With or without breadcrumbs, meatloaf is one of those comforting, nostalgic meals that takes us back to early childhood. Today the options are plentiful from keto meatloaf, gluten free meatloaf, turkey meatloaf, to low carb meatloaf, the meatloaf recipe options are delicious and endless.
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In many households, there was a pan dedicated solely to cooking meatloaf. But where did meatloaf get its start? There are a few different theories as to the origin of the humble but beloved meatloaf. One belief is that meatloaf got its start in medieval Europe in about the 5th century.
Meatloaf is a classic comfort food that has been enjoyed by families for generations. Traditionally, breadcrumbs are used as a binding agent in the recipe, helping to give the meatloaf its signature texture and shape. However, there are many instances where people seek an alternative to breadcrumbs, such as dietary restrictions or personal preference.
Early meatloaves may have had little to no resemblance to the popular meatloaf recipes we use today. The earliest version of meatloaf was probably a Mediterranean dish that consisted of finely diced scraps of meat that were pulled together with nuts, fruit, and seasonings. Sounds pretty delicious (but different!).
The humble yet hearty dish is a firm family favorite in many American households, easily frozen and reheated for a quick and simple weeknight dinner.
There are many reasons why you might be looking to make meatloaf without breadcrumbs. Maybe you’re gluten-free or following a keto diet.
Maybe you were planning on using breadcrumbs, but after opening the kitchen cupboard you discovered that you’re fresh out.
Whatever your reason for choosing to forgo the crumbs, you’re in the right place! This article contains a great recipe for breadcrumb-less-meatloaf as well as some extra tips and tricks.
After reading this, you’ll be well equipped to make a meatloaf that tastes just as good as your grandma’s, or maybe you’ll even surprise her with a variation of your own twist on this classic dish. Feel free to experiment. My family loves ground turkey with bbq sauce (barbecue sauce) as an easy meatloaf recipe. Alternatively you can make the dish below more of a keto meatloaf recipe or paleo meatloaf by removing some of the fluff before putting in the loaf pan. You can substitute almond flour as well for breadcrumbs in your meatloaf mixture. You’ll have moist meatloaf without bread crumbs in no time.
What You’ll Need
- 1 medium onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 green chili
- A handful of parsley
- A handful of cilantro
- 1 tsp of black pepper ground
- 1 tsp of dried oregano
- 1 tbsp of mustard
- 1 tbsp of ketchup
- 1 ½ tsp of salt
- 1kg of ground beef, 9% fat
- ¼ cup of full-fat milk
- 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour
- 2 tbsp of cornstarch
- 1 egg yolk
Some people like to make a sauce to go on top of their meatloaf. This brings even more moistness and flavor to your dish, and it can also hide a multitude of sins!
If your meatloaf hasn’t browned or caramelized enough on top, for example, it can be handy to have a bit of this sauce on the side to cover it up.
For these extra steps, you’ll need:
To make the sauce, you’ll also need the following ingredients:
- ¾ cup of ketchup
- 2 tbsp of sugar
- 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp of vinegar
- 1 tsp of black pepper
Step By Step Instructions
- Preheat your oven to 180℃ / 360℉.
- Next, prepare your meatloaf pan by greasing the tin with a thin layer of butter or oil. We recommend using an 11-inch rectangular pan for this particular recipe, as it comes out perfectly every time.
- As my mother often used to say to me at the dinner table, start with your vegetables. Begin by peeling and finely chopping the garlic, onion, green chili, and any other vegetables you may be using. TOP TIP: if you already have one, you can use a garlic press or even a pestle and mortar to crush the garlic.
- Finely chop the parsley, cilantro, and pepper ground.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the ground beef, chopped herbs and vegetables, oregano, ketchup, mustard, salt, and pepper then mix until combined. Stir well with a big wooden spoon to ensure the vegetables are evenly distributed throughout the meat mixture. Just remember that this is raw meat, not cake batter, so try to refrain from licking the spoon when you’re done!
- Combine the cornstarch and wheat flour in a smaller mixing bowl and add to the meat, sprinkling it all over.
- Crack the egg and add the yolk to the rest of the ingredients. You can discard the egg white or store it in your fridge for up to two days. Now, this is where it gets slightly messy, but it’s best to get right into the bowl with your hands and to knead the ingredients until it forms a homogeneous mixture.
- Once everything is fully combined, you can transfer the mixture to the pre-greased meatloaf pan and use your fingers (or the back of a spoon if you’ve already washed them after that last step) to push it down slightly until the surface is flattened.
- At this point, you can make the sauce if using one. Simply mix all the ingredients together and use a silicone pastry brush or, again, the back of a spoon to spread 3 or 4 tablespoons of the sauce on top of the meatloaf.
- Cover the meatloaf with aluminum foil and place it in the oven to cook for half an hour. After half an hour, remove the foil and pour the remaining sauce over the top leaving it to cook for an additional 15 minutes or until it’s browned on top.
- As tempting as it is to tuck straight in, allow the meatloaf to cool for approximately 20 minutes on a cutting board. Have a glass of wine while you wait, take in the delicious smells wafting through your kitchen, then once it’s rested slice it into the desired portion sizes. If you’re feeling fancy, you can serve it with a sprinkle of chopped parsley on top.
Variations, Tips, and Tricks
Keep it covered!
Nobody likes biting into a dry slice of meatloaf, so an easy way to make sure it comes out of the oven moist and juicy is to cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.
Leave it covered for about half of the required cooking time, as this will help to prevent the juices from escaping.
Just remember to remove the foil when it’s about halfway done, as the last 15 minutes or so of cooking is what produces the sticky glaze on the top of your meatloaf.
Don’t go in dry!
I know we said the sauce was optional, but if you’re finding that your meatloaf is drying out when it cooks it’s the perfect solution.
Our recipe suggests adding 3 or 4 tablespoons of sauce before you even put your meatloaf in the oven, but you could even add a few more at periodic intervals during cooking and then go ahead with the final step of pouring the rest over the top and leaving to cook uncovered to form a beautifully browned glaze.
Wrap your meat!
Bacon makes pretty much everything taste better, and meatloaf is no exception. Wrapping strips of streaky bacon around your meatloaf will imbue tons of flavor and it’s another great way of helping the meatloaf retain moisture during cooking.
The easiest way to do this is to line your tin with bacon before spooning in the meat mixture and adding a final layer of bacon across the top (which will be the bottom) of your meatloaf.
Spice it up!
Spices and seasonings are what make a meatloaf, so don’t be stingy in your use of them.
As we’ve already pointed out, it’s inadvisable to eat raw meat straight out of the bowl, which makes it slightly trickier to check if you’ve got your flavors right.
The best way we’ve found is to fry a little bit of the meat mixture in a pan so you can perform the all-important taste test, as this way you’ll be able to easily tell if you need to be more liberal with your seasoning.
Looking to impress? Why not try stuffing your meatloaf for a twist on this classic dish.
Some delicious options to consider include mozzarella (or basically any type of cheese), sautéed vegetables with a creamy sauce, or mushrooms and caramelized onions.
To stuff your meatloaf, place half of your meat mixture into the baking container you’re using and make a well in the center, but don’t let it go all the way to the bottom.
Add your chosen filling and the rest of the meat until it’s completely covered and well sealed.
In a bit of a bind?
There’s nothing worse than laboring over your meatloaf only for it to fall apart when you’re ready to dish up at dinnertime.
To prevent yourself from ending up in a sticky serving situation, it’s imperative that you use appropriate binding ingredients, which is what breadcrumbs are traditionally used for.
They help to provide moisture which will essentially glue the meatloaf together, allowing you to slice it properly.
The recipe we’ve used combines wheat flour, cornstarch, milk, and egg yolk in equal measures to bring the meatloaf without using breadcrumbs, but there are other ingredients you can also use in its place.
Salty saltines or Ritz biscuits make a cracking replacement and work just as well to bind the meatloaf together.
How To Store Meatloaf
In The Fridge
If you somehow manage to leave enough meatloaf for leftovers, the best way to store it is in the fridge. Cooked meatloaf will still be tasty for another 2-3 days when stored correctly, but it’s best eaten when it’s fresher.
Before placing it in the fridge, allow the meatloaf to cool completely and tightly wrap or cover it using saran wrap or tinfoil. Alternatively, you can store it in an airtight container.
You can also make your meatloaf a day ahead and store it uncooked in the fridge overnight. Some people believe this actually improves the taste of the final result, as it gives the flavors more time to develop.
In The Freezer
For more long-term storage, you can also freeze your meatloaf, although this is not recommended if the meat you’re using has already been frozen and defrosted once.
Meatloaf should last for up to 6 months in the freezer regardless of whether you cooked it beforehand or if you froze it when it was raw.
Depending on how long you’re planning on storing it for, both of these methods are suitable for prolonging the quality of your meatloaf.
The great news is that you can reuse it in a number of different ways, including as lunch meat for sandwiches, crumbled into a chili or casseroles, or as an appetizer.
However you use it, if you’ve used this recipe your meatloaf will taste just as good in any dish.
Meatloaf Without Breadcrumbs
- For the meatloaf:
- A large mixing bowl
- A large wooden spoon
- A meatloaf pan
- For the optional sauce:
- A small mixing bowl
- A silicone pastry brush or the back of a large spoon
For the meatloaf:
For the optional sauce:
- ¾ cup of ketchup
- 2 tbsp of sugar
- 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp of vinegar
- 1 tsp of black pepper
- To begin with, preheat your oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease your 11-inch meatloaf pan with a thin layer of butter or oil.
- Peel and chop the garlic, onion, green chili and any other vegetables.
- Now you can finely chop the cilantro, parsley and pepper ground.
- Get a large mixing bowl and add the ground beef, chopped herbs and vegetables, oregano, mustard, ketchup, salt and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together until fully combined.
- In another bowl, mix together the cornstarch and wheat flour. When combined, pour this mixture over the meat.
- Add the egg yolk to the mixture and begin combining the meat mixture with your hands. Remember to wash your hands afterwards.
- Add the mixture into your greased meatloaf pan and push it down until it is laying flat in the tray.
- To make the sauce, mix all of the ingredients together and place 3 to 4 tablespoons onto the surface of your meatloaf.
- Use aluminum foil to cover your meatloaf pan and cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the remainder of the sauce on top of your meatloaf. Then place back into the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minimum of 20 minutes before tucking in.