two bean meatless meatloaf (vegan, gluten-free)

Recipe At-A-Glance

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Two-Bean Meatless Meatloaf

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.

Two Bean Meatless Meatloaf

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.

Serves 4-6


For the Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
For the meatloaf:
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 large green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup sunflower kernels
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all glaze ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the oats until chopped well, but not into a powder.
  4. Add onion, green pepper, garlic and sunflower kernels and pulse again until well combined.
  5. Add in chickpeas, pinto beans, chili powder, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Pulse until beans are almost nearly pureed. Leave a little bit of texture.
  6. Spoon bean mixture into a greased loaf pan and even out.
  7. Pour glaze over bean mixture.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until glaze is caramelized and loaf is solid.

What are your favorite toppings for a meatloaf sandwich?

I like to go simple and just put on a whole crapton of mustard. Yum!

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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94 Responses
  1. 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!

      1. Jan Appel

        you can get vegetarian Worcestershire sauce in a health food store. But it is true that most grocery store brands are not vegetarian.

  2. Athena

    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.

    1. Cassie

      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. 🙂

  3. 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.

      1. Jessica

        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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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. 🙂

  6. Jim

    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!

  7. Colette

    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 🙂

  8. SedonaMichelle

    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.

  9. Amanda Elliott

    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!

  10. lisa

    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?

  11. Anne

    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.

  12. Wynn Zetterberg

    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?

  13. Zoe

    Cassie, help!

    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?

  14. Natalia

    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?

    1. Cassie

      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!

    2. Sara George Harrison

      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

  15. Natalie

    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

    1. Cassie

      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. 🙂

  16. Sarah

    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.

  17. Susan

    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!

  18. Kelly

    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.

  19. 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?

      1. Candice

        feel super silly my sisters mum in law pointed out sunflowers and corn – two completely different things…fingers crossed i get this right.

  20. Norah

    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 🙂

  21. Lyn

    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.

  22. Jan Harris

    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

  23. Amanda

    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!

    1. Cassie

      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?

  24. Nadine Indovina

    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 🙂

  25. Darlene

    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.

  26. Muriel

    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

    1. 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.

  27. Molly

    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.

    1. Cassie

      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:

  28. Toni

    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?

  29. Momma Mina

    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!

    1. Cassie

      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!

  30. Jennifer

    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!

  31. Julie

    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.
    There are over 500 million people in Europe who would appreciate this…

  32. Teri

    This looks very good. I’m going to try it tonight. Maybe cooking the onion, bell pepper and garlic ahead of time, saute’ them? I will try that. Thank you,

  33. Gigi

    You’re still getting comments 9 years later! I made this last night and it turned out fabulous! I took it to a potluck and everyone loved it, even the meat eaters.Thanks for a great recipe.

  34. Didn’t work! The loaf just stayed mush, no matter how long it stayed in the oven, until the glaze burnt and we were left with something that looked and smelled like a cow pat. So sad.

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