By Cassie Johnston
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My Mama’s meatloaf is the stuff of legends.
Relegated to elementary lunchroom horror stories and sitcom fodder, meatloaf tends to get a bad wrap, but I promise you, my Mama’s meatloaf will change the opinion of even the staunchest of meatloaf opponents.
That all being said, this isn’t my Mama’s meatloaf.
Because, well, the elimination diet doesn’t allow for red meat. Let alone a full pound of ground cow. So this technically shouldn’t be called “meatloaf” at all. It really should just be called “loaf”. But that sounds disgusting. Who wants to just eat “loaf”?
So why did I wax on poetically about my Mama’s meatloaf if I’m not going to make it for you? Because this vegan version of the American classic is adapted from the simplistic genius of Mama’s recipe. I used two different types of beans, oats, and sunflower kernels to approximate the texture of the meatloaf and then filled it with all kinds of delicious flavors. The best part about Mama’s meatloaf is the brown sugar molasses and ketchup glaze that goes over top of the meatloaf and gets all gooey and caramelized.
Is this a replacement for a nice, piping hot slice of meatloaf from my Mama’s kitchen? No. But it’s a pretty good vegan and gluten-free approximation. And completely delicious piled high next to a place of mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. I was really quite happy with the results of this one. The loaf held its form well, it was a little bit gooey and a little bit crumbly (just like “real” meatloaf). The real test of meatloaf? How’s it hold up to the next-day sandwich test?
Well, I’d say it passed with flying colors.
Someday I’ll share my Mama’s recipe with you, but for now, you’ll have to try your hand at the vegan version.
Adapted from my Mama
The two different types of beans help the texture approximate regular meatloaf. The pinto beans become smooth and creamy, while the chickpeas tend to keep some of their shape. Try experimenting with other types of beans to find your perfect combo.
I like to go simple and just put on a whole crapton of mustard. Yum!
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Holy cow, that looks delicious.
It was pretty delicious!
I Cooked It For The First Time With My Sister And It Came Out AMAZING! Nice Recipe.
I just tried to make it and it won’t cook. It is mushy and it has cooked for over an hour
Thank you a thousand times for sharing your meatless meatloaf recipe! I am a vegetarian but occasionally have cravings for meatloaf. It’s one of the few red meat dishes I miss! I’ve tried various meat-free versions but they were just so-so. Yours looks fantastic and I love that it includes ingredients I actually have around!
I’ll be trying this out soon!
Hope you like it Rachel! :)
Worcestershire is not usually vegetarian. FYI
you can get vegetarian Worcestershire sauce in a health food store. But it is true that most grocery store brands are not vegetarian.
Oh my word this looks delicious. I am definitely trying this on Sunday. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.
Mayo and cheese are my topping choices for meatloaf sandwiches.
Let me know how you like it!
I made this tonight for dinner, and it was so good. I can’t wait to eat some of the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
So glad you liked it! :)
Regular oats or quick cooking oats?
I used regular rolled oats, but it doesn’t really matter because they are going to get chopped up in the food processor anyway. And quick cooking oats are just chopped up rolled oats. :)
I am so so excited to try this! Thanks for such a great recipe!
Hope you like it!
Yes! My daughter and my husband both decided to be vegetarian. It is not a phase anymore…and I know the hubby misses meatloaf. I mastered the veggie burger, but a meatloaf recipe seemed daunting. Thanks–I’ll be giving it a try this week.
Let me know how you like it! :)
Hi Cathy, I will be trying this recipe to night but I would be very interested in learning your veggie burger recipe. Its the one of the recipes I have not mastered! Thank you!
Hi Jessica! I make black bean burgers. My recipe is here. Good luck!
Looks fantastic! I’ve already got a meatless meatloaf recipe that I love, but it’s very carb-y. I could never eat it on a sandwich. :( But, this looks more substantial, protein packed, and delicious!
It’s a little carb-y, still, but delicious on a sandwich. :)
why is the molasses listed twice on the glaze? is it really 4T of molasses? or should it just be 2?
Nope, just a mistake! Thanks for catching it. It was supposed to be mustard. Fixed. :)
I’m back to tell you what a huge success your meatless meatloaf recipe was at our house. Even my 89 year old MIL loved it! Thanks so much for posting. :)
A great “meatless” idea! I have been missing “the loaf” and didn’t even realize it. I went “BBQ” with my spices and it turned out fantastic, with such a nice texture. Thank you so much!
Awesome! So glad you liked it. :)
thank you for posting this recipe, i made it for dinner this evening and it was delicious and healthy too! my husband loved meat loaf before we went vegetarian so i was hoping to find a good recipe so he could enjoy it again. he liked it a lot :)
This is awesome! Tried it exactly as you created it the first time and then played with it a little the second time. Delish both ways! We’ve always been vegetarian and my kids (13 & 11) asked for it the second time! Thanks so much.
Awesome! So glad you liked it. And I love hearing when kids like stuff! I need a “kid approved” stamp.
I cut out meat from my diet last January and have been loving experimenting with so many great veg recipes out there. I finally got around to making a meatless meatloaf last night for the first time and really liked it. It wasn’t this recipe and it had some flaws, but now I can’t wait to try some other meatless meatloaf recipes. This one looks really great, especially the glaze! Will be adding this to my list of recipes to make pronto!
Awesome! Let me know how you like it. The glaze is definitely my favorite part. :)
This sounds great. Can it be prepared a day ahead of time and then cooked? Or maybe cooked a day ahead and then reheated? Or will that dry it out?
Hey! Looks great, can you use black beans instead of pinto?
I don’t see why not. They have a similar texture. :)
I tried black beans…and it was horrible!! we threw away the loaf it was bitter & soggy!! I was very dissapointed :(
Delicious, loved it. Thank you for this recipe!
Great recipe, Cassie – my 3 year old who is vegan with lots of food allergies could actually eat this recipe without any alterations and loves it! So do I. Thanks.
I’ve made this a few times now and absolutely love it. But I went to make it yesterday and didn’t have sunflower seeds. Have you tried any other type of seeds/nuts? I had some chopped peanuts but I hesitated because I thought the flavor might be a bit much. Ideally I’d use sunflower seeds, but in a pinch what else do you think might work?
I made this with homemade dried beans, and didn’t completely dry them of the soaking and cooking liquid. My meatloaf is a gooey, mushy mess. Will cooking it longer help?
Hmmm, it might! The longer it cooks, the more liquid is cooked out. Good luck!
Hi Cassie, I am so excited to make this tomorrow, however Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian (and also I am in India, so it’ll be very hard to find), so I was wondering … what do you think I can substitute it with? What would you put in to achieve a similar taste?
We actually have vegan brands of Worcestershire sauce here in the States! :) The flavor of Worcestershire is pretty complex, but maybe some soy sauce or Liquid Smoke might do the trick. There are also recipes out there for making your own Worcestershire sauce, but they can be a bit complex (and require quite a few ingredients). Good luck!
Hi there if you look at the forks over knives website/app they actually have a recipe for vegan Worcester sauce – it’s a great substitute and keeps for a few weeks in the fridge
Hi, this looks great, but does it come out mushy? We’re looking for a chewy texture. Thank you
It’s definitely not chewy! I wouldn’t call it mushy, either. I’d say more like the texture of a very dry hummus. :)
Hi Cassie, your recipe is awesome. I did it tonight and substituted black beans for pinto beans. The taste was great, however, it was still kinda soggy. Even cooking it for 60 minutes didn’t really help. Now, from other replies I figure that my beans weren’t dry enough!?
Could you please explain in detail how long you drain yours? Or do you dry them with towels, etc.?
Your advice would be highly appreciated because I HAVE TO TRY IT AGAIN! Thanks, Natalie
I drain them in a colander and then shake off as much water as possible. The end result is definitely a bit mushy (not 100% the texture of regular meatloaf), but it definitely shouldn’t be soggy. Maybe trying to dry them off with towels might help. Good luck! I’m so glad you liked it. :)
Mine tasted okay, but it was the consistency of a thickish refried bean. It wasn’t solid enough to slice, like what I see in your picture. Any advice? I’m new to meatless substitutes so I’m not sure if this is normal, or if I should have done something differently. I did drain my beans in a colander, as mentioned in the comments.
I’m making this tonight for the second time. I use HP sauce instead of ketchup because I like it better. Over-all- an amazing replacement for meatloaf. My husband says it satisfies his meatloaf craving completely!
this tasted better than I thought it would.i thought it would be a bit bland but it’s not! the pinto beans are a must for their flavor. this tasted slightly like refried beans which I love. i might even add some cut up jalapeno chilis instead of the chili powder next time. I don’t have vegetarian worc sauce so I just used ketchup instead. the soft texture takes a bit of getting used to but mine didn’t seem to come out as soft as some others did. I will definitely be making this again. very healthy.
Absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing this recipe that will definitely be used a lot!
in my house, we call it “EATLOAF”!
what size cans of beans do you use?
14.5 ounce (or around there).
Can you freeze this loaf?
I’m not sure, Angela. I’ve never tried. Let me know if you do!
Hi Cassie, I’m attempting to make this as part of our christmas dinner. I’m the only vegan at the table so hoping to impress! This may be a stupid question but just checking the sunflower kernels are the raw yellow corn and not dried sunflower seeds?
should have mentioned Im in south africa so somethings are called different names – when i google i get seeds but my sister is convinced its fresh corn peices thanks again x
feel super silly my sisters mum in law pointed out sunflowers and corn – two completely different things…fingers crossed i get this right.
I made this last week and it was great! I had some leftovers so I stuck in the freezer, and later crumbled them over a pizza crust, put them in the oven for 10 minutes, and had it with a creamy vegan cheese sauce.. AMAZEBALLZ.. It tasted SO much like actual beef crumbles. Thank you for the recipe :)
This recipe is for sure a keeper! First time I tried a meatless meatloaf and it was great!
Best vegan meatloaf ever!! I have tried many recipes! Wonderful..even better the next day!!!
So I made this the other night, save I had to sub brown sugar for molasses (molasses is apparently expensive where I am for some reason). It had a good flavor, but I think I need to bake it a bit longer (I think my oven runs a bit cooler), but still tasty.
Also my dad dubbed it “eatloaf” since it isn’t meatloaf and calling it loaf is just strange. So in my house it is now eatloaf.
I made it tonight, I reduced the chili powder by half, and had to bake an hour, but it is fairly “firmish”. I think it will make a fine sandwich. I like them with mayo and yellow mustard. I will make this again
Cassie, I was SUPER excited to try this recipe. We steer clear of canned beans in our house, and always use dried beans instead. I’ve never had an issue until now. Much like the other commenter who used rehydrated and cooked beans, our loaf came out a mushy mess. It literally just sludged around the spatula when I tried to cut off a piece towards the center. It tastes DELICIOUS, but the texture is just… odd. Please help!
My only suggestion would be to cook it a bit longer to cook some of the moisture out. Maybe there is something about rehydrated beans that hold onto the water in them better than canned beans?
Looks delicious! I’m always looking for meatless recipes for my family. I have my own meatless meatloaf recipe but I can’t wait to try this version!
I made this for the first time tonight. My 12 year old daughter has been vegan for 4 months now and I’m always on the hunt for easy and nutritious meals. It came out pretty good. Did it 100% according to recipe. I think next time I might leave it in a bit longer. Maybe 45 min. It was not mushy but not quite firm. Reminded me a little of refried beans. The color was lighter than the picture but it was really good and very filling. Will make it again:) maybe a little more onion and a little more spices this time. I think I was too careful with the seasonings :)
Can you roll these into balls to make meatless meatballs., and bake on a cookie sheet. We have vegetarians at work and this would make a nice appetizer if it’s firm enough for that.
I’ve never tried it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I also have a tried-and-true vegan “meat” ball recipe that I love: https://wholefully.com/2011/05/19/vegan-meat-balls/
Best ever, made it a few times already. Thank you…
I had high hopes for this but since there were so many people who tried it and loved it I thought I would give it a go. On a positive note the sauce for the top was awesome. But the meatloaf came out just as mushy as it went in. I ended up cooking it for over an hour and still just mush. I followed the recipe to the letter of the law but I guess this just wasn’t for me
I left mine in for 35 minutes. When it came out it was mushy – like refried beans – but I had cooked it ahead of time for the next day. Voila! Left it overnight (not even in the fridge but in the oven because I forgot) and it is properly firm and it sliced up perfectly.
I just made this with a few alterations and it was great! I left out the pepper, used kidney beans instead of pinto, cut the amount of chili powder used in half, and subbed soy sauce in place of worcestershire sauce. I also added a little bit of ketchup to the final mixture because that’s what my mom used to do with her meatloaf! I didn’t use a glaze and it still turned out sooo well. Thanks for this awesome recipe- will definitely be making again soon.
Lovely vegan recipe but please it is not gluten free. Oats have gluten and other ingredients which could make coeliacs a very ill.
Oats do not inherently have gluten in them. The reason that oats commonly have gluten in them because of cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients at the processing facility. Gluten-free (non-contaminated) oats are widely available now that gluten-free has become more in fashion. Bob’s Red Mill sells a particularly good gluten-free oat: http://amzn.to/1KiydP3
If using dried beans instead of canned, what would be the equivalent amounts?
Typically, 1 can of beans equals about 2 cups of cooked dried beans. :)
I’ve been vegan for 3 years and this is the BEST meatless loaf I’ve found. My husband, parents and grandkids loved it too! Thanks so much for sharing?
I’m so glad you guys like it! :)
The taste of meatloaf without the animal cruelty! Yes please! I’ll be trying this out soon!
Can I make it without the sunflower?
Hello! I’m so excited to try your recipe. Our household has vegetarians and vegans (and gluten free to boot). I always end up making “mushy eatloaf” and I’ve not found a recipe yet that isn’t so smooshy so I’m hoping yours stays firm be/c it looks delicious!
My question: Can I substitute ground flaxseed meal instead of oats? I would probably use 1/2 cup of it. What do you think? Thank you so MUCH!
I have never tried it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I will say that flax has a much stronger flavor than oats, so that might alter the taste quite a bit!
Your bean loaf looks good.
I found the texture to be very dry.
I baked this recipe for 2.5 hours and it still would not set up properly. The outside is firm, but the inside is about the same consistency as slighty dry refried beans. However, the flavor is amazing! So I’m not giving up on this recipe, but I plan on doing a couple things differently next time. 1. after rinsing the beans, I’m going to dry them completely to make sure all excess water is gone. 2. Add some panko crumbs or tapioca flour to the mixture so they hopefully soak up the excess moisture that the onions create. Even with the consistency issue, I’m still eating it and I’ll “spread” it in a sandwich to take to work tomorrow! That’s the good thing about vegan cooking. Even if it doesn’t cook all the way, it’s still safe to eat!
It would be great if you would include in your recipes GRAMS as well as cups. It is difficult to translate from cups to grams.
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