Vegan Italian Meatloaf Cups
Vegan Italian Meatloaf Cups- made with marinara and Italian herbs, these little cups are packed full of plant protein and are super easy to make! (vegan + gluten-free)
I’m aware that the title for this recipe sounds a little weird. I mean, what the heck is a meatloaf cup? And a vegan one, at that?
These vegan meatloaf cups are actually very similar to a lentil loaf but they’re made with pinto beans and are cooked in a muffin tin instead of a loaf pan. Obviously a loaf pan is easier to clean, however the muffin tin offers a texture advantage since it’s able to cook each portion individually. That means they not only hold together better and are also less likely to be mushy inside.
Plus they’re kind of cute to look at, right?
This recipe is nostalgic for me because it was one of the first that I made when we started transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle 13 years ago. I found it on a the cutest blog named Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny. Sadly, Sarah removed all of her content from the internet so many of her recipes can no longer be accessed. I’m still in shock that she did this, especially considering how successful she was, but I’m sure there was good reason for it.
The good news is that she wrote a cookbook which I happen to own and highly recommend. It’s chock full of easy plant-based recipes that are kid-friendly too. These Italian Meatloaf Cups aren’t in there but I assure you that kids would love these as well.
The best part is that you don’t even need a food processor to make them. All you do is finely chop garlic and onion, then combine them with mashed pinto beans, rolled oats, marinara and a few basic seasonings.
I typically eat about 2 cups with a side of broccoli and maybe some mashed or roasted potatoes. That means one batch of these could make 6 servings…but my husband eats 3 in one sitting so there’s that.
Similar to veggie burgers, they are perfect to prep ahead for a few easy meals during the week. You can freeze them too! I would recommend waiting to add the marinara to those that you plan to freeze. Allow them to cool to room temperature, seal in an airtight container then defrost and reheat with marinara in the oven when ready to serve.
Vegan Italian Meatloaf Cups
Yield: 12 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 2 (14-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cup rolled oats
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon vegan worcestershire sauce*
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast**
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour (or oat flour)
- 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup marinara sauce, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mash pinto beans with a fork or potato masher. Careful not to over mash, we aren’t looking for refried beans, but a nice chunky texture.
To the bowl, add finely chopped onion, oats, minced garlic, vegan Worcestershire, nutritional yeast, chickpea flour, 1/4 cup marinara, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Scoop bean mixture into a muffin tin that has been lightly greased or sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until edges are starting to brown. Top each muffin with a spoonful of marinara then return to oven for another 10-12 minutes, until muffins are firm and set. Allow to cool for several minutes, as they will firm up even more, before serving.
*Annie’s makes a delicious vegan worcestershire sauce. I have made them without the worcestershire and they are still good but I would include it for best results.
**The nutritional yeast offers a slightly cheesy flavor but I know not everyone likes it. If you want to leave it out, replace it with extra chickpea flour and maybe add another teaspoon of worcestershire for flavor.
I would recommend waiting to add the marinara to the cups that you plan to freeze. Allow them to cool to room temperature, seal in an airtight container then defrost and reheat with marinara in the oven (at 350°F for about 10-15 mins) when ready to serve.
Minimally adapted from Peas and Thank You
Did you try this recipe? Please let me know how it turned out by leaving a comment below or sharing a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #makingthymeforhealth. I love hearing your feedback!
These look awesome! After a super indulgent weekend, I need to have some make-ahead healthy meals on hand for the next few weeks. I always have to take “serving” sizes with a grain of salt with Riley around. Like is that a Kelly serving or a Riley serving? Always two different things haha.
Never would’ve thought to use pinto beans in a homemade vegan meatloaf! They look fab!
These look amazing!!!
I think I’ll give these a try next week for meatless Monday. I remember that blog. I wonder what happened.
I feel like it must have had something to do with her kids because they were all over her site. I can understand if she wanted to stop blogging but I don’t see why she would delete all of her content. That’s the only reason I can think to come up with…
Ha, my hubby always eats about double my portion size for dinner, so I would count on him eating 4 ;-) These meatloaf cups are super cute & right up my alley!
So funny! I’m always like, “Brandon, how many do you want?” and he’s like, “I’ll have whatever you’re having plus one.” Lol. It’s like his measurement for how much he should be eating.
Okay these are just the cutest little cups!! So much fun! And they sound delicious!
And I totally cracked up about your husband – mine is the same way – I’ll be all like oh man I’ll have so many leftovers and then nope. He eats it all. lol
Ugh! Why do they make us work so hard?? ;)
These look amazing! Do you think lentils can work instead of black beans? Thanks!
The recipe calls for pinto beans, not black beans. Just wanted to clarify that! :)
I think lentils would work but you might need to add a little more flour to help them stick together. When you mash a pinto bean it sticks to things but lentils don’t do that quite as much. If you feel good about playing around with the recipe a bit then it’s definitely worth a try!
Great thank you! I ended up just using pinto beans as indicated :)
OMG I saw these and INSTANTLY thought of Peas an Thank You! I have her book too and it’s SO nostalgic. I’ve made these countless times. Those were the good old blogging days!
Right! Brings back so many memories. Long before the days of Instagram, lol!
Would this work with another flour? Oat flour, almond flour or white whole wheat?
Yes! I would go with oat or whole wheat as almond flour tends to be less absorbent and that’s important for this recipe. I hope you enjoy them!
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These were really good, and simple to make too. Served with mashed potatoes and green salad for a lovely meal. Thanks!
So happy to hear that you enjoyed them. Thank you for the review!
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Made a double batch of these tonight for dinner and lunch tomorrow. The kids gobbled them up. Thanks!
I forgot to rate the recipe. :)
So glad you liked them! Thank you for the review! :)
Making these tonight:)
Made these tonight, so yummy and easy! Followed the recipe exactly :)
These look amazing! I tend to already eat a lot of oats each day and am wondering if I could substitute quinoa for the rolled oats. Would that work?
I don’t think it would work the same unfortunately. The oats are acting like a breadcrumb in this recipe so they are absorbing excess moisture which I don’t think quinoa would do. You could try replacing it with breadcrumbs or flour though!
These look so good, I am going to make them later today! Thank you so much for this recipe. I do have a question though. Do you think these would work if I use parchment cupcake liners instead of greasing the pan?
That would definitely work, it just might a little more work to get the mixture in the liners properly. But they’ll bake fine that way!
Thank you Sarah they came out great! One more question … by any chance do you have the calorie count for these? Thanks again!
I don’t at the moment but I am working on updating my recipe card for all of my old recipes and it will include nutritional information. It’s just taking a while to work through all of them since I have over 800 recipes!
Do you have an estimate on the carbs in each one?
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If making ahead for freezer, do we only bake the first 15-17 minutes, then cool and freeze? Or bake the full time without marinara?
Just the first 15-17 minutes! When you defrost them you’ll add the marinara and reheat in the oven for the final step.
I made these tonight with a few slight modifications and they were delicious! I only had one can of pintos so I substituted chickpeas for the second. Also BBQ sauce for the Worcestershire and all-purpose GF flour for the chickpea flour. Baking them in cupcake cups worked perfectly, too. Thanks for a great recipe — I enjoy your posts.
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I have been cooking for over fifty years but am relatively new to vegan cookery. These meatloaf cups were very quick and easy to make and have a wonderful texture and flavor. They even smell good. I also like that you can freeze them. This is a keeper recipe for me.