· ·

Miniature Meatloaves (or Meat-loves!)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy

Miniature Meatloaves – Even if nothing about the word “loaf” sounds appealing, you should really give these beauties a try. Savory, tender, and NOT dry, these are just going to change your mind.

Mini Meatloaves - Gluten free, dairy free, and absolutely delicious! // One Lovely Life
Meatloaf. There probably isn’t a more unfortunate sounding food name. Really? Loaf? We couldn’t come up with anything better than loaf?

I’ll be honest: Michael and I were not meatloaf fans. I felt like if we ate meatloaf that we’d somehow be cheating ourselves out of a good dinner. Nothing sounds great about meatloaf. In my home, meatloaf meant we were having a condiment for dinner with meatloaf on the side. I can only remember 2-3 times of eating meatloaf growing up. My mom felt like I did about the stuff. We just didn’t eat it. And I never EVER thought I’d make it in my home.

Miniature Meatloaves // One Lovely Life Mini Meatloaves - Gluten free, dairy free, and absolutely delicious! // One Lovely Life
When I read Deb Perelman’s description of feeling the same way in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I knew we were kindred spirits. She felt like it was beneath her to make or eat mealoaf until someone pointed out how much she loves meatballs, and, well, they’re just not much different.

So I decided to swallow my pride and meatloaf prejudice and try it. I tinkered with different recipes, and we’ve now made this one 4 times. It’s one of Michael’s favorite dinners. And we couldn’t be more embarrassed about how much we love it.

So, if–like us–you’ve been avoiding meatloaf, will you give this a try? With a tasty sauce and a small-size meatball portion, these miniature meatloaves are tender, delicious, and full of flavor and won’t leave you feeling like you’ve eaten a giant loaf of meat.

p.s. Seriously, does anyone have a more appetizing name suggestion? We’d really love to give these a name worthy of their deliciousness.


Miniature Meatloaves // One Lovely Life

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Miniature Meatloaves

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

  • Author: One Lovely Life, inspired by Smitten Kitchen
  • Yield: makes 24-30 meatballs 1x


I typically mix up the sauce while the vegetable mixture is cooking to save time. The sauce can be mixed up ahead of time and refrigerated, if you prefer.



For the meatloaves:

  • 2lbs ground beef (I used 85%. If you go much leaner, they’ll be dry)
  • 2 slices bread (regular or gluten free*)
  • 1 small onion (I like sweet onions)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp barbecue sauce*
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce*
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1c ketchup*
  • 1/4c barbecue sauce*
  • 23 Tbsp brown sugar or pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce*
  • pinch black pepper


For the meatballs:

  1. Pulse bread in a food processor or blender until you get crumbs (they don’t need to be super-fine). Place crumbs and ground beef in a large bowl. Place onion, carrot, and bell pepper in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until fine, but not pureed.
  2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add vegetable mixture to the pan and cook until water is evaporated and vegetable mixture is just starting to caramelize and turn golden. Add vegetable mixture to the meat and bread crumbs.
  3. Add barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dijon, salt and pepper to the meat and vegetable mixture. Working with your hands, combine all until mixed. Try not to over-mix as this can sometimes lead to tough meatballs.
  4. Divide mixture into 24-30 meatballs and place on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment.

For the sauce:

  1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine ketchup, barbecue sauce, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, Worcestershire, dijon, and pepper. Taste and add additional brown sugar if necessary (depending on how spicy your barbecue sauce is, you may want even more brown sugar. It’s your preference.).
  2. Brush or drop dollops of sauce over tops of meatballs.
  3. Bake meatballs at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through (a meat thermometer would register about 160 degrees).


*Gluten and dairy free notes: We’ve used Rudi’s or Udi’s gluten free bread with good success. Also, not all Worcestershire sauce is gluten free, so be sure to read your labels. We like Lea & Perrin’s brand. For barbecue sauce, we like Bone Suckin’ sauce, but Bull’s Eye and Stubb’s are also dairy and gluten free. We use Hunt’s No High Fructose Corn Syrup ketchup.

 Recipe inspired by and adapted from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


  1. These look great! We do meat cupcakes with mashed potato frosting at our house. I just put the meat mixture in a well sprayed cupcake pan (I bought a couple if the pampered chef oil misters so not using a chemical based one like Pam).
    And the Hunts ketchup still has corn syrup in it, just not the HFCS. We have Krogers here and the private selection organic version I believe doesn’t have any corn syrup.

    1. Melanie- I love the mashed potato frosting idea! The ketchup label says sugar not corn syrup, so maybe we’re looking at different varieties?

      1. I just looked and you’re right! Maybe it was the Heinz type. I just remember one saying no HFCS and one of them had it.

  2. I have a recipe where the meatloaf is called meatlove and I prefer that name so much more. Also, a housekeeping note, you need an asterisk after the barbecue sauce under the meatloaf ingredients.

    1. Rachel – Meatlove is definitely better. Also, thanks for the housekeeping note. I try to proofread, but I always miss something!

  3. Here’s my go at a better name. How about Meat-lover’s Dainties. The loaf reference has to go, but that sounds too much like a tea party. How about just calling a rose a rose: Seasoned Ground Beef Miniatures. (My husband’s choice is Seasoned Salsbury Meat Cakes.) You could always go with the red-neck option: Beef Bricks. International with a exotically French twist? Beef Brioche.

    That was exhausting. I don’t know if I’m up to renaming meatloaf, but at least now I might eat it. : )

  4. Welcome to the gluten free life! It’s challenging at first, but it looks like you’re already doing great! My favorite GF hints…find an international grocery store, and buy rice flour and tapioca flour in the Asian section. My favorite pizza crust recipes use these two flours (I freeze a bunch of crusts all at once!) For breadcrumbs, get a box of GF Rice Chex, put them up in the food processor or blender, and then store them in the freezer. So easy, and cheaper than using GF bread for crumbs, too!

  5. Uncle Randy will be forever grateful…I’ll do my best to make this (for him!) sometime soon. That sounds pretty committed, doesn’t it? Wow, we ARE related when it comes to liking anything that is remotely related to “meatloaf”. We’re going to try to come up with a new name for it. It may be our FHE activity tonight:)

  6. I hated meatloaf growing up, but then my sister converted me with her fabulous recipe (that looks a lot like yours), and it is one of my favorite, most comforting comfort meals of all time. I make mini ones, just because the end piece is the best part (what with all the yummy glaze all over the top and sides), so why not have every piece be an “end” piece? Also, sometimes, when I’m feeling sassy, I do half hamburger, half ground sausage. It increases the fat factor, but it is good.

  7. I am also not a fan of meatloaf but my father and my husband love the stuff, so growing up we ate it often and now my husband requests it at least once a month (and hey, my kids eat it pretty good, and I have found I can sneak in veggies so I deal)…I have a recipe that is not horrible but this sounds so much better and everything is better in miniature, right?

  8. How about “Mini Beefcakes”? 🙂

    Love the recipe! Thanks for sharing your recipes and stories with us! I enjoy following along with your family (even though I don’t even know you or have kids of my own!).

  9. love these. They were my brother’s favorite meal (always his birthday dinner) growing up. We call them mini-cheddar loaves, because we added shredded cheese to them, which is delicious, but not dairy free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star