substitute for milk in meatloaf

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Milk is often used to make most meatloaf recipes. However, if you have no milk or you’re looking for a dairy free option, then these are the best ways to substitute for milk in meatloaf.

Keep reading to learn about how to replace milk in a meatloaf recipe with ingredients you have in your kitchen right now!

substitute for milk in meatloaf


Meatloaf is a recipe made of ground meat, eggs, diced onions, diced bell peppers, bread crumbs, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, milk and seasonings like salt, freshly ground black pepper, paprika or garlic powder and sometimes herbs like fresh parsley.

To make a meatloaf recipe, all those ingredients are properly combined, then formed into the shape of a loaf or placed in a loaf pan and baked.

Milk is an important ingredient for meatloaf as its role is to soak up the bread crumbs and add that desired moisture to the recipe.

It also makes mixing the ingredients easier and you’re able to get all the flavors distributed evenly throughout the entire meatloaf.

It should be noted that milk doesn’t work on its own as the ketchup, egg and breadcrumbs and even the sauces and vegetables used play a part in keeping the meatloaf moist too.

Related: How to easily replace eggs in a meatloaf

Nonetheless, without the milk, or another liquid that performs the same role, the meatloaf will be dry and unpalatable.

This is why I’ve taken the liberty to list all the other ingredients that can be used to substitute for milk in meatloaf recipes.

So, check out the list below to see how to replace regular milk. There are dairy-free options, as well as options that work for people who enjoy dairy products!

Kitchen substitutes chart


Best ways to substitute for milk in meatloaf


The easiest milk substitute in meatloaf and the ingredient that everyone is guaranteed to have available is water.

For the best results, use some water to make an onion or garlic broth which will add more flavor to the recipe. Make this broth by caramelizing chopped onions or garlic, then pouring room temperature water over it.

Note that because of how bland water is, this type of meatloaf will be lacking in some of the richness and velvety smoothness that you would expect in a meatloaf.

Use 1 cup of water (made into onion or garlic broth) for every 1 pound of ground meat used in the meatloaf recipe.

Chicken, beef or vegetable stock 

chicken broth


Stock is another solid alternative for milk in meat loaf. This ingredient is more popular than just plain water when it comes to making meat loaf.

Stock is a great option for people who are dairy-free. Use ¼ – ½ cup of stock for every  pound of ground meat. Ensure that the stock is low sodium. Feel free to check out this meatloaf made with chicken stock here.

Heavy cream

Heavy cream is another easy way to replace milk in a meatloaf recipe. It is best to use a combination of ½ cup of heavy cream and ½ cup of water to replace 1 cup of regular milk.

For the best results, add the heavy cream and water mixture to the breadcrumbs until the bread crumbs are soggy. Then, mix the soaked bread crumbs in with the other meatloaf ingredients for the best results. 

½ cup of heavy cream works for every 1 pound of ground meat.

Half and half

Like heavy cream, half and half is another rich and creamy ingredient that can be added to meatloaf. So, if you’re tryin to make a meatloaf without milk, and you have half-and-half in your refrigerator, this is a good option worth using.

For the best results, use ½ cup of half-and-half and ½ cup of water in place of 1 cup of milk, or a 1:1 ratio.

Almond milk

almond milk is a good replacement for regular milk


If you’re trying to make a dairy-free meatloaf, then plain unsweetened almond milk is another good milk substitute worth trying. Almond milk is less creamy than whole milk, but, for the purpose of adding moisture to a meatloaf recipe, it works wonders. Almond milk is great for making gluten free meatloaf recipes like this one linked here.

Use 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk in place of 1 cup of whole milk for any meatloaf recipe. A 1:1 conversion ratio.

Coconut milk

coconut milk can be used in meatloaf


Another plant based milk that can be used if you do not have whole milk available.

While this ingredient isn’t very popular in meatloaf recipes, it can be substituted quite easily as coconut milk can add both creaminess and moisture and helps bind the bread crumbs better when making a meatloaf.

It should be noted that coconut milk has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that you may be able to perceive if the other ingredients used in the recipe don’t have very powerful flavors.

Otherwise, 1 cup of coconut milk can be used to replace 1 cup of milk, or a 1:1 ratio.

Soy milk

Soy milk is a dairy free alternative for milk


Soy milk, like many other plant based non dairy milks, can be used in soups, casseroles and sauces, and it works well in meatloaf too! 

Soy milk is creamy and mild with a bit of sweetness, but, this regular milk alternative will not overpower the other ingredients in your meatloaf.

Evaporated milk

thinned out evaporated milk is a substitute for milk in meatloaf

Again, not a very popular ingredient for meatloaf, but, in a pinch you can use thinned out evaporated milk with good results.

½ cup of evaporated milk and ½ cup of water works well to replace 1 cup of regular milk, also known as a 1:1 ratio.

Cashew milk



Out of regular milk? Cashew milk which is another dairy-free food is an option substitute. It can easily replace regular milk in recipes like soups, sauces and of course meatloaf.

Use unsweetened cashew milk because it is mild and creamy and thus will not overpower the other flavors in the dish.

1 cup of cashew milk can be substituted for 1 cup of whole milk.

Oat milk

oat milk


Oat milk works well in meatloaf as well. It is not a very popular ingredient in meatloaf, but, this plant based milk is creamy and is quite similar to whole milk in terms of consistency. 

Use 1 cup of oat milk as a stand in for 1 cup of whole milk when making a meatloaf dish.

Make meatloaf without milk…or anything else

Lastly, many people make meatloaf without any milk or even milk replacements. Instead, they rely on the other wet ingredients like ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and eggs to add the much needed moisture.

In some cases, some recipes use a little more of those wet ingredients to compensate for a lack of milk. This is another option available to you if you have no milk on hand. 

Final thoughts

When it comes to baking a meatloaf, milk is an important ingredient for an amazing final product.

However, that does not mean that it cannot be replaced with great results. This long list shows you how to substitute for milk in meatloaf with 10 easy to find ingredients.

This is huge as it means you do not have to run to the grocery store if you ran out of milk in the middle of cooking!

More milk substitutes for your favorite recipes

Are you making a meatloaf and you have no milk. Looking for some good replacements? Check out these 10 easy ways to substitute for milk in meatloaf right now!

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