While most of us think of meatloaf as an American classic from the 1950s, variations on the theme have been around for centuries. According to The Atlantic, a Roman dish consisting of chopped meat, spices, and wine-drenched bread was among a collection of recipes in a book titled De Re Coquinaria, which likely dates back to sometime in the late 4th or early 5th century. It wasn’t until 1899 that meatloaf was first mentioned in American print, and it then became a budget-friendly meal during times of war.
Clunky though the name may be, meatloaf has grown to be one of the best comfort foods. It’s easy to adapt the flavors and comes together super fast. And because you use ground meat, it remains one of the most wallet-friendly ways to cook protein. See just how wonderful the classic entrée can be with these seven recipes.
1. Easy Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf
Cheeseburgers might be the most popular way to use ground beef, but no one wants to stand out in the cold while flipping patties. By turning the outdoor dish into this cheesy meatloaf from Pillsbury, you can stay nice and toasty while enjoying the flavor you love. Make it feel even more summerlike by whipping up some potato salad to serve alongside.
- 1½ pounds ground beef
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1½ teaspoons pepper
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
- ¾ cup ketchup, divided
- ½ cup diced pickles
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- ½ pound sliced bacon
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine beef, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, ¼ cup ketchup, pickles, breadcrumbs, and eggs in a large bowl. Use hands to gently mix until combined.
Line loaf pan with bacon, laying pieces side by side. Pat half of the meatloaf mixture into the pan, then sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Press remaining meatloaf mixture over top. Fold overhanging pieces of bacon to cover.
Transfer to oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine remaining ketchup and Worcestershire. Pour over meatloaf immediately after it comes out of the oven. Let cool several minutes. Serve.
2. Italian Meatloaf
Michael Chiarello’s Italian Meatloaf, featured on Food Network, seems a lot less strange when you consider meatballs are essentially just mini meatloaves. Translating them to the American favorite makes a lot of sense because you don’t have to worry about rolling tiny portions and browning them on the stove. Just pat the whole mixture into one loaf, then let it bake. You wind up with all the flavors of your favorite pasta topper without nearly as much work.
As good as this dish is all on its own, turning into a sandwich later in the week is even better. Meatballs can be tough to eat stuffed inside some bread, but a slice of meatloaf lies perfectly flat. Just add some mozzarella, marinara sauce, and broil it until everything gets hot and bubbly.
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded, and finely diced
- ½ cup chopped basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1½ cups breadcrumbs
- 3 pounds ground beef
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup marinara sauce
Directions: Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add peppers and onion and cook until softened. Let cool.
Whisk basil, parsley, and eggs to combine in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper. In another small bowl, combine Parmesan and breadcrumbs. In a large bowl, combine beef, egg mixture, breadcrumb mixture, Worcestershire, vinegar, and remaining olive oil, being careful not to overmix.
Either transfer mixture to a large, oiled loaf pan or form into a loaf on an oiled baking tray. Top meatloaf with marinara, spreading to coat.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool for at least 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
3. Thai Green Curry Turkey and Zucchini Meatloaf in a Coconut Milk Green Curry Sauce
Most Thai families probably don’t make meatloaf. If they did, this turkey and zucchini concoction with green curry from Closet Cooking would probably be a go-to. It’s brimming with flavor thanks to fish sauce, green curry paste, lime, garlic, and herbs. For the speediest route to dinner, use a purchased curry paste instead of making your own.
- 1½ pounds ground turkey
- 2 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed dry in a kitchen towel
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup breadcrumbs
- 5 tablespoons Thai green curry paste, divided
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
- Zest of 1 lime
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
- 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
- 2 teaspoon palm sugar or regular sugar
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, sliced
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. In a large bowl, combine turkey, zucchini, eggs, breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons curry paste, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, lime zest, garlic, green onion, and cilantro. Mix gently until just combined. Form into a loaf on prepared baking sheet.
Bake meatloaf until an instate-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, about 40 to 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in coconut milk, remaining fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and kaffir lime leaves. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve meatloaf topped with curry sauce.
4. Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf
Chicken wings are an occasional indulgence for most of us, both for health and practical reasons. You can score the flavors of the bar snack with less mess and damage to your waistline when you make Betty Crocker’s chicken meatloaf. It has all the usual suspects: blue cheese, Buffalo sauce, carrots, and celery. Though it takes an hour to bake, you only have to invest 15 minutes of time to prep.
- 1 pound 99% lean ground chicken
- 1 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1¼ cups crumbled blue cheese
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup Buffalo wing sauce
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-by-4-inch or 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except Buffalo sauce. Add ¼ cup Buffalo sauce, and mix to combine. Pat mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Carefully pour off any grease, then let stand for 10 minutes. Pour remaining buffalo sauce over the top. Slice and serve.
5. Lamb Meatloaf with Feta Cheese
Give your next dinner a distinctly Greek flavor with Southern Living’s lamb and feta meatloaf. Some versions of meatloaf can be a little bit bland without adequate seasoning, so the addition of feta almost guarantees great taste. If you can’t find ground lamb at your supermarket, try the same recipe using pork.
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- 2½ pounds lean ground lamb
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- Dried parsley flakes
- Fresh parsley sprigs
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast pine nuts on a small baking tray until toasted, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine pine nuts and next nine ingredients in a large bowl, mixing with your hands. Press half of mixture into a lightly greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle cheese over top, then top with remaining lamb mixture.
Bake meatloaf for 1½ hours, remove from pan, and set on a rack over a broiler pan. Pour tomato sauce over top and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until fully cooked. Garnish with parsley. Serve.
6. Meatloaf with Barbecue Sauce
Many classic meatloaf recipes feature a simple glaze made with ketchup and brown sugar. Those ingredients also happen to play key roles in barbecue sauce, so it only makes sense to use the tangy condiment in the same way. Epicurious’s barbecue sauce-slathered meatloaf is probably the simplest method you can find. It calls for purchased sauce, which really cuts down on time. It’s just a matter of mixing, shaping, and baking.
You can really play around with flavors depending on what type of barbecue sauce you use. You can also use a basic version and jazz it up yourself. If you like things extra spicy, mix some minced chipotles into the sauce. A little bit of bourbon is also a nice addition.
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1⅓ cups barbecue sauce, divided
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Add ¾ cup barbecue sauce and mix just to combine. Pack mixture into an 8½-by-4½-by-2½-inch loaf pan. Spread remaining barbecue sauce over top. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
7. Fennel and Apple Meatloaf
Meatloaf goes fancy with this version featuring apples, fennel, and Gruyère cheese from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. You can use either turkey or pork for this recipe, so go with whatever has the better price at the grocery store. Round out the meal with some steamed veggies, roasted potatoes, and a dollop of grainy mustard.
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced medium
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small fennel bulb, diced medium
- ½ Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced medium
- 1¾ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt and pepper
- 1½ pounds ground pork or turkey
- 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
- 1 to 2 slices white sandwich bread, diced medium
- 1 large egg
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, fennel, and apple. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and coriander. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
In a large bowl, combine pork, cheese, bread, and egg. Add cooked vegetable mixture and season with 2 teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Using your hands, mix until ingredients are combined. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and form into a 4-by-10-inch loaf. Bake until cooked through, rotating halfway through, about 40 minutes total. Let rest 15 minutes. Slice and serve.