A keto meatloaf that always comes out of the oven tender, juicy, and wrapped in bacon — what could be better? This low-carb meatloaf recipe is a family favorite comfort food recipe that I’ve adapted to fit a ketogenic diet. I know you’ll love it, too.
Meatloaf is one of those traditional comfort food recipes that everyone in my family enjoys. Whether you eat keto or not, I think you’ll love this recipe too. Serve keto meatloaf with cauliflower mashed potatoes or cauliflower rice for a hearty, low-carb dinner.
Keto meatloaf with bacon does take a bit of time to cook. A 2lb meatloaf cooks for about 55-65 minutes — but all of that oven time is hands-off. If you make this recipe on a weekend, you can enjoy the leftovers for a quick weeknight meal.
Ingredients in Keto Meatloaf
What meat is best for meatloaf? Some people use all ground beef to make meatloaf, and some recommend a mix of ground beef, ground pork, and/or ground veal. You can use just one kind of meat, or you can use a blend of different kinds to give your meatloaf a better flavor and texture. Take a look around the butcher counter in your local grocery store — they may even sell a packaged “meatloaf blend” of ground meats.
You definitely want a bit of fat in your mix so the meatloaf doesn’t end up dry and flavorless. If you are using all ground beef, look for ground chuck that’s 80%-85% lean. If you are using a blend, I like a mix of about 70% ground beef (for flavor) and 30% ground pork (for richness).
What can you use instead of breadcrumbs in meatloaf? Traditionally, meatloaf is made with breadcrumbs or a panade of bread and milk. The breadcrumbs act as a filler to stretch the meal, but they also serve to improve the moisture and texture of the meatloaf. The breadcrumbs prevent the meat proteins from linking together too tightly as they cook. This helps the meatloaf retain moisture and its shape as it cooks.
To keep the carb count low, we don’t use breadcrumbs in this recipe. But we still need an extender and binder to keep the meatloaf tender and juicy.
I tested combinations of other low-carb ingredients to recreate the texture that breadcrumbs or a panade would give the meatloaf.
- Almond flour: Almond meal is a great low-carb alternative to regular wheat flour or breadcrumbs. A 1/2-cup serving contains 6 grams of net carbs. Almond flour has a relatively neutral taste that doesn’t overpower the other flavors in this meatloaf.
- Grated zucchini: A cup of grated zucchini gives this recipe added moisture and a tender texture. If you use zucchini in this recipe, give it a quick squeeze after grating it to get rid of any excess water.
- Minced mushrooms: Another option would be to add minced mushrooms to this keto meatloaf. Mushrooms are a great replacement for breadcrumbs because they have a soft texture, and they absorb the flavorful liquid. Just like breadcrumbs, they prevent the meat proteins from interlocking, increasing tenderness.
- Pork Panko: And finally, if you don’t like almond flour, or need to avoid nuts, you could substitute crushed pork rinds. I haven’t personally tried it in this recipe, but I have readers who have used it to great success.
This recipe also calls for two eggs to act as a binder. Egg yolks and whites add richness and moisture to the meatloaf, help bind the meat and vegetables together to create structure without too much toughness.
How to Make Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf
Start by preparing the vegetables. Using a knife, box grater, or a food processor, chop the onions, zucchini, and mushroom into small pieces. When you process the vegetables into small enough pieces, it eliminates the need to cook them first. Transfer the vegetables into a large bowl and set aside as you gather the rest of the ingredients.
Then, add the meat mixture to the bowl, along with the eggs, seasonings, and almond flour. With clean hands, mix gently until everything is thoroughly combined.
To make tender meatloaf, be sure not to overmix the ingredients.
After that, shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape on a baking sheet and cover with slices of bacon. Although you could bake this meatloaf in a loaf pan, I prefer to make a freeform loaf on a baking sheet — mainly to maximize surface area for flavorful browning of the bacon or other glaze.
You can shape the meatloaf with your hands, or you can use a loaf pan as a mold. What I like to do is line a 9×5 pan with plastic wrap, loosely pack the meat mixture into the lined pan, and then invert the pan onto a baking sheet. Peel off the plastic wrap, and place the bacon on top of the loaf. You might need to cut some of the bacon into shorter strips, and that’s okay. Or, you can tuck the ends of the strips under the loaf.
How to Store and Freeze Meatloaf
Cooked and cooled meatloaf can be stored covered in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Keto meatloaf makes great leftovers! You can also freeze cooked meatloaf.
However, I wouldn’t recommend preparing the meatloaf mixture and refrigerating it before cooking it. Here’s why: The salt in the meatloaf mixture can cause meat proteins to dissolve and interlink, which creates a bouncier, firmer texture. I recommend mixing and cooking the meatloaf immediately.
Tips for the Best Keto Meatloaf
For the tenderest meatloaf, don’t overcook. A 2lb meatloaf will cook in about an hour. But, towards the end of cooking, test the doneness of the meatloaf with an instant-read thermometer. The meatloaf is finished when the temperature registers 150°F. (Due to carry-over cooking, the internal temperature of the meatloaf will reach about 160°F as it rests.)
Make sure to let the meatloaf rest for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving. This keto meatloaf is especially tender — remember, no breadcrumbs! — so make sure to slice it gently with a sharp, serrated blade. And don’t worry if it falls apart, it will still taste delicious!
For an extra boost of flavor, baste the meatloaf with some keto-friendly ketchup or barbeque sauce during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Keto Ground Beef Recipes
- 2 lb ground beef, or a mix of ground beef and pork
- ½ small onion, chopped - about ½ cup
- 1 small zucchini, grated - about 1 cup
- 4 oz button or cremini mushrooms, chopped -- about ½ cup
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Italian herb blend
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 6 strips bacon
- ¼ cup keto-friendly ketchup, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a rimmed sheet pan with non-stick spray. Line a 9x5 pan with plastic wrap (to use as a mold).
- Prepare the veggies. Chop the onions, grate the zucchini, and chop the mushrooms into small dice. Or use a food processor to process the vegetables into small pieces. Transfer the vegetables into a large mixing bowl.
- Make the meatloaf mixture: To the same large mixing bowl, add the ground meat, eggs, garlic powder, herbs, salt, pepper, and almond flour. Use clean hands to gently mix the ingredients together until just combined.
- Shape the loaf: Use your hand to shape the meatloaf mixture into a loaf on your prepared baking sheet. Or, use a 9x5 loaf pan to mold the mixture into a loaf shape, and invert it onto the prepared baking sheet. Or, if you'd like to bake it in a loaf pan, just pat the meatloaf mixture into the pan.
- Cover the top of the loaf with the bacon slices. Bake for 45 minutes. Baste the meatloaf with ketchup or barbeque sauce (optional). Bake for about 10 more minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 150°F on an instant-read thermometer. Let the loaf rest for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. Cut into thick slices and serve.
See the notes in the recipe above for different ways to mold meatloaf on a sheet pan.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 274 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 124mg Sodium: 194mg Carbohydrates: 3g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 1g Protein: 28g