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My Gluten Free Classic Meatloaf recipe is tender and flavorful, made with juicy ground beef, savory onions, and a handful of basic seasonings. Topped with a sweet and tangy brown sugar glaze, this recipe is family-favorite comfort food that I just know you’ll love, too.
Easy Gluten Free Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Glaze
Growing up, I never fully appreciated meatloaf, and how it made a food budget go that much further. It’s really a genius way to stretch inexpensive ground beef with equally affordable fillers like eggs and breadcrumbs.
Of course, sometimes, what was gained back budget-wise was lost in the flavor department. In recent years, I’ve set out to remedy this with recipes like my French Onion Stuffed Meatloaf and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatloaf. But at the end of the day, I thought it was time to revamp a classic.
If you’re someone who has nothing but dry, crumbly memories of classic meatloaf, I’m here to encourage you to give this recipe for gluten-free meatloaf a shot. I promise it will blow you away!
This tender glazed meatloaf is flavorful and juicy, made with savory ground beef and basic seasonings. This is good old-fashioned comfort food, topped with a tangy brown sugar glaze that locks in all the flavor.
What You’ll Need
The ingredients you’ll need to make this easy gluten-free meatloaf are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. This recipe is truly a classic in every sense of the word! Below is a short overview of the ingredients, with the full amounts available in the recipe card:
- Ground Beef: I recommend using either 85% or 90% lean ground beef, so the meatloaf doesn’t turn out too greasy.
- Ketchup: Classic ketchup adds a subtly sweet and tangy tomato flavor.
- Milk and Egg: Our binding ingredients, along with breadcrumbs. Milk adds moisture to the loaf while an egg helps bind the ingredients together.
- Worcestershire Sauce: I love the hint of umami that Worcestershire sauce brings to the beef. You don’t need a lot, and it really deepens the flavors.
- Mustard: Regular yellow mustard works great, or you can use another preferred kind, like Dijon or even hot mustard.
- Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs: Same as in homemade meatballs, breadcrumbs in this recipe work with the eggs to give the loaf structure. Use your favorite brand of gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Onion: Diced yellow onion caramelizes inside the meatloaf while it bakes, for another layer of flavor.
- Parsley: I mix in dried or fresh parsley, along with salt and pepper for seasoning.
- Glaze: For this homemade meatloaf, I whip up a simple and savory glaze made by whisking together ketchup and mustard with a bit of brown sugar.
Can I Substitute the Breadcrumbs?
Breadcrumbs absorb the fats and juices that would otherwise seep out of the meatloaf while it bakes. So while you can’t skip them, you can substitute them.
Old-fashioned oats are a handy alternative to gluten-free breadcrumbs. I recommend pulsing the oats in a blender or food processor a couple of times to grind them a bit. Also, make sure to use certified gluten-free old-fashioned oats and not instant or quick oats, as these varieties absorb moisture too quickly.
For more information, read Are Oats Gluten Free?
How to Make Gluten Free Classic Meatloaf
My family always had ground beef in the fridge or freezer, and meatloaf was a meal that would often be made on the fly on busy weeknights. This classic meatloaf recipe takes it back to the basics, and it couldn’t be easier to make:
- Combine the Ingredients: Add all the meatloaf ingredients to a large bowl, and give them a gentle mix. I like to use my hands, to avoid overworking the meat.
- Bake: Next, gently press the meat mixture evenly into a parchment-lined loaf pan. Bake the loaf at 350ºF for about 40 minutes.
- Glaze: Meanwhile, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Spread this over the meatloaf (you can use a butter knife or a brush) and then place it back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Then, slice and serve!
Tips for Success
Classic meatloaf is one of those retro recipes that’s nearly failproof. These are my tips to ensure that this gluten-free recipe comes together as seamlessly as possible:
- Don’t overwork the meat. Make sure to only mix the meat mixture until the ingredients are just combined, and do your best to not overwork it. Overworked meatloaf will turn out tough, not tender.
- Avoid packing the meat into the pan. Following the previous tip, don’t press the meat too firmly into the baking pan. Press it just enough to flatten the top, but packing it down will yield a dense, tough loaf.
- To test the flavor of your meatloaf, take a spoonful of the finished meat mixture and cook it in a pan on the stovetop. This way you can test the flavor before you bake the whole thing.
- Check the temperature. Your meatloaf is done when the internal temperature reads 160ºF on an instant-read thermometer.
There’s more than one way to adapt this meatloaf to your family’s tastes. Here are some easy ways to switch up ingredients and add-ins:
- Different Seasonings: Salt, pepper, and parsley are a good start, and you can swap in or add more seasonings if you’d like. Try paprika for a bit of smokiness, cayenne for a spicy kick, or Italian seasoning in place of parsley.
- Different Meat: Instead of all ground beef, you can make this gluten-free meatloaf with half beef/half ground pork, or use leaner ground meat like chicken or turkey.
- Add Veggies: You can always up the nutrition of your meatloaf by incorporating pureed roasted or sauteed vegetables into the meat mixture (like I do in my Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf recipe). Or, sautee diced onion, carrots, and celery to add to the mix. This is a fantastic way to sneak in some hidden veggies while using up leftovers.
Make It a Meal
There are so many tasty sides that go great with hot-from-the-oven meatloaf. We’ll serve thick slices alongside Mashed Potatoes and a healthy side of Roasted Broccoli or Easy Roasted Butternut Squash. Cozy dinners don’t get much better!
For a lighter meal, enjoy gluten-free meatloaf served with a fresh green salad topped with Maple Dijon Dressing. My kids also love their meatloaf with Gluten Free Stovetop Mac and Cheese a drizzle of homemade Balsamic Ketchup.
For a stick-to-your-ribs dinner, serve meatloaf with a Baked Potato or Italian Seasoned Oven Fries and gravy. Or, bulk up a meal with Gluten-Free Garlic Breadsticks.
And don’t forget some of my favorite veggie side dishes for meatloaf:
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Leftover gluten-free meatloaf can be stored airtight in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. We love using leftover slices in meatloaf sandwiches! To reheat meatloaf, warm it
Can I Freeze Meatloaf?
Absolutely! Beef meatloaf freezes well, either whole or in slices. For individual servings, I’ll wrap slices in plastic wrap and store them all together in a resealable freezer bag. Or, the whole loaf can be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost the meatloaf in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Things You’ll Need
As mentioned earlier, I like to make this meatloaf in a 9-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper. This keeps it in a perfect loaf shape that you can easily lift out of the pan using the paper.
Gluten Free Classic Meatloaf
For the meatloaf:
- 2 lbs 85% or 90% lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
- 3/4 cup plain gluten free bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely diced onion
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Minced fresh parsley , optional
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ketchup, milk, egg, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, bread crumbs, onion, parsley, salt, and pepper. Gently mix together until just combined.
- Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared loaf pan and gently press down and even out the top.
- Bake the meatloaf at 350°F for 40 minutes.
- While it bakes, in a small bowl, stir together the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. Spread it over the top of the meatloaf and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F in the middle.