Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Best Ever Vegan Mini Meatloaf

Best ever? I suppose that's a little subjective, but it certainly is the best meatless meatloaf I have ever had. I have tried lentils, nuts, TVP, and bulgur wheat to replace the ground beef, but tempeh is the far better alternative. It makes sense, really, since tempeh makes such a perfect burger. If you find that tempeh has a certain "taste," simmer it in water for 10 mins to cut the bitterness. Combined with a sugary-ketchup glaze, you and your kids will love these meatloaves. Serve them with some mashed potatoes and mixed veggies on the side for a down home meal.

Makes 10 mini meatloaves. Cut in half if you aren't feeding 3 growing boys.
- 2 8.5 oz pkgs tempeh, simmered in boiling water for 10 mins, cooled, then coarsely grated
- 1 large onion, coarsely grated
- 4 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 1 cup instant oatmeal
- 2/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 2 tsp ground fennel seed
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp HP sauce
- 2 tbsp BBQ sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp browning sauce (optional)
- 1/4 cup (or more) water

- generous 2/3 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 x 13 baking pan.
1. Mix grated tempeh, onion, garlic, oatmeal, flour, and spices in a large bowl. The spices are really up to you. I like a well spiced and complex flavour.
2. Add in sauces and oil, and enough water so you are able to mash everything up with your fingers. Knead/mush/mash for a few mins to mix everything well.
3. Divide dough into 10 pieces and shape into small loaves. Actually, they end up looking like lumps/rocks, not really laoves. Place into oiled pan.
4. Mix together ingredients for the glaze and spoon evenly on top of each loaf. Make sure the whole loaf is covered.
5. Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 mins, until glaze darkens.

Have leftovers? Slice up a meatloaf or two and make a sandwich!


kindkitchen said...

Ooo this sounds/looks incredibly good! Thanks for posting the recipe.

Love your blog! :]

Gabe said...

I have followed your blog for a few months now. I always enjoy looking at what you make and I'm kicking myself for not trying anything yet. I just wanted to say thank you for updating regularly with such interesting recipes and fantastic pictures!

lisa said...

Yum, that meatloaf looks tasty! Tempeh also makes an awesome sausage roll filling... good stuff.

Teresa said...

Hi and thanks so much for your blog! I hit it every day---and learn a lot!!

Yesterday I made your meatballs. They came the best out of any attempt I've made so far to make authentically Italian meatballs in many ways---preparation, cooking procedure, texture, look. We're Italian New Yorkers here, and I've always made a mean "carni" meatball. It kills me that I haven't mastered a veganised version yet. All I had to do was tweak your flavors for our tastes. Other than that, they were "real"!

I had a question. As you mentioned today, I also noticed a bit of a bitter taste in them. You said that the tempeh will taste less bitter if it's boiled first. Do you boil it while it's still in one piece or after it's been grated?

And I imagine it would have to cool off before I start mixing it with the gluten. It might start stringing up too much. Yes?


Vegan Dad said...

I am very interested in your spice blend for the meatballs, if you don't mind sharing.

Yes, boil the tempeh while it is whole, or cut into large squares to fit the pan. The let it cool before grating and before adding the wheat gluten.

Teresa said...

My old recipe was awesome and included ground beef and pork and eggs (binder). Omitting that, the important flavoring ingredients were lots of grated cheese, lots FRESH parsley, and minced onion (salt/pepper too). Meatballs should never taste like balls of plain meat (or bitter tempeh)!

So last night as far as seasonings go, I omitted all the other stuff you had listed except for doubling the onion powder, keeping the garlic powder (even though my original meatballs NEVER had garlic in them), soy sauce and kitchen bouquet, using more parsley (only dried because I was out of fresh), 1/4 cup grated "cheese". I probably used about 1/2 cup of gluten as well, instead of 1/3, and needed a bit more water. I changed the volume of the recipe with my modifications, so it needed more help to get held together.

Overall, my husband and I thought the look and chewing consistency were very good. It tasted good too, but definitely need more flavor. I'll put more "cheese", onion, and parsley next time, preferably fresh onion and parsley, and maybe some salt or more soy sauce. The next time I make them, I'll blog you with my results.

I took some pictures, and they look great. I really appreciate your help!

Vegan Dad said...

Thanks, Teresa!
The grated cheese sounds like a great idea, as well as the fresh parsley. I find grating in onion and garlic works well--better taste than the powder but no chunks that keep the meatball from forming. I also find that if the balls can simmer for a few hours in a real good sauce they taste even better since they soak up some of the sauce's tomato-y goodness.

carrie said...

Once again, something to add to my "must try" blog's just going to become a carbon copy of "Vegan Dad"!!

My oldest daughter loved meatloaf when we were eating meat, and I haven't been able to find a suitable replacement for her yet.

tofuparty said...


I'm followng your blog for awhile now and almost everyday I save your post for trying out later. I have already so many saved posts that I have to print that it's almost a book. So here is my question: when are you going to publish your own cookbook?

Vegan Dad said...

Glad you are enjoying the blog. It's not like I haven't thought about a cookbook, but in many ways this blog is my cookbook. A free cookbook accessible to millions. Plus, I am up to my neck right now in research for my book on Pennsylvania (the book that will get me tenure is priority one right now) so there is little time for other projects. I also think there is a real freedom in the blog; here are my recipes, take them or leave them, commment if you want to. No secret recipes, hidden techniques, no expectations. I am no culinary expert, just a dad making food for his kids.

Kumudha said...

Thanks for sharing so many wonderful vegan recipes!

Teresa said...

That's what I REALLY appreciate about your blog. You're so willing to share all of your recipes.

I can't tell you how many times I hit a blog, see a beautiful AND delicious looking photo, scroll down hoping so badly to find the recipe and...nothing. It's very disappointing (and annoying). That's why I love Vegan Dad and Fatfree Vegan Kitchen.

They have their cake but won't give me a chance to eat it too :(

Vegan Dad said...

Sounds like a catchy slogan for the blog:

Vegan Dad: where you can have the recipe for my cake so you can eat it, too!

Erin said...

Oh my. All my past attempts at "meat"loaf have fallen apart, and now that I am in love with tempeh this looks like the perfect recipe to try. Thank you!

Teresa said...

That sounds perfect, Vegan Dad!

And so true!

Animal-Friendly said...

This "meat"loaf recipe looks great! I have been looking for the perfect one, and your combo of tempeh and gluten sounds like a winner!

Chessa said...

I just wanted to comment that I made these tonight (halved the recipe since it was just for 3 of us) and they were AWESOME! I haven't made perfect tempeh burgers yet, but this recipe has inspired me to do so. Soon. The glaze on these was so yummy and the texture was perfect. Thanks for another awesome recipe!

vegandietitian said...

Yesterday was dreary and rainy, and I needed some comfort food, so I decided to make these mini-loaves. They were amazing! Perfect texture, excellent flavor. Plus, they smelled so good while they were baking. And that glaze--mmm!! My husband and I were completely blown away with how well they turned out. Well done, Vegan Dad!

I've been enjoying your blog. All these kid-friendly recipes are great--I can't wait to make some of them for my daughter (though she is only 3 months old now, so it will be a while). Thanks for all the great ideas!

Brett said...

(From one Vegan Dad to another): "Nice work man these were quite tasty!" I look forward to trying more of your tempting creations!
Sincerely, Brett
(aka vegandietitian's husband)

Mrs. TV said...

Vegan Dad...I read your blog every day. I am making these mini meat loaves tonight...very excited!! Thanks for putting up so many great recipes. I will let you know how it goes. I'm serving it with mac & cheese (vegan of course) and mixed veggies (just like the ones in your pic). :)

Mrs. TV said...

They were absolutely delicious! My husband loved them. I halved the recipe to make 5. We only could eat I'm looking forward to leftovers over the weekend. Thanks so much Vegan Dad!!

Vegan Dad said...

I am so glad they worked out! Anything labelled "best ever" better live up to the hype, right?

mdgirl said...

I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious! And I'm one of those folks who has been afraid of tempeh since the first time I tried it I thought it was vile. Boiling it definitely cuts the funky flavor tempeh has.

I did change things slightly. I added some worcestershire sauce and ketchup to the "meat"loaf mixture and didn't use HP or browning sauces, and cut back on the brown sugar in the glaze. I also baked the whole thing in an 8'x8' pan. I love the firmness of it.

Thanks for getting me to try tempeh again, and actually like it!

Anonymous said...

I made this recipe tonight and it was brilliant.

The moment I began mixing the grated tempeh with the gluten I thought, "This man's a wizard." Coating the tempeh with the flour before adding your sauces and liquids gives it a beautiful even texture in the baking process. Pure genius.

I can't wait to experiment with the flavours in it too. As you said, the spices as an ingredient are very flexible.


Anonymous said...

hey VeganDad, thank you so much for this recipe! I needed a vegan meatloaf to serve my family at Thanksgiving, so I knew I should check your blog for a recipe that wouldn't let me down. I followed the directions, except I couldn't find HP or browning sauce, so I used A1. the texture was dense and chewy like meat, which was a nice contrast to the stuffing. (sometimes vegan meatloaf has so much bread and grain in it that it tastes like stuffing, you know?) my omnivorous parents each ate one and said they liked it and would eat it again. my vegan boyfriend loved it. the glaze is great. thanks so much for making my first attempt at cooking Thanksgiving dinner a success!

Minneapolis, MN

Anonymous said...

i'm not sure whether or not you ever check comments left on old recipes, but i just wanted to post that i made these tonight (halving the recipe; minus the HP and browning sauce, adding some ketchup in place) and thought they were wonderful!! my omni father gobbled two of them up before i had finished my first. :P well done, as always! thank you for all of the fantastic recipes!

Babette said...

I tried your recipe last weekend (from The Vegan Dad Cookbook) and I thought it was very tasty.

It was my first time crumbling tempeh like this. I didn't know it could be so versatile!

I also like how the recipe makes mini loaves, because I had plenty to bring in my lunches this week.

I just thought the glaze was a bit too sweet, but maybe the brand of ketchup I used was too sweet.

Geeks said...

Made these last night, did two large loaves. Substituted steak sauce for HP and I didn't use the extra water cause there was enough in the tempeh. I was also out of bbq sauce.

And... they still came out fantastic. I can't wait to add: green chile (I'm in Colorado) and maybe some extra vegetables like mushroom or grated carrot.

Nice work!

DiamonDie said...

I've been quite impressed by your blog (also added it to the blogroll of my new food blog This recipe sounds very nice, even though I don't usually like tempeh all that much. Especially the amount of herbs sounds appealing! Wonder what I could substitute for the HP and BBQ sauces?

P.S. Some of the links, like "Post a comment" are showing in a very light blue/cyan on my monitor, which is very hard to see on the white background. Any chance they could be a little darker?

Susan (peebsmama) said...

Just discovered your blog and this is the first recipe I have tried.

This meatless loaf was SO awesome! Since going vegan a year ago I've tried several loaf recipes (tofu based, grain based, nut/veggie based) and although they have, for the most part, been tasty they were missing the essence of meatloaf. Your recipe hit all the right notes. In particular, we loved the texture and the flavor was great. It even smelled like meatloaf while it was baking. Since there are only two of us I made half the recipe. I made some minor modifications: I simmered the tempeh for 10 minutes then drained and mashed with a potato masher. I quickly sauted the onions and garlic before adding them to the tempeh. I didn't know what HP sauce was so I used ketchup in its place and I omitted the browning sauce since I didn't have any. I used less sugar in the glaze since I don't like very sweet sauce. Instead of loaves, I pressed it all into a 6x8" baking dish and baked it for 45 minutes. This was so very good. Can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch later this week.

Thanks so much for this recipe. I will be trying more of them in the future and I will be sharing your blog with my sister who is also a vegan.

Gina said...

I made these for my son (almost 2) and I last week. I loved them! He wasn't convinced, but mostly just because of the shape, he wasn't sure how to get ahold of it. Next time I'll make his into burger form, he'll eat anything you can call a "cake" (as in, pancake). I totally screwed up the recipe and it still came out great. I halved the dry ingredients because it was just 2 of us, and then when I got to the wet, completely forgot to halve it. So it was way too wet, but I figured you knew what you were doing and went with it. I will probably cut back on the wet next time around, but will definitely be making these again!

Brandie said...

In case anyone else is out of vital wheat gluten and impatient like me, made this tonight with 4 flax eggs instead of vital wheat gluten and it turned out great! Also used old fashioned rolled oats since I did not have instant.

Kathleen Webster said...


Thank goodness!! ~ I scrolled the entire 'comment section' looking for someone posting about the Wheat Gluten, which I don't have and am not real sure what it is anyway - thank you for posting your substitute!!

Anonymous said...

For the instant oatmeal... is that cooked or dry?