(Vegan) Bomb Meatloaf Recipe

Looking for a delicious and wholesome plant-based dinner option? Let’s try a vegan meatloaf recipe! Packed with flavor and nutrients, this cruelty-free alternative offers all the comforting taste of traditional meatloaf without any animal products. Whether you’re a committed vegan or simply looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, my vegan meatloaf recipe is sure to satisfy even the most discerning taste buds. Get ready to impress family and friends with this hearty dish that’s perfect for any occasion.

This vegan bomb meatloaf recipe is well….the BOMB! I would even argue that it’s superior to traditional animal-based meatloaf because of all the amazing nutrients it provides. I highly recommend you try it and see for yourself- and don’t forget to leave me a comment and recipe rating below!

Creating Vegan Bomb Meatloaf

Traditional meatloaf recipes don’t usually take much thought. You add several types of animal meat (usually beef, pork, and veal), mix in bread crumbs and seasonings, form it into a loaf, and pop it in the oven.

A vegan meatloaf recipe, however, takes a bit of finesse. It requires many of the same techniques to make sure the loaf binds perfectly while baking and prevents it from crumbling or being too mushy. A mushy, fall-apart meatloaf is NEVER a good thing, especially if you are cooking for company.

Then you have to think about which aromatic ingredients and herbs and spices to add.

There are several variations you can try to accomplish a firm, flavorful, and moist meatloaf. And while I am satisfied with the variation I came up with, I am looking forward to experimenting with some of the other variations.

A Word About Vegan Beef Alternatives

You may see some vegan meatloaf recipes that use vegan “ground beef-like” alternatives. Popular brand names include Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger.

When these non-meat alternatives first emerged, the taste was amazing. The consistency, texture, and even the taste mimicked real beef so incredibly that consumers went wild! After looking a bit closer at the nutritional profile, however, it was clear that these were not healthier meat alternatives.

The main reason is that they’re made with ingredients like coconut oil and have a sodium content that surpasses real beef products! 😱

Nonetheless, a few years have passed, and food companies have taken note that consumers want healthier options that also taste good. So, they reformulated their products and even got the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Certification on these new products. In my expert opinion, these newer plant-based options are worth checking out.

Here are a few up-and-coming products to try:

If you want to use one of these meat alternatives in place of real beef that’s fine. It all boils down to what you’re looking for in terms of protein source and nutritional value.

But if you’re interested in a vegan meatloaf recipe that uses the power of chickpeas, you’re in the right place! Let’s move on!

Binders to Prevent Mushy Vegan Meatloaf

Without a proper binding agent, meatloaf falls apart. Eggs and breadcrumbs are normally used in traditional meatloaf to bind the meat with the wet ingredients, but they won’t work here. Eggs are not vegan. So, for this recipe, I use “flax eggs”.

But my goodness, there are a lot of binder options out there! Here are your options:

  • vegan mayonnaise
  • gelatin
  • ground flax seeds or “flax egg”- 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbsp. water
  • chia seeds
  • flour
  • oatmeal
  • breadcrumbs
  • vegan yogurt
  • avocado
  • aquafaba- the leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas
  • mashed potatoes
  • pureed silken tofu

Adding Flavor to Vegan Meatloaf

Here’s where the “BOMB” in this bomb meatloaf recipe comes in. There are so many aromatic vegetables, herbs, and spices to choose from. Each of the ingredients you use will add flavor, so put them all together and it’s impossible to end up with a flavorless loaf.

Vegetables

I love starting my vegan meatloaf recipe by making a mirepoix. A mirepoix, pronounced meer-PWAH, is a blend of aromatic vegetables (onion, celery, and carrot) cooked together using butter or oil until they are translucent.

In this recipe, I use all three of these veggies plus a few others. My goal was to add as many veggies as I could for maximum nutritional benefit.

Other vegetable add-in options include:

  • onion (sweet, yellow, white, Vidalia)
  • carrots (any color)
  • celery
  • eggplant
  • tomato
  • bell pepper (any color)
  • mushrooms (Portobello, button, baby bella, any kind!)
  • potato
  • zucchini
  • parsnip or turnip

I’m looking forward to trying other vegetable variations next time. I don’t know about you, but zucchini sounds like it would work beautifully in a vegan meatloaf recipe like this.

Herbs and Spices

You can also add additional herbs and spices for a more bombtastic flavor. For a classic meatloaf, opt for traditional Italian herbs like garlic, basil, and oregano. Although maybe you’d like to try a Mexican-inspired meatloaf with added chili powder and salsa. Or perhaps one with a little Asian flare from ginger, curry, or turmeric.

The addition of herbs and spices adds flavor without adding sodium or fat to the dish.

Additionally, fresh herbs may not always be available. In this case, you can substitute dried herbs, just remember that the same amount will have a stronger flavor. A little bit goes a long way.

Rule of Thumb When Using Dried vs Fresh Herbs: Use about 1 teaspoon of dried herbs for every 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.

Related Article: Using Recipe Substitutions When Cooking.

pantry items needed for bomb vegan meatloaf
Pantry items needed for Ultimate Vegan Bomb Meatloaf (not pictured: flaxseeds)

Nutritional Benefits

There is a ton of research boasting the benefits of a plant-based diet. And with all of the colorful veggies included in this vegan meatloaf recipe, it’s no exception to the rule.

A primarily vegan diet has protective health benefits that include:

  • promoting greater weight loss
  • decreasing LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides
  • reducing the risk of metabolic disease
  • promoting gut microbiota
  • protection against anti-inflammatory diseases

Many health professionals, including cardiologists, highly encourage us to follow a more plant-based diet to reduce our risk of developing many chronic diseases.

Additionally, plant-based diets can provide all the essential nutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber our bodies need, without things that we don’t need (saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol, and other additives).

Some very plant-forward diets include the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.

What to Serve with Ultimate Vegan Bomb Meatloaf

I served my vegan bomb meatloaf alongside some mashed sweet potatoes. I suggest a vegetable or maybe even a starch of some sort as a great accompaniment to this dish.

Here are a few side dish suggestions to serve with your vegan meatloaf:

Adjustments to Nutrition Information

While this bombalicious meatloaf does have a considerably lower amount of fat and sodium compared to traditional meatloaf, there are some adjustments you can make to make it even BETTER!

Reducing Sodium

If you want to go a step further and lower the sodium more, omit the salt completely. This will reduce the sodium to 644 mg per slice of meatloaf.

The majority of the sodium comes from the Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, canned beans, and ketchup. I will also suggest using a lower sodium ketchup if available. You can also use dried chickpeas by covering them with water overnight and then boiling them. This will take extra time but it will help reduce the sodium content.

Reducing Fat

There is a small amount of fat per serving as well- 6 grams total fat and 4 grams saturated fat. All of which comes from the beans and olive oil. This is completely fine and not at all unhealthy. However, you could reduce the fat further by using non-stick spray to coat your cooking pan in place of the olive oil.

This will reduce the saturated fat to 0 gm per serving.

How To Make Vegan Bomb Meatloaf

Follow these easy steps for the best vegan meatloaf you’ll ever eat.

Step 1: Cook the Vegetables

After pre-heating your oven, start sautéing all the vegetables over medium heat using a small amount of extra virgin olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, or leave out the salt completely for a lower sodium option.

This part will only take a few minutes. You want the veggies to soften and the onion to be translucent. Once this happens, set the vegetables aside for now.

Keep in mind that they’ll cook more when you put your vegan meatloaf in the oven.

vegetables for vegan meatloaf

Step 2: Prep the Beans

While the vegetables are cooling, it’s time to process your chickpeas. I’ve tried mashing drained chickpeas before with a potato masher and trust me, unless you’re the Incredible Hulk, it’s best to use a food processor.

Toss both cans of drained chickpeas into your food processor and pulse just until they become coarse crumbles, NOT puree.

Step 3: Add Everything and Mix!

Next, in a large mixing bowl, add your chickpea crumbles, breadcrumbs, and cooked vegetables (which should be cool enough by now). Add in the herbs, spices, flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

FYI, if you can’t find Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, you can use Tamari or Tamari Lite. You will find this where the soy sauce is located in your grocery store.

mixing your vegan meatloaf

Mix everything with a sturdy spoon or your hands. It should be thick and slightly moist but not wet and hold together nicely if you form it into a ball. If it’s too wet, you can add a little more breadcrumbs. Or if it’s too dry, add a little water or vegetable broth.

forming vegan meatloaf and placing into pan

Step 4: Bake Your Bomb Vegan Meatloaf

Spoon your vegan meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan and cover it loosely with some aluminum foil. Bake it in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and spread your loaf with ketchup. Bake this uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

Let your loaf cool slightly before slicing. Sprinkle on your fresh parsley before serving and enjoy your BOMB vegan meatloaf!

vegan bomb meatloaf

Tips For Successful Results

Here are some quick tips to ensure you get the best results for your vegan meatloaf with chickpeas.

  • Don’t over-pulse the chickpeas in your food processor! If you do, it won’t hold together and you’ll end up with a crumbly vegan loaf.
  • Sauté the vegetables- if you don’t they’ll release too much liquid while cooking and you’ll get a wet, mushy meatloaf.
  • When adding more breadcrumbs or liquid, do so in small amounts at a time- you can always add more but you can’t take away.
  • If you want to have some fun, use mini loaf pans so everyone has their own cute vegan loaf!
  • If you’re worried about your vegan meatloaf sticking to the pan, line your loaf pan with parchment paper for easy removal.

Other Vegan-Friendly Recipes

bomb vegan meatloaf on plate with mashed sweet potoatoes

(Vegan) Bomb Meatloaf Recipe

A vegan meatloaf packed with nutritional value that tastes amazing and you can feel great about eating! Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes of choice (I like sweet potatoes), green beans, asparagus, or whatever other yummy side you like. It'll be a great plant-based addition to your diet.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Servings 8 slices
Calories 219 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Food Processor optional, for mashing garbanzo beans
  • 1 loaf pan
  • aluminum foil

Ingredients
  

For Cooked Vegetable Mixture

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onion diced, from ~1 medium onion
  • 1 Tbsp garlic minced
  • ¼ cup celery diced
  • ½ cup carrots diced
  • 1 cup bell pepper any color
  • ½ cup Portobello mushroom chopped
  • ½ tsp salt optional
  • 1 tsp pepper

Other Ingredients

  • 2 (15 oz) cans reduced sodium garbanzo beans drained, rinsed, and coarsely mashed
  • 1-1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs*
  • 1 tsp basil dried
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos or tamari

For the Topping

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp parsley fresh, chopped, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and spray 9-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Heat a large pan over medium heat and sauté the onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, Portobello mushroom, and garlic in olive oil until veggies are soft and onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Place drained and rinsed garbanzo beans in a large bowl and mash with fork or use my preferred (and much easier) method of pulsing in food processor until roughly mashed.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add your garbanzo beans, 1 to 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (see Notes), basil, oregano, smoked paprika, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and Bragg's Liquid Aminos.
  • Add cooked vegetable mixture to the garbanzo bean mixture. Stir thoroughly or use your hands to combine.
  • Press into a prepared loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the pan from oven, take off the aluminum foil, and evenly spread ketchup on top. Bake for additional 15 minutes, uncovered.
  • Remove your meatloaf from the oven and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley for garnish. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Additional Suggestions:
  • When adding panko breadcrumbs, I used a little more than 1 cup to get the right consistency.  You want the mixture to not be too wet or too dry and hold together.  
  • For some added smokiness, try adding a few drops of liquid smoke to the garbanzo-veggie mixture before placing it into the loaf pan. 
 
Nutritional Information Per 1 Slice Meatloaf (Makes 8 slices):
219 calories, 6 gm fat, 4 gm sat. fat, 33.3gm carbohydrate, 8.3 gm protein, 5.1 gm fiber, 788 mg sodium (644 mg without optional salt), 0 mg cholesterol 
Keyword meatloaf, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian

Share With Me: Have you tried making vegan meatloaf before? What do you think of this vegan bomb meatloaf? Leave me a comment below!

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