Gluten-Free Meatloaf Cupcake Recipe

meatloaf cupcake

Meatloaf, like Brussels sprouts and kale, has enjoyed a culinary renaissance in the past years. Meatloaf cupcakes are one such incarnation.  They’re cute and trendy, and have the perfect amount of sauce coating topped with fancy mashed potatoes.  Serve them at dinner parties where you will wow your guests and eliminate the hassle of cutting individual portions, or make them for your family and store the conveniently sized lunch leftovers.  Either way, they are delicious.

Whether you make meatloaf as cupcakes or in a large loaf, my meatloaf is moist and delicious. The recipe is based on a recipe given to me years ago by my former boss and her sister.

First, get mashed potatoes going.  I’m not going to go into a recipe for this, as I assume you all have a recipe for mashed potatoes, and you all think your recipe is better than any other recipe. No matter your chosen method, it will be best, at least for this recipe, if you first peel your potatoes and you make them as unlumpy as possible.

Now on to the main event.

meatloaf milk and bread

Start by getting the oven going and cubing four pieces of gluten-free bread (or three pieces of regular bread).  I used Udi’s Whole Grain bread here.  Gluten-free bread is significantly smaller, which is why you add more.

Add milk and let the mixture sit together until the bread is mushy.  This liquid-infused binder is the key to the moist meatloaf.

cheese, carrots, onions

While the bread and milk are doing their thing (or thang as we say it in Texas), it’s time to prep. Shred a bunch of cheddar cheese and carrots (or be lazy like me and use matchstick carrots), and thinly slice the white and green parts of some green onions.  Yes people, this meatloaf has flavor.

milk and bread

After just a few minutes, the bread looks like this.  I used a fork to mush up the bigger pieces.
mixtureMix together the bread, two pounds of lean ground beef, two eggs, some salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  You want to mix this by hand because it can easily become over-mixed in a stand mixer.  That would result in thick, solid, and brick-like (read: sad) meatloaf.  And that’s not what we’re going for here.  So roll up your sleeves, wash your hands, and dig in.

After the base is mixed, add the veggies and cheese and mix just until everything is incorporated. I didn’t photograph this part, as my hands were a bit icky.

gluten-free meatloaf cupcakes | www.accidentalokie.com

Now your hands are clean and beautiful once more.  Lightly oil a regular-sized muffin pan.  I use a spray oil.  (Gluten-free beginners: spray oils can sometimes contain gluten, so make sure to read the label).

meat loaf cupcakesAdd meatloaf to the muffin pan.  Make sure to pack the meat in tight and make a domed top to give the appearance of a cupcake.  Remember, meat does not rise.

This recipes yields 12 cupcakes.

meatloaf sauce

While the meatloaf is cooking, make the topping.  This is an unholy union of brown sugar, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

meat loaf cupcakes out of the ovenAfter about 25 minutes, pull them out.  This is where you might say, “Oh look, my meatloaf cupcakes are gross and ruined.”  Have no fear!  They’re not.  The fat has cooked out of the meatloaf.  I used 93/7 meat, which is quite lean and still the cupcakes looked like this.  They’ve also shrunk.  Don’t worry.

meatloaf

Spoon each cupcake out and put on a cookie sheet.  The cupcakes still have five minutes to cook until they should reach their internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so do this step quickly – you don’t want the meat to begin cooling down, and carefully – you don’t want to burn yourself.

Liberally spoon the ketchup mixture on the cupcakes.  Imagine a bundt cake with lemon frosting perfectly oozing down the sides of the cake.  That’s the look you’re going for here.  Back in the oven they go for about five minutes.  When you remove them, they should be at temperature.

meat loaf

Now they look like this, which is pretty close to perfection.  But in the words of my infomercial friends…but wait, there’s more!

meat loaf frostingOh yes.  Potato frosting.  Fill a frosting bag or frosting gun with the non-lumpy mashed potatoes and using a large tip, frost the cupcakes.  When they’re all frosted and lovely, put them back in the broiler until the tips of the potato are slightly golden.

meatloaf cupcakeServe with extra potatoes and salad and look like a domestic goddess.  You’re welcome.

Gluten-Free Meatloaf Cupcake Recipe
Yields 12
Print
Meatloaf
  1. 1 cup milk*
  2. 4 slices gluten-free bread (I used Udi's Whole Grain Bread)*
  3. 2/3 c. finely chopped green onions, white and green parts
  4. 2/3 c. shredded (or matchstick) carrots
  5. 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  6. 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  9. 2 tsp salt
  10. 1/4 tsp pepper
  11. * If you're not using gluten-free bread: 3 slices of bread and 2/3 c. milk
Topping
  1. 3/4 c. brown sugar
  2. 3/4 c. ketchup
  3. 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  4. 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil a regular-sized muffin tin that makes 12 muffins.
  2. Make a batch of mashed potatoes, opting for peeled potatoes. When mashing the potatoes, make them as unlumpy as possible.
  3. Slice bread into approximate inch-by-inch squares, place in a bowl and cover with milk. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread is soaked through and mushy.
  4. Shred the carrots and cheese, slice the onions.
  5. Once the bread is soaked through, in a large bowl, mix the meat, bread and milk mixture, eggs, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Just mix with your hands, so as to not over work the meat. Add the vegetables and cheese and mix just until combined.
  6. Fill each cupcake cup with meat so that it is packed in the cup and mounded on top to look like a cupcake.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center of the meatloaf is nearing 160 degrees. While the meatloaf is baking, make the topping. You can microwave it for a few seconds if the brown sugar is not mixing in well.
  8. Remove cupcakes from the oven and carefully transfer each cupcake to a cookie sheet. Quickly spoon a liberal amount of sauce over each cupcake and return to the oven for about five minutes.
  9. Place mashed potatoes into an icing bag with a large tip. Remove the meatloaf cupcakes from the oven and "ice" with potatoes. Place under broiler until the potatoes are slightly golden on the edges. Serve.
Notes
  1. You can also make this as a loaf. To do that, line a large rimmed baking dish with foil. Put the meatloaf on the pan, forming into a loaf shape. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Top with sauce and bake for 15 minutes more. When making as a loaf, the topping measurements are: 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. ketchup, 4 tsp. yellow mustard and 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce. No potato topping.
  2. Cooking on a large pan and forming the meat into a loaf (as opposed to a loaf pan) allows the grease to move to the sides of the pan. Remove the loaf and serve on a fresh platter for a beautiful dinner.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Gluten-Free Holiday Cooking Tips

Thanksgiving Painting

While originally written for Thanksgiving, this cooking guide works for any holiday or gathering – Christmas, New Year’s parties, Easter – where you are hosting a bunch of people!

I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in spring of 2006.  Fall 2007 was my first Thanksgiving, and I was scared.  Feeling sorry for me, my dad bought me an early Christmas present – my navy blue KitchenAid mixer.  I still use it today.  I also took a cooking class by Claudia Pillow, co-author of this book, which was incredibly helpful.  The next years have been an exercise in trial and error.  There have been successes and failures.  Lessons have been learned along the way.

Because so many Thanksgiving standards contain gluten, I would bring my versions to our family’s big Thanksgiving celebration.  That’s a lot of food to bring – stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, desserts.  Over the years, I learned what I was willing to do on Thanksgiving – the modified standards that were a must-have – and those I could do without.

My family got the hang of it too.  My grandmother now makes her candied sweet potatoes with gluten-free flour and thickens her gravy with corn starch.

While I don’t have the grocery budget or the time to cook Thanksgiving standards for all of you (sorry), I still wanted to give you tips for having a successful gluten-free Thanksgiving, especially if this is your first gluten-free holiday, or if you’re having a gluten-free guest over to your house this year.

General tips:

  • Are you brand new to the gluten-free world?  Here’s my gluten-free starter guide.
  • Read all the labels.  Here are just a few foods you’d never guess have (or might have) gluten: canned chicken broth, ice cream, soup mixes, salad dressings, marshmallows, chewy candy like Twizzlers.  Information on deciphering labels is on my starter guide.
  • Whether you are the gluten-free guest for a large Thanksgiving gathering or you are cooking for a gluten-free guest on Thanksgiving, do not expect to have every dish gluten-free. The meat, a few sides and at least one dessert will be sufficient.  If you’re hosting and cooking the food, then it’s easy to make everything gluten-free.
  • Be thoughtful to make small changes that will easily make a dish gluten-free.  Use tapioca starch in gravy or gluten-free marshmallows in candied yams, for example.  If you’re cooking a turkey with a browning bag, use gluten-free flour in the bag – any gluten-free flour without xanthan or guar gum will do.  I usually use brown rice flour.
  • Hosts: never ever think “Oh, it’s just a little flour.”  Just 1/8th of a teaspoon is enough for me and many of my fellow celiacs to have a full-scale reaction.
  • Buy gluten-free rolls.  Udi’s and Schar both make great rolls.  Against the Grain makes a great baguette.
  • Let the gluten-free guest serve him or herself first.  Give them their own butter dish that is not contaminated by bread crumbs.  Remind your guests to keep each serving utensil with its appropriate dish.
  • Feeling crunched for time or intimidated about your first gluten-free attempt being on Thanksgiving?  There is no shame in utilizing mixes and other shortcuts!  My favorite gluten-free mixes these days are King Arthur flour, which are now carried at Target.  You can read my reviews of King Arthur gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix and yellow cake mix here.  Also, dress up gluten free store-bought cookies, like I did here.
  • Speaking of shortcuts – gluten-free pie crusts are available at most health food stores.  I love Whole Food’s gluten-free pie crust.

Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe

Nothing says Thanksgiving like stuffing.  Unfortunately, nothing says gluten like stuffing.  Have no fear, you can modify your favorite homemade stuffing recipe into your new gluten-free standard.  There are a few simple tips:

  1. Make a flourless cornbread recipe.  You’ll find about a thousand variations online.  They just use corn meal.  Make two batches a day before you prepare the stuffing.  Make sure your corn meal says gluten-free on the box, and don’t use white corn meal.  (White corn has a small amount of natural gluten and some people including yours truly react to it).
  2. One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving is Grandmommy drying cubed bread for her stuffing.  She dries it overnight so it is dry and crisp and ready to be included in the stuffing.  You do the same with gluten-free bread, but it takes substantially longer to dry out.  Dry it out for a day, turning occasionally, but still be prepared to stick it in a hot oven while the bread crumbs truly dry out.
  3. A key to making great stuffing is starting out with a moist stuffing mixture.  To get the gluten-free mix to the proper moistness, prepare to use two or three or four times more liquid than normal.  This means keeping a very close eye on the level of saltiness.  I usually dilute low-sodium chicken broth.  Be prepared to use a lot more broth!

Here is my stuffing recipe.  It’s really good, but you can also use the tips above to modify your favorite stuffing recipe!

Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 batch gluten-free corn bread, two round nine-inch pans, baked, crumbled and dried out
  2. 1 loaf gluten-free bread (12 ounces), cut into cubes. I use Udi's White Bread
  3. 1 pound pork sausage, crumbled and pan fried - you can use sage, normal pork breakfast sausage, spicy Italian...really whatever kind of sausage you want.
  4. 4 tbs butter
  5. 1 large onion, diced
  6. 1 pint sliced mushrooms
  7. 2 c. sliced celery
  8. ½ tsp. salt
  9. ½ tsp rubbed sage
  10. 1 tsp thyme
  11. 1 c. pecans or hazelnuts
  12. 1 c. Craisins
  13. 4 - 6 c. low sodium, gluten-free chicken broth – enough to get it VERY moist
  14. * adjust the extra veggies, dried cranberries and nuts as you wish. I think I always end up putting more of everything. I like my toppings.
Instructions
  1. Cube bread and dry in a 350-400 degree oven until they're dry and toasted, about 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. Crumble cornbread, let dry overnight.
  2. The day of: Cook sausage and crumble. Set aside. Use a tablespoon or so of the sausage drippings and butter to sweat (sautee, but so they're still crunchy) the onions, mushrooms and celery, adding in the spices and salt. Quickly toast the nuts in a dry frying pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the crumbled corn bread, bread cubes, sausage, sautéed veggies, nuts and craisins. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until it is thoroughly moistened. Think soggy. If you don't add enough broth, the stuffing will be dry and mealy. Be careful with chicken broth. Canned chicken broth many times has gluten. Check the label.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 1 hour. This is a wonderful recipe. My favorite part are the Craisins! They add a sweetness and color.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Autumn Salad

Make a big naturally gluten-free salad!  My fall salad with pomegranate hazelnut vinaigrette, lettuce, pomegranate seeds, green onions, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan cheese will have no one missing the gluten!

Gluten-Free Gravy

Make a roux just like you normally would, but use tapioca starch flour or sweet white rice flour.

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole, oh how I miss you.  I usually skip this side because it is a lot of work.  I made it the first Thanksgiving after my sister was diagnosed with gluten intolerance because I wanted that Thanksgiving to be full of good memories for her.  (Best big sister award, or what?!)

Here’s the recipe I use.  It’s pretty good.  It takes forever.

This dish is something that over the years I decided wasn’t a priority for me.  I now prefer a simpler green bean dish with steamed beans and bacon.  Because what’s better than bacon?

Candied Yams

Candied yams or candied sweet potatoes are a classic, and easily modified to be gluten free.

Namaste Spice Cake Mix

Quick Pumpkin Bread

Make this quick pumpkin bread!

One pack of gluten-free spice cake mix – I use Namaste
1 egg
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin
Up to 1.5 cups of pecans and golden raisins, your preference.

Bake per the cake’s instructions.

Pecan Pie

Gluten Free Baking Classics by Analise Robers contains the world’s greatest pecan pie recipe ever.  Buy it.  Bake it.  Love it.

Banana Bread

Make my gluten-free banana bread.  It’s a perfect breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.  And it makes a great on-the-go breakfast for Black Friday, too!

Do you have any more questions, suggestions or advice?  Put them in the comments section.