glaze:

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Perfecto!

Now bake for 45 minutes at 350F, uncovered.

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Cool for 10 minutes.

Makes about 8 thick, mouth-watering slices. I knew that this loaf was a crowd pleaser when Eric got really excited over it! He said he would take this over meatloaf any day.

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We enjoyed our lentil loaf with sautéed spinach greens and applesauce! Quick, easy, and delicious.

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I did a HUGE happy dance when this lentil loaf turned out. Eric and I both agreed that it is the best vegan loaf we’ve ever tried. I hope you enjoy it too! It makes a wonderful New Year’s meal if you aren’t feeling the Black Eyed Peas.

It is delicious, chewy, crunchy, and topped with the most addicting sweet glaze.

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As for the crumbly leftovers from the previous 3 trials?

Eric suggested they would make a great vegan taco filling! I think that is a great idea. I’m going to freeze a bunch of it too.

Have a great start to 2011!

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

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Liz September 1, 2018 at 9:02 am

Hi! This looks great and I’m definitely going to give it a go. I was just wondering if it would be OK to use red lentils instead?

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) September 4, 2018 at 3:59 pm

Hi Liz, My fear with red lentils is that it would be too mushy, but that said, I haven’t tried it before! I do think a blog reader mentioned in the comments that red lentils worked, but I can’t really comment beyond that. If you do try it out I’d love to know how it goes!

Reply

Gabrielle October 14, 2018 at 10:46 am

Are you using brown or green lentils here?

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) October 15, 2018 at 8:42 am

Hi Gabrielle, I’ve used both green and brown with success. :)

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Conhumdrum September 10, 2018 at 1:44 pm

You nailed it! I forgot both the apple and bread crumbs and it still came out delicious!! Great recipe – real keeper! 👍

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2018 at 8:03 am

Oh that’s so great to hear that it still worked even when forgetting a couple ingredients…don’t you love that? Thanks so much for your review.

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beth September 21, 2018 at 8:49 am
Recipe Rating:

Made this last night and everyone, even my meat eaters absolutely loved this! Great texture, so happy with how this turned out. Way to go (again!-I love your book) Angela. You are a true inspiration (;

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) September 24, 2018 at 8:28 am

Hey Beth, oh thank you so much for the kind words! I’m glad the Lentil Walnut Loaf was a hit. :) Thank you again for your support!

Reply

Judy October 4, 2018 at 10:06 am
Recipe Rating:

Fantastic loaf! Whole family enjoyed even picky eaters. Thanks for making me look good Angela! :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 5, 2018 at 7:38 am

Aww thanks Judy! I’m so happy to hear that :)

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Brittany October 9, 2018 at 7:53 am

Could you food process the ingredients a little bit so there aren’t whole lentils? Also do you think these could be made as mini loafs in a muffin tin? Thanks :)

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) October 9, 2018 at 8:14 am

Hey Brittany, Yes I do think you could process them a bit (is this to disguise them for kids by chance? If so, great idea). I probably wouldn’t process them into a full out paste, but a little bit may be fine. And yes you can also bake these in muffin tins. I’ve tried it in the past and it works great (no long bake or cool time either!). I can’t quite recall how long they took to cook, but I would start checking them around 20-25 minutes probably.

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Angela October 23, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Hi, this looks yummy! I’m going to give it a try. Wondering if you’ve ever made it ahead of time, put it in the fridge overnight, and then baked it the next day? Or perhaps I would have better luck baking it and then simply reheating the next day? Trying to do some food prep ahead of time :)

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) October 24, 2018 at 1:40 pm

Hi Angela, Yes I have made it and put it in the fridge (uncooked) the day before! I like to let the loaf pan sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes or so before cooking (so it’s not stark cold from the fridge) and that way the cooktime is a bit closer.

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Natasha November 10, 2018 at 12:02 am
Recipe Rating:

I made this recipe a few years ago (and loved it) and it’s time to do it again! I’m wondering if it’s possible to freeze it? If so, should it be cooked or not cooked prior to freezing? I see a few websites that vary in their opinion. Thanks for all you do!

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) November 10, 2018 at 11:04 am

Hey Natasha, I have froze this loaf in the past, but I can’t recall for the life of me which way I did it! I think it was from cooked. I just chatted with Nicole (OSG’s recipe tester) and she said the following: “I like to cook loaves first then slice them into serving sizes for convenience, wrapping them individually in a layer of parchment and then tinfoil. I place these individually wrapped slices into a large freezer bag or container. To thaw, they can be placed in the oven, still wrapped, and they stay moist :) I would freeze the full loaf the same way just without slicing first.” I hope this helps you (and thanks Nicole for weighing in!)

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Aletha Loftfield November 10, 2018 at 10:42 am

Do you think these could be made as meatballs instead of a loaf?

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) November 10, 2018 at 11:06 am

Hey Aletha, I would highly recommend this recipe–my Bread-Free Stuffing Balls if you are looking for a solid “meatball” recipe :) They’re soo good!

https://ohsheglows.com/2017/11/23/bread-free-stuffing-balls/

Reply

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