These Are The Best Substitutes For Ketchup In Meatloaf

It's no secret that the debate over "to ketchup or not to ketchup" will last through generations. Whether you do or don't like tomatoes, some folks just can't hop on the ketchup train — and that's totally okay.

However, a lot of traditional meatloaf recipes include ketchup as an ingredient. So does that mean you have to give up this ultimate comfort food? No way! There are plenty of ways to enjoy a savory meatloaf dinner, sans ketchup. This is especially helpful, too, for home cooks who don't mind the tomato condiment but may have run out of it.

According to a meatloaf-centric conversation thread from ChowHound, making meatloaf essentially means creative freedom in the kitchen — aka you can use, add, or substitute whatever you want. Some commenters recommend substituting ketchup with a barbecue sauce or glaze, while others suggest a more unique combination of cranberry sauce and brown sugar. One thing's for sure: You definitely want to make a meatloaf that retains moisture and doesn't come out dry and crumbly.

Other ways to make meatloaf without ketchup

For those who aren't opposed to tomatoes and have found ketchup missing from their pantry or fridge, this ketchup-copycat recipe from Key Ingredient uses tomato paste and a few other ingredients to offer a similar taste. It's all the great tomato-y flavor without the overly sweet and syrupy parts of standard American ketchup.

But if you aren't a fan of the tomato taste (or even the sweet flavor of barbecue sauce), other substitutions will do the work of keeping your meatloaf moist and flavorful. One example from the aforementioned ChowHound thread is a mixture of egg and bread crumbs to make for a solid meatloaf foundation. Again, you don't want a meatloaf that's super dry or moist but falling all over your plate.

Another possibility is using a small bit of milk when mixing in your herbs and seasonings or using your preferred kind of brown gravy. Or, if you want to keep things simple, a recipe like this one from should do just the trick.