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.
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.
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!
On to how it’s made!
Start by loading up your food processor with chickpeas, veggies, panko breadcrumbs and a bunch of savory seasonings! 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 blending and walk away. Your mixture will turn to mush and you’ll end up with a sad, mushy faux 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 from the pan. Smooth out the top with a spoon and bake the loaf.
Mix up the glaze while it 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.
Tips For Making a Perfect Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf
- 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!
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 oz. cans or 3 1/3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 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
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
For the Maple Glaze
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp. paprika
Preheat oven to 375°. 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 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.
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.