Traditional Meatloaf Recipe

Meatloaf may be a staple in American cuisine today, but the hearty dish is very much a part of other food cultures as well. According to Twisted Food, meatloaf has quite the history across Europe, spanning from Ancient Rome to Germany, and finally making its way to North America in the 17th century. Even then, meatloaf didn't really become popular until the Great Depression, when families needed to find nourishing ways to stretch their food budgets. From there, meatloaf has endured the test of time, and it is presently one of the most beloved and classic American dishes.

Recipe developer and nutritionist Hayley MacLean draws upon these classic flavors with her traditional meatloaf recipe. Not only is this recipe easy to make, but it yields a simple, no-frills, flavorful meatloaf that will please the whole family. Moreover, MacLean offers up signature tips on how to make the most out of your meatloaf, which makes this recipe a real keeper.

Gather the ingredients to make traditional meatloaf

The ingredients for a good meatloaf are easy to find. Your main ingredients are lean ground beef, panko breadcrumbs, and a couple of large eggs. To add flavor to the meatloaf, you'll need yellow onion and garlic. Additionally, you'll want to prepare some ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, dried parsley, salt, pepper, brown sugar, as well as red wine vinegar. 

As for ingredient swaps, MacLean notes that you can switch out ground beef for a different kind of meat. "You can definitely swap the beef out for your choice of substitute in this recipe," she explains. "Any ground meat or meat substitute will work great. Making this with turkey is a great lighter, heart-healthy option, for instance!" She also notes that you can use Italian breadcrumbs instead of panko, or even make your own by drying out a piece of bread and then blending it into a sand-like texture.

Combine all of the meatloaf ingredients in a bowl

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 F. Then, in a large bowl, add the ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion, garlic, ½ cup or of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix together with clean hands until fully combined. "In order to make a loaf that stays together well, it is important to mix it thoroughly, so all the ingredients can really come together and bind well," MacLean explains of how crucial this step is. "Under-mixed meatloaf can tend to fall apart easily."

Press the meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan and bake

Once you're happy with your meat mixture, lay the seasoned ground meat into a greased loaf pan, and press it all in so you have an even layer. Pop the meatloaf into the oven and allow it to cook for 45 minutes. As that's baking, you can make your tangy, slightly-sweet topping. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ketchup along with the brown sugar and red wine vinegar. Whisk these ingredients until a cohesive sauce forms. Now, you just have to wait for your meatloaf to finish its initial round of baking!

Add the ketchup topping and then finish baking the meatloaf

After your meatloaf finishes baking for the initial 45 minutes, remove it from the oven and then crank the heat up to 400 F. Carefully spread the ketchup mixture across the top of the meatloaf, and then pop it back into the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. You'll know that the meatloaf is done once the internal temperature reaches 160 F. At this point, let your traditional meatloaf cool for 10 minutes, and then you're ready to slice it up and enjoy your hearty helping of this classic American dish!

Traditional Meatloaf Recipe
5 from 25 ratings
Recipe developer and nutritionist Hayley MacLean draws upon classic flavors with her traditional meatloaf recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
meatloaf and mashed potatoes
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ cup ketchup, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, add the ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion, garlic, ½ cup ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix together with clean hands, until fully combined.
  3. Place the meatloaf mixture into a greased loaf pan. Press to form an even layer. Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes.
  4. While the meatloaf is baking, make the topping by whisking together the remaining ¼ cup ketchup, brown sugar, and red wine vinegar.
  5. When the baking time is up, remove the meatloaf from the oven and increase the temperature to 400 F.
  6. Spread the ketchup topping over the meatloaf and return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the inside temperature reaches 160 F. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Calories per Serving 393
Total Fat 24.6 g
Saturated Fat 9.1 g
Trans Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 142.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 19.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Total Sugars 10.7 g
Sodium 456.1 mg
Protein 23.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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