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Meatloaf without Milk

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

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

White meatloaf is a classic American dish to the point of jokes being made about eating appearing in shows and movies. However, meatloaf actually dates all the way back to Ancient Roman.

Meatloaf only began appearing in American cookbooks at the end of the 1800s.

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 were added to the meatloaf as well as spices for taste.

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

This meatloaf is made without milk, which doesn’t do much for meatloaf anyone except add liquid which water can do.

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

I was tempted to share that recipe here but I figured if you’re reading this recipe you’re looking for the classic version, so here it is!

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

Does meatloaf have dairy?

Meatloaf is typical made with milk, so yes it usually does contain dairy unless specifically stated otherwise.

Does meatloaf have dairy?

Since meatloaf is generally made with milk, yes it contains dairy.

What’s the purpose of putting milk in meatloaf?

Milk hydrates the breadcrumbs and makes the meatloaf moist.

Can you make meatloaf without milk?

Yes, to make meatloaf without milk. You do not need to make meatloaf with milk, what you need is a liquid.

What can I substitute for milk in meatloaf?

To substitute milk in meatloaf I generally recommend a neutral flavored oat milk or water.

Can you use water instead of milk in meatloaf?

Yes. All you have to do is replace the milk water with water cup for cup.

Can I leave milk out of meatloaf?

Yes, as long as you replace it with another form of liquid such as water or oat milk.

Do you have to use liquid for meatloaf?

Generally yes, but if you are using a particularly fatty meat then probably not.

HOW TO DEFROST MEAT

IN THE FRIDGE

This method is the most highly recommended. Meat typically takes at least a full day to thaw. Once thawed, the poultry can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.

IN COLD WATER

This 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 warm or hot water.  It is unhealthy to do so, can start cooking your meat, and doesn’t do so evenly.

COOK IT FROZEN

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 the heat can circulate around the meat.

IS IT SAFE TO REFREEZE RAW MEAT

If you have extra raw meat that you didn’t use but want to refreeze, you can as long as it was thawed in the fridge.

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 through thawing 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

An ordinary oven cooks by enveloping food in hot, dry air. This air heats the outside of the food which slowly penetrates to the inside of the food until it’s cooked all the way.   

Now, in a convection oven, the fan produces extra energy. It takes the hot air and blows it around, producing around 25 to 30 percent more energy, depending on the fan’s power. 

Regular ovens also can have hot spots, but the fan in a convection oven will circulate the air to help even out the temperature variances. 

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. Of course, this is unless the recipe is specifically for convection ovens.

The simplest method is to set the oven 25ºF to 50ºF lower than the recipe says.  

A simple rule to follow is to lower the temperature by 25ºF when baking cookies and pies, but 50ºF when roasting meats. 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.

HOW TO STORE

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

HOW TO FREEZE

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 safe to eat. However, 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

Ingredients

  • 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*

Instructions

    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 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.

Notes

*red wine vinegar and even white vinegar can be used

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

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!

ElissaBeth

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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