Meatloaf in a Muffin Pan for Smarter Portions

Southwest Meatloaf Minis
Courtesy of

Ready to enjoy the ultimate comfort food in a perfectly portioned (and adorable) way? Look no further than meatloaf minis. But first, the basics of guilt-free meatloaf:

The Meats: Extra-Lean Ground Beef or Lean Ground Turkey

Because what's meatloaf without meat? Traditional meatloaf is made with standard ground beef, which is pretty high in fat and calories. But that doesn't mean beef is off-limits. The extra-lean kind is just as flavorful as regular beef, but it has a fraction of the fat. If you don't see anything labeled "extra-lean" in the meat department, look for these keywords: 4 percent (or less) fat or 96 percent (or more) lean.

Rather go the poultry route? Stick with lean ground turkey. This is frequently labeled as having no more than 7 percent fat or being no less than 93 percent lean. You might be wondering why I suggest extra-lean beef but lean turkey. Here's the deal: While extra-lean beef is plenty juicy, extra-lean turkey can be a bit dry — the lean kind is well worth the extra calories and fat. 

Warning: Ground chicken might seem like a good choice, but it's a bit of a food faker. Unlike skinless chicken breast, the ground stuff is typically made from skin-on dark meat, resulting in sky-high stats. Try healthier ways to prepare chicken.

The Add-Ins 

Starting with a smart base is key, but the wrong ingredients can quickly catapult the calorie and fat counts into dangerous territory. Here are some swaps for standard meatloaf additions.

Instead of whole eggs, use egg whites or fat-free liquid egg substitute. Eggs help to bind your meatloaf and give it moisture. But each large egg adds about 70 calories, 5g fat, and more than 60 percent of the daily value of cholesterol. When it comes to cutting calories and fat, every little bit helps; so, stick with egg whites or fat-free egg sub.

Instead of breadcrumbs, use quick-cooking oats. Starches like these give meatloaf a nice boost of texture. However, basic breadcrumbs are a waste of calories. That's why I go with whole-grain oats instead. Normally, I prefer old-fashioned oats (like in my growing oatmeal bowls), but the quick-cooking kind works best here, since they bake much faster and won't be too chewy in the end.

Instead of just onion, add even more veggies. Extra vegetables will make your meatloaf larger and more filling (thanks to naturally occurring fiber) without adding a lot of calories. Chopped brown mushrooms have a meaty texture, making them perfect in meatloaf. Another favorite? Chopped broccoli cole slaw. The mix of shredded broccoli stems, cabbage, and carrots is a perfect shortcut for bulking up meatloaf. 

Instead of ketchup... OK, keep the ketchup. Nothing screams old-school like this classic red condiment. Ketchup is low in calories and fat-free, so why not use it as a glaze? If you want to shake things up, stir in some Dijon mustard or use BBQ sauce instead. Just look for BBQ sauce that has 45 calories or less per 2-tbsp. serving.

Basic How-To

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups or spray with nonstick spray. 

2. If you like, lightly cook chopped veggies in a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray.

3. Combine meat, veggies, egg whites/substitute, oats, and spices. Mix well.

4. Evenly divide mixture among cups of the muffin pan.

5. Top with ketchup or sauce.

6. Bake until firm and cooked through with lightly browned edges, about 35 minutes. 

For guilt-free recipes, food finds, tips 'n tricks, and more, sign up for free daily emails or visit Hungry Girl!

Was this page helpful?