This Vegan Barbecue Lentil Loaf is oat-free, sturdy, hearty and not mushy. This loaf is bursting with barbecue flavor! The homemade BBQ sauce is baked into the loaf, on top of the loaf and used as a dipping sauce after it is baked. If you love barbecue sauce, then this loaf is for you!
*This post contains affiliate links, see my disclosure policy here.
VEGAN BBQ LENTIL LOAF
I am SO excited about this Vegan Barbecue Lentil Loaf recipe! I have worked on it so much…trial after trial, to get it to my liking. Nailing the flavor was fairly easy, but texture wise, it took a few trials. I have tried several lentil loaf recipes online, even the ones that claimed to be the best. The problem I found with a few of them that I tried, was that they were on the bland side with very little flavor, but the main issue was texture.
If you have never heard of a lentil loaf, basically it is a vegetarian version of meatloaf and they are wildly popular in the vegan/vegetarian blogging world.
VEGAN LENTIL LOAF THAT DOESN’T FALL APART
Every single vegan lentil loaf I’ve tried or seen uses oats and they all were just so mushy. I love oats, but in the lentil loaf, it just was not working for me personally with the ones that I tried. Or, they don’t hold together and crumble into a mess. I want a combo of tender, but sturdy. I tried them with oats, with nuts, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, you name it.
So, it hit me….cornbread is very sturdy and chewy and hearty. Duh, I’ll add cornmeal instead of oats or flour. The day before, my mom and I had been talking about her making my Magic Skillet Cornbread to bring to our Christmas gathering and a light bulb went off to try adding coarse cornmeal!
OMG. It worked brilliantly. The cornmeal not only made the vegan barbecue lentil loaf hold it’s shape so much better, it gave it substantial heartiness and believe it or not, a meaty texture. It gets cooked very well within all the moist lentil-goodness, but gives it much more chew instead of oaty mushiness, haha!
THE PERFECT BBQ SAUCE FOR A LENTIL LOAF
I decided on barbecue sauce as being a star flavor. I absolutely LOVE barbecue sauce. I created my barbecue sauce specifically for this lentil loaf. It has lots of spices and molasses for depth of flavor. I used maple syrup for a natural sweetness instead of refined brown sugar that is typically in traditional barbecue sauces.
Guess what, it is so dang delicious, I nearly ate the whole vegan bbq lentil loaf myself! The flavor of barbecue sauce in the loaf, on top of the loaf and then as a dipping sauce, was a true slice of heaven!
HOW DO YOU MAKE A VEGAN LENTIL LOAF?
Just cook your lentils, mix your batter, spread in loaf pan, top with sauce and bake!
As always, you only need 8 total ingredients (+ salt & water) to make this oil-free Vegan Lentil Loaf:
- Bbq sauce (You can use storebought or make my listed BBQ sauce listed, recommended! It’s nice and spicy and what really gives amazing flavor to the loaf and is the ONLY BBQ Sauce tested on the loaf)
- Chipotle pepper spice
Pretty much the perfect side dish with this vegan lentil loaf is my Vegan Fluffy Mashed Potatoes. The best mashed potatoes you’ve ever had, guaranteed.
OTHER VEGAN DINNER RECIPES TO TRY:
- Cheesy Mexican Tortilla Bake
- Vegan Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- Mexican Burrito Bowl
- Teriyaki Sweet Potato Avocado Bowl
- Cajun Cauliflower Bowl
- Easy Vegan Meatballs
- Vegan Chickpea Tomato Ragu
Vegan Barbecue Lentil Loaf
My homemade BBQ sauce below and the chipotle chile pepper are what make this loaf spicy. If you SUB either of those, the loaf will NOT be spicy and I cannot vouch for the flavor outcome!
FOR THE LENTILS
- 1 cup (193g) dry green lentils (do not use red lentils, too mushy)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
FOR THE LOAF
- 1/2 heaping cup (80g) finely chopped white onion
- 1 packed tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup water (this is ONLY for cooking the veggies in 1st)
- 1 cup (240g) barbecue sauce, separated (+ extra for serving. Use either your favorite store-bought OR I highly recommend my homemade version below as that is the ONLY BBQ sauce tested in the recipe)
- 1/2 cup MEDIUM GRIND coarse cornmeal (It MUST be medium grind, not corn flour or regular cornmeal! I use Bob's Red Mill, if you use regular cornmeal, it will result in a dry crumbly loaf)
- 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili spice (gives a hefty kick of heat, so ONLY use 1/4 tsp if sensitive)
- 1/2 cup corn
5 MINUTE BBQ SAUCE (This sauce is STRONG, so it stands out in the loaf. Reduce the spices if desired for a milder version to be used for other recipes. (Makes 1 1/2 cups, plenty for the loaf and for dipping!)
- 1/2 cup (120g) tomato paste, not sauce
- 1/2 cup (120g) water
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2-1 tablespoon garlic powder, per preference
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon yellow wet mustard
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons dark balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons unsulphured regular molasses
- I used my homemade barbecue sauce recipe for this loaf. It's the only flavor that I can vouch for. It is spicy and has a nice kick of heat, so expect that. If you are sensitive to heat, then decrease the amount of chili powder. You can certainly use a store-bought version to keep it strictly at 8 ingredients, but if you use a store-bought version, just make sure it is a barbecue sauce that you really love! But, it is best to use the homemade version, as mine has no fillers and contains water and I'm not sure what effect a commercial version would do to the texture, since there is a large amount used.
- This recipe takes a bit of time to prep and make. You are cooking lentils and you are cooking the loaf and there is prep time and waiting time in there as well, so give yourself 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Otherwise, I would suggest to save time, cook the lentils the day before you want to eat the loaf and mash them the next day as noted below. It will really knock off some time.
- If you are making my homemade barbecue sauce, just simply add all of the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk really well until emulsified and thickened. Set aside or store in the fridge the night before making the loaf. This bbq sauce was created specifically for the loaf, so it WILL taste strong, but very yummy in this loaf!
- For the lentils, rinse them off and add them with 2 cups water and the 1/2 tsp salt to a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover, turn to simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes. The water should be all evaporated basically. Turn off the heat and return the lid and let it sit for just 10 minutes.
- While the lentils are cooking, cook the onions and garlic. Add the onion, garlic, 1/4 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a small frying pan. Bring to a boil and once boiling, immediately turn to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the water has completely evaporated. You don't want any remaining water so the loaf doesn't turn mushy. Turn off the heat.
- After the lentils have finished and sat for 10 minutes, puree about 1/2 of the mixture with a hand immersion blender. You do not want to puree all of it, or it will make the loaf mushy, got it? Just eyeball about half of it, leaving the other half full lentils. Add them to a large bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x5 metal loaf pan with parchment paper hanging slightly over the sides for easy removal later. Make sure to spray the sides that the paper doesn't touch, so it doesn't stick.
- Add the cooked onion/garlic mixture to the lentils. Add only 3/4 cup of the barbecue sauce to the lentil mixture. Add the chipotle spice and another good pinch of salt and stir together well. Add the cornmeal and flaxseed and stir around for a good minute or so until it becomes really thick and sticky. Lastly, gently stir in the corn. Note: If you taste the batter, it doesn't taste overly spicy uncooked, but it will become a lot spicier as the chipotle spice bakes, so keep that in mind.
- Pour the batter in the loaf pan and spread out evenly. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before baking, so the cornmeal soaks up some liquid. Spread 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce all over the top evenly. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until firm and a toothpick basically comes out clean. I baked mine for a full 60 minutes to ensure it was done. The ends got slightly charred just where the barbecue sauce was, but the inside was perfect. You can always trim a little of the sauce off it if gets a little done, but you definitely want to make sure the loaf is cooked through, so it's firm and not mushy. If yours turns out mushy, then you didn't let it cook long enough, because the result should be firm and have a nice bite to it.
- It is crucial to let the loaf sit for at least 20 minutes to firm up. It will firm up a lot while cooling. If you try to cut it hot, it will fall apart. I let mine sit 30 minutes and it was still warm. Gently lift up the loaf with the parchment paper and very carefully transport it to a serving platter using spatulas. Carefully slice it. Spread extra barbecue sauce on top while still warm right before serving. Add chopped fresh parsley on top for garnish and presentation, if desired.
Nutrition per slice: 129.9 calories, 1.7 g fat, 5.7 g protein, 29.3 carbs, 7.3 g sugars