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You might even already have chef Rocco DiSpirito’s secret ingredients on hand.

Meghan Overdeep
May 12, 2018

Love it or hate it, there’s nothing as simple, as versatile or as filling as a good old-fashioned meatloaf.

Most families have a tried-and-true meatloaf recipe that has been passed down for generations. Though the variations are endless, nearly every meatloaf recipe has the same universal building blocks: ground meat, a starchy binder, seasoning, and various mix-ins.

And according to award-winning chef Rocco DiSpirito, there’s one more ingredient you probably never thought to add. This surprising element—which you probably have in your pantry already—is the key to a delicious meatloaf.

In his latest book, Rocco’s Healthy + Delicious: More than 200 (Mostly) Plant-Based Recipes for Everyday Life, courtesy of Food 52, DiSpirito shares his recipe for Espresso Meatloaf, in which the secret ingredient is—you guessed it—espresso.

Now, we know what you’re thinking: Really? Espresso? In meatloaf?

“Yes, just 2 teaspoons of espresso powder in the topping to amplify the beefy flavor of meatloaf,” DiSpirito explained to Food 52.

And he’s got another breakfast-inspired secret up his sleeve. His recipe also calls for puffed rice (yes, like the Rice Krispies kind) instead of bread as a binder. According to DiSpirito, it’s the key to a delectably moist meatloaf.

"In meatloaf, bread is the go-to stretcher-filler and texturizer," he said. "But it turns out that puffed brown rice does a better job, with the mixture of meat, stock, and puffed rice producing the best final flavor and texture."

And, it’s gluten free!

WATCH: The Best Way to Shape a Meatloaf

Skeptical? Give it a try and let us know what you think. You can find DiSpirito’s recipe for Espresso Meatloaf on Food52.com and in his latest book, Rocco’s Healthy + Delicious: More than 200 (Mostly) Plant-Based Recipes for Everyday Life available now on Amazon.