24 Substitutes for Breadcrumbs in Meatballs and Meatloaf

No need to depend on expensive gluten free breadcrumbs to replace wheat breadcrumbs in your favorite meatballs or meat loaf. Use what you have on hand to make moist, tender, nutritious entrees.

minced mushrooms

minced mushrooms with a bit of zucchini photo by lsimon


My favorites are minced veggies with the leanest ground meat I can get. The results are juicy, never dry, or tasteless. And you can sneak a serving of veggies into the mix. Make it half meat, half veggies.

1. carrots

2. cauliflower

3. celery

4. cilantro

5. mushrooms

6. onions

7. parsley

8. peppers- green and sweet bell peppers

9. sauerkraut

10. spinach- thaw frozen spinach, no need to mince

11. zucchini


many kinds of whole grain rice photo by lsimon

Starches and grains

Grains work well too. Use dry cornmeal, gluten free oatmeal, and quinoa flakes. Or leftover cooked amaranth seeds, quinoa seeds, and whole grain rice are perfect additions to the meat mixture.

12. amaranth

13. cornmeal

14. gluten free oatmeal

15. quinoa

16. rice (this is really dozens of choices since there are so many kinds of rice).


nuts photo by Dano


I haven’t tried a few of these, but any kind of nut adds flavor and richness. Grind nuts into meal in a mini food processor, not nut butter. My Mom approved when I added ground pecans to Greek Meatballs. Her verdict, first that happy sound in the back of the throat, then “these are SO good”.

17. almonds

18. cashew

19. hazelnut

20. macadamia

21. pecans

22. pine nut

23. pistachio

24. walnuts

Have I forgotten anything? What do you use in meatballs and meatloaf?

3 thoughts on “24 Substitutes for Breadcrumbs in Meatballs and Meatloaf”

  1. Minced mushrooms and cooked red/kidney, or some bean that is brown in color might be an excellent substitution for meat in this recipe. You’ll just need to add some sort of oil or fat, mix it up and test it out to see if the consistency is nice.

    1. Hi Helen,
      Thanks for the question! I don’t think a 1:1 replacement of tofu for the meat would work in “meat” balls. The beef helps the meatballs hold together.

      I like tofu and often use silken tofu in puddings, custards, and smoothies.

      I have tried crumbled tofu in place of meat in a marinara sauce. No need for shape here. But I didn’t care for this either, the tofu stays white and makes the sauce look funny. I prefer marinara.

      Tempeh works well in sauces, chili, or sloppy joes. Again, things that don’t have a defined shape. Tempeh is made with soy, but it may contain wheat also. Be sure to read the ingredient label.