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.
This recipe was originally published in November of 2015, and it's been a reader favorite ever since! I've updated it with more detailed instructions and process shots, and now I'm resharing it just in time for Thanksgiving 2020.
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.
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.
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've heard again and again that this is the best vegan meatloaf ever.
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!
What You'll Need
- Chickpeas. They'll need to be precooked (try this method) or canned.
- Panko breadcrumbs. Regular breadcrumbs work too — just check the ingredients to ensure they're vegan.
- Non-dairy milk. Make sure it's unflavored and unsweetened.
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce. Try Annie's, Edward & Sons or Whole Foods brands. They're all vegan!
- Soy sauce or tamari.
- Olive oil. Leave this out for an oil-free version.
- Ground flaxseeds. This helps bind the loaf together.
- Tomato paste.
- Liquid smoke.
- Black pepper.
How to Make Vegan Meatloaf
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll down to the bottom of the post if you'd like to skip right to the recipe!
Start by loading up your food processor with the chickpeas, diced veggies, panko breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, olive oil, flaxseeds, tomato paste, and liquid smoke, if you're using it!
If you've got a nice big food processor you might be able to do it all at once. Otherwise, do this in a couple of batches.
Pulse everything in the food processor. Whatever you do, don't let it start running and walk away. Your mixture will turn to mush and you'll end up with a sad, mushy vegetarian meatloaf.
Next, load everything into a loaf pan. Tip: line the pan with a strip of parchment paper to make the loaf easier to remove when it's done baking. Smooth out the top with a spoon and bake the loaf.
Mix up the glaze while your loaf bakes.
After 30 minutes, take the loaf out of the oven and spoon the glaze over top. Bake it for another 20 to 25 minutes.
- Mix everything up in batches if needed. I used an 11 cup food processor and still it was a tight squeeze!
- Don't overblend. Please, please, please don't do it! Check out my shots above: the mixture is chunky! There's even a whole chickpea or two in there. This gives your loaf texture and keeps it from being mushy.
- I've tried a few different loaf pans and had the best luck with a glass Pyrex pan.
- The loaf firms up over time. So if you like a nice, firm vegan meatloaf, make it well in advance so it has time to sit.
- Leftovers can be heated in the microwave or popped in the oven for a few minutes. Oh, and they make an awesome sandwich!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Just use gluten-free vegan breadcrumbs, or substitute rolled oats. You'll also need to use gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce, and make sure you're Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free (Edward & Sons is).
Yes! I've heard from a lot of readers who did this with success. I skip the step to save time and because I find the loaf delicious without it.
You can! Just chop your veggies up very finely, and mash the chickpeas with a fork or potato masher.
More Vegan Comfort Food Recipes
- Classic Vegan Mac & Cheese
- Vegan Shepherd's Pie
- Vegan Beef Stew
- Vegan Chicken & Dumplings Stew
- Vegan Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Check out my video for more guidance on how to make a killer vegan meatloaf!
(Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf
For the Chickpea Meatloaf
- 2 (14 ounce or 400 gram) cans chickpeas, (or 3 ⅓ cups cooked chickpeas) drained and rinsed
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 3 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Maple Glaze
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 9 inch loaf pan and arrange a strip of parchment paper width-wise along the center, with just a bit hanging over the sides.
Working in batches if needed, place all the 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 you're working in batches, transfer each batch to a large mixing bowl when complete and then mix by hand.
Press mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake 30 minutes.
While meatloaf bakes, stir glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.
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.
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.