Italian-style meatloaf muffins made from...chickpeas! These single serving mini meatloaves are totally vegan, pretty darn easy to make, and packed with zesty Italian flavors. Whip up a batch tonight!
I get a lot of questions about variations on my recipes. "Can the be made gluten-free?" "Can this be substituted for that?" That kind of thing. And unfortunately, I can't always answer. I wish I could test out ever possible version of every recipe. There just aren't enough hours in the day for that, but I try to at least answer the questions I get again and again.
A bunch of people have asked if my vegan meatloaf recipe could be baked in muffin tins, and my answer has always been that I think it would work. Well finally, after over three years and making my meatloaf at least a dozen times, I decided to give it a go as muffins.
I didn't use the exact same ingredients as my meatloaf. That seemed like a bit of a cop-out, particularly considering the fact that I'd already turned my meatloaf into a veggie burger recipe. I stuck with chickpeas as the base, but I decided to switch up the seasonings. I went for Italian-style meatloaf muffins.
If you love the original meatloaf recipe and want your muffins to taste just it, just use the ingredients for that recipe and follow the baking instructions from this recipe. (But keep in mind that this recipe uses about half the volume of ingredients as the original loaf, so either cut it in half or you'll end up with ten to twelve muffins instead of five or six). Likewise, if you want an Italian-style loaf, double the batch size for this recipe, put it in a loaf pan, and bake it up according to my original meatloaf recipe.
Now, on to the process!
Making vegan meatloaf is a lot like making veggie burgers, and this one starts with chickpeas, like many of my veggie burger recipes do! Load your food processor bowl up with some chickpeas, panko breadcrumbs, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and herbs.
Pulse everything until finely chopped and well mixed. Don't overdo it! Keep some texture in the mixture.
Spoon the mixture into muffin tins. I ended up with 5 muffins, which kind of bugged me out a bit, simply because most recipes serve an even number of people. Which is pretty silly when you think about it! There are plenty of meals enjoyed together by an odd number of people every day.
Anyhow, feel free to make six smaller muffins if you prefer. The bake time might be a smidge less — just keep an eye on them!
Whip up a quick Italian-style tomato sauce while your meatloaf muffins bake. Or, if you're feeling lazy, use your favorite store-bought marinara sauce.
Take the muffins out of the oven when they're almost done and top them with the sauce. Then bake them for 5 to 10 minutes more, just to set the sauce.
Serve with your favorite side dishes for an incredibly comforting vegan dinner. I really like these muffins with some vegan mashed potatoes, gravy, vegan green bean casserole, and roasted Brussels sprouts!
FAQ & Tips for Making Vegan Meatloaf Muffins
- Don't overblend the meatloaf mixture in the food processor! This is so important, as overblending usually results in mushy muffins.
- These muffins are super freezer friendly. Just seal them up in a storage container or plastic bag, then thaw at room temperature. I like to reheat mine in the microwave, but the oven works too.
- Feel free to sauté your veggies before adding them to the food processor. Totally not necessary, and personally, I'm just too lazy to bother with it.
- If you know you won't be eating the whole batch, try just baking up as many muffins as you'll be eating. Save the leftover chickpea mixture and sauce, store them in sealed containers in the fridge or freezer. When you're ready, pop it out, thaw (if it was frozen), put it in tins, and bake it according to the recipe.
- Can these be made gluten-free? Try substituting gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce and using gluten-free panko breadcrumbs. Oat flour might work as well, but reduce the amount a bit, as it can suck up quite a bit of moisture and give you dry meatloaf muffins.
Italian-Style Vegan Meatloaf Muffins
For the Vegan Meatloaf Muffins
- 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 medium celery stalk, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Sauce
- 1 cup canned tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly oil five cups of a standard-size muffin tin.
Place the chickpeas, panko, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, flaxseed, basil, oregano, thyme and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped and well mixed.
Divide the mixture among the oiled muffin cups, forming a dome at the top of each muffin.
Bake the muffins for 25 minutes.
While the muffins bake, stir all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
After 25 minutes of baking, remove the muffins from the oven and cover the tops with a few spoonfuls of sauce. Reserve any excess sauce for serving.
Return the muffins to the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce is set and the muffins pull away from the sides of the tins slightly.
Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes.
Gently run a knife along the edges of each muffin to loosen it from the tin before removing.
If you have any leftover sauce, heat it up for a few minutes and serve it with the muffins.