Traditional Meatloaf Recipe with Easy Sauce Topping

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How to make the most amazing traditional meatloaf recipe with beef, bread crumbs, and an easy homemade sauce. Classic, nourishing comfort food at its best.

It's no secret I love a good oatmeal meatloaf. It makes me sad that meatloaf gets such a bad rap because made right, it's oh so delicious.

Meatloaf is the quintessential dinner recipe because usually, my family can get 2 meals out of 1. One night we'll eat meatloaf with mashed potatoes and vegetables; the next night we'll have the best meatloaf sandwiches.

slices of traditional meatloaf on gray plate with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob

A traditional meatloaf is super easy to mix up, as it involves dumping and mixing all the ingredients into one bowl. There is a sauce to go over the top, but even that only has 3 simple ingredients.

You can pat the ground beef into a larger loaf and bake it in a 9×13 pan; we've also made it by patting the meatloaf into a large baking sheet. If you do choose to make it in a sheet pan, it likely won't need as long to bake.

Either way you bake a classic meatloaf recipe, I highly recommend you use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat has come to temp and is fully cooked. We'll talk about how to tell when it's done as you keep reading.

Want everything to cook as a one pot meal? Instant Pot meatloaf with potatoes is the way to go!

above gray plate of classic meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, with fork, on green and white flowered linen and tan burlap

WHERE CAN I FIND THE ACTUAL RECIPE CARD?

If you’d rather skip all of my meatloaf making tips, important info for this recipe, and similar recipe ideas – and get straight to the traditional meatloaf recipe with bread crumbs – just scroll down to the bottom, where you’ll find a printable recipe card.

INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED:

MEATLOAF INGREDIENTS:

SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

Keep in mind, all of the ingredient amounts you’ll need are in the printable recipe card below.

KITCHEN TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT YOU'LL NEED:

Large and small mixing bowls – You'll need a large bowl for the meatloaf, and a small bowl for mixing the sauce.

9×13 baking dish or large baking sheet – I love using a 9×13 baking dish to make a big almost 2-pound meatloaf that will stretch to give our family of five more than one meal.

Meat thermometer – We use ours all the time; it really helps to tell if the meat has come to temp and is fully cooked.

WHAT TYPE OF MEAT MAKES REALLY GOOD MEATLOAF?

We really prefer to use 90/10 ground beef in our meatloaf, which we also use for pretty much everything else too.

sliced traditional meatloaf in white baking dish

In our experience, this leaner mixture of ground beef results in less grease around the finished meatloaf, and it's a healthier choice. We also prefer the flavor profile of ground beef as opposed to other meats.

CAN I USE GROUND TURKEY FOR MEATLOAF?

Yes, turkey actually makes a wonderful ground beef substitute, but it will change the look, texture, and flavor of your finished meatloaf.

HOW TO MAKE THIS TRADITIONAL MEATLOAF RECIPE FROM SCRATCH

Before mixing up the meatloaf, be sure to pre-heat your oven to 350° F, and grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Then mix up the ingredients…

  1. Add all of the meatloaf ingredients, including the ground beef, eggs, minced onion, garlic, parsley, seasoned salt, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, and bread crumbs to a large bowl.
traditional meatloaf ingredients, including ground beef, eggs, onion, garlic, parsley, seasoned salt, ketchup, bbq sauce, and bread crumbs in metal mixing bowl
  1. Use a large fork (or your hands) to mix everything together really well.
classic meatloaf mixture in metal mixing bowl with fork
  1. Transfer the meat mixture to a greased 9×13 baking dish, and shape it into a loaf.
shaped meatloaf in white baking dish

EASY MEATLOAF SAUCE TOPPING

To make the sauce…

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, yellow mustard, and light brown sugar.
meatloaf sauce ingredients, including ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar in small glass mixing bowl
  1. Spread the sauce evenly all over the top of the meatloaf.
meatloaf sauce spread on top of meatloaf in white baking dish

HOW LONG TO COOK MEATLOAF, PER POUND

Cook time really depends on the size of your meatloaf, as well as your oven, but you're best to cook meatloaf for 30 to 45 minutes per pound.

Set your oven to 350° F, and bake the meatloaf for about 1 hour, or 'til the meatloaf is completely cooked thru and done.

HOW TO TELL WHEN MEATLOAF IS DONE

Your meatloaf needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 160° F with a meat thermometer.

Then allow the meatloaf to rest for about 10 minutes before serving with your favorite sides.

serving homemade meatloaf on spatula flipper over white baking dish

HOW TO MAKE MEATLOAF MOIST

The key to making a moist meatloaf lies in the filler, which is usually a bread product of some kind. The goal is to soak up and retain all of the juices that the meatloaf produces; without a filler, all of these juices would simply drain away.

Believe it or not, meatloaf fillers were originally used to stretch out the recipe. During the Great Depression, it was common for meatloaf to contain up to 50% filler ingredients, typically bread crumbs, which made for an affordable way to feed a family.

HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL MEATLOAF GLUTEN-FREE

This meatloaf recipe is fairly easy to make gluten-free. All of the ingredients can be found gluten-free at one place or another, but here are a couple notes.

  • You can use gluten-free bread crumbs, which can be bought at most grocery stores or health food stores.
  • For seasoning, I really like the Badia Complete Seasoning, which is gluten-free and absolutely delicious.
  • Also, be sure to check your Worcestershire sauce because many times, this can contain gluten.

Just be sure to check all of your ingredient labels to make sure that they're truly gluten-free.

traditional meatloaf with bread crumbs, sliced in white baking dish

WHY DOES MY MEATLOAF FALL APART?

Raw egg is crucial in making a moist, sliceable meatloaf. The egg is what binds all of the other ingredients together, allowing the meatloaf to hold up to slicing without falling apart.

If your meatloaf has enough egg and still falls apart, it might be that it's overcooked, and sometimes it could even be that your ground beef has too much fat.

Of course, it may also be that your recipe does not include enough filler ingredients, the importance of which I talked about above.

classic meatloaf sliced and served on gray plate with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob

ALTERNATIVE VARIATIONS FOR MEATLOAF

Here are some ideas if you are looking to change up the recipe:

  • Try using a different filler ingredient such as crackers, rolled oats, or potato flakes. You can even combine these ingredients.
  • Add crushed tomatoes. Every summer my mom boils down crushed tomatoes, fresh from the garden, to add to her meatloaf, and it's amazing.
  • Try a different kind of meat. Many people use ground pork, ground chicken, and sometimes even ground veal!
bite of classic meatloaf on fork, on gray plate

CAN I MAKE MEATLOAF AHEAD?

Yes, meatloaf is a great make-ahead recipe. You can can keep meatloaf in the freezer for up to 6 months (see below), or you can mix it up the night before, wrap it in plastic or foil, and place it in the refrigerator until it's time to bake.

CAN YOU FREEZE MEATLOAF?

Yes, you can freeze meatloaf either before or after baking. Frozen meatloaf will usually keep for up to 6 months.

slices of traditional meatloaf with meatloaf sauce topping on gray plate

GREAT SIDES TO SERVE WITH A MEATLOAF DINNER

GET THE PRINTABLE CLASSIC MEATLOAF RECIPE

If you love this meatloaf recipe as much as I do, please write a 5 star review, and help me share the recipe on Facebook and Pinterest!

double image of traditional meatloaf recipe, including top image of sliced meatloaf in white baking dish, and bottom image of sliced meatloaf with sauce on gray plate

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Yield: 10

Traditional Meatloaf Recipe with Easy Sauce Topping

Traditional Meatloaf Recipe with Easy Sauce Topping

How to make the most amazing traditional meatloaf recipe with beef, bread crumbs, and an easy homemade sauce. Classic, nourishing comfort food at its best.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

Meatloaf:

Meatloaf Sauce:

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350° F, and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Add all of the meatloaf ingredients, including the ground beef, eggs, minced onion, seasoned salt, garlic, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, and bread crumbs to a large bowl.
  3. Use a large fork (or your hands) to mix everything together really well.
  4. Transfer the meat mixture to a greased 9x13 baking dish, and shape it into a loaf.
  5. To make the sauce, mix together the ketchup, yellow mustard, and light brown sugar in a small bowl.
  6. Spread the sauce evenly all over the top of the meatloaf.
  7. Bake the meatloaf at 350° F for about 1 hour, or 'til the meatloaf is completely cooked thru and done.* Your meatloaf needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 160° F with a meat thermometer.
  8. Allow the meatloaf to rest for about 10 minutes before serving with your favorite sides.

Notes

*Cook time really depends on the size of your meatloaf, as well as your oven, but you're best to cook meatloaf for 30 to 45 minutes per pound.

WHAT TYPE OF MEAT MAKES REALLY GOOD MEATLOAF?

We really prefer to use 90/10 ground beef in our meatloaf, which we use for pretty much everything. In our experience, this leaner mixture of ground beef results in less grease around the finished meatloaf, and it's a healthier choice. We also prefer the flavor profile of ground beef as opposed to other meats.

CAN I USE GROUND TURKEY FOR MEATLOAF?

Yes, turkey actually makes a wonderful ground beef substitute, but it will change the look, texture, and flavor of your finished meatloaf.

HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL MEATLOAF GLUTEN-FREE

This meatloaf recipe is fairly easy to make gluten-free. You can use gluten-free bread crumbs, which can be bought at most grocery stores or health food stores, and I really like the Badia Complete Seasoning, which is gluten-free and absolutely delicious. Also, be sure to check your Worcestershire sauce because many times, this can contain gluten.

Just be sure to check all of your ingredient labels to make sure that they're truly gluten-free.

CAN I MAKE MEATLOAF AHEAD?

Yes, meatloaf is a great make-ahead recipe. You can keep meatloaf in the freezer for up to 6 months (see below), or you can mix it up the night before, wrap it in plastic or foil, and place it in the refrigerator until it's time to bake.

CAN YOU FREEZE MEATLOAF?

Yes, you can freeze meatloaf either before or after baking. Frozen meatloaf will usually keep for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 628mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 21g

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