Stellar, grain-free lentil loaf made with ease and humble pantry ingredients. Packed with flavor, it is vegan, gluten-free, high in protein (8.5 grams) and only 150 calories per jumbo slice!
A Better, Simpler Lentil Loaf
The first time I made a meatless meatloaf of any kind was in my tiny, windowless, graduate school kitchen.
It was freezing outside, I was missing home, and I needed dinner, Sadly, long days in the classroom and library, coupled with a tight student budget, meant my refrigerator and pantry pickings were limited to a short list of dried goods, the most basic of condiments, and a limp bouquet of carrots and celery.
But I had a recipe that fit the bill: a Lentil No-Meatloaf, saved months earlier from an internet search for cheap, healthy and meatless meals.
Dried lentils, carrots, celery, oats, and ketchup? Check, times, three! I didn’t have an onion, nor garlic, but I did have powdered forms of each. The recipe had 22 steps (22 steps!), but I whittled them to far fewer as I cooked.
The results were delectable. It should have lasted for days, but I think I ate a third of the loaf that first night.
A Lentil Loaf with More Protein and No Grains
The original recipe I comprised is long since gone, but today’s recipe is darn close. I’ve whittled the steps (22 was a bit much), but I’ve kept the ingredients humble.
I’ve also made the loaf grain-free and even higher in protein than the original, or other recipes I’ve come across (which use wheat and/or oats). Humility aside, this loaf is pretty darn great.
How to Make a Grain-Free Lentil Loaf
Note that the complete directions are also in the recipe card below.
Sep 1: Cook the lentils
To make this modest loaf, you’ll need to cook some lentils to the point where they are falling apart, but not complete mush.
You can use any variety of lentils (red, brown, green, split or whole), but it will take a bit longer to cook whole lentils (vs. split). This time around, I used split red lentils. Here they are, cooked to the “beginning to fall apart” stage I indicate in the recipe.
I do not want the photo above to be misleading in that there should be leftover liquid in the pot when the lentils are finished cooking (I lifted them with a slotted spoon onto the plate). You will want to keep the liquid (do not drain).
Step 2: Cook the vegetables
While the lentils simmer away, go ahead and get the vegetables cooking.
Specifically, sauté chopped onions, carrots, celery and bell pepper (red or orange) in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil (or use the oil you prefer). If you do not eat oil, leave it out and steam or microwave the vegetables until soft.
Near the end of cooking, add the seasonings: rosemary, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
Step 3: Chop some of the ingredients in a food processor
Combine the vegetables and ALL of the lentils (plus remaining liquid) in a large bowl, and then transfer about 3/4 of the mixture to a food processor. Pulse until blended but not smooth.
More finely chopping a majority of the lentil-vegetable mixture helps to hold the loaf together. Leaving a fraction of the lentil-vegetable mixture unblended gives the finished loaf a hearty, toothsome texture.
Add the processed lentil mixture back to the bowl with the remaining lentils mixture and stir in the flours (chickpea and coconut) and flaxseed meal. The batter should be somewhat stiff, but still plenty moist. If it is too dry or too wet, add a touch more water or coconut flour as needed.
Taste the mix and add more salt and pepper, or other seasonings, as desired.
Step 4: Shape & bake the loaf
Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top before slathering with either barbecue sauce or ketchup. The sauce o ketchup will caramelize as the loaf bakes, resulting in a deep, dark glaze.
After about 50 minutes in a 350F oven, you’ll have this gorgeous loaf:
This is so delicious on it’s own, minutes out of the oven, but leftovers (simply rewarmed, or as part of a sandwich) are every bit as good.
You can change out the seasoning, and even some of the vegetables (mushrooms are a fantastic addition) in all kinds of ways, too.
Happy eating, everyone!
More Easy, Plant-Based Meat Recipes to Try:
- Vegan Ground Beef
- Vegan Oat Mushroom Ground Beef
- 3-Ingredient Almond Flour Vegetable Nuggets
- Mushroom Almond Flour Ground Beef (2 ingredients)
- Vegan Lentil Taco Meat
- Lentil & Mushroom Meatballs
- Lentil & Vegetable Kefta
- Heart of Palm Crab Cakes
Tuesday 2nd of May 2023
Would pea protein powder work for the coconut flour?
Tuesday 2nd of May 2023
I think that could work for some, but not all, of the coconut flour. Coconut flour has a lot of fiber (pea protein does not), so perhaps some pea protein and some oat flour or almond flour.
Thursday 27th of April 2023
Hi! Can I sub chia seeds for the flax? If so how much chia seeds should I use? Thank you!
Saturday 29th of April 2023
Hi Meghan! Yes, a chia seed substitution should work fine. Use the equal weight of chia seeds as flaxseed meal (by volume, use half the amount of chia seeds compared to flaxseed mea. I tablespoon flaxseed meal by weight is 7.5 grams, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds is 13 grams).
Sunday 9th of April 2023
Too much water. It’s been baking for over an hour and still not set, not brown, don’t know if it will ever firm up. Very sad ????
Tuesday 11th of April 2023
Hi Cindy, I am sorry you are having problems with the lentil loaf. There definitely should not be excess water in the loaf--was the mixture stiff, as indicated in the recipe, once you added the coconut flour and flaxseed meal? The lentils should absorb most of the water when they first cook, but remaining liquid should be absorbed by the coconut flour and flaxseed meal. Just checking that you started with dried lentils? It sounds like there must have been a lot of excess water after cooking. Did your loaf look like my photos of the steps? It sounds like there may have been an accidental over addition of water.
Wednesday 19th of October 2022
Can spelt flour work instead of coconut flour?
Friday 21st of October 2022
Hi Terry, No, spelt cannot work as a replacement here. Almond flour or sunflower seed flour (see my DIY version here) would work, using about 2-3 times the amount of coconut flour.
Tuesday 29th of June 2021
Can't wait to try this! Can I use 1 C chickpea flour and omit the coconut flour (or 2/3 C chickpea flour and 1/3 C almond flour)? Don't have coconut flour on hand. Thanks!
Monday 16th of August 2021
Hi Janet, I’m sorry, but no, this particular recipe will not work without the coconut flour.