How to Cook a Healthy Meatloaf: A Master Basic Meatloaf Recipe and 4 Easy Variations

Learn our 4 steps to cooking a healthier meatloaf recipe and how to add different flavors to a healthy, basic meatloaf recipe.

There’s a new way to make a great meatloaf. Purists focus on the meat, de-emphasizing the importance of the other fillers like breadcrumbs, vegetables and seasonings, but we look at meatloaf as an opportunity to sneak in some extra ­vegetables and whole grains and play with different flavors to give this classic a regular place on a healthy dinner table. See how we give meatloaf a modern makeover.

In just 30 minutes you can throw together a killer meatloaf that has a fraction of the calories and saturated fat of a traditional recipe. (Our Basic Meatloaf, for example, saves you 170 calories and 6 grams saturated fat per serving.) To get started, pick a flavor combo you want to try and follow our how-to instructions.

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Step 1

Add vegetables to meatloaf to improve the texture, boost nutrients and keep portions reasonable without many extra calories. Cook the vegetables first to reduce the liquid in the loaf and prevent it from crumbling.

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Step 2

Use big bold flavorings (spices or condiments like ketchup, mustard or Worcestershire) to make healthy meatloaf taste great. For 2 pounds of meat add 3/4 cup filler—anything from whole-wheat breadcrumbs to brown rice—and an egg to help it all stick together.

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Step 3

Gently knead the meatloaf ingredients just until combined—overmixed meatloaf is dense and less tender.

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Step 4

Try making a freeform meatloaf on a baking sheet. A freeform loaf cooks about 15 minutes faster than one in a loaf pan.

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Basic Meatloaf

While meatloaf purists focus on the meat, we like to look at meatloaf as a way to pack extra veggies and whole grains into a meal, as we do in this healthy, classic meatloaf recipe.

Get the Recipe: Basic Meatloaf

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Cranberry-Turkey Meatloaf

This healthy turkey meatloaf recipe is packed with cranberries, sage and celery—all the flavors of Thanksgiving dinner wrapped up into one delicious turkey meatloaf.

Get the Recipe: Cranberry-Turkey Meatloaf

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Hoisin-Ginger Meatloaf

Scallions, hoisin sauce and ginger give this pork-and-turkey meatloaf great flavor and plenty of vegetables boost the fiber and nutrients. We love the texture of brown rice as a filler in this healthy Asian-flavored meatloaf recipe, but feel free to swap fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs for the rice.

Get the Recipe: Hoisin-Ginger Meatloaf

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Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Do you like bacon cheeseburgers? Try this healthy meatloaf recipe packed with bacon and Cheddar cheese. It has all the flavor of a bacon cheeseburger with none of the guilt.

Get the Recipe: Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

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Reuben Meatloaf

Inspired by the classic Reuben sandwich, this nontraditional, healthy Reuben meatloaf recipe includes sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and rye breadcrumbs.

Get the Recipe: Reuben Meatloaf