10 Ways To Bulk Up Meatloaf

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Need to find new ways to bulk up meatloaf? Here are 10 ideas that you may not have thought of.

Meatloaf is one of those economical meals that most families enjoy. If you can find ground beef or turkey at a great price, you can feed a crowd with meatloaf! While there are many fans of this easy meal, some choose to stretch their meatloaves in many ways. Listed below are 10 ways to bulk up meatloaf. You can use one, or even a few, in your next loaf.


I have to admit, I never heard of people adding oats to bulk up meatloaf, until I watch Paula Deen do it a few years ago. It looked interesting, and I read that many love to use it since it’s a cheap stretcher. We tried to use it a while ago, but it didn’t stick with us. But I have had other meatloaves with oats or oatmeal as a stretcher, and loved it.

Jarred Salsa

I love to add ketchup to our meatloaf mix, but my new love is jarred salsa. Why? Because it adds even more flavor to the meat. Oh, and its cheap! We enjoy a tomato flavor in our meatloaf, and this pairs well with other stretchers, like the oats.


Rice is cheap and such a great use in meatloaf. Rice has become a new favorite for us, especially when we have brown rice on hand. Add the rice uncooked, and it will absorb the juices from the meat to cook itself. Again, this is another great addition to the jarred salsa mentioned above.

Pureed Beans

Have you ever learned about a dinner hack that made you almost cry from excitement? This one did that to me. We always have beans on hand, and this was a genius way to add even more protein to our meal, without spending more money. Puree half a cup of beans in your food processor or blender, and add to your meatloaf mixture. My family ended up feeling full with less, usually just one slice of meatloaf per member.

Stovetop Stuffing

My husband loves this Thanksgiving staple, so I buy it every year to make just for him. The problem is that I never knew what else to use it for, since he’s the only family member that likes stuffing. Turns out, it’s the perfect addition to meatloaf. It already has seasonings, which means you won’t have to add much more to your meatloaf mixture. It’s the updated version of using breadcrumbs to bulk up meatloaf. Just add uncooked stovetop stuffing to your food processor, and turn into crumbs, and mix in.

Grated Onion

This was another amazing addition that I learned about on a cooking show, and I can’t get over the taste of the meatloaf when you add grated onion. I will say that you don’t want to add too much of this, since onion contains so much water. But, it’s a great stretch and melds well with any items that may have a bland flavor, like rice or breadcrumbs.

Cooked Lentils

I have yet to try adding lentils to our meatloaf, but I have heard from many other moms that this is a great way to use up this cheap protein, and hide them from little mouths that may not like lentils. We actually enjoy lentils with baked fish as a dinner option, so I’m excited to see how this will taste in our next meatloaf. I’ll be sure to update this blog post once we try it.


Who wouldn’t want to have tiny little pasta added to their meatloaf mixture? Couscous can be used in so many ways, and this is yet another cool use. Like rice, you can add this uncooked, and have it plump up in the meatloaf. Nervous about it cooking all the way? You can add cooked couscous, and still end up with a delicious meal.


This was an idea I spotted on a healthy food blog, and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. It makes perfect sense to use quinoa as a meatloaf stretch. It’s a protein, it’s healthy, and like couscous, it takes on the flavor of whatever you pair it with and enhances it.

Can you cook quinoa in the slow cooker? Yup! I can't believe how easy it is to do this, and that I can easily make quinoa in the slow cooker.

It’s also gluten free, so if you are looking to make a meatloaf without breadcrumbs or rice, this is a perfect option. Quinoa has been a new favorite in our house, so we can’t wait to try it in meatloaf.

Chopped Mushrooms

For the past year, my daughter has been up in arms about mushrooms. She is currently not a fan, but I do sneak them into our marinara sauces and into our meatloaves. Mushrooms are another cheap addition to meatloaf, and adds extra protein. I cooked the mushrooms, let them cool, pulse them in the food processor so they will blend in better with the meat, then add them to the meat mixture. She has yet to figure out what I’ve done, and I’m so glad. With 5 mouths to fed, I need all the (healthy) food tricks I can get.

Do you use any of these items to bulk up your meatloaf? Do you have any to add to the list?

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

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  1. 10.30.15

    Oatmeal is my favorite thing to put into meatloaf. I have always put in loads of catsup, but that is too much sugar, so I am going to add another tomato product…sigh. I do put in onions as one of the ingredients. Since I am allergic to beef, I have used ground pork. It is cheaper and practically fat free. The blender is a fine way to hide vegetables!

  2. 10.8.18
    Kat said:

    Two questions 😊 how much pureed beans per 1 pound of beef? Does it make a difference if the rice be instant rice?

    • 10.9.18
      Amiyrah said:

      Hi Kat! I would say one cup of beans should do it. And nope, it doesn’t matter what kind of rice you use. Hope that helps!

  3. 12.23.22

    Not a huge contribution here but my mom used to take a sleeve of saltine crackers, smash them all up, and add them to the meatloaf to bulk it up somewhat because she never kept bread crumbs on hand.
    I keep neither crackers nor bread crumbs on hand and so all I do is leave a couple of slices of bread out for the day prior to my meal prep, or toast them if I forgot, and smash that up into bread crumbs.

    • 12.23.22

      Sorry.. I just remembered that she also would use a can of condensed vegetable soup for flavor. So her meatloaf was ground beef, smashed up crackers, an egg, and a can of vegetable soup. Extremely economical and not terribly unhealthy, although the sodium in the soup and crackers is probably not a good thing, but neither is red meat really, so who can complain?