It’s called everyone’s favorite meatloaf recipe because it has won over people who say they hate meatloaf. It’s one that overnight guests call ahead to ask me to serve. It’s led to arguments in my house over who gets the last piece, and countless people tell me that it’s become their family’s favorite meatloaf recipe, too. Plus, it’s easy to make.
Now, I know meatloaf is one of those meals that people take great pride in. Everyone seems to think the way they’ve been making it for years is the only way. My mother, for instance, swears that hers is the best — yet it’s nothing more than meat mixed with salt and pepper then crammed into a loaf pan and baked until nearly rock-hard. To make it “moist,” she spreads it with plain tomato paste.
No wonder I didn’t like meatloaf when I was growing up.
When I was first married, my husband told me he loved meatloaf, so I made it once for him using my mother’s recipe. Notice, I said once. Two bites into it, he politely smiled and claimed to have suddenly come down with a cold, so he didn’t have to keep eating. The stuff wound up sitting in our fridge until it was nearly green.
After that embarrassing night, I began tinkering with meatloaf recipes. Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to improve on my mother’s meat-brick, so my husband was at least able to choke down most of my attempts.
Then one night about five years ago, I stumbled on a winning combination. “DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING!” my entire family proclaimed.
And I haven’t.
If you’ve been making meatloaf with a combination of meats (beef, pork, sometimes veal) or you’re used to putting bacon on or in it to keep it moist, you might be tempted to turn your nose up at this recipe. Don’t. This meatloaf is packed full of flavor and comes out juicy every time.
If you’ve been using breadcrumbs as a binder, the ingredients in this might surprise you. Give it a try. I can almost guarantee after one taste you’ll agree this is everyone’s favorite meatloaf, and it’ll be your family’s favorite, too.
Everyone’s Favorite Meatloaf Recipe
Some of the worst meatloaf I’ve made relied far too much on the sauce to keep them moist. That’s because the breadcrumbs used as a binder soak up the liquid ingredients then dry out during the cooking process. Not so with this recipe!
And, while I have nothing against bacon or other pork products, I don’t believe they belong in meatloaf. In my book, meatloaf means one thing: beef.
I like meals that can be prepared in advance and left in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook. Everyone’s Favorite Meatloaf Recipe is one of them. You can make this in the morning and leave it (un-sauced) in the refrigerator covered with cling film until you’re ready to start dinner.
Be sure to pull it out of the fridge when you’re preheating the oven to take the chill off.
This recipe keeps well in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days after cooking.
You can also freeze it, whole or in slices. Use within 2 months.
If I thought that finding everyone’s favorite meatloaf recipe would end our family’s arguments over meatloaf, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Now, rather than arguing over what goes into the best meatloaf recipe, we argue over how to make the best meatloaf sandwiches. Frankly, I opt for simplicity: I slap a slice between two pieces of bread squirted with ketchup and call it lunch.
How do like your meatloaf sandwiches?
Everyone's Favorite Meatloaf Recipe
For the meatloaf:
- ½ cup yellow onion minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ lbs ground beef
- ½ cup old-fashioned oatmeal, raw not instant
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 4 tablespoons ketchup
- ⅔ cup milk
For the sauce:
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup brown sugar packed (or coconut sugar)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 177°C / gas mark 4. Grease a loaf pan and set it aside.
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until it's translucent but not brown. (About 3 minutes.)
Tip the onions, with the oil, into a large bowl and add the beef, oatmeal, egg, seasoned salt, ketchup, and milk. Combine using your hands. (Or use a stand mixer on low.) If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more oatmeal. If it's too dense, add a bit more milk. You want it to look plump, not runny.
Scoop the meat mixture into the loaf pan and smooth the top with the back of a wood spoon.
Bake at 350°F / 177°C for one hour, or until a meat thermometer reaches 150 F. Check at 30 minutes and pour off any grease before returning the loaf to the oven.
Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in a small pan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
Spoon the sauce onto the meatloaf once it's reached an internal temperature of 150°F / 65°C. Reserve unused sauce. Return the meatloaf to the oven and continue to cook another 20 minutes (or until a meat thermometer reaches 160°F / 72°C).
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow it to rest 5 minutes before slicing. Top with reserved sauce as desired.
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