Hearty and comforting, Lentil Meatloaf Muffins are perfect for both holidays and weeknight dinners. Topped with a balsamic ketchup glaze, they are easy to make in under an hour.
While they are enjoyable any time of year, these easy meatless muffin pan meatloaves were originally created as a holiday recipe when I was deciding what to make for our Thanksgiving entree.
They are delicious with traditional comfort food dishes like mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots.
As reader Lisa C. said: "I made these for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit and absolutely delicious! Followed the recipe exactly and they turned out perfect. Your choice of seasoning and flavors put it miles ahead of any other lentil type loaf/muffin I’ve had. Ketchup and balsamic….yum!! They’re still great 2 days later, heat them up, add a veg and you have a super healthful meal."
Why you'll love this recipe
- It's a meatless entree that vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores will all enjoy.
- It's easy to make and perfect for meal prep.
- The leftovers taste amazing, plus they are freezer friendly.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Since our vegan meatloaf doesn't contain eggs, we need to use something else as a binder to hold the muffins together. While there are commercial egg replacers on the market, I prefer to make my own using ground flaxseeds (flax meal) to form a "flax egg". It works great as a vegan egg substitute in baked goods, too.
Simply mix ground flaxseeds and water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. For one egg, the ratio is 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds to 4 tablespoons water.
For convenience, I recommend using pre-cooked lentils that come canned or in a vacuum-packed bag. Or you can cook dried brown or green lentils before preparing this recipe.
You will need 3 cups of lentils. 1 cup of dried lentils yields approximately 2½ cups cooked.
Whatever you do, do not use yellow or red lentils for this recipe! Save those quick cooking "split" lentils for when you're making Indian dhal, Instant Pot Vegan Chili, or Red Lentil Potato Soup.
I recommend cooking 2 cups of dried lentils at a time, and then freezing any leftover cooked lentils for up to 3 months. Then you can defrost them in the refrigerator and use them as needed.
- To cook 2 cups of dried lentils on the stove, bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add the rinsed lentils and allow them to simmer 20-35 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.
- To cook them in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker, rinse 2 cups lentils and combine them with 4½ cups of water. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
I recommend using a non-stick silicone muffin pan. But it you have a metal muffin tin, you can use a little oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking.
- Mix the ground flaxseeds and water in a small bowl and set aside.
- Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots.
- Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Add the lentils, Italian seasoning, ketchup, Dijon mustard, panko breadcrumbs, flaxseed mixture, and salt and pepper. Fold together until well combined.
- Fill the muffin pan cups with the lentil mixture and pat each one down tightly. Brush the glaze over the tops, then bake.
Allow the meatloaves to rest for 5-10 minutes before removing them from the pan to prevent them from falling apart.
Storing and freezing
You can prep the meatloaf mixture a day in advance and refrigerate in the muffin pan until ready to bake. In addition, the cooked lentil meatloaf muffins can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave oven or enjoy cold.
Any variety of brown or green lentils will work in this recipe. Red and yellow lentils should be avoided since they are too soft and do not hold their shape when cooked.
Dried lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking.
For this recipe, jarred marinara sauce or canned tomato paste are good substitutes for the ketchup.
More lentil recipes
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and fun.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
Vegan Lentil Meatloaf Muffins
For the lentil meatloaf:
- 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseeds, (flaxseed meal)
- 4 Tablespoons water
- ½ cup diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup diced celery
- ¼ cup diced carrots
- 3 cups cooked lentils, (2-15 ounce cans)
- 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 1 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, (gluten-free, if desired)
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
For the glaze:
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Mix the ground flaxseeds and water in a small bowl and set aside.
- Saute the onion in a little water over medium heat until it's soft and slightly translucent.
- Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the celery and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes until softened. Add a splash of water if the pan appears dry.
- Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked lentils, Italian seasoning, 2 Tablespoons of ketchup, Dijon mustard, panko breadcrumbs, flaxseed mixture, and salt and pepper, to taste. Fold together until well combined.
- Fill the muffin pan cups with the lentil mixture and pat each one down tightly.
- In a small bowl, mix the ¼ cup ketchup and balsamic vinegar. Brush each lentil meatloaf muffin with a little of the mixture.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to rest 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove and serve.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.
This post was updated to provide better user experience with photos of the ingredients and how to make this recipe. The recipe itself was not changed.
Lori S. Atkinson
I made this tonight and it tastes delicious. The only problem is, since the recipe didn't say to drain the beans, I only drained them about half way, just in case. Well, they are very mushy, like mashed potatoes. BUT, I also cooked them all in one glass pan, so that might be the reason also. Can you please advise on these two matters? Should I have drained the beans completely?
Hi Lori, Yes, you should drain the lentils if using canned. I'm glad it was delicious anyway!
I am interested in making this recipe, but I'd like to make it as a loaf, in a loaf pan. Can you tell me the temperature and time I would need to bake the loaf if I do it this way? Thank you.
Hi Darlene, You can bake it at the same temperature for about twice as long. I would check it periodically for doneness as it bakes. Enjoy!
Thank you for your prompt response. I'm looking forward to making the recipe tonight!
I made these for the first time yesterday. Although tasty and they held together well, we found them to be very dry. Wondering if adding some broth to the mixture might help them retain more moisture?
I haven't had this issue. I wonder if the lentils were dry. Did you cook them yourself or use canned?
This recipe spoke to me as a native Midwesterner 🙂 I have made it twice. I made it as written the first time, and the second time, I ran the mixture through a food processor before baking. The muffins stuck together better, so I recommend the extra step.
Thanks so much, Sara! That's a great tip. 🙂
Hello. I'm interested in making this recipe but not sure what consistency the cooked lentils should be. I have the red lentils --- should I simply drain all the excess water before I use it in this recipe?
Hi Barb! This recipe doesn't work with red lentils. You will need brown or green lentils.
Marvelous recipe! I used half black lentils, half brown. Next time I might use all black or cook them a bit less as the loaves were just a bit pasty. I doubled the sauce on top, used tomato paste & balsamic. I used a Wilton mini loaf pan, so I ended up with 8 mini meatloaves, super delicious! I could barely wait even 5 minutes to try them. EXCELLENT!
That's fantastic, Eve! How long did you need to cook them in the mini loaf pan?
I packed them down tight as the recipe instructed and baked them 25 minutes. I let them set 5 minutes which was tough, the smell was so delicious!
Can this recipe be made with egg for non-vegans? How would you adjust the ingredients, if so?
Hi Margaret, Yes, you will only need one egg. Simply leave out the ground flaxseeds and water and use the egg instead. I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks for the quick reply, Amy! I’m so glad to have seen this recipe. It will be a big help as main dish for my vegetarian guests at Thanksgiving. I think the rest of us will enjoy it too!
How moist are these supposed to be before cooking? How much water am I adding to the flax seed? 1/4 cup? 1 cup? Are they supposed to be goopy when putting them into the muffin tins or are they more dry?
Hi Brandi, you will combine 1 tablespoon flax meal with 4 tablespoons water. The lentil mixture will be dry.
Made this for the lunchboxes and to keep on hand to bring to gatherings with limited vegan options. They are amazing!
That's such a great idea, thanks Inga!
I followed the recipe, but the muffins all fell apart! What did i do wrong? Its taste devine but was in bits on the plate.
I'm glad you were able to enjoy the dish anyway. It could be an issue with the breadcrumbs and flax seed mixture combining with the other ingredients. Or maybe the ingredients weren't packed down enough in the muffin pan.
I dislike both ketchup and balsamic vinegar. What do you think of subbing Worcestershire sauce for the ketchup in the mix and omitting the glaze? Thanks!
Yes, this recipe is very adaptable. I know one reader told me she skips the ketchup and balsamic and uses marinara sauce both in the mix and on top. Or you could use barbecue sauce. I hope this helps!
Thanks, Amy. Very helpful. I’ll let you know how things turn out.
Another winner, Amy! I used 3 TBS of Worcestershire sauce in the mix, which may be about a 1/2 TBS too much for most people’s tastes. Me, I like WonderWoman sauce, so it worked out perfectly fine for me. Had them with smashed spuds and steamed Brussels sprouts. Made a very nice meal and I have plenty of leftovers. Thanks for such wonderful ideas, Amy!
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, LisaRose!
I had scoured the web for some vegan meatloaf recipes. I've tried different recipes but few hit the mark. I really enjoyed this one. I am thankful for the simple and not long list of ingredients, too!!I will make these again. For anyone who loves the sauce bit on top, like me, you'll want to double that for the meatloaf muffins. Otherwise wonderful!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Mel! Great tip about adding extra sauce. 🙂
Hi, Amy! This was fabulous. I added some smoked paprika to the spices, because it makes the lentils taste "meatier. " I also used Texas size muffin tins, so I got 6, not 12. Just increase your baking time, right?
I'm so happy you enjoyed the recipe, Julie! Smoked paprika is such a great idea.
My family loves these . I also mixed it up , used black beans , corn and salsa in place of lentils and ketchup .
That's wonderful to hear, Moira! I will have to try it with your substitutions!
"I could eat these everyday" said my husband!
Thank you so much, Shari! You made my day!
I’m confused, when you say ground flax seeds does that mean the whole flax seeds or flax seed meal you buy in a bag?
Thank you I can’t wait to make these
I hope you enjoy them, JoAnn! You'll want to use flax seed meal.
I wondered if you could make this in a standard loaf pan for one large loaf, or would the quantities need to be changed?
Hi Julie! Yes, you can make it in a loaf pan. It will just take longer to cook.
This is such a great recipe. It’s simple, the ingredients are things that I typically have and it’s delicious!
Thank you so much, Crystal!
Thank you, Vicki!