Butternut Squash Lentil Loaf is packed with Fall flavors and topped with balsamic glaze. A perfect vegan entrée!
Guys, today I could not be more excited about this Butternut Squash Lentil Loaf. It is hearty, flavorful, cozy, packed with Fall flavor, and delicious with a capital D.
Have you heard of lentil loaf before?
It is basically your vegetarian or vegan version of meatloaf, but packed with whole food ingredients staring, you guessed it, the lentil. It takes the mystery meat situation that is meatloaf, and transforms it into the beautiful brown log situation that I have plans with every lunch AND dinner this week, because when you fall for lentil loaf, you fall hard.
Reasons to love this recipe:
- It is a wonderful Christmas or Thanksgiving entrée!
- Naturally vegan and easily made gluten free.
- Can be made ahead of time and baked the day of!
Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Lentils – brown or French green.
- Butternut Squash – or another firm winter squash.
- Olive oil
- Flaxseed meal – sometimes called ground flaxseed. This acts like an egg and holds our loaf together. You can also substitute the flaxseed and water mixture for 1 large egg.
- Onion – red, yellow, or white all work!
- Thyme – use fresh or substitute 1 teaspoon dry.
- Rosemary – use fresh or omit.
- Cinnamon - just a touch adds a great warming flavor note.
- Quick cooking oats – use gluten free if needed. If you have regular rolled oats, pulse them a few times in a food processor to make quick cooking oats.
- Tamari – or liquid aminos, or soy sauce if not gluten free.
- Balsamic vinegar
- Tomato paste
- Honey – or maple syrup to make this totally vegan.
How to make lentil loaf:
Prep: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the lentils until they are very tender. Toss the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast until caramelized. Sauté the onions, celery, garlic and herbs.
Combine and bake: Stir together the flax egg in a large bowl. Add in half the lentils and squash and mash until it forms a paste. Stir in the remaining ingredients and press the mixture into a loaf pan and bake.
Glaze: Stir together the balsamic, tomato paste, and honey. After the loaf has baked for 45 minutes, spread the glaze on the top. Bake for another 20 minutes to set the glaze. Enjoy!
Can I use pre-cooked lentils?
Yes, precooked lentils will cut down on your cooking time. Look for canned lentils in the bean isle. Steamed lentils, usually found in the produce department are too firm for this recipe. We need the lentils to be soft enough to mash into a paste and hold our loaf together.
Is this gluten free?
Lentil loaf absolutely can be gluten free. Just make sure you are using certified gluten free oats. Our favorite widely available brand is Bob’s Red Mill.
What sides to serve with lentil loaf?
Lentil loaf makes a perfect holiday entrée and pairs well with so many sides. Here are a few ideas:
- Instant Pot Dairy-Free Mashed Potatoes
- Herb de Provence Roasted Potatoes
- Mini Sweet Potato Casserole Boats
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Dates
- Winter Kale Salad
- Whole Roasted Carrots with Maple Tahini Sauce
If you have leftovers, store them in a lidded container for up to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or sear slices of the loaf in an oiled pan. The sides get irresistibly crispy and delicious!
Can I make this ahead?
Absolutely! Follow the recipe as written through step 5. Then, pack the lentil loaf into the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days and then bake as directed.
More vegan holiday recipes!
- Gluten Free Apple Pie
- Acorn Squash with Sage Apple Stuffing
- Hot Spiced Apple Cider
- Vegetable Pot Pie
- Artisan Gluten Free Bread
- Gluten Free Apple Crisp
- Crockpot Spiced Wine
Vegan Butternut Squash Lentil Loaf
- Prep Time: 40 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Entree
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
Butternut Squash Lentil Loaf is packed with Fall flavors and topped with balsamic glaze. A perfect vegan entrée, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas!
To roast the squash:
- 3 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Pinch salt
- Pinch pepper
For the loaf:
- 1 cup dry lentils or 2 ½ cups cooked lentils
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 ½ tablespoons liquid aminos OR tamari
For the glaze:
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the squash, oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the squash cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the lentils and cook until very tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add in the onions and celery, and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add in the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and cinnamon. Sauté another 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Reduce the oven to 350 degrees and line a loaf pan with a parchment paper sling.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flaxseed and 3 tablespoons of water. Add in ½ of the cooked squash and ¾ of the cooked lentils. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture until it resembles a paste. Stir in the remaining lentils and squash, oats, and tamari. Add in the sautéed vegetables and stir until well mixed.
- Fill the lined loaf pan with the filling, pressing down on the top to compact it into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
- While the loaf is baking, stir together all the glaze ingredients.
- After 45 minutes of baking, remove the loaf from the oven and spoon on the glaze, spreading it out to coat the top of the loaf. Return to the oven for 15 more minutes. Remove and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Flax egg – You can also substitute the flaxseed and water mixture for 1 large egg.
Butternut squash - feel free to use any firm winter squash!
Thyme and rosemary - fresh thyme can be substituted with 1 teaspoon dried thyme. It is best to use fresh rosemary or omit it rather than using dried.
Lentils - you can use canned lentils to save time.
- Serving Size: ⅛th recipe
- Calories: 166
- Sugar: 4g
- Sodium: 282mg
- Fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 28g
- Fiber: 10g
- Protein: 8g
Keywords: vegan, gluten free, thyme, rosemary, onion, celery, cinnamon, balsamic, glaze, tamari, French green lentils, Thanksgiving, Christmas,
Buying the bits tomorrow to make this, there's a lot I don't have already so it's quite expensive, hope I like it! Unfortunately squash is out of season here so I'm subbing an equal amount of sweet potato. Just a suggestion, would you mind also listing quantities by weight? I find the US cups system to be inaccurate (dry vs wet, how tightly packed etc) and it's a nuisance to convert.
Omg this is so delish. I just got done with this and tried a little. It is THE best lentil loaf I’ve had. The glaze is perfect. The Squash really makes it. The spices and flavors are not usually what I cook with so it really tasted new to me. On to lentil loaf sandwiches this week. Thanks for this recipe!
Hi Nancy! I am so glad to hear that you like the recipe! It makes my day :)
Carol H says
Loaf itself nice but the tart sweetness of the glaze was overpowering for my taste- my husband who likes strong sweet tastes however really liked it. I served with Kale and Brussels sprouts and tarragon carrots which complemented it well. I am going to try tomorrow cold with a beetroot apple spring onion spelt salad with horseradish/soy yoghurt sauce and see how that works. Loaves like this always improve on keeping. Thanks for the recipe.
Abby T says
Mine also didn't firm up in the middle, but I love the flavor profile! The sauce is fantastic, that's my favorite part. I think next time I might eliminate the cinnamon and replace with something more savory like thyme or sage - the cinnamon kind of took over? But it won't stop me from making your lentil loaf sammich tomorrow! This wasn't difficult to throw together, a quick high protein meal I'll keep in rotation and continue to play around with. Thank you! (P.S. Assume steps 7 and 9 are the same??)
Hi Abby, so glad you were happy with the recipe overall! Keep me updated with your adjustments - they sound delicious!