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Meatloaf without Milk

This dairy free meatloaf is made without milk and is extremely moist and juicy!

Growing up, my mom’s meatloaf (which is still my favorite) skipped most of the seasoning and used onion soup powder.

I recommend trying it even though the recipe I share here is you’re classic meatloaf recipe.

Meatloaf with green beans and mashed potatoes on a white plate on a white marble counter

If you like this dairy free meatloaf without milk, you may also enjoy my dairy free meatloaf with oatmeal and my dairy free meatloaf with potato flakes.

And, if you’re interested in another American classic made without milk, be sure to also check out my Dairy Free Southern Fried Chicken.

History of Meatloaf

The first recorded recipe for the modern American meatloaf dates from the late 1870s and was served as a breakfast food.

Then, during the Great Depression, it was a way for families to stretch the food budget by using an inexpensive type of meat and leftover ingredients.

To stretch the meat further, bread or saltine crackers, bread, or oatmeal were added to the meatloaf.

We continue to do this today in the version of breadcrumbs but for the purpose of moisture and binding.

About Dairy Free Meatloaf

Meatloaf is usually made with milk due to a long-held myth that milk can tenderize ground meat.

You actually don’t need milk to make meatloaf and therefore you can make meatloaf without milk.

What you need is a liquid to keep the meat moist, so you can make meatloaf with water or using a dairy free milk.

And, if you are using a particularly fatty meat, you probably don’t have to use liquid at all.

What are Eggs used for?

Eggs do three things in most recipes: they help bind the ingredients together, act as a mild leavening agent, and they add moisture.


No, eggs are not dairy.  Dairy is milk and any food products made from milk, including cheese, cream, butter, and yogurt. 

So, while eggs are an animal product, they are not dairy. In fact, eggs fall under the protein food group.

How to tell if your eggs are still good

Fill a glass with cool water and submerge the eggs.

If the eggs sink to the bottom and lay flat on their side, they’re still fresh.

If they sink, but stand on one end at the bottom of the glass, the eggs are not as fresh but still good.

An egg that floats to the top is likely spoiled.

How to replace eggs in meatloaf?

There are a number of egg replacement options available, but my favorite way to make meatloaf without eggs is by replacing the egg with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water.


Kosher animals are kept in better conditions than non-kosher animals due to strict kosher health requirements of the animals.

Also, the salting process used as part of the process of making meat kosher is similar to dry brining, and therefore produces a better quality meat.

While I’ve only eaten kosher meat and so I cannot compare, I’ve been told by non-Jews who do not keep kosher that they’ve noticed that kosher meat is of superior quality to cook with.



Defrosting meat in the fridge is the most highly recommended.

To do this, place the frozen meat in a pan and let it thaw. Oftentimes when meat thaws, it releases liquids that can leak onto your fridge, so the pan is really helpful.

Meat typically takes a full day to thaw. Once thawed, it can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.


Defrosting meat in water should take two to three hours.  

Submerge your sealed meat in a pot or bowl full of cold water.  Change out the water every 30 minutes or so. 

Do not use hot water because it can start cooking your meat.

Can you cook FROZEN meat?

According to the USDA, you can cook frozen meat.  It will take 50% longer to cook, but it’s an option. 

You should also cook it on a roasting rack or over vegetables so that the heat can circulate around the meat.


According to the USDA, “food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking.”  However, you do lose quality when refreezing previously defrosted meat. 

Every time you defrost meat, it loses moisture as it thaws, which also leads to a loss in flavor.  To compensate for this, marinate the meat to add more flavor and juice.

The USDA also says not to “refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F.”

Adjusting for a Convection Oven

Convection ovens blow the hot air around, producing around 25 to 30 percent more heat.

Since convection ovens produce more heat, you need either lowering the temperature or shortening the cooking time to compensate.

When recipes specify temperatures and cooking times, it’s for conventional ovens, unless specified otherwise.

A simple rule to follow is to lower the temperature by 25ºF or 14ºC when baking cookies and pies, and 50ºF or 28ºC when roasting meat and poultry. Some convection ovens offer separate settings for baking and for roasting.

You can also leave the temperature the same and instead, shorten the cooking time by 25 percent. For example, if your recipe calls for 60 minutes in the oven, check the food after 45 minutes instead.

However, keep in mind, some convection ovens actually make a heat adjustment for you. That is, if you set a convection oven for 350ºF, it might actually set itself to 325ºF to compensate. So, check your manual before making adjustments.


Once cooled, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Store for 3 to 4 days.


Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.  Place in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag. 

Freeze for up to 6 months.  After that, it is still safe to eat but the quality begins to degrade.

Yield: 10 servings

Meatloaf without Milk

Meatloaf with green beans and mashed potatoes on a white plate on a white marble counter

This classic meatloaf is made without milk, so it is completely dairy free. It is also extremely moist and juicy!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Rest Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar*


    1. In a large bowl, add the beef, bread crumbs, onion, water, egg, ketchup, soy sauce, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix very well by hand until well combined.
    2. Add the meat mixture to a loaf pan and pat down into an even layer.
    3. In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup ketchup, the brown sugar, and vinegar. Stir to combine.
    4. Pour the sauce on top of the meatloaf and spread it into an even layer.
    5. Bake at 350°F or 175°C uncovered for 55 minutes.
    6. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


*red wine vinegar and even white vinegar can be used.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 198Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 512mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 15g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Nan Holcomb

Sunday 21st of August 2022

I made your meatloaf this afternoon and it is wonderful. My Mom made the best meatloaf, but if she had a recipe, I never saw it written down. She has been gone for several years now, and I have been trying to recreate it with little success. Yours is every bit as good as what she made. I know that she used oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs, so I did substitute that in, and I had a bowl of cherry tomatoes that needed to be used, so I sliced some and cooked them on top of the meatloaf, with the sauce on top of all. I will make this many times!


Sunday 21st of August 2022

Thank you so much for sharing this comment! I feel honored to have been able to help you recreate your mothers meatloaf

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