We all know what meatloaf is. It’s a comfort food that is fairly easy to make by throwing all ingredients in a bowl, mixing, throwing it in a loaf pan, and then baking. It’s basically a giant meatball in loaf form. But…have you ever tried a vegan version of this classic? It might not sound very appetizing to some, but this ultimate vegan bomb meatloaf is well….the BOMB!
I would even argue that it’s superior to traditional meatloaf because of all the amazing nutrients it provides. Just check out the nutritional benefits below. I highly recommend you try it and to see for yourself- and comment below to let me know your thoughts!
Creating the Ultimate Vegan Bomb Meatloaf
I often don’t use a recipe when making traditional meatloaf. I’ve made it so often and the ingredients are engrained in my brain. But I am new to vegan cooking so I had to do a little digging to come up with the best vegan version of meatloaf.
It was a fun new challenge and I am so glad I tried this!
You will use a lot of the same techniques to make sure the loaf sets up nicely while baking and prevent it from crumbling or being too mushy. A mushy, fall-apart meatloaf is NEVER a good thing, especially if you are cooking for company.
There are a few variations you can try to accomplish a firm yet moist meatloaf, which I talk about below. And while I am more than satisfied with the variation I came up with, I’m looking forward to experimenting with some of the other suggested variations.
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 ground flaxseeds. But my goodness, there are a lot of binder options out there that I am going to have to try next time.
Some other vegan binder options include:
- vegan mayonnaise
- ground flax seeds or “flax egg” which is 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbsp. water
- chia seeds
- vegan yogurt
- aquafaba- this is basically the leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas
- mashed potatoes
- pureed silken tofu
Adding Flavor to Vegan Meatloaf
Adding flavor to vegan meatloaf is easy peasy. Each of the ingredients you use will add flavor, so put them all together and it’s almost impossible to end up with a flavorless loaf.
There is always the tried and true mirepoix of vegetables that many dishes begin with. A mirepoix, pronounced meer-PWAH, is a blend of the aromatic vegetables onion, celery, and carrot cooked together using butter or oil until cooked and translucent.
I did use all three of these veggies along with others. For this recipe, my goal was to add as many veggies as I could for maximum nutritional benefit.
Some vegetable add-in options could include:
- onion (sweet, yellow, white, Vidalia)
- carrots (any color)
- bell pepper (any color)
- mushrooms (Portobello, button, baby bella, any kind!)
- parsnip or turnip
I’m tempted to try other vegetable variations next time. I don’t know about you, but zucchini sounds like it would work beautifully.
Herbs and Spices
You can also add additional herbs and spices to kick up the flavor more. For meatloaf, I opt for traditional Italian herbs like garlic, basil, and oregano. But maybe you’d like to try a Mexican-inspired meatloaf with added chili powder and salsa or one with a little Asian flare with ginger, curry, or turmeric.
The addition of herbs and spices adds flavor without adding sodium or fat to the dish.
Fresh herbs are my preference but are not always available to me. So if using dried herbs, just remember that dried herbs have a deeper flavor. A little bit goes a long way.
Rule of Thumb: Use about 1 teaspoon of dried herbs for every 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
Related Article: Using Recipe Substitutions When Cooking.
There is a slew of research boasting the benefits of a plant-based diet.
This research shows that a primarily vegan diet has protective health benefits that include:
- promoting greater weight loss
- decreasing LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides
- reducing 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 in order to reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases. More and more research is being done each year that promotes these benefits.
Plant-based diets can provide all the essential nutrients our bodies need, without the added things (saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol, other additives) we don’t need.
Related article: Mediterranean Diet For Beginners (Get Started Today!)
What to Serve with Ultimate Vegan Bomb Meatloaf
I served my meatloaf along with a side of mashed sweet potatoes. I would suggest a vegetable or maybe even a starch of some sort as a great accompaniment to this dish.
Here are some side dishes you can serve with your vegan meatloaf:
- roasted or mashed red or sweet potatoes
- roasted root vegetables (such as beets, parsnips, turnips, and carrots)
- green beans
- roasted heirloom or cherry tomatoes
- garlic bread, dinner rolls, or cornbread
- honey glazed carrots
- broccoli salad
- brussels sprouts
- macaroni and cheese
Adjustments to Nutrition Information
While this vegan meatloaf does have a considerably lower amount of fat and sodium compared to traditional meatloaf, I do see room for improvement.
If you want to go a step further and lower the sodium even more, omit the salt completely to reduce it to 644 mg per slice of meatloaf.
The sodium is coming from the Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, canned beans, and the ketchup. I also suggest using a lower sodium ketchup if available. And finally, you can prepare the garbanzo beans (chick peas) yourself by using dried chick peas and covering them with water overnight then boiling. This will take extra time but it will help reduce the sodium content.
There is a minimal amount of fat per slice of meatloaf. 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.
Ultimate Vegan Bomb Meatloaf
- 1 Food Processor optional, for mashing garbanzo beans
- 1 loaf pan
- aluminum foil
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
- 2 (15 oz) cans reduced sodium garbanzo beans drained, rinsed, and roughly mashed
- 1-1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs*
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 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 fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
- 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.
- Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (see Notes), basil, oregano, smoked paprika, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and Bragg's Liquid Aminos to mashed garbanzo beans.
- Add cooked vegetable mixture to garbanzo bean mixture. Stir thoroughly or use hands to combine.
- Press into prepared loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove from oven, take off aluminum foil, and evenly spread ketchup on top. Bake for additional 15 minutes, uncovered.
- Remove and allow to sit for 15 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley for garnish. Enjoy!
- *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 somewhat.
- For an additional ingredient and great smoky flavor, I would’ve loved to try adding liquid smoke to this recipe. Unfortunately I did not have any on hand.
Share With Me: Have you tried making vegan meatloaf before? Did you try this one? If so, comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear what (if any) modifications you made.
Other vegan- friendly recipes you might be interested in:
- Vegan Egg Salad recipe
- Best Kale Salad EVER!
- Roasted Vegetable Medley
- Addicting Garlic Bread with Olive Oil
- Vegan Cranberry Bread with Orange and Ginger
- One-Pot Spicy Vegan Brunswick Stew
- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie [Vegan]
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Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ and its Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.