I’m a meatloaf lover if ever there was one. It was among the rotation of down-home dishes my mom was famous for when I was growing up. Paired with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, meatloaf was always a favorite childhood dinner.
Because I eat a largely plant-based diet these days, I miss that meatloaf, so I set out to make a recipe to mimic my mom’s (minus the meat). Vegetarian meatloaf is exactly that: a tender, soul-satisfying, juicy meatloaf that will fool many a meatloaf lover.
How to Make a Meatless Meatloaf
This recipe uses the same method and many of the same ingredients that made my mom’s meatloaf so good: onions, garlic, herbs, ketchup, lots of black pepper, and breadcrumbs. I’ve made 3 changes to her recipe that makes it entirely meatless and a little easier on the cook:
- Finely chop all the vegetables and herbs in the food processor. This makes the prep work go quickly.
- Include a half pound of mushrooms. They add an extra kick of umami and plenty of moisture.
- Swap in a plant-based “meat” for the ground beef.
Using Meatless Meat
I tested this recipe using the two most commonly available vegetarian ground beef brands: Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods (I wrote a whole article about them which you can find here).
Both stack up similarly in terms of texture and nutrient profile and I found they worked equally well in the recipe. You could even use a combination of the two. I imagine there are other products out there and certainly more coming down the pipeline, but these brands are proven to work in this meatloaf recipe.
How Does Vegetarian Meatloaf Compare?
This vegetarian meatloaf looks just like its meaty twin. Seeing the finished dish in a loaf pan with a tangy glaze on top, you’d never guess it was meatless. As for flavor, the onions, garlic, herbs, and vegetables really deliver. Plus, the fat in both Beyond and Impossible grounds lend a richness very similar to regular meatloaf.
Vegetarian meatloaf is a bit more crumbly than standard meatloaf. I find it best to cut slices straight from the loaf pan.
Storing and Reheating
Store any leftover meatloaf in a covered container or wrap with foil and store in the fridge where it will keep for about 3 days. Enjoy it cold on a meatloaf sandwich or reheat in a 350°F oven or in the microwave just until warmed through. The time will vary depending on the size of the slice.
You can also freeze the meatloaf for up to 3 months. Let cool completely, then wrap thoroughly in plastic followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Defrost overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Vegetarian Comfort Food For the Whole Family
For a 100% vegetarian meatloaf, use vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, sub in soy sauce, or leave it out.
For the meatloaf:
1 large carrot, cut into 5 pieces
1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 pound white button or cremini mushrooms
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 packed cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods ground beef
1 1/3 cups panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons tomato paste
For the glaze:
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Finely chop the vegetables:
Put the carrot, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and parsley in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to chop the vegetables into a tiny dice that looks a little like confetti (about 30 pulses). Stop and scrape down the sides as needed.
Cook the vegetables:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the juices of the vegetables release and cook off, about 8 minutes. The mixture should look slightly moist but not wet and the pan should be dry.
Form the meatloaf:
Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add the vegetarian meat, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, panko breadcrumbs, tomato paste, and egg. Use your hands to mix the ingredients thoroughly until everything is evenly distributed.
Bake the meatloaf:
Transfer the mixture to a 1-pound (9x5) loaf pan and press it gently to fill out the pan. Bake until the meatloaf is firm to the touch, about 50 minutes.
Add the glaze and finish cooking:
In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly over the top of the meatloaf. Return the meatloaf to the oven and bake to finish cooking the meatloaf and darken the glaze, another 15 minutes.
Let the meatloaf cool for about 15 minutes. Serve by cutting slices directly from the pan—it’s a bit more crumbly than conventional meatloaf.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 23g||30%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||43%|
|Total Carbohydrate 28g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 18mg||89%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|