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?

N is for Nuts-Pecan Mushroom Fish

Almond, Brazil, cashew, hazelnuts, hickory, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, pine nut, walnut. But not peanut, that is a legume.

chipmunk-with-hazelnut photo by Gilles_Gonthier

Eating 1.5 ounces, or about 1/3 cup, of nuts five times a week reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease. And this amount does not cause weight gain. Click here for pictures of how many of each kind of nut are in one ounce.

Nuts are high fiber, high in healthy fat, a good source of vitamin E, and are cholesterol free. If you are interested, NutHealth.org has a chart with tiny print of specific nutrients in each kind of nut.

It is easy to add 1.5 ounces of nuts to your day. They make quick and tasty, nutritious gluten free snacks. Buy them raw or roasted, just check the label for any added gluten containing flavorings.

Or add nuts to any salad, top a casserole, garnish vegetables or even thick soups!

Equally useful is substituting ground nuts for bread crumbs. Gluten free breadcrumbs are either very time consuming to make from scratch, or mighty expensive to buy. Nuts are a great alternative that add lots of flavor, healthy richness, and tummy pleasing satisfaction.

Ground nuts are wonderful in meatloaves and meatballs. Or as toppings for fish!

Below is an adaptation of my grand prize winning recipe, substituting ground pecans for bread crumbs. I truly like version better than the original.


pecan-mushroom-fish-with-tomatoes photo by vsimon

Pecan Mushroom Fish with Tomatoes

Serves 4

8 oz fresh mushrooms                         

2 tablespoons oil

½ cup ground pecans                           

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound fresh tomatoes, diced              

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 pound tilapia fillets or other thin fish   

Pulse mushrooms in a mini food processor until finely minced.

Cook mushrooms until dry and slightly browned. Cool.

Mix mushrooms, oil, ground pecans, herbs, salt and pepper together.

Pour tomatoes into an oven proof baking dish. Drizzle in the balsamic vinegar and mix well.

Top tomatoes with fish. Top fish with mushroom mix.

Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until fish flakes, topping is browned, and tomatoes are bubbly.

Notes                                                                                                                    If your tomatoes are not at the peak of summer flavor, you can add some diced dried tomatoes to give it an extra punch of flavor. No need to hydrate them before mixing with the fresh tomatoes. The dried ones will soften as the dish cooks.

Use your favorite herbs. This is a mild flavored, family friendly recipe, and fun place to experiment. Basil, green onion, oregano, tarragon and thyme all work well here. Or substitute 1-2 tablespoons of dried herbs for the fresh.

Unwrap and expose the mushrooms to direct sunlight to greatly increase the Vitamin D.

Cook the mushrooms in a cast iron skillet to increase the iron.

Please share your favorite way to enjoy nuts.

42 Gluten Free Flours


Grain and seed flours

1. Amaranth

2. Buckwheat

3. 4. 5. Corn

also known as (aka) masa harina. Corn flour can be white, yellow or blue

6. Montina

aka Indian rice grass.

7. Mesquite

8. Millet

9. Oatmust be certified gluten free to prevent cross contamination with glutinous grains.

10. Quinoa

11. 12. 13. Rice-white, brown, and sweet-aka glutinous (but there is no gluten in it).

14. Sorghum

15. 16. Teff-brown or ivory


Bean flours

17. Black bean

18. Chickpea- aka garbanzo and chana dal

19. Fava

20. Great northern

21. Lentil

22. Navy bean

23. Red kidney bean

24. Pea- green and yellow

25. Pinto bean

26. Soybean

27. White bean

28. Yellow split pea


Nut flours

29. Almond

30. Cashew

31. Coconut

32. Hazelnut

33. Pecan

34. Chestnut

35. Macadamia

36. Walnut


Veggie or fruit flours

37. Plantain

38. Potato

39. Sweet potato



40. Potato

41. Corn

42. Tapioca- aka cassava, manioc, and yucca.




There is no reason to get bored, baking or eating gluten free. You could spend a lifetime experimenting with the flavors and behaviors of each, and the infinite combinations. Many gluten free baked goods are best with a blend of flours to highlight the best features of each. There are many convenient commercial blends available now. They can be substituted for glutinous flour cup for cup.


Or be adventurous and make pancakes or waffles with any new single flour you want to try. Use 100% of that flour to learn what it alone brings to the table. You will see if it makes a thin, puffy or sticky batter. What color it is raw and cooked. Taste the batter and the finished product. They cook up light, dense, thin, thick, crispy, soft, dry, moist, gummy, sweet, bitter, nutty, toasty, and a rainbow of colors. Each of these characteristics is desirable at times.  


You could learn about world cuisines too. While unknown to many Americans, sorghum and teff are staple grains in Africa. Latin America is home to quinoa. Both are nutritional powerhouses.


My preference is for whole grain, bean, nut and veggie flours instead of refined starches. They offer full flavor, vitamins and minerals. And are higher in protein.


Tell us which is your favorite. What wonderful things have you made with usual flours?