Ah, meatloaf. A polarizing dish among Americans, triggering either disgust or nostalgia — or perhaps both. I’m grateful to be among the latter camp, with meatloaf taking residence in a cozy corner of my memory of family dinners. But per Bob Dylan, times… they are a changin’. And I’m not about mushing dead animals into loaf form any more. So I present to you: vegan meatloaf, using impossible or beyond meat. It’s the same, but not. Trust me. This dish is:
- Hearty with a meaty, toothsome bite
- Deeply umami and savory
- A great dish to feed a crowd
- Easy to make in advance and bake off when company arrives
Vegan Meatloaf Key Ingredients
This recipe is part of my Kinda Garten series, where I take Ina Garten’s most iconic recipes and veganize them. The ingredients here are largely inspired by her classic meatloaf recipe, subbing in vegan ground beef (I prefer Impossible) and a flax egg.
Here are the key meatloaf ingredients you’ll need:
- Ground flax: Combined with water, this acts as the egg replacer and will help bind the meatloaf together so you don’t end up with a crumbly mess.
- Diced onions: These act as the flavor base of the meatloaf. You’ll want a good fine dice so that the onion melts into the texture of the dish, or else you’ll be picking through large onion chunks in your meatloaf.
- Hearty, woody herbs: The recipe calls for thyme, although sage and/or rosemary would make a welcome addition as well.
- Worcestershire sauce: This adds to the overall umami, meaty depth of the dish. Make sure you find a vegan one, as many commercial worchestershire sauces contain anchovies. I like Lord Sandy’s Vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce.
- Tomato paste: Similar to the Worcestershire sauce, this adds another layer of umami and depth.
- Impossible or Beyond ground beef: It’s important that you use this style of “raw” vegan ground meat that comes in a block, rather than the ground crumbles many brands (Gardein, etc.) offer. This way you’ll be able to shape and form the loaf. I prefer Impossible, as it has less of an aftertaste.
- Breadcrumbs: Use store-bought dry breadcrumbs (plain or Italian seasoned) here.
- Ketchup: The loaf gets finished off with a good slathering of ketchup, which, after baking in the oven for an hour, deepens and caramelizes and almost takes on a barbecue-like flavor.
How to Make the Meatloaf: 4 Easy Steps
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, prepared your flax egg, and preheated your oven to 350, this meatloaf comes together in a snap.
- Sautee. Add some olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat and sweat down your onions with some salt and pepper and the thyme. Let this go until it’s very soft, then add in the broth, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce and let it cook another minute to meld the flavors.
- Mix. In a large bow, combine your onion mixture, the ground beef, the flax egg you’ve prepared, and the breadcrumbs. The most important step is to make sure you lightly combine everything with a fork. This will ensure you’re not mashing together the ingredients, which will compact the mixture too much and result in a flat, dense meatloaf.
- Shape. Dump the mixture out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and shape it into a long log about 4 inches wide and a couple inches high. Then slather on the ketchup in an even layer. Make-ahead note: At this point, you can throw it in the fridge covered in plastic wrap until you’re ready to bake it off. Alternatively, continue with baking immediately.
- Bake. Bake at 350 for at least an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the edges start to turn brown and crispy. Once it’s done, allow it to rest for 5–10 minutes, then slice it up and serve!
You can serve a variety of accompaniments with this meatloaf, from freshly steamed or roasted vegetables to light leafy salads to heartier mashed potatoes or grains. Here are some of my favorite dishes to serve with vegan meatloaf:
- Tortellini and Green Pea Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
- Tequilaberry Salad with Vegan Bacon and Parmesan
- Creamy Vegan Mac n Cheese with Broccoli
Vegan Meatloaf (With Impossible or Beyond Meat)
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 5 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme finely chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (Ex: Lord Sandy's Vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce)
- 1/3 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 12 oz packages Impossible Beef (or Beyond)
- 1/2 cup store-bought dry breadcrumbs (plain or Italian seasoned)
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place a casserole pan filled with a few inches of water on the bottom rack of the oven. This will help prevent the meatloaf from cracking.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the ground flax seed and water. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and thyme, and sautee for about 10 minutes or until very soft.
- Add the vegetable broth, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce and cook another minute until the flavors have melded and the mixture has thickened slightly.
- To the large bowl with the flax mixture, add the onion mixture, breadcrumbs, and ground beef. Mix lightly with a fork, taking care not to compress and compact the mixture too much.
- Dump the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and form into a log about 4 inches in diameter and 1–2 inches high.
- Evenly spread the ketchup on top of the meatloaf.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the edges start to turn brown and crispy.
- Let the meatloaf rest for 5–10 minutes, then slice and serve.