Crushed Pork Rinds Are The Breading Swap Your Meatloaf Needs

Meatloaf is a classic. But, that doesn't mean that even the most beloved family recipe is exempt from ever being revamped. After all, variety is the spice of life. Despite that there are dozens of ways to give meatloaf a makeover, we suggest rethinking the binder. While breadcrumbs may be the common way to keep the loaf intact and improve texture, they're not the only ingredient that could be used — cue, crushed pork rinds.

When pulverized into a crumb-like consistency, pork rinds function in much of the same way as regular breadcrumbs. They can absorb juices and help ensure that the loaf stays juicy, yet they also offer an added textural bonus. Given their ultra-crisp nature, they can even add a level of crunch to meatloaf when used as a final touch. However, the benefits don't end there. Appealing to keto and gluten-free diets, pork rinds give the flavor a major upgrade, as well. 

Breadcrumbs (even toasted versions) don't boast tons of flavor. Luckily, pork rinds do. Able to infuse depth in a really creative way, pork rinds amp up complexity with their richly nuanced profile. Distinctly savory with notes of saltiness, pork rinds underline the umami tones in a meatloaf. But, they can also accentuate other elements of taste. In fact, using meaty-tasting pork rinds in recipes like a brown sugar-glazed meatloaf can work to provide balance against the sweetness. That said, crushed pork rinds are sure to shine in nearly any recipe.

The key to substituting pork rinds for breadcrumbs

Trading breadcrumbs for pork rinds is easy. All you need to do is place pork rinds into a food processor for a few seconds until they achieve a similar crumbly texture. Then, replace breadcrumbs with an equal amount of crushed pork rinds. Generally, a standard meatloaf needs about a cup of blitzed rinds. However, quantities may vary based on the type of protein and other ingredients used in your recipe. 

As for how to incorporate the pork rinds, simply sprinkle them into a mixing bowl alongside the ground meat and any flavorful add-ins. Once thoroughly combined, the spiced mince can be pressed into a pan and placed into the oven to bake. For increased texture and visual appeal, you could also top the loaf with larger bits of pork rinds, prior to baking. Although we wouldn't bat an eyelash if you rolled the entire meatloaf directly in the porky crumbs, either. 

As the pork rind-laden meatloaf cooks in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, you can start on the sides. Aside from buttery mashed potatoes, a salad of leafy greens makes a tasty accompaniment to cut through the richness, much like sweetly roasted vegetables that can balance the meatloaf's salty savoriness. Regardless, slices of meatloaf laced with pork rinds will always be the mouth-watering, main attraction on any dinner plate!