The Best Meatloaf Recipes

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For many meat lovers, meatloaf can be the ultimate comfort food. In recent decades, the dish that helped many Americans survive the Great Depression has been modernized and included on menus in fine dining establishments and considered a gourmet favorite by chefs across the nation. (For more comfort food recipes, see The Best Comfort Food Recipes For Fall & Winter.)

The original idea of meatloaf originated in Europe, where minced meat was included in “Apicius,” a Roman cookery collection from the 5th century. Considered a traditional German, Belgian and Dutch dish and related to the Italian meatball, meatloaf in the U.S. found its early version from scrapple, which includes ground pork and cornmeal created by German-Americans in Pennsylvania. Today meatloaf dishes abound with glazes, gravy and sauces with a variety of meatloaf ideas including chicken, turkey and vegetarian recipes. Meatloaf has so many variations that you can easily create your own version. 

Classic Meatloaf

Meatloaf recipes can use ground veal or pork in addition to ground beef. It is also possible to use a third each of beef, pork and veal. Ground pork can be spiced with fennel seeds and hot sauce. Pair with mashed potatoes and a vegetables for a hearty, filling meal. 


  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground chuck (see The Different Types Of Steak Cuts)
  • 3/4 pound of spicy ground pork sausage or Italian sausage
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large, heavy skillet, cook the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and scallions in butter over medium heat stirring for about 5 minutes. Cover the skillet and stir occasionally until the carrots are tender, which should take about 5 more minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce and 1/3 cup of ketchup. Cook for 1 more minute. In a large bowl, combine the meats, eggs, vegetables, breadcrumbs and parsley and mix by hand with a spoon. Form into a loaf and put into a rectangular baking pan with 2-inch high sides. Cover the loaf with remaining ketchup. Bake the meatloaf in the oven for 1 hour.

Serves 4 to 6, with plenty of leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches. Calories: 300 (in one medium slice).

meatloaf recipe easy best meatloaf recipe


Italian Meatloaf

Use classic Italian ingredients to make this american standard a delicious european dish. Pair with vegetables or bread sticks. 


  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 2 slices firm white bread
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (see A Guide To The Different Types Of Cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled


Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Place rye and white breads in large bowl, then pour in 1 cup of water. Let soak for 5 minutes. Drain off any excess water. Mash bread finely with fork. Add ground beef, onion, egg, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well. Transfer to prepared loaf pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the meatloaf for 30 minutes. Pour tomato sauce over it and sprinkle with oregano. Bake 20 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes to cool.

Serves 4, Calories: 250

Glazed Meatloaf

Give this traditionally salty dish a touch of sweetness with this easy to make glaze. Pair with mashed potatos, vegetables or bread. 


  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 slices bread, broken up into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and mustard powder and mix with a spoon. In a separate large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread, onion, egg, bouillon, remaining lemon juice and 1/3 of the ketchup mixture from the small bowl. Mix this well and place in a 5x9 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, drain any excess fat, and coat with remaining ketchup mixture and bake for 10 more minutes.

Serves 5, Calories: 275

Turkey Meatloaf

Take inspiration from turkey's traditional sides by eating this meatloaf recipe with cranberry sauce and vegetables. 


  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/8-inch dice
  • 3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and very finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (from 2 slices firm white sandwich bread)
  • 1/3 cup 1 percent milk
  • 1 whole large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey (mix of dark and light meat)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cook onion and garlic in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring until onion is softened, which should take about 2 minutes. Add the carrot and cook, stirring, until softened, which should take about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid the mushrooms give off has evaporated and they are very tender. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and 3 tablespoons ketchup, then transfer vegetables to a large bowl and allow to cool. Stir together bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white, then add to vegetables. Add turkey and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to vegetable mixture and mix well with your hands. Form into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf in a lightly oiled 13- by 9- by 2-inch metal baking pan and brush meatloaf evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup. Bake in the middle of the oven until thermometer inserted into meatloaf registers 170 degrees, which should be 50 to 55 minutes. Let meatloaf stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4, Calories: 250

Vegetarian Meatloaf

Enjoy your vegetarian meatloaf recipe with bread, cranberry sauce or even more vegetables. 


  • 12 ounce bottle barbeque sauce
  • 12 ounce package vegetarian burger crumbles
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan. In a bowl, mix half of the barbeque sauce with the vegetarian burger crumbles, green bell pepper, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and egg. Season with thyme, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Pour remaining barbeque sauce over the loaf, and continue baking for 15 minutes, or until loaf is set.

Serves 3, Calories: 225

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Last Updated: January 23, 2012
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About Sabina Dana Plasse Sabina Dana Plasse holds a bachelor's degree in history from Bucknell University, a master's in liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University and a master's in film and video from American University. She is an award-winning writer and editor living in Sun Valley, Idaho. Besides writing on fine arts, lifestyle, home and garden, entertainment, philanthropy and business, she enjoys teaching film and writing screenplays. Sabina has served as the arts and events editor and living writer for the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper, a twice weekly national award-winning newspaper serving Idaho's Wood River Valley. Sabina adores mountain town living where she is an active snowboarding, skier, mountain biker, hiker, supporter of the arts and an avid seeker of practical living ideas.  

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