Vegetarian Lentil Meatloaf Muffins are the best vegetarian meatloaf option, made with lentils and walnuts and baked in a muffin tin for just the right texture!
This is the time of year when I just want a big plate of mashed potatoes and something warm and savory to pair with it.
My solution is lentil meatloaf, which is full of all sorts of healthy vegetarian proteins and tastes so savory and comforting.
I shared this recipe years ago, but it has continued to be a favorite of mine so I wanted to update it with photos that I thought were worthy of a go-to recipe!
I wanted to get this recipe out to you in time for Thanksgiving as an actual loaf, but it majorly failed and I didn’t have time to tweak it. Hopefully I’ll work that out for you in the future, but just know that it’s best to make these in muffin tins for the proper texture.
The end piece was always my favorite part of meatloaf. Baking lentil meatloaf in muffin tins gives the same effect by crisping up all the edges.
What is lentil loaf?
Instead of using meat we’re using soft mashed lentils mixed with toasted walnuts, veggies, moistened breadcrumbs, and seasoning. It comes out looking just like meatloaf with an amazing savory flavor that pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes (my dream come true!).
This is one time you’ll want to overcook your lentils in order to create a base for the lentil loaf that won’t crumble. You can also cook the lentils up ahead of time to cut down on prep time for the whole recipe.
How do you reheat lentil loaf?
I just put them on a plate and pop them in the microwave for a minute or so. If you prefer you can heat them on a baking sheet in the oven at 350ºF until warm, about 15 minutes.
These vegetarian lentil meatloaf muffins can be customized! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- If you don’t have balsamic vinegar on hand you can just top the muffins with ketchup
- Use a 4 ounce jar of vegetable baby food (preferably carrot or sweet potato) in place of the carrots
- Use vegan cheese (or leave it out all together) and use non-dairy milk to make this vegan
- Swap the breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs to make this gluten-free
- Add a splash of vegan worcestershire sauce to the mix for extra meaty flavor
These lentil loaves would be delicious with my crockpot mashed potatoes, baked mashed potatoes, or oven roasted potatoes.
If you make this recipe be sure to rate it, leave a comment, or tag #theliveinkitchen on Instagram!
Vegetarian Lentil Meatloaf Muffins
- 1 cup uncooked red lentils
- 3 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion,, diced
- 2 celery stalks,, diced
- 1 cup walnuts,, finely chopped
- ½ cup carrot or sweet potato puree (or ½ cup grated carrot}
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup ketchup,, divided
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray 12 muffin tins with cooking spray (do not use paper liners).
- Rinse and strain the lentils. Place them in a pot with 3 cups of vegetable broth or water. Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered for at least 40 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the lentils are slightly mushy. Stir frequently and add a bit of water if they begin to dry out before 40 minutes. Mash the lentils slightly with a spoon when ready.
- While the lentils are cooking, combine breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and let soak. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the celery and cook 3 to 4 minutes longer. Add the mixture to the breadcrumbs.
- In a small pan, toast walnuts over medium-low heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the nuts to the breadcrumb mixture along with the carrot, Parmesan, ¼ cup ketchup, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and lentils. Mix thoroughly and divide evenly amongst muffin tins.
- In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup ketchup and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Spoon mixture over the loaves.
- Bake until the loaves are lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Nancy Dore says
My grandson is allergic to nuts. Is there a substitute that would work?
Lindsay Moe says
The recipe might still work without them, but you could also experiment with chopped pepitas, sunflower seeds, or canned garbanzo beans.
Kate Prime says
How would you freeze these? Do they need defrosting before reheating?
Lindsay Moe says
I place them in a freezer zip top bag and remove as much air as possible. Then I just place the frozen muffins in the microwave for a minute or two to reheat. If you prefer to use the oven, I would probably recommend thawing in the refrigerator overnight and then heating in the oven until warm.
I tried making these and I couldn’t get them out of the muffin tray – they just fell apart. I’m wondering if it’s because of the lentils…I don’t think they turned out correctly… they were very mushy and there was nothing left for me to mash with a fork like in the directions. Do you have any ideas why? They taste delicious and I’m really hoping I can figure out how to get them working! Thanks!
Lindsay Moe says
I’m so sorry you had trouble with this recipe! The lentils do turn into a bit of mush, which helps bind everything together, but you could try cooking them for less time so they don’t lose so much liquid. If the mixture seems dry before baking you could try adding a splash of vegetable stock or using less breadcrumbs. Hopefully this helps!
This turned out very well, I made the recipe exactly as directed and I froze all of the muffins. I reheated some of the frozen muffins for dinner a couple of weeks later and they were delicious. The usual lentil loaf type recipes I have previously made tend to be rather bland but this was quite flavorful. They’re very savory and have just the right amount of moistness. I will double the recipe the next time I make it as this recipe does take quite a bit of preparation time but it was truly worth the effort.
Thank you for the delightful recipe Lindsay, it is much appreciated.
Lindsay Moe says
Thanks for taking the time comment, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Jacie G says
I made these for the first time tonight and they were delicious! I made a couple changes. Since I had no walnuts, I used half pine nuts & half pecans. And in the sauce topping, I subbed 1 tbs worcestershire for 1 tbs of the balsamic.
Lindsay Moe says
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, thank you for sharing your delicious variation!
Hi! Can I use green lentils instead of red?