Substitute for Breadcrumbs in Meatloaf

Last Updated on June 15th, 2023

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When you think about meatloaf, there are some that will have memories of their parents or grandparents in the kitchen. 

Others trigger thoughts of the Rock Band that rocked from the eighties till now, and then there are going to be others that picture a loaf of bread-shaped meatballs. For conversation purposes, this article is going to explore key ingredients’ impact on the recipe. 

Breadcrumbs, surprisingly, will be the glue that holds the meatloaf together and gives it structure, while when looking for viable replacements, they will need to fulfill all the elements which the breadcrumbs’ role comes with. 

What is a Natural Substitute for Breadcrumbs?

There are going to be many choice replacement ingredients for breadcrumbs. For ease of it, here is a list and what these substitutes will provide:


  • Fresh and Stale bread – actual bread, how quaint, but on a serious note, these provide the exact same quality as breadcrumbs.


  • Rolled oats – again, we find another perfect substitute that will provide a nice crispy coating on top but offer all the binding agents needed for a successful meatloaf.


  • Crushed Tortilla chips – if you need a gluten-free option, these chips will provide a nice crunchy coating but also be easily crushed into meatball mixtures and add a hint of salt. 


What Ingredients Keep the Meatloaf from Falling Apart?

Many are already savvy, but for those learning how to make meatloaf for the first time, the breadcrumbs provide the glue for the meatloaf. 

This is because of how breadcrumbs maintain the moisture inside the entrée. By absorbing the juices, it becomes a sticky gelatinous flavor-filled texture. 

In addition to this, some recipes will add the help of brown sugar, not only because of the sticky nature of the caramelized version, but to add some sweetness to the meatloaf. 

These two will be the primary ingredients that will hold the structure of the loaf together, helping avoid the crumbling slices that many novices end up with. 


What is a Healthier Alternative to Breadcrumbs in Meatloaf?

As mentioned above, oats are a healthy alternative that will provide a good source of fiber and starches. 

Of course, then the tortilla chips are going to be a nice substitute for those with gluten deficiencies, but to provide another simple list, below are some other healthy alternatives:


  • Multigrain crackers – As the name suggests, multigrain snacks will break apart similar to chips but act more like breadcrumbs when it comes to absorbing the sauces and flavorful juices, and then it becomes a similar gelatinous texture. 


  • Cornflakes – in addition to being crushed up and added to the inner portions of the meatloaf, there is also a nice crunchy effect when it comes to topping the entrée. 


Can Flour Replace Breadcrumbs?

No, not in powder form. Flour is not a natural emulsifier and will only dry out the meatloaf, leading to a crumbling mess that resembles ground beef. 

However, bake that flour into a bread form, and then you will have the perfect ingredient for keeping the meatloaf full and structured. 

The key to why breadcrumbs are the best option for meatloaf is how it maintains the moisture inside the casserole and how it holds the meatloaf together. 


Some Common Alternatives you can Use:

To recap, we have already covered that breadcrumbs are best replaced with fresh or stale bread and rolled oats. We also mentioned that tortilla chips, multigrain crackers, and cornflakes would be useful alternatives but not as effective as the other two. 

Now we get to the fun options, which are provided in a simplified list below:


  • Pretzels – similar to crackers, these twisted salty treats get stale just like most baked goods and are going to be a suitable option for those needing a replacement or trying something new.


  • Coconut meat – this as an ingredient may not hold the meatloaf together as well as breadcrumbs, but where it lacks emulsifiers, it makes up for it with a nice, sweet addition that complements the brown sugar well. 


Final Thoughts on Substitute for Breadcrumbs in Meatloaf 

When it comes to preparing a well-made meatloaf, or you can show off to your spouses’ parents and family, you must go with breadcrumbs or bread, and there really is no substitute for quality and consistency when using them. 

However, with all the alternatives that have been listed, consider combining them with breadcrumbs to add some coconut sweetness or some saltiness from chips or pretzels. 

This way, you can have the fuller-looking meatloaf that slices oh so well but also has the unique aspects of the other ingredients that will provide some creativity when creating a new recipe. 

Just as the song suggests, “I will do anything for love, but I won’t do that,” meaning do not compromise when baking a meatloaf casserole. 


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