Vegetarian Nut Loaf

SonjaMain Courses86 Comments

Vegetarian Nut Loaf | A Couple Cooks

Every now and then you come across a recipe that is a cut above the rest – one that makes everything you’ve made before pale in comparison. I present – The Nut Loaf.

I must admit the name doesn’t really do it justice. What is it? Well, it’s a loaf made entirely of nuts, rice, mushrooms, onions, herbs and cheese. Somehow, it all melds into an appearance and texture just like a meat loaf. And it tastes AMAZING. As in, better than the meat version.

This may be the perfect meatless entree for a special meal, holiday or otherwise – it’s incredibly hearty, and I think it could satisfy even the most passionate of meat lovers. It’s actually kind of incredible how tasty it is…and how the texture is so similar to a meat loaf (though of course it’s not pretending to be meat, because it’s a Nut Loaf. Mmm…Nut Loaf.)

Props to our friends Lynne and Kirk for discovering this masterpiece and serving it to us a few years ago. We enjoyed it with friends Jamie and Dan in a fun holiday-inspired meal, with shiitakes from the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market. If you’re looking for a centerpiece for a special meal, you can’t go wrong with this one!

Vegetarian Nut Loaf
Serves: 8 to 10
What You Need
  • 9-inch loaf pan
  • 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  • 1½ cups walnuts
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 ounces baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 12 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
What To Do
  1. Cook the brown rice according to the package instructions (combine 1 cup short grain brown rice with 2 cups water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 50 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Place 1½ cup walnuts and ½ cup cashews on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, finely chop 1 onion and mince 3 cloves garlic. Clean and finely chop the mushrooms. Finely chop the 2 tablespoons fresh parsley. When the nuts have cooled, finely chop them with a knife or in a food processor.
  5. In a large skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1 teaspoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon sage. Cook about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are golden. Transfer to a large bowl.
  6. In a small bowl, lightly beat together 4 eggs.
  7. In the large bowl, combine the onion and mushroom mixture with the toasted walnuts and cashews, parsley, 1½ cups cooked rice, 1 cup cottage cheese, 12 ounces Swiss cheese, beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter it again. Pour the mixture from the bowl into the pan.
  9. Bake 1 hour until golden brown. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert loaf and remove from pan. Serve warm.
Adapted from Martha Stewart

86 Comments on “Vegetarian Nut Loaf”

        1. Sonja

          Hi Bryan! This recipe is vegetarian, which means it uses no meat products. If you’re looking for recipes with no animal products like eggs and cheese, look for recipes tagged “vegan”.

  1. Lindsay

    So yummy. I made this (nervously) tonight and was worried about how it would taste since it makes so much. It exceeded my expectations! My meat-loving boyfriend declared it better than his meatloaf, which by the way, is delicious, as he went back for extra servings. I cut back a bit on the Swiss cheese to about 8oz. We’re (OK, I am) trying to start doing meatless-Mondays and am glad to have this on rotation. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Alex

      About 28 grams of fat (8 saturated) per serving. To go with 28 grams of protein. This is definitely one of the more hearty vegetarian dishes!

  2. Mike

    Thanks for the quick reply. Yes it does look hearty. Is it possible to see the rest of the nutrient info like carbs, cholesterol, calorie, sodium, fiber, etc. Thanks

    1. Alex

      I ran it though again with low-fat cheese (which is what we used). This is also for 8 servings, but it probably could be close to 10:

      Nutrition Facts
      Serving Size 163 g
      Amount Per Serving
      Calories 431 Calories from Fat 227

      Total Fat 25.3g
      Saturated Fat 3.4g
      Cholesterol 108mg
      Sodium 471mg
      Total Carbohydrates 37.5g
      Dietary Fiber 3.9g
      Sugars 2.1g
      Protein 17.4g
      Vitamin A 5% • Vitamin C 5%
      Calcium 8% • Iron 16%
      Nutrition Grade A-
      * Based on a 2000 calorie diet

    2. Sonja

      It’s also full of good for you natural ingredients too :) Our eating philosophy is to not worry as much about the nutrition facts as the ingredients, so we try to make sure we’re eating lots of natural foods (though of course we’d save something like this for occasional consumption). Also the loaf is pretty large, so you may be able to squeeze more than 8 servings out of it if necessary. Enjoy!!

  3. Amanda

    I was skeptical about this – I don’t usually like vegetarian fake-out versions of meat dishes. But this is a fantastic receipt! My husband talked about it constantly, made all of our neighbors and his co-workers try it, ate the leftovers every day for a week, and then asked me to make it again the next weekend. I think this will become a regular in our house!

  4. Emily

    Oh. my. god. This was amazing! My husband and I are vegetarians and had been looking for a good meatloaf recipe. This is it! I added more mushrooms and cut the nuts to 1 cup (just a personal preference). My husband had thirds and thought it tasted very meaty. I have been loving your website and wonderful recipes. Keep up the great work!

  5. Vanessa

    Your nut loaf both looks and sounds delicious. I’m a vegetarian surrounded by picky meat eaters (meaning they may not even try it). Do you know if this freezes well, just in case?

    1. Alex

      We haven’t tried freezing it, but I think that it would be fine. It’s a tasty dish that your family might even enjoy (just don’t pretend it’s meat!).


  6. kc

    This sounds really good. But I am concerned that a couple of the commenters seem to think that it’s vegan.

  7. Michelle

    This sounds amazing!! I’d love to try this recipe, however we don’t eat dairy and live in a rural area where diary-free cheeses are not available. What could the cottage cheese be replaced with? I can’t wait to try it!

    1. Alex

      Hi! We’ve never tried one without cheese. However, I did a simple Google search for vegan nut loaf and found several recipes (looks like a lot of them use bread crumbs as a binder). You’ll have to let us know if you find a good one!

  8. yvonne

    Hi Alex,
    Was wondering if there is a gravy that can be used to dress the nut loaf. Come from a family who love a little gravy.?
    Thanks, Yvonne.

    1. Alex

      Hi! We don’t have a recipe for a gravy. You could try searching for a mushroom gravy to add to it :)

  9. grana pittman

    HEAVENLY made it exactly as written- the plan was IFit didn’t go over too well with everyone i’d eat on it thru-out the week,WELL SOMEBODY(or SOME BODIES) devoured it and left l’il ole me with a faint memory haha
    oops gotta go the culprits want me to make more thank you…

  10. Sasha

    Made this as written for Thanksgiving turkey alternative and it was a hit. Will be making this as Christmas dinner veggie option.

    1. Alex

      So glad that it worked out for you! We’ve recently tried making some lentil loaves, but we couldn’t top this recipe :)

  11. Jane

    Made this tonight and it was delicious and very hearty with a good “chew.” I didn’t have shiitakes or cashews on hand so just used walnuts and 8 oz brown mushrooms. Added tarragon too. Was wondering if all that Swiss cheese would be overpowering but it blended beautifully. It was a little rich for my taste so will try lower fat cheeses next time. My husband is a “good sport” with my meatless adventures, but he went back for seconds! A great recipe!

    1. Sonja

      Great! We’ve found that this dish is consistently a pleaser with meat-lovers as well as meatless eaters. So glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Tania D

    We have made this nut loaf many times- it is my family’s favourite loaf. My 4 year old and 8 year old love it and ask for it all the time! We have served it to meat eating guests and they love it too. I always freeze one loaf (the recipe makes two loaf pans) before cooking and it works great! You just need to thaw it for awhile before cooking but it tastes just as great as cooking it the day you mix it together. We usually eat it with a miso mushroom gravy and it’s wonderful.
    Thanks for the great recipe!

    1. susan

      thanks so much for answering the question i was going to ask. i like to make two meals at a time and freeze, especially if they call for ingredients on dont usually have on hand. i was wanting to get fresh herbs for this, so its nice to know i can freeze.

  13. Deirdre

    Making this for the second time tomorrow. Ever since my 9yo declared herself to be a pescitarian, I have been looking for recipes that my 13yo son will eat as well. He actually requested that I make it again!! Excellent!

    1. Sonja

      Awesome! This is one of our favorite recipes, especially for special occasions. So glad the kids enjoyed it too!

  14. Kristin

    This looks lovely – I wonder if anyone has tried mixing it up a day or two ahead, then baking it out of the fridge?

    1. Sonja

      Good idea! We personally have not, but I’ll ask my mom — she’s made it several times and I’ll see if she’s ever tried that :)

      1. Sonja

        Sounds like my mom has not tried making it ahead. Since it contains eggs, it would probably be best to make up the components separately and then combine them before baking. For example, you could make the rice, toast the nuts, and saute all the veggies in advance. Then when you want to bake it, you could combine those ingredients with the eggs and cheese and then bake. Would that work for you? I
        It is possible that you could make it up and freeze it, but we’re not sure whether the nuts might get soggy.

        Good luck!

        1. Tania D.

          We actually freeze it all the time (even if we’re planning on using it the next day) and it is just as delicious as the fresh version. We take it out in the morning to thaw it or we thaw it in a hot water bath. Either way, it is great to freeze!

  15. suzanne

    I have made other nutloafs. I am in love with them all. My adult children are not so crazy about the whole idea. I want to try this one, now that I am no longer vegan and just wonder if the nuts stay whole, or are they ground as in other nutloafs I have made? By the way, I am sure the mushrooms and cheese will turn around my children’s taste buds!

    1. Sonja

      The nuts are chopped before placing them into the nut loaf. If you love nut loaves already, I’d suspect you’d enjoy this one! Let us know if you try it out :)

  16. Roh

    This is a great recipe. I made this for a Thanksgiving potluck today, and everyone loved it. I made it more vegetarian-friendy by substituting a cup of non-fat Greek yogurt for the eggs.

  17. Kris

    Just finished eating this for dinner. Absolutly great! I did cut back on the Swiss cheese like another poster did, and it turned out perfect! A keeper staple recipe.

    1. Sonja

      Awesome! So great to hear. We are partial to it over meatloaf as well :) Thanks for writing — glad it turned out!

  18. Nupur

    I’m so glad I tried this recipe- it made for a beautiful holiday dish last week. Thanks for the inspiration! I served it with vegan gravy (with nutritional yeast), maple roasted brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes.

    My only changes were to use Cheddar cheese instead of Swiss and to use poultry seasoning in place of all the spices. It was cheaper to buy one jar rather than 3 (these are not spices that I tend to use much).

  19. ricki

    Great nutloaf. . .I served to my son and daughter-in-law for Thanksgiving, but everyone tasted and raved about it.

  20. Sue smith

    No need for gravy. I use apple sauce on top. We made nut loaf in the 70s and always topped it with apple sauce. It’s delicious.

  21. Angela Hughes

    My friend and colleague, Mary made this wonderful loaf and gave it to me to try. It is so heavenly!! Great texture and flavor. I will definitely attempt to make the nut loaf soon.

  22. Lin

    Having spent all morning making this loaf I was disappointed with the outcome. It looked exactly like the picture on here; my husband ( the meat and potatoes man)would not even give it 3 stars. The only way he liked it was to put mushroom gravy on it. I was so disappointed.

  23. Jo Romero

    This is great – just what I’ve been looking for. Trying to cut down on meat so would be great to give this a go. Thanks for posting, have pinned it so I don’t lose it! :)

  24. Ellen Henry

    I’m a chef and so I boldly messed with this a lot..didn’t have cashews, but had pecans..leftover white rice not brown, Monteray Jack cheese…I added lentils, grated carrot and a T of minced bell pepper, a T of tomato paste and 1/2 t of Kitchen Boquet. It’s in the oven now and smells great.

  25. Lisa

    Hi, Sonia and Alec
    Love your new kitchen. And love this “meatloaf”. I made it for 2011 holiday dinners and it was yummy. I’ll be making it again this year. I also made “minis” using muffin pans so each got a nice crust. Happy Thanksgiving! Lisa in Indy

  26. Barbara Flowers

    I would like to try this recipe, but, I really hate mushrooms. Do you have any suggestions on what i could use instead of the mushrooms?

  27. Audrey

    Thank you for this recipe! I was desperately looking for something non-tofu that I could serve to my vegetarian son on T-day. Used walnuts and almonds and a mixture of cheeses as that’s what I had on hand. Also added some fresh spinach to the onion/garlic mix and some shredded carrots. I hope he likes it! It sure smells and looks good!

  28. Lisa

    I made this at the request of my college-age children for our Thanksgiving feast — outstanding! We may never make another turkey. I paired with Vegetarian Brown Gravy from Epicurious, mashed potatoes, my great-grandmother’s southern cornbread and buttermilk biscuit dressing, Brussels sprouts in Dijon mustard and your napa cabbage/ walnut/apple recipe for one of our best feasts ever. Thank you! I will be using your site a lot.

    1. Sonja

      Lisa – wow! This feast sounds amazing – we wish we could have tasted it! The nut loaf is one of our favorites – with mushroom gravy it sounds to die for. Congrats on your delicious meal – and thank you so much for trying our recipes!

  29. Christy

    How far in advance can you make the loaf? My thought was that I could refrigerate it in the loaf pan (not cooked) and then remove and bake when I am ready. I am just wondering how many days can it stay in the refrigerator before baking?

    1. Sonja

      Hi Christy! We’ve never assembled the loaf days in advance, but we think it would likely be ok for a few days in the refrigerator? I’d try to minimize the time it sits if possible, but it should be ok. Let us know if you try it and how it works.

  30. Ian smoult

    Hi from Manchester, England. I tried out your nut roast for a pre Christmas get together with non veggie friends, I followed the recipe exactly as written and it came out perfect. It was soooooo good that all the non veggies finished it off! Thank you for sharing the recipe, I will definitely be using this recipe again and following your site. Ian

    1. Sonja

      So glad to hear this, Ian! Thank you so much for writing and letting us know. We’re so glad that it was a success!

  31. Kath

    I found this recipe last week. I’m in Australia and this is on my Christmas bake list today. I’m going to substitute the eggs with a different binder, use all fresh herbs and throw in some spices. Really looking forward to this.

  32. Karen

    That was also my question about making it in advance. I think though however i will just get all the ingredients ready and make it when its time. I am worried it may be dry if I need to reheat it.

    I am going to add toasted chestnuts to this also for my Christmas version and also top with a creamy mushroom gravy.

    Really looking forward to it.

    In Holland we have two Christmas days and I am going over to a friends where they are going to have their first ever Vegetarian Christmas. I am sure this will be the first of many for them.

    Thanks and Happy Holidays.

  33. Jeanne

    I made this last night for Sunday dinner with my son who is vegetarian. EXCELLENT!! It is a lot of work, but more than worth it … I suggest using helpful appliances to get the ingredients tiny. :) THANK YOU so much for sharing this absolutely fabulous recipe. I wanted something natural and nutritious to take the place of meat but not something trying to ‘be meat’. This is a keeper for sure. I made this with smashed garlic potatoes, brussel sprouts & carrots, mushroom gravy, green salad, jello/fruit salad and pumpkin pie. GREAT!

    I was a bit nervous … afraid I would flop it … but I didn’t !!! Followed the recipe (which is new for me) … ;) Now I will give myself permission to experiment and see what I can come up with also.

    1. Sonja

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it! It does take a bit of effort, but we agree that it’s worth it for a special meal. Let us know if you come up with a variation!

  34. e'beth

    Tonight I made your nut loaf and it is outstanding! My husband and I both really enjoyed it. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 15 years and have made MANY different versions of meatless loaf, and this is by far the best I’ve ever tried. Great texture and flavor – I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this to my non-veggie friends. I made your tomato soup with ricotta dumplings last week, and it was also fantastic. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Thanks!

  35. Elizabeth

    Just stopping by to say thank you for sharing this recipe! I served this dish on Christmas Eve and we all loved it, even my “where’s the meat?!” family members. My dad insisted it had sausage in it. Which of course it did not! It was especially tasty with cranberry sauce, so I might add dried cranberries next time. I only used baby bellas as the other mushrooms at the store looked suspect, and used the poultry seasoning as suggested by one of the commenters (just 3 of the required spices already combined in the same bottle.) It was the perfect veggie holiday dish. Thank you, again!

  36. Anonymous

    Best nut loaf ever. Nut loaf can be so dry but this was far from it yet it was firm and came out of the mold perfectly. So, so good! I used a mixture of nuts, a mix of fresh mushrooms and dried shitake and added some spinach. I will definitely make this again. I’d just like to know the calorie content of one serving.

  37. Deborah

    Have you ever used egg replacer in this recipe? If you aren’t familiar with the replacer it’s a dry powder that you mix with warm water. I was also wondering if one could replace the cottage cheese with a silken tofu.
    Thank you!

  38. Deborah

    Has anyone made this with egg replacer instead of eggs? How about replacing cottage cheese with silken tofu for a vegan version?
    Thank you!

    1. Anonymous

      That’s what I’m about to do for our Canadian Thanksgiving. I have to make it vegan and gluten-free! I’ll let you know how it turns out…..

  39. Anonymous

    I am making your nut loaf for a very elegant Christmas dinner party I am having tomorrow night. I am wondering since there are 10 of us, if it would be ok to 1 1/2 the ingredients? also: is it ok if I make it today and bake it tomorrow eve? thank you! gretchen

    1. Sonja

      Hi! I think either 1 recipe or 1 1/2 recipe could work. The only thing with 1 1/2 recipe would be finding the right size of loaf pan! So you may want to try 1 recipe if you don’t have a larger loaf pan.

      Regarding making it in advance, we have not tried making it ahead before! Since it contains eggs, it would probably be best to make up the components separately and then combine them before baking. For example, you could make the rice, toast the nuts, and saute all the veggies in advance. Then when you want to bake it, you could combine those ingredients with the eggs and cheese and then bake. Would that work for you? I
      It is possible that you could make it up and freeze it, but we’re not sure whether the nuts might get soggy. Let us know if you try it out, and what you find! Good luck!

  40. Donna

    I made this yesterday. It was fantastic. I used pecans instead of cashews (didn’t have any on hand) used all organic ingredients and changed the cheese to white cheddar. I got tons of raves on it, everyone said it was better than “meat” loaf. And it makes an awesome sandwich. Thanks for sharing the recipe I will make it again!!.

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