Dairy-Free Meatloaf

Classic Food Reimagined: Dairy-Free Meatloaf Recipe

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Updated on March 26, 2024

Does the thought of a comforting meatloaf dinner make your mouth water, but dairy restrictions leave you feeling left out? Does finding a scrumptious meatloaf recipe that caters to your dietary requirements can seem like a bit of a pickle?

Fear not! This recipe takes the classic meatloaf experience and gives it a delicious makeover, making it completely free of milk, cheese, and butter. By using clever substitutions and readily available ingredients, you can create a moist and flavorful dish—adapted from Top Chef’s host Tom Colicchio’s original creation—that everyone at the table can enjoy with no need whatsoever to compromise on taste or texture.

So, dust off your loaf pan, put your apron on, and let’s get ready to discover a hidden gem in the world of comfort food. 

What Is Dairy-Free Meatloaf?


Meatloaf is a beloved classic in American cuisine, a hearty dish that brings comfort and satisfaction to countless dinner tables. Combining ground meat, typically beef or a mixture of meats, with various seasonings, breadcrumbs, eggs, and often vegetables, this culinary marvel is then baked to golden perfection.

This dish’s appeal lies not only in its savoury taste but also in its versatility, as it can be customised to suit individual preferences and dietary needs. Often served with a rich gravy or tangy ketchup glaze, slices of moist meatloaf are usually enjoyed hot out of the oven or cold in a sandwich the next day.

Thanks to its versatility, meatloaf is often enjoyed on various occasions, including:

  1. Family Dinners: Meatloaf is often served as a comforting and satisfying main course for family dinners, providing a hearty meal that appeals to both adults and children.
  2. Weeknight Meals: Its ease of preparation and ability to be made in advance make meatloaf a popular choice for busy weeknights when time is limited but a home-cooked meal is desired.
  3. Potluck Parties: Meatloaf can be a crowd-pleasing dish at potluck gatherings or parties, as it can be sliced and served easily, and it pairs well with a variety of side dishes.
  4. Comfort Food Cravings: When craving comfort food, this dish offers a nostalgic and satisfying option that evokes memories of home-cooked meals and warmth.
  5. Holiday Feasts: Meatloaf can also find its way onto holiday menus, particularly for informal gatherings or when seeking an alternative to traditional holiday roasts.
  6. Lunches and Leftovers: Leftover meatloaf makes a delicious sandwich filling or can be sliced and served cold alongside salads or other lunch items.

Main Ingredients

Basically, the original meatloaf recipe does not use straightforward dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, or yoghurt. However, the breadcrumbs used to hold the meat together typically incorporate dairy unless mentioned otherwise. So, to make a dairy-free, you will just have to replace the dairy-containing breadcrumbs with others dairy-free.

In the following sections, we are going to explore the main ingredients of this recipe and we will also provide you with multiple substitutes to adjust your meatloaf in a way that caters to your dietary preferences or health condition.

1. Lean Ground Beef or Ground Turkey

Dairy-Free Meatloaf

Traditionally, meatloaf, whether regular or dairy-free, uses lean ground beef. However, if this is not available or if you do not like the taste of beef, you can use ground veal or ground turkey. All three options make the loaf juicy and full of flavour and work well in gluten-free and keto-friendly versions of this dish.

You can also use chicken, or even plant-based alternatives like lentils or mushrooms for a vegan option.

2. Eggs

Dairy-Free Meatloaf

Meatloaves use eggs which act as a binder, helping to hold the meatloaf together as it cooks. However, if you are allergic to eggs or just want to enjoy your meatloaf with no eggs whatsoever, you can use alternatives. 

The top egg substitute which is often used in vegan recipes is aquafaba. Basically, this is the water from a can of beans. This bean liquid gives baked foods shape and holds them together well. You can also use flaxseed or chia seed eggs mixed with water. It gets gelatinous and has a consistency similar to that of an egg.

3. Dijon Mustard

Dairy-Free Meatloaf

Dijon mustard is key in our dairy-free meatloaf recipe. It comes from mustard seeds, adding a tangy taste and savoury flavour that lifts the dish. You may think it is just a small detail, but this condiment enhances the whole meal.

If you cannot eat mustard due to allergies, you can skip it altogether or swap it with another type that you can tolerate. This will not change your meal too much.

4. Ketchup

Dairy-Free Meatloaf

Ketchup is loved by many food lovers and for this recipe, it adds a sweet and tangy taste. It is either mixed with the ingredients or used as a topping for this dish.

If you want a different taste, try barbecue sauce or tomato paste in place of ketchup. A special type of ketchup made from plantains and tigernut flour works well too. You do not really need a fancy brand for it to work in your recipe. Anything is just fine.

5. Worcestershire Sauce

Dairy-Free Meatloaf

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented liquid condiment created in the city of Worcester in Worcestershire, England. It typically contains vinegar, molasses, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, garlic, and various spices, all combined together to produce a savoury and tangy flavour profile.

Worcestershire sauce is often used to enhance the taste of meats, sauces, and marinades. It adds depth and complexity to dishes and is a common ingredient in many recipes, like the one we have in hand, meatloaf. 

If you would like your meatloaf totally without fish—yes, anchovies are a type of fish—you can get a fish-free Worcestershire sauce. The Haddar Vegan Friendly Worcestershire Sauce is a top pick or even better, you could make your own sauce at home using simple ingredients like soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and spices.

How to Make Dairy-Free Meatloaf

Dairy-Free Meatloaf

Cooking dairy-free meatloaf offers a delightful opportunity to create a savoury and satisfying dish without the use of any dairy products. Utilising whichever ingredients you want from the variety we mentioned in the previous section will still retain all the flavours and textures of classic meatloaf. You can make this dish vegan by using plant-based meat alternative and flaxseed instead of egg.

The preparation process involves mixing the ingredients together, shaping the mixture into a loaf, and baking it until golden brown and cooked through. The baking process itself may take somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour. However, the end result is a flavorful and hearty meal that can be enjoyed by vegans, individuals with lactose intolerance, or anyone looking for a delicious dairy-free option.

So, let’s make some dairy-free meatloaf.


  1. 450 grams ground beef or plant-based ground meat substitute
  2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 cup of ketchup or tomato sauce, plus extra for topping
  5. 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
  6. 1 cup of dairy-free breadcrumbs
  7. 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons water
  8. 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  9. 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  10. Salt and pepper to taste


First things first, preheat your oven to 190°C. Lightly grease a loaf pan or line it with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix the ground flaxseed with water and set aside to thicken, creating a flax “egg.”

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef or plant-based meat substitute with the chopped onion, minced garlic, ketchup or tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and the prepared flax “egg.” Mix everything together until well combined.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, shaping it into a loaf shape. Optionally, spread some extra ketchup or tomato sauce on top of the meatloaf for added flavour. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-55 minutes, or until the meatloaf is cooked through and the top is browned.

Once cooked, remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Serve slices of the dairy-free meatloaf with your favourite side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, or a salad.

Storing and Reheating

To keep your dairy-free meatloaf fresh and delicious, it is important to follow proper storage techniques. After cooking, let the meatloaf cool completely before storing it. Place any leftovers in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.

If you want to save it for longer, transfer the meatloaf to a freezer-safe container and freeze it for future use but make sure you consume it within three or four months at the maximum.

To reheat your dairy-free meatloaf, if the meatloaf was frozen, make sure it is fully defrosted in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place the leftover meatloaf slices or individual portions on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Next, cover the baking sheet loosely with aluminium foil to prevent the meatloaf from drying out. Place the covered baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes until heated through.

Once heated, remove the foil and continue baking for an additional five minutes to crisp up the edges if desired.

Serving Suggestions

Dairy-Free Meatloaf

When it comes to serving dairy-free meatloaf, there are plenty of delicious side dishes that complement it perfectly. One great option is to pair your meatloaf with some roasted vegetables, like carrots, Brussels sprouts, or potatoes. The savoury flavours of the meatloaf will go well with the caramelised sweetness of the roasted veggies.

Another idea is to serve your meatloaf alongside a healthy and flavorful zucchini cauliflower rice. This low-carb alternative to traditional rice adds a fresh and crunchy element to your meal.

You can also consider creamy gratins or even a low-carb cauliflower mash as accompaniments for your meatloaf.


This dairy-free meatloaf recipe is a delicious and healthy option for those who are lactose intolerant or following a dairy-free diet. With simple substitutions and flavorful ingredients, you can enjoy a moist and juicy meatloaf without any milk or cheese.

Give it a try and satisfy your cravings while keeping your dietary needs in mind.

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