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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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102 Responses
  1. Jan

    I followed this recipe to the point, except for the added 15 min I had to leave it in the oven and it never got to be a solid loaf. It was very soft and creamy actually, as it was in the food processor before putting it in the pan. which means I could never take it out of the bread pan once I had to take it out of the oven. We had to scoop it out and put it on our plates. A real bummer.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Jan! We’re sorry that this didn’t turn out for you. Thanks so much for coming back to tell us about it. Our first thought is either the oats were over-processed in the beginning, or the beans were over-pureed. Both could lead to a loaf that doesn’t firm up nicely. Hopefully, it still tasted great even though it needed to be scooped! If you give it another go, please let us know how it goes!

      1. Jan

        Thank you for getting back to me. I actually tried the recipe again, as the flavors were awesome and it turned out just lovely. Now I can’t get enough of the thing.
        Last time I did switch out the chickpeas and used brown lentils instead. It was delicious and firm.

  2. Essie

    Thanks for the nutrition calculator link!

    This is delicious and not mushy like some comments mention. To avoid a shopping trip, I substituted orange pepper (no green), walnuts (no sunflower kernels), left-over home-cooked lentils (no pintos), subbed seasoned salt for salt/pepper/garlic (no garlic). Since I didn’t use the pintos, I left out the chili powder and used a bit of thyme and basil. Your comment about putting mustard on top gave me the idea to add a bit of powdered mustard to the mix, YUM.

    I baked it for about 30 minutes, in 3 disposable mini-loaf pans, sprayed with olive oil. I plan to freeze two and serve with vegan gravy. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

  3. Essie

    I was pleased to finally find a meatless loaf recipe without flax seed AND has less than a dozen ingredients in the loaf part of the recipe! Do you have nutritional information for this recipe?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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,

  7. 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…

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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?

    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:

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

Meet Cassie
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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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