Gluten free meatloaf without breadcrumbs smothered in smoky barbecue sauce. It tastes like your mama’s meatloaf but it’s better for you! This healthier meatloaf recipe can be made with ground chicken, turkey, or lean beef! It’s lighter than the original comfort food dish, it’s easy to make and freeze for meal prep, and it’s just plain delicious!
5 years ago I made my first ever gluten free meatloaf recipe. And 5 years later I still cringe at the word. Ugh, that word. Meatloaf. Why oh why do did we think it was okay to put those two words together. It’s like the British recipe spotted dick, I just can’t grasp my brain around that. Anyway, moving on despite the blasphemy of a word. Haha!
You see, today we are celebrating NEW and IMPROVED comfort food recipes. Not mention a more appetizing recipe title. Well, I’ll let you be the judge.
This is Not Your Grandma’s Sunday Meatloaf, that’s for sure. In fact, it’s better for you and gluten free! Perfect for that someone who’s trying to swap out those not so healthy comfort food dishes for healthier and gluten free versions.
I think I shall call this…
BETTER (HEALTHIER)-FOR-YOU BARBECUE GLUTEN FREE MEATLOAF! It’s lighter, more flavorful, and perfectly acceptable to serve all year round. Heck, make it a potluck dish with a “bucket-o-beans” (yes, that’s actually a plastic tub of beans below) and you’ve got yourself a Texas BBQ.
Noted: Lovely BBQ Beans hand model courtesy of my cute niece. She was serving us.
Okay I digress. Yet again.
Where was I? Hmmmm. barbecue gluten free meatloaf – HEALTHIFIED, and manly men approved!
Can you make meatloaf without breadcrumbs?
This gluten free meatloaf recipe first came about 5 years ago (as mentioned above). At that time, I was still trying to convince my three brothers and dad to try eating gluten free and healthier in general. It’s like I had to trick them into thinking my food was not gluten free and unhealthy for them to try it. Hey, whatever works, right? Yep, I was feeding some manly Texas men. The Kiwi (my husband) on the other hand loves pretty much all food. Thank God, literally!
So there I stood, pondering how to make a meaty “healthier” dinner that could serve us all. Suddenly my grandma’s meatloaf popped into my head. You know, the meatloaf recipes with lots of salt, meat, and barely any sauce? Haha, Sorry Grandma, but your meatloaf looked liked roadkill, although it tasted like good ole’ home cookin!
Anyway, I figured I could easily adapt her recipe and make it my own! A little mixture of wholesome, gluten free ingredients such as lean ground meat, eggs, fresh herbs and spices, and ground gluten free crackers in place of traditional breadcrumbs. In fact, the batter looked quite similar to our favorite meatballs recipe!
We also mixed together some gluten free honey barbecue sauce and balsamic glaze to go on top.
Drum roll, please.
The end result: The better-for-you gluten free meatloaf, with a little barbecue love! And one of the best dishes we’ve had in a long time. Craving satisfied!
It’s a “better for you” swap that’s delicious and nutritious. Plus that tangy barbecue sauce on top is just perfect as we transition into BBQ season. Am I right? Just ask my youngest niece to serve the beans and you’re set. Kidding. Kinda.
How to make gluten free meatloaf without breadcrumbsPrint
Barbecue Gluten Free Meatloaf (paleo meatloaf option)
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
Gluten free meatloaf without breadcrumbs smothered in smoky barbecue sauce. It tastes like your mama’s meatloaf but it’s better for you! Paleo meatloaf option.
- Olive oil spray or coconut oil for pan
- ½ cup ground flavored gluten free crackers (herbed, sea salt, seedy, cheddar, smokey flavor, etc.) We’ve made this with paleo herbed crackers.
- 1 ¼ pound organic ground chicken, lean turkey, or 95% lean ground beef
- ½ cup diced white or red onion
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon BBQ seasoning or an everything seasoning of choice – Make sure it’s gluten free and not too high in salt.
- ⅔ cup Naturally Sweetened BBQ sauce or a favorite Honey BBQ sauce (gluten free)
- Balsamic glaze to top (optional). Smoked salt flakes or kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Oil an 8×11 bread pan and set aside.
- Place the gluten free crackers in a food processor to to ground into a panko like texture. You can also finely Crush in a ziplock bag, just be sure it’s enough to thicken the meat/egg batter. Set aside. (see notes)
- In a small bowl or stand mixer, place your ground meat, onion, and egg. Add in your ground crackers and seasonings and mix again until meatloaf batter is evenly combined. If you are using beef, you might need an extra 1-2 tablespoon of ground crackers due to fat content of beef.
- Press batter into pan and bake, cover with ½ to ⅔ sweet bbq sauce. Save extra sauce to brush on before serving.
- Place meatloaf pan in oven at 400F for about 35 minutes. Check around 35 minutes to see how it’s baking. If edges are browning but inside is not done, then cover and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes. IF the outside is not browning around 35 minutes, continue baking uncovered for 10 more minutes. The beef version might take closer to 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Warm ¼ cup of the leftover BBQ sauce in sauce pan or microwave for 30 seconds. Brush on top, if desired, before serving.
- Drizzle with optional balsamic glaze and pinch of kosher salt or flakes for extra “tanginess”
- If you are using beef that’s higher fat, you might need an extra 1-2 tablespoon of ground crackers due to fat content of beef. It also will take longer to cook.
- For Paleo option, use Simple Mills crackers.
Nutrition shown is amount per serving with ground chicken and naturally sweetened BBQ sauce
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 45
- Category: main
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 185
- Sugar: 7g
- Sodium: 495.3mg
- Fat: 8g
- Saturated Fat: 2.2g
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Fiber: 0.7g
- Protein: 15g
- Cholesterol: 98,4mg
Keywords: barbecue, meatloaf, gluten free meatloaf, meatloaf without breadcrumbs, paleo
Okay friend, before we end. I’ll leave you with some of my tips, tricks, and heartfelt thoughts.
FROM FREEZER TO TABLE MEAL PREP TIP –> I know this is gluten free meatloaf is far from the spring dishes I have been posting lately, but it is lighter than most meatloaf recipes and actually a great dish for meal prep! Make it, wrap in foil (or freezer friendly container) freeze it, bust it out to reheat for an easy weeknight dinner. Serve with some BBQ rutabaga chips and asparagus.
BETTER FOR YOU TIP-–> When I make this gluten free meatloaf, I use lean ground chicken instead of beef. It is very flavorful and not greasy. Feel free to use lean ground turkey, bison, or beef, just adjust the cooking times with higher fat ratio. Also, look for a BBQ sauce that’s naturally sweetened and lower in sugar. Heck, you can even make your own, like the one I use when I make BBQ salmon bowls.
FEEL GOOD HEARTFELT THOUGHTS –> I’m sharing this comfort food family recipe today because I do miss my family and husband, greatly! I can’t wait to see my husband next week and celebrate his 36th birthday. He deserves the best! We are praying he finds a job he loves soon and we can continue the celebration. I remain hopeful and positive. Will you join me in the Sunday feel-good vibes?
Favorite comfort food meal you made healthy? Do share!
what seasoning product did you use personally when you made this? Is Season-All ok? suggestions would be great; I would like to try this recipe this week…can’t wait 🙂 we are exploring into healthIER eating so I am so happy to find your blog 🙂
Sure! I used something like this. https://amzn.to/2t5OUPr
Jack | BBQRecipez
Made this last night and it was excellent and very moist.
So glad! Thanks for the feedback Jack!
The texture, the sauce, EVERYTHING about this looks absolutely amazing. Now this is a seriously amazing meatloaf.
This recipe looks delicious! Any idea if substituting the crackers for oats or oat flour would work?
Sure! I would Blend an herb seasoning with rolled oats then use that in replace for the ground crackers. Does that make sense? I think the texture might be a little different but still delicious
YESSS girl! I’m all for the healthy versions of our fave comfort food!
I love the whole concept of making a comfort food healthier, this meatloaf does look amazing, and yeah the word meatloaf is kinda weird! never heard of that British dish before..lol…great recipe and post 🙂
OBSESSED. I am so making this!!!
Love the tweaks you made!
Heather S Christo
I hate the word meatloaf too lol! but it sure does look delicious!
Liz @ Floating Kitchen
Girl, I’m with you. The name has got to go! Lol. This looks seriously delicious. I haven’t had meatloaf in probably 20 years, because it’s one of those foods I never liked as a kid. But this makes me want to try it again!
right?! Haha I totally agree! Meatloaf reinvented!
I used to hate meatloaf as a kid, a few years ago I started making it with BBQ sauce…game changed! Love that you add crushed crackers to yours, totally trying that next time!
right?! I so agree! Meatloaf totally needs that BBQ flavor!
Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table
I have wondered about spotted dick so many times. Have you ever tried it? I just can’t…
I can with the meatloaf too. Especially with ground chicken. I think this would be Vegas approved too. HA!
Susie @ Suzlyfe
I do this almost exactly with ground turkey for Alex’s lunches! Twinsies
You are so my twin! And when Emmie is old enough, I know she will love your turkey meatloaf!