This Vegetarian Meatloaf is so unbelievably good that your guests may question whether or not there’s actually meat inside! Made with a few shortcuts, this recipe is easy to prepare for a busy holiday meal. (No sautéeing required!)
If you are hoping to offer a delicious vegetarian dinner for Thanksgiving or Christmas, this recipe is for you. When you start with two pre-cooked ingredients, which you can easily buy at the store, the prep work takes less than 10 minutes.
Serve it with mashed potatoes and vegan gravy for a comforting, protein-packed meal.
Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe starts with cooked lentils and brown rice, which you can conveniently buy at the store if you want to save yourself some time. (I use the vacuum-sealed brown lentils from the refrigerated section and warm up a bag of frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s.)
The combination of lentils and rice mimics the texture of ground beef!
Once you have the two pre-cooked components, the preparation takes no more than 10 minutes. There’s no onion to sauté or parsley to chop, to help save on time and dishes. Dried spices give this recipe plenty of flavor!
Since there are no breadcrumbs required, this recipe is naturally gluten-free, too.
How to Make the Best Vegetarian Meatloaf
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Add the walnuts to a food processor and pulse them briefly until they look crumbly, almost like coarse flour.
Next, add in the cooked lentils, rice, parmesan, cottage cheese, eggs, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Pulse several times, until the mixture looks well combined, but not pureed.
There should still be plenty of texture!
Prepare a loaf pan by lightly spraying it with oil, then press a piece of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan. This will ensure you can easily remove the lentil loaf later.
Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the prepared pan, then spread it out evenly with a spatula.
Bake at 375ºF for 1 hour, or until the top has risen in the center and feels relatively firm to the touch. (It’s okay if it’s a little juicy looking when you press on it.)
Let the lentil loaf cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing into it. The loaf may flatten as it cools. Slice into 1-inch thick pieces for a hearty main course.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat individual slices in an oven at 350ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the center is heated through again.
Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe relies on the cottage cheese and eggs for its amazing texture. I’ve tested it without the cottage cheese, and it’s not nearly as good. If you need a vegan recipe, try my Vegan Meatloaf recipe instead.
Reheated meatloaf slices make an amazing sandwich! Toast your favorite bread and top it with leftover cranberry sauce and a warm slice of meatloaf for a delicious meatloaf sandwich.
This recipe pairs well with holiday side dishes without a glaze necessary, but you can make a simple glaze using a 1/2 cup ketchup, plus 1 tablespoon each of maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. (Or check out my from-scratch glaze in this recipe.)
No, I don’t recommend using an egg substitute in this case, as the eggs add structure to this loaf. Try my tested Vegan Meatloaf recipe (mentioned above), instead.
Looking for more holiday recipe ideas? Try Wild Rice Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Holiday Salad to pair with this delicious meatloaf.
The Best Vegetarian Meatloaf
This Vegetarian Meatloaf recipe is the best you’ll ever taste! It’s made as easy as possible so you won’t have an extra pan to clean for a busy holiday meal.
- 1 cup walnuts (not roasted or salted)
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 ½ cups cooked brown lentils
- 1 cup cottage cheese (4% milkfat)
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375ºF and lightly grease a 9″ by 5″ loaf pan. Press a piece of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan, so the loaf will be easy to remove later.
Add the walnuts to a 12-cup food processor fitted with an “S” blade. Process briefly, until the walnuts are coarsely ground, almost like a flour. Next, add in the cooked rice, lentils, cottage cheese, Parmesan, eggs, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pulse the mixture 6 to 8 times, until it looks evenly mixed but not pureed. There should still be plenty of texture.
Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it evenly on top. Bake at 375ºF for 1 hour, or until the top rises in the center and feels relatively firm to the touch. (It’s okay if juices are visible when the loaf is pressed.)
Let the loaf cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes. The top may flatten as it cools. Then use the parchment paper to lift the loaf out of the pan. Slice and serve warm with your favorite holiday sides and gravy.
Leftover vegetarian meatloaf can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat individual slices in the oven at 350ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the center is warm again.
I do not recommend making substitutions with this recipe, as the texture is perfect as written. You may swap the walnuts for pecans if you need to, but the cottage cheese and parmesan contribute to both the texture and flavor.
Time-Saving Tip: You can buy frozen brown rice to easily reheat for this recipe, or cook it from scratch a few days before you plan on making this recipe. You can also cook the lentils ahead of time, or buy vacuum-sealed lentils from the refrigerated section of your grocery store.
Vegan Option: If you need an egg-free or dairy-free meatloaf, be sure to try my tested Vegan Meatloaf recipe, instead.
Calories: 242kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 507mg, Potassium: 271mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 235IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 130mg, Iron: 2mg
If you try this vegetarian meatloaf recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.
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