Slow Cooker Meatloaf without Breadcrumbs

Slow Cooker Meatloaf  is one of the most popular dinner recipes on It’s Yummi! Meal prep is quick and easy with this Slow Cooker Meatloaf recipe, and your crock pot does all of the cooking!

healthy low carb meatloaf made with grated zucchini as a substitute for bread crumbs

This meatloaf bursts with Italian flavor and is SO juicy and delicious! It’s definitely one of our favorite slow cooker recipes for a healthy comfort food dinner.

Healthy Hacks

I’ve made a lot of meatloaf recipes over the years, including my healthy Veggie Stuffed Meatloaf.

This low carb slow cooker meatloaf recipe is honestly my favorite, though. I never would have thought crock pot meatloaf would taste better than oven baked meatloaf, but it does! The healthy hack of using zucchini to replace bread crumbs lowers the carbs and keeps the meat loaf moist.

Substitute for Bread Crumbs in Meatloaf

Using shredded zucchini as a substitute for bread crumbs in meatloaf eliminates several grams worth of carbs. Such a smart, healthy choice! Other substitutes for bread crumbs (these are not low carb options) include:

  • Rolled oats – You can use traditional or gluten-free rolled oats, but I don’t suggest using quick cooking oats, as they’ll get too mushy.
  • Crushed corn flakes are another great gluten free option.
  • Mashed potato flakes are great for adding structure to an otherwise loose meatloaf mixture, and I use them to thicken soup as well!
  • Finely ground almond flour OR almond meal

Meatloaf Recipe Tips:

  • Use an aluminum foil sling to secure the meatloaf in place

For easy removal of the meatloaf from the pan, line the slow cooker with strips of aluminum foil. Weave several strips together, assuring that the meat has a nice bed to cradle into. Make sure the strips are long enough that they come up higher than the meatloaf

  • Spray the foil with olive oil to prevent the meat loaf from sticking
Low Carb Slow Cooker Meatloaf Recipe, from @itsyummi - This low carb recipe uses a special ingredient instead of bread crumbs to make it a low carb dinner that tastes just like the comfort food you grew up eating.

NOTE: The zucchini in the meat loaf mixture makes it very loose compared to a traditional meatloaf mixture. Be careful when you’re transferring the uncooked mixture into the slow cooker so that it doesn’t fall apart before you have a chance to settle it in there.  

When I saw how wet the mixture was, I was convinced that it would never come together into a nice loaf. But I was wrong! I cooked it on high power for 2 hours and 45 minutes and the loaf was perfectly firm.

After you make this slow cooker meatloaf recipe, please come back and rate the recipe!

low carb meatloaf made in a slow cooker

Slow Cooker Meatloaf Recipe

This easy slow cooker Italian meat loaf is made with lean ground sirloin, freshly grated zucchini, and zesty Italian spices & herbs. Your family will LOVE this, and your kids will never know they’re eating healthy vegetables!
4.41 from 20 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Main Dish
Servings 8
Calories 320 kcal


  • Olive oil in a spritzer bottle or olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 pounds extra lean ground sirloin or ground bison
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 zucchini grated and excess liquid squeezed out
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup fresh parsley finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons minced dry onion or onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


  • ¼ cup no sugar added tomato sauce or no sugar added ketchup
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese or 2-3 slices
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


  • Line a large (6 quart or larger) slow cooker with strips of aluminum foil. Spray the foil with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for cooking spray and the topping ingredients. Mixture WILL BE loose/wet. This is expected.
  • Carefully transfer mixture into the slow cooker and form into an oblong shaped loaf, setting it on top of the aluminum foil strips. Place lid on top of slow cooker.
  • Cook on high power for 3 hours or low power for 6 hours. 15 minutes before the end of the cook time, turn the heat off and unplug the slow cooker. Remove the lid and spread ketchup over the top of the meatloaf. Place cheese on top of ketchup and replace the lid onto the slow cooker. Allow the meat loaf to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
  • To remove loaf from the slow cooker, remove lid, hold each end of the strips in each hand , and carefully lift. Transfer the loaf to serving platter and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve and enjoy!


Serving: 1sliceCalories: 320kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 26gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 403mgPotassium: 507mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 640IUVitamin C: 11.8mgCalcium: 140mgIron: 3.5mg
Tried this recipe? Mention @itsyummi or tag #itsyummirecipe!


  1. 5 stars
    I first saw that you were doing meatloaf in a slow cooker and all I could picture was meat sitting in its own fat for hours. But between the extra lean beef and sitting it on the tin foil, I see how this does work. Great option for meatloaf.

    HAPPY, happy, happy birthday week!

    1. I thought the same thing, Karen! I’m a little shocked at how well this recipe turned out.
      Thanks for the happy birthday wishes, too! Hope you’ll enter the giveaways, cuz I’d love to see you win!

  2. 5 stars
    This meatloaf recipe sounds delicious and the low-carber in my house will love it. So happy to help celebrate your special day/week!!

    1. I’m beyond delighted to have you join me, Libby. Tell that low-carber that he’s gonna want to put Olena’s e-cookbook onto his wish list. Her low carb recipes are AMAZING!

  3. I’ll have to try this! I used to make an Italian Meatloaf, but it wasn’t in the crock pot. Happy Birthday week my dear!

  4. I tried to enter, but I don’t tweet, or pin, pr do anything except read email and my FB . Therefor I can’t always enter. Happy 50 anyway, and you do know that is 18 with 32 years of practice. I have a few more years of practice than you. 🙂

    1. I’m sorry that you couldn’t enter originally, but please try again with the DAY 2 giveaway, because the only required entry methods are a Facebook like and getting new posts via email! 🙂

  5. Recently I have a family event and i just want to find some meatloaf recipes. So I come here. I will try your recipe and hope I can make it.

    1. As long as it’s not sitting on the bottom of the slow cooker, meatloaf in the slow cooker is amazing, Stephanie! I hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂

  6. Made this, it exceeded my expectations. Grating zucchini wore me out (I have a shoulder problem) but it was worth it. Will make again!

    1. Nancy, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the slow cooker Italian meatloaf recipe! I hate hearing that it was torture on your shoulder, though. A dear friend of mine suffers with permanent problems from a torn ligament in her shoulder, so I understand how painful shoulder injuries can be. If you can get your hands on a food processor, it might make the job of shredding veggies much easier for you.

  7. I’m excited to try this recipe but am concerned about the slow cooker time. Because I work 8 hour days it would be difficult to do 3 or 6 hours (my crockpot only has settings for 4 or 8 hours and then switches to warm.) I’m assuming 4 hours would dry it out…especially if it sits on warm the rest of the work day. Could I just make this in oven? If so, how long would you suggest baking it for?

    1. Elyse,
      You can absolutely make this meatloaf in an oven! If you put it into a standard loaf pan like most meatloaf recipes call for, I’m afraid that it might not cook through properly, because I used 2 pounds of beef. Instead, I would line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then form the loaf onto it and bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes. I would add the tomato sauce at 40 minutes to make sure that it doesn’t burn on top, and top it with cheese during the last 5 minutes.

  8. I love the tip about using foil strips to lift the meatloaf out of the slow cooker. I’ve never tried to do meatloaf in mine because I was afraid I would destroy it when I removed it. Do you think your recipe would work with venison?

    1. Thanks, Ashley! I hope you try using the foil strips and and see the amazing results in the meatlaof that I saw. It was perfect!

    1. Absolutely, Alison! Ground turkey does have a bit more water content in it than sirloin, but I don’t think it should give you too much trouble 🙂

  9. I appreciate the recipe, but you should know that putting something into your own words does not avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism involves the reusing of someone’s intellectual property as though it were your own. I think you are okay to use the recipe as long as you give credit to the source and do not earn income from it.

    1. You are 100% correct! In this case, I had permission from the original recipe developer, Olena, to post the recipe here. 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    I made this the other night and it was delicious! I am re purposing it too. Won’t be on my blog for a few weeks but I will link up to you!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Drew. The reason that I don’t line the entire slow cooker with foil really has little to do with clean up. The foil strips are actually used to help lift the meat off of the bottom of the slow cooker so that the meatloaf doesn’t sit in its own fat as it cooks. I hope that makes sense. 🙂

    2. I love Slow Cooker use for Supper…………………I cannot wait to try this recipe. I have been known to be called the Slow Cooker Queen because I make so many meals in mine.
      Would there be a substitute for the Zucchini???? It is hard to find it at this time of the year and I really want to make this Low Carb Meatloaf……great health benefits…. Thanks in advance….

      1. The only suggestions I can think to make for a zucchini substitute would be frozen cooked spinach that’s had the excess water squeezed from it, or a bit of almond flour. Good luck!

      1. How much almond flour would you recommend as a substitute for the zucchini? I saw the comment about adding “a bit” of the almond flour and thought it would be a great way to deal with the fact that my grandson does not care for zucchini.

        1. Gwen, the zucchini is so finely shredded that it can barely be seen or tasted, but if you’d like to try it with almond flour, I would suggest starting with 1/4 cup. As with any meatloaf, you don’t want to add too much, as it tends to dry out the meat. If you need to add more after the initial 1/4 cup to get the loaf to hold together, by all means, do so. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  11. OMG this was AMAZING!!!! I tweeted it ever so slightly because I forget to get fresh parsley (I used dried, 1/4 cup). For those of you who think your family will like it because of the zucchini, don’t worry about it! It taste nothing like zucchini! You can’t even tell that the zucchini is in there even after picking it apart, they will see the parsley but not the zucchini! My husband had no idea! This is our new meatloaf recipe from now on OMG so delicious you must make this today! ❣️❣️❣️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    1. Sorry about the typos I was so excited to leave a comment that I didn’t proof it very well ! I also forgot to add that I baked it in the oven because I got a later start on dinner! I did it at 375 in a 9×13 pan with celery and carrots on the sides covered in foil for an hour and 10 minutes. Again YUM!!!

    2. I’m SO happy to hear that you enjoyed the low carb meatloaf, Lisa! It truly is one of my favorite slow cooker recipes, and you’re absolutely right… the zucchini can’t be detected at all, which is GREAT for picky eaters and non-veggie lovers! 🙂
      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. <3

    1. Thanks, Valerie!
      Truthfully, we’ve never had any left over, because the slow cooker meatloaf really IS that good! That being said, if you leave the cheese off and let it rest/cool completely after cooking, I’m pretty confident that it will freeze well. The uncooked meatloaf mixture is pretty wet, so I don’t think I’d recommend freezing before cooking.

  12. Could you please tell me the total calories, not k cal, per serving? Also what is a normal serving size? I am anxious to try this recipe.

    1. Colleen, the recipe serves 8 people, so to get total calories, you would take the listed kcal per serving and multiply times 8, giving you a total calorie amount for the loaf of 2,336 kcals. Incidentally, The “calorie” we refer to in food is actually a kilocalorie. One (1) kilocalorie is the same as one (1) Calorie (upper case C). A kilocalorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water one degree Celsius.

  13. So tried this meatloaf recipe today and it was so easy to make with little clean up after. Wasn’t able to take a pic of it as the kids (9, 6 & 1.5 yrs) devoured most of it! Kids have asked to have this again on a regular basis. Winning with this recipe!!

  14. 5 stars
    Yummy! The whole family is sure to love this one, I’m loving the idea of meatloaf in the slow cooker not the oven – especially because way less eat in the kitchen for summer haha

  15. 5 stars
    Yum! This looks great and I love the swap for zucchini. I make a veggie and turkey meatloaf with shredded zucchini and love it. But the flavors in this are a must try!!

  16. Can you substitute cauliflower for the zucchini? This looks really good but I only have cauliflower in the house and don’t want to go to the store. Thanks

  17. 5 stars
    OMG! I had SERIOUS doubts about this recipe, but it was PHENOMENAL! I tweaked it a little with some of the spices I use in my regular meatloaf, and left out the balsamic, as I coated it with sugar-free BBQ sauce. Also wrapped it in bacon. I REALLY expected it to be soft & mushy because of the zucchini and “no corn flakes, which I use instead of breadcrumbs in my regular meatloaf). Boy was I WRONG! This was PERFECT!

    Quick word of advice – after grating the zucchini, salt it well and put it in a mesh strainer for 15 minutes. You will be able to squeeze out almost all the water to keep this from being too moist.

    THANK YOU! I NEVER thought I would eat meatloaf again! You saved this favorite for me!

4.41 from 20 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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