The 9 Best Substitutes For Breadcrumbs In Meatloaf

What can I use instead of breadcrumbs in meatloaf? Fresh or stale bread is the perfect binding agent and replacement for traditional breadcrumbs in meatloaf. Saltine crackers, croutons, potato chips, or pretzels offer an additional flavor boost while binding the ingredients. Use oats, rice, cereal, or nuts as a healthy swap for breadcrumbs. 

Meatloaf is a staple recipe in many homes thanks to its affordability, versatility, and great flavor. This straightforward dish requires only a handful of ingredients, including ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, milk, and spices. The breadcrumbs help the dish stick together.

However, if you don’t have any available or want to avoid breadcrumbs, consider the following alternatives:

The Best Alternatives For Breadcrumbs In Meatloaf


If you have fresh or stale bread in the breadbox, you have breadcrumbs!

Fresh or stale bread is the perfect binding agent and substitute for traditional breadcrumbs in meatloaf. However, it may have a more robust flavor and texture.

Tear the bread into pieces and pop them into a food processor. Pulse them until you have the desired size of breadcrumbs.

Or make dried breadcrumbs by baking the bread pieces in a low oven until they are completely dried out, and then pulse them as before.

You will need roughly double the amount of fresh or stale bread when substituting breadcrumbs in recipes. This is because breadcrumbs are more concentrated, taking less space in a measuring cup.

Saltine Crackers

Most crackers consist of similar raw ingredients to make bread. Saltine crackers are crisp and crumbly, making them a great binder and my favorite personal substitute for breadcrumbs.

Ritz crackers come in close second thanks to their buttery taste.

Keep the crackers in their packet or wrap them in a paper towel or dishcloth and give ’em a good smashing! You can also run the crackers through your food processor for about four spins.

Use equal amounts of Saltine crackers when substituting breadcrumbs in meatloaf. However, you may want to take it easy on the salt, as saltines are salty crackers. 


Store-bought croutons are another crunchy and flavorsome replacement for breadcrumbs in most recipes, including meatloaf.

Use your favorite variety of croutons and pulse them in the food processor until fine.

You can also toast some bread blocks and oil in the oven to make homemade croutons to pulverize in the blender for crispy breadcrumbs.

You can use similar amounts of croutons when substituting breadcrumbs in meatloaf.

In addition, you can use any flavor variety to compliment your meatloaf, including Garlic, Italian herbs, Rosemary, and Bacon.

Potato Chips

Seasoned, salted, and crispy – potato chips are a handy breadcrumb substitute in meatloaf.

Pulse the chips in a food processor or crush them in their bag until they resemble fine bread crumbs. Use the crushed chips to add a salty winter coat to your meatloaf.

Potato chips are mostly already seasoned. So, use classic salty chips to ensure the flavors stay the same.

However, barbeque or sour cream and chives are wild, tasty options for more adventurous cooks.


Pretzels are a salty, all-purpose stand-in ingredient for breadcrumbs in meatloaf. You can use any variety if you’re an adventurous cook.

Pulse pretzels in the food processor until fine, and use them as a binding ingredient in your meatloaf recipe.

You can use equal amounts of pretzels when replacing breadcrumbs in meatloaf. However, keep in mind that pretzels are a good bit saltier than breadcrumbs.

So, consider reducing the salt ratio in the recipe.

Rolled Oats

Rolled oats are a healthy and gluten-free substitute for breadcrumbs in meatloaf. Oats are a perfect binder for meatloaf, but you can’t use them as a crunchy topping.

Pulse the oats in a food processor. Then, add some dried or fresh herbs and seasoning before adding the oats to the meatloaf.

Rolled oats have less flavor than breadcrumbs, but the texture is ideal in meatloaf. Ensure you add some dried or fresh herbs to the oats to enrich the taste of your dish.


Cooked rice can be used to replace breadcrumbs when making meatloaf. In addition, rice is a fantastic binding agent for most meat-based meals, including meatloaf.

Undercook a batch of rice slightly (around two to three minutes shy of the package recommendations.

Use less rice than breadcrumbs. The rice adds additional moisture to the dish. I usually use around ¾ of a cup for every cup of recommended breadcrumbs.

Unsweetened Cereal

Crushed unsweetened cereal creates an excellent binding agent in most recipes.

To replace breadcrumbs in meatloaf, you can use any unsweetened cereal variety, including wheat flakes, cornflakes, and bran flakes.

Pulse the cereal in the food processor, place the flakes in a large bag, and crush them into fine bits using a rolling pin.

You can use equal amounts of crushed cereal when replacing breadcrumbs in meatloaf.

You may want to add some herbs and spices to counteract the bland taste and mimic the savory flavor of breadcrumbs.


Finely chopped nuts are an ideal gluten-free or Keto-friendly alternative for breadcrumbs in meatloaf.

You can use whole, raw nuts like pecans, almonds, or their flour counterpart. Both options act as excellent binding agents for meatloaf.

Finely hand-chopping nuts is an arduous process. So, we recommend pulsing them with a food processor instead to reach the crumb-like consistency of breadcrumbs.

You can use equal amounts of finely ground nuts to replace breadcrumbs in meatloaf. We recommend adding a couple of pinches of salt and pepper if you use unsalted nuts.