Tasty Meatloaf in Mere Minutes (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

This post is linked to Real Food Weekly and Seasonal Sundays.

If this recipe looks or sounds familiar, it’s because I first shared it here last year for Carrie’s (Ginger Lemon Girl) wonderful 30 Days of Gluten-Free Quick and Tasty Meals series. But I thought I should “bring it home” to gfe. Today I’m adding it to Diane’s (The WHOLE Gang) Real Food Weekly event—a wonderful weekly event that is just what it says it is.

I think most everyone needs this recipe right about now. It’s that time of year when many of us avoid turning on the oven. It makes me sad, but it’s reality. Sometimes I “squeeze in” some baked goods on Saturday morning before we leave the house to go camping. My logic? We’re leaving, so an increase of a few degrees to an empty house doesn’t matter. (The fish in our aquariums like the warmer temps and our chinchilla is downstairs in the cooler basement.) But making something in the oven for an hour or more, and then having our air conditioner work harder than it already is these days, is not an option. However, I still want a hot meal for us most evenings. This meatloaf recipe that’s made in the microwave is a great solution.

I’ve been making this recipe for many years. Still, Mr. GFE always is so surprised when we sit down to dinner in the summer and I present him with this meatloaf. He gives me a quizzical look that says “How did you make this meatloaf without me knowing it?” There are no tantalizing smells coming from the kitchen for an hour or more as is usually the case with meatloaf. While this recipe is a definite winner during the summer, I actually make this meatloaf year round. It’s not only an energy saver; it’s also a time saver. In fact, I just took one to Mom and Dad last week. As a side dish, I made a French Fry version of the Pan-Baked Potatoes, which are also made in the microwave. And I took them Chocolate Beer Muffins for dessert. (I’ve been “teasing” my Facebook and Twitter followers with mentions of these muffins/cupcakes. The recipe is coming soon; I promise. Remember … there’s that “don’t use the oven” thing going on right now.)

I made another Tasty Meatloaf for the two of us early this week. We each had a piece with our dinner and the rest went to my support group for our shared potluck at our monthly meeting the following night. This recipe is a favorite of the group—even for those who usually hate meatloaf! In less than 20 minutes, you can have this tasty meat loaf on your dinner table with almost no extra heat added to your kitchen—enjoy!

Tasty Meatloaf (Microwave Version; Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)

1 lb. ground venison, lean ground beef, or ground turkey
1 to 2 eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup gluten-free bread crumbs (or gluten-free bread torn into pieces), almond flour, etc. (see notes below)
1/3 cup non-dairy milk (like coconut milk or almond milk, or dairy milk if you choose)
1/3 cup gluten-free ketchup (even Nomato ketchup, or slightly less tomato sauce)
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp salt (optional, I’d add if using ground turkey)

1/3 cup gluten-free ketchup (or slightly less tomato sauce)
1 ½ tsp dry mustard
¼ cup brown sugar (or Demerara or coconut/palm sugar)


  1. Lightly grease pan.
  2. Mix ground meat, egg, bread crumbs, milk, ketchup, and onion. Press into microwave-safe loaf pan, making an indentation in the center.
  3. Mix topping ingredients and pour over loaf. Spread evenly with a spatula if necessary.
  4. Microwave on HIGH setting for 12 minutes.
  5. Check doneness at center of loaf at 12-minute point. If not done, continue cooking at 1-minute intervals, checking each time. There should be no pink remaining in the middle, but it may look slightly soft. The middle will continue cooking/setting up for a few minutes after removing from the microwave. Therefore, I like to serve slices from the end first.
  6. Serve with equally quick sides that won’t add much (or any) heat to the kitchen, like salad and/or steamed veggies.

Shirley’s Notes:

  • Please do not omit the topping; it comes from a Southern Living recipe and really makes this meatloaf special.
  • If you don’t use a lean meat, there may be too much fat, some of which you can drain off. (Be careful not to drain off too much because the meatloaf will need some for moisture, plus it’s not all fat, it’s also liquid from the other ingredients.)
  • Bread crumbs (or another “filler” ingredient) definitely make for a tastier meatloaf, but they are not really necessary. The egg, ground meat, fat content, and milk (if used) all allow binding and add enough flavor.
  • Truthfully, I make this meat loaf slightly different each time. For example, when I use almond flour, I add no milk at all, as the liquid is not really needed. However, I do use milk when I include bread crumbs; the liquid is needed in that case. If I have gluten-free bread on hand and I’m serving more than just the two of us, I may use a couple of slices of gluten-free bread torn into pieces (without measuring) and I may add the second egg as extra liquid and protein to balance the extra bread.
  • Using ketchup in both the meatloaf itself and in its topping is my favorite way, but tomato sauce can be used as indicated. Ketchup is more flavorful though; you can choose a healthier brand. Always ensure the ketchup is gluten free; there are a few that are not.
  • I use a standard size Pyrex loaf pan most often, but don’t get hung up on the loaf factor. You can use any microwaveable dish (e.g., casserole dish); just adjust cooking time if needed.  
  • Leftovers make terrific sandwiches; you can even fill corn tortillas with slices or chunks of leftover meatloaf, adding cheese, and more. 


Not just gf, but gfe!

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27 Responses to “Tasty Meatloaf in Mere Minutes (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)”

  1. saretta on July 28th, 2011 4:08 pm

    How clever that you cook it in the microwave!

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2011 8:42 am

      Hi Saretta–I’ve never gone totally crazy over my microwave and cooked turkey breasts or anything like that (although people do it seems), but meat loaf works really well in the microwave. I appreciate the time and heat savings and the taste is the same as if one had cooked it in a conventional oven. :-)


  2. Lexie on July 28th, 2011 10:39 pm

    Oh, now THAT is comfort food.

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2011 8:42 am

      Hi Lexie–Yes, it is! Thanks, dear. :-)


  3. glutenfreeforgood on July 29th, 2011 6:16 am

    Although I don’t own a microwave, you have inspired me to make meatloaf once again. I can’t even remember the last time I made meatloaf. I’ll have to use a plain old oven, but the thought of a meatloaf sandwich on gluten-free teff bread is motivation enough to bring back this classic dish. =) Comfort food, indeed! Your comment about making this dish different every time is the great thing about it. I like adding green chiles or diced jalapenos and lots of garlic. The possibilities are endless. Thanks for the inspiration, Shirley!

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2011 8:44 am

      Melissa–Meatloaf sandwiches are quite good! I still haven’t had teff in any form, but it sounds great. Yep, you can go crazy with the ingredient possibilities … I love that! :-)


  4. Alisa Fleming on July 29th, 2011 4:03 pm

    Looks delish! My husband still hates the very idea of meatloaf (says his mom’s growing up was horrible), so I’ve actually never made meatloaf! One of these days.

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2011 8:47 am

      Alisa–It is really hard to get past bad experiences with foods. My husband has a few dishes like that which he just steers clear of. Sometimes I reinvent them with another name and in another form. Meat loaf might become a “flattened” casserole. Add mashed potatoes to the top and he’ll never recognize what it is! ;-)


  5. Jeanette on July 30th, 2011 11:19 am

    I would never think to microwave a meatloaf – I always thought it would make food come out gray and unevenly cooked, but you have proven otherwise. Very clever.

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2011 8:52 am

      Hi Jeanette–I suppose it depends on the dish. I agree that usually the thought of microwave meals doesn’t make one jump up and down with joy. I know I do not eat any frozen microwave meals although I used to eat them for lunch before going gluten free. (I was very naive about what eating healthy meant back then.) With the rotating glass plate, this meat loaf works well though. I imagine the fact that it’s dense and uniform in shape might help, too.


  6. Fatcat on July 30th, 2011 1:59 pm

    It sounds great! I will try this this week!

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2011 8:54 am

      Hi Dana–Thanks! I hope you all enjoy it. Microwaves differ a bit, so after you figure out how long it takes to cook this first one, you can use that time allotment when you make it again. :-)

      Thanks so much re: blog design! Will be making a few more changes, too.


      • Debra on August 19th, 2012 9:51 pm

        Made this tonight. I used lean ground turkey and the only challenge was knowing if it was done. It was so moist and soft that the turkey almost didn’t look cooked. I will say that there is only one piece left over, so the boys (one GF, one not) must have liked it! I used two slices of Rudi’s GF bread, two eggs (one large and one smaller…from our chickens!) and all the other measurements called for. Next time, I’ll try less liquid or almond meal and none. GF son requested ground beef next time. So, we’ll see! Love to hear what other people’s experiences are!

        • Shirley on August 20th, 2012 12:26 pm

          Hi again, Debra!–You will learn from experience when different versions will done. I usually just take a spatula and split the loaf in the middle while it’s still in the pan to see if it’s done. Doing so makes it cook faster if it not’s done yet, too. Using different meats and different ingredients definitely affects cooking time, too much moisture, etc. Once you’ve done it successfully, just make notes and stick with it. You’ll get so you can tell pretty quickly if it’s done or how much longer you need to cook it. So gla dit was a hit with your family. Woohoo on having your own chickens and eggs! :-) Ground beef will produce more fat/grease, of course, but you can pour some of it off (but not all–you need some of it for its moisture) pretty easily most of the way through cooking and then cook a little longer. Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your experience!


  7. Fatcat on July 30th, 2011 2:00 pm

    PS: I like your new blog design.

  8. Carol, Simply...Gluten-free on July 30th, 2011 3:44 pm

    Mmmm, now I am craving meatloaf – specifically a meatloaf sandwich thanks to you and Melissa! I never thought of making meatloaf in the microwave – will have to try it out! Thanks for the recipe and for making me hungry :)

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2011 8:56 am

      Hi Carol–So many of us enjoy a meatloaf sandwich it seems! :-) I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you cook a meatloaf in the microwave. ;-) Oh, and you make me hungry each and every time I visit your blog. Usually I leave with major cravings!


  9. Kalyn on July 31st, 2011 9:55 am

    I love the idea of making meatloaf in the microwave! I’m a meatloaf fan but usually I’m too impatient to wait for it to cook.

    • Shirley on July 31st, 2011 11:30 am

      Hi Kalyn–I hope you enjoy it! I love that I can make this meatloaf recipe so quickly … for us or to give to others. ;-)


  10. Heidi @ Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom on August 1st, 2011 9:53 am

    Brilliant idea Shirley, I never even considered making meatloaf in the microwave! This would also be great for making several up ahead of time to store in the freezer for those super busy nights…just thaw it in the fridge the night before and pop it in the nuker right before dinner. Would go great with my “eventually instant” mashed potatoes! :-D

    • Shirley on August 4th, 2011 8:20 pm

      Hi Heidi–Thanks, dear! Yes, it would be great to make up some ahead. I’ve made two back to back before. Well, I say back to back, but I actually gave my microwave some cool-down time. Microwave ovens do get hot. Yep, this meat loaf would make a great combo with your potatoes recipe! ;-)


  11. Alta on August 1st, 2011 12:38 pm

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE meatloaf. Cool that you did it in the microwave! I prefer using almond flour in mine – no grain, and it keeps it moist. I don’t think I knew you had a chinchilla. How cool!

    • Shirley on August 4th, 2011 8:22 pm

      Hi Alta–I like using almond flour, too, and more often than not, I don’t add any bread or bread-like “filler.” The eggs, onions, etc. are enough for me.

      Yes, Balashi is a cute fellow! Very mischievious and playful. ;-)


  12. InTolerantChef on August 2nd, 2011 7:19 am

    That topping sure does sound good, I don’t think I’ve made a meatloaf for years, I’ll have to give it a try.

    • Shirley on August 4th, 2011 8:23 pm

      Hi InTolerant Chef–The topping does make this meatloaf special … that sweet ‘n sour type effect. ;-) Hope you enjoy the recipe!


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