Sky-Ranch Meatloaf

Sky-Ranch Meatloaf

Hearty meatloaf made gluten-free, onion-free, garlic-free with full flavor from fennel. This low-FODMAP and migraine-friendly entree is a safe update of the classic homestyle meal. Featuring Crunchmaster crackers and Sir Kensington's condiments.


Calling all hearty appetites; I'm talking to you, my Mr. Wonderful. This meatloaf recipe is one that I have been continuously perfecting since my first days as a newlywed 14-years ago. Over the years, I have simplified it, made it free of onion and garlic, and more recently made it gluten-free. Just the word "meatloaf" still beckons my groom home, away from a long work day.

One of the things I love most about this recipe is that it comes together in a few minutes and only requires one major gadget: a food processor. In our temporary home, the Sky-Ranch (we're at the top floor of an apartment building), storage and kitchen space is limited, so I have only a few, choice gadgets and appliances on-hand. The food processor does triple-duty in this recipe by smashing the crackers, grating the fennel, and pulsing everything into one nice mixture.

There are three flavor secrets to this recipe:

  1. In place of the traditional breadcrumbs or panko is Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers in the Sea Salt flavor, available at my local grocer and health food store. They are gluten-free, soy-free, and have no onion or garlic. If you cannot find these, any rice cracker will do in this recipe.
  2. For a rich flavor inside and outside of the loaf, I turn to Sir Kensington's condiments. They use wholesome ingredients and no high-fructose corn syrup!
  3. Fresh fennel is used in place of onion and garlic, and boy does it lend a lovely aroma, flavor, and texture to the loaf.


For Meatloaf
  • 4.5 ounces gluten-free cracker of choice (I use Crunchmaster)
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 1 - 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 Tbsp prepared mustard (I use Sir Kensington's Spicy Brown Mustard)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 lbs ground beef and pork
For Mustard Glaze
For Ketchup Glaze


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line small (half) baking sheet with foil; set aside.
  3. Into food processor fitted with traditional blade, add crackers. Pulse until finely ground. Using 1 cup of ground crackers, place into medium bowl and add water. Allow crackers to absorb water while proceeding with remaining steps. Do NOT be tempted to add more liquid; trust me, this is already going to be a tender and moist loaf thanks to the fennel.
  4. Remove traditional blade from food processor and fit with grating attachment. On cutting board, remove stems and core of fennel bulb. Slice bulb into chunks and thoroughly wash (fennel is known to trap soil between its layers, so it is best to wash several times after slicing). Turn on food processor, and feed sliced fennel bulb through feeding tube in order to grate finely. Turn off processor. Measure out 1 cup of grated fennel.
  5. Completely empty food processor and remove grating attachment; fit with traditional blade. Add to bowl of processor soaked crackers and 1 cup grated fennel. Add mustard, pepper, salt, and egg. Pulse until combined well.
  6. Into large bowl, add pulsed cracker-fennel-seasoning mixture. Add to bowl ground meat. Using clean hands, gently mix mixture and meat. Do NOT overmix as this will toughen the final product...and no one like tough meatloaf...I believe that's actually why so many kids hate meatloaf ("Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf!" - A Christmas Story). You will still see streaks of cracker-fennel mixture, and that is exactly what you want.
  7. In bowl, form mixture into loaf. Transfer loaf to prepared baking sheet. Gently pat loaf in order to even it out well.
  8. Place meatloaf into preheated oven and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
  9. Prepare glaze of choice: combine either mustard and brown sugar or ketchup and brown sugar. Or go wild and do both in preparation for making a candy stripe pattern like I did in the photo. Set aside.
  10. Remove meatloaf and lovingly top with glaze using spatula or basting brush. Return loaf to oven to bake for another 15 minutes.
  11. Once internal temperature of meatloaf reaches 160 degrees and meatloaf is nice and brown, remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Turn off oven.


  • Meatloaf can be prepared a day ahead (and actually tastes better that way), raw, and wrapped in plastic wrap in refrigerator until ready to cook the next day.
  • Meatloaf freezes very well. If freezing, cover raw loaf with glaze to help to protect it from freezer burn. Wrap in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap and place in freezer-safe plastic bag. Store in freezer for up to 3 months; defrost in refrigerator before baking.
  • Store leftovers in refrigerator container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Pairs well with Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Boozy Vegan Mashed Potatoes.
  • Note: FODMAPper's, if you are starting out on the diet, then opt out of the ketchup glaze, as ketchup has onions and is low-FODMAP up to 1 packet size (about 1 Tbsp). If you have been FODMAPping for a while and are ready for this small amount of ketchup, then go for it!
  • Migraine Warning: Vinegar (mustard and ketchup). This is a very small quantity in this recipe; yet use with caution if you are sensitive. The mustard in the loaf can be replaced with ground, dry seasonings of your choice (e.g., dry mustard, dried oregano, dried parsley) and a tsp of maple syrup for a similar flavor.