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(Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf

This hearty vegan meatloaf is made from a base of seasoned chickpeas, baked up to perfection and topped with a flavorful maple glaze. It’s not quite a classic meatloaf. It’s better.

(Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf

When I’m creating new recipes for this blog I always try really hard to work from a place of knowledge and experience. Like, if at all possible, I’d like to have had at least some authentic-ish version of a dish before sharing my own take. I’ll hear about something that sounds really awesome, maybe some exotic international dish that I just haven’t had much opportunity to try, and then seek out a restaurant a version of that dish that I can eat, so when I make my own I at least know I’m on track.

It’s kind of funny that I had trouble in this department with meatloaf. I mean, who doesn’t know what meatloaf tastes like? I really don’t. It’s been a while and I never liked meatloaf when I was a kid. In fact, I didn’t think other people liked meatloaf. I just thought it was one of those items we all had traumatic school cafeteria memories of. Apparently I was wrong, because all I’ve been hearing lately is meatloaf praise.

(Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf

Like lots of other dishes I never liked as a kid, I figured a vegan version would be a safe bet, so I set out to create one, but I got a little sidetracked, hence the (almost) classic aspect of this recipe.

Obviously chickpeas would be a diversion from normal meatloaf, but I’m totally fine with that. I also realized as I was browsing meatloaf recipes that most are topped with ketchup, which didn’t sound very appealing to me, so I went with a light maple glaze with a hint of paprika.

Maybe I do like meatloaf, because this was awesome. I had to ask my husband if it tasted anything like normal meatloaf. He assured me that it was delicious, and about as much like traditional meatloaf as one of my veggie burgers is to a regular old burger. Perfect!

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(Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf

(Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This hearty vegan meatloaf is made from a base of seasoned chickpeas, baked up to perfection and topped with a flavorful maple glaze. It's not quite a classic meatloaf. It's better.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 8
Ingredients
For the Chickpea Meatloaf
  • 2-14 oz. cans or 3⅓ cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup unflavored soy or almond milk
  • 3 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. liquid smoke
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
For the Maple Glaze
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp. paprika
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly oil a 9 inch loaf pan.
  2. Working in batches if needed, place all meatloaf ingredients into food processor bowl and pulse until chickpeas are broken up and ingredients are well mixed, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Do not overblend. If working in batches, transfer each batch to a large mixing bowl when complete and then mix by hand.
  3. Press mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake 30 minutes.
  4. While meatloaf bakes, stir glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.
  5. Remove loaf from oven after 30 minutes and spoon glaze overtop of loaf. Bake another 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.
Notes
The longer this sits, the firmer it gets. If it initially feels a bit soft for your liking, let it sit a for a few minutes or prep it a day in advance and reheat the day of serving.

(Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf

(Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf
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  1. This looks soo good! I could probably eat the whole loaf! I typically make a “meatloaf” with lentils and mushrooms, but the idea of chickpeas sounds great! Pin worthy recipe 🙂

  2. Your pictures are amazing! After seeing your pictures, I immediately wanted to make this! Great job there! Anyways, I made this last night for dinner and it was so unbelievably delicious! I accidentally bought a can of tomato sauce instead of tomato paste though. I used the sauce in place of the paste thinking it didn’t really matter. But my loaf came out kind of mushy instead of solid, so I thought maybe that was because I didn’t use tomato paste. Overall, this meatloaf was amazing and I’m going to make it for Thanksgiving! My husband who isn’t a vegetarian also loved it! Oh, and I had difficulty fitting all the meatloaf ingredients in my food processor. I was actually surprised the directions said “put all meatloaf ingredients into food processor” because that didn’t work at all. You have to put them in batches otherwise its too much and the blade can’t mix everything. It’s way easier and less messy if you put a little in at a time and then just mix everything in a bowl together afterwards.

    1. Thank you! I just updated the post to include mixing the meatloaf ingredients in batches if needed. My food processor is pretty big. 😉
      So glad to hear you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for the comment on the photos! I had trouble with this one. Photographing a meatloaf is hard!

  3. This looks great! I bet the chickpea-panko combo makes a nice meatloaf texture, and I love the generous amount of Worcestershire sauce here. I am one of those who would use ketchup on top, ha ha – ketchup is love, ketchup is life.

  4. This looks delicious! I’m excited about this- most meatless meatloaf recipes have mushrooms, which I am alergic to. And the “traumatic school cafeteria memories” made me laugh. So true!! Except for the homemade yeast rolls and peanut butter cookies, which were divine.

  5. I made this tonight! I used tomato paste as the recipe suggests and it was quite soft even after letting it rest for 10 min. What I found was that I let it sit out for quite a while after I served our portions for dinner and the unserved was a perfect texture! I can’t wait to have it tomorrow for leftovers with the firmer texture as the flavors are delicious!

    1. Hi Leslie – I know it was a long time ago but can you remember how long “quite a while” was? I am making this for an elderly couple and can begin the recipe early in the day to take to them for dinner…if letting it sit made it better, I’m interested in that time period. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! You might be able to get away with some type of grain-free flour, but it might take some experimentation. I’ve had some luck with chickpea flour in veggie burger/meatball recipes, which are generally pretty similar in consistency to this. If you try that I’d start with less, maybe 1/2 cup, and keep adding until you get a veggie burger-like feel to the mixture. Please let me know how it works out if you give it a try!

  6. This looks amazing and I’m going to make it. Obviously you have tweaked your dish to perfection and you love it this way. The cook in me is curious what would happen if you saute the vegs first. Or just the onions and the garlic anyway, to caramelize a bit. Also: I wonder about putting the whole thing in a food processor . . would it be better if some of it was a little chunkier? There’s much to play with here.

    1. There really is a lot to play with, and feel free to try different flavors and techniques. I love anything with caramelized onions, so that variation sounds awesome to me. You might be able to get away with leaving some of the mixture chunkier, just make sure you’ve broken it up enough that it feels like it will hold together like a veggie burger might. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it with any changes. 🙂

  7. Hi! This looks delicious. I will include it in my Thanksgiving table. Do you think it will be ok if I prepare it and bake it the day before and just reheat? Or would it be better to just prepare everything the day before without baking it and put it in the oven Thanksgiving day in the morning. Even though I don’t eat Turkey I have to make one for my guests, so the oven will be occupy with the bird most of the day. Thank you!

  8. I love the idea of this loaf because I am not a fan of a lentil loaf. I made 1/2 a batch first but I found it needed more spice for my taste. For the second attempt I subbed ketchup for most of the almond milk; subbed 1/2 of the bread crumbs for gluten free oatmeal; added ground mustard, cumin, sage and ground pepper for added spice. I folded in finely chopped onion, celery and carrots after running the rest is the food processor. It tasted great! I love the glaze! Thank you for the great recipe!

    1. I think you could get away with mashing up the chickpeas with a potato masher and then stirring by hand. Just make sure the mixture is well blended and has a veggie burger-like consistency. Enjoy!

  9. Heya!
    Do you have a gravy/ sauce recipe that would be great with this?
    Vegan of course!! =) It looks amazing, I’d really love to make it for christmas and pre christmas to trial it.

    1. Hi Nicole! Actually, I don’t really think it needs a sauce. The glaze was plenty for me. You could make a little extra for serving if you’d like. If you go with a gravy I’d stick with something really mild so the flavors don’t clash. 🙂

    1. Thank you! It’s not totally necessary, but does add a lot of flavor. You might want to play around with other smoky or savory spices if you can. Taste test the mixture before baking and add until you’re happy with the flavor. 🙂

  10. What’s the calories/nutritional information per serving would you guys say?
    I’m about to eat this! I made it and I can’t wait. 🙂

  11. This is absolutely amazing! I just used regular milk & didn’t have flaxseed so I just used egg. I guess that kills the vegan part of it! It still turned out absolutely amazing, my meat eater fiance LOVED this! I’m making this again this week. Thank you for the awesome recipe!

  12. I made this tonight for dinner. I changed it up a bit to add lots of fresh herbs (thyme, oregano and parsley). I did not have ground flax so I ground some chia and used that instead. The flavor is absolutely wonderful. It is a bit soft in terms of texture but I am sure as it sits in the fridge overnight it will set up and even better. Thanks for a great recipe!

  13. I always made meatloaf in muffin cups with less cooking time for individual servings. Would this work with this recipe? What would the cooking time be?

    1. I think it would work, but I haven’t tried so I have no idea what would work as far as cook temp and time. I’d go with whatever temperature you normally bake meatloaf muffins at and just check on them frequently starting at twenty minutes or so. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you give it a try.

  14. For anyone interested in the nutritional aspects:
    Good fatty acid profile
    Large amounts of fiber
    Good amount of iron

    It covers almost every micronutrient but lacks a bit of retinol (or beta-carotene), vitamin c (which is important to increase uptake of non hemoglobic iron), b2, kalcium. (It’s also completely void of b12 and D, which is to be expected).

    If you add tomatos and baby spinach as a side serving and choose milk that has added kalcium, b2 and b12 you cover all the deficiencies.

    It’s also slightly deficient in protein.

  15. I made this a couple months ago and the flavor was spot on but I think I over processed it a little. Even my meat loving 16 year old son liked it despite it being a bit mushy. I’m planning to make it again tonight but mash half the chickpeas by hand, half in the processor.

  16. Thanks, I look forward to trying this! Though I’ll probably mix all of the glaze ingredients into the loaf, for simplicity. And I’ll probably add chia seed for protein and to absorb moisture and make it more solid.

    One of my favorite non-traditional meatloaf recipes is from Paul Prudhomme. I’m sure it could be converted to a vegan version. I use about 1/3 of the fat and 1/2 of the peppers.
    https://www.chefpaul.com/site.php?pageID=300&view=372

  17. I made this today and it tastes great but it was more of a meat mush than meat loaf! It couldn’t even be sliced 🙁 I have made a lentil loaf before and the same thing happened. Do you have any tips???

    1. Sorry to hear that! I’m going to test this out with a few variables switched up, since I’ve heard similar things from others. I made it a few times and it was definitely sliceable every time, so I’m thinking it could be cookware (I used a glass Pyrex loaf pan), different brands of ingredients, oven temperature issues (I’ve checked and mine is correct) or something like that. I’ll update the post if I can figure anything out.

  18. Thank you! Eventually I found vegan recipe that gives me a taste and feeling of fullness for more than 2 hours. Make sure you make enough gravy so it it is not too dry.
    Love it. Love eating vegan.

  19. Made this last night for my boyfriend and I. We both LOVED it! Came out perfectly. I made sure not to blend the ingredients too much. After pulling it out of the oven, I let it sit for 25 minutes – leaving it nice & firm for serving. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

    1. Glad you both enjoyed it! Thanks for the details too – I’ve made this a few times and I’m trying to pin down why it comes out too soft for some people. I’m thinking not blending too much might be a big part of it.

  20. I made this recently and you are right, it really does firm up the next day. Maybe for people who are sensitive to the texture, they should make it a day ahead of when they plan on serving it. I appreciated that you used Panko bread crumbs in this because I often cannot find vegan versions of regular bread crumbs. I thought Panko would be too crunchy in a recipe like this, but they worked perfectly. Thanks for the recipe – I will definitely be making this loaf again.

  21. Hi! I just made this and it turned out very good! I substituted the panco for oatmeal and the soy sauce for liquid aminos and it still came out great! Thanks soo much for this recipe! 🙂

  22. Cooked this for dinner and it tasted sooooo good. Instead of a maple glaze I used a fig glaze, using all the same ingredients except the maple and apple cider as I replaced them with the fig glaze. The things you could make using these ingredients is endless, I’m going to try making meatballs tomorrow

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