Have you ever wondered how your favorite local diner makes their meatloaf dishes taste extraordinarily heavenly, and so appetizing that you just want to order a second round? Scratch that, we highly doubt that the flavorful juices oozing out of these dishes don't just make us come back for a second round. Maybe even a third. Or another one after that. Meatloaf, just like mashed potatoes, salads, and a variety of pasta is one of the ultimate favorite comfort foods. It's a dish we can have one day and still look for in the next. As Brittany Natale (2021) tells every food enthusiast in her blog, "This dish is easy to prepare and is packed with flavor. Meatloaf has that special something that reminds us of simpler times."
Best Meatloaf Recipe
Enough of the reminiscing, and let's proceed to find out what qualifies as the "best meatloaf recipe", whether it's your grandma's, your favorite chef’s, or your own version of the dish. Because as it goes, everyone seems to love a good and mouthwatering meatloaf.
Regardless of where you stand on any of these things, anyone can make meatloaf, and you'd definitely be surprised by how amazing your version could be."if a James Beard award finalist can make a seemingly pedestrian dish into something so glorious, you can do it too." Meredith Sims said. If you ask us, we definitely agree with that. If professional and globally-acclaimed chefs can take a classic dish up a notch, I'm certain you add your own creative spins to it too. So let's proceed to the things you need to prepare to start making the magic happen.
There are hundreds of existing meatloaf recipes out there on how to cook meatloaf, and many varying ways on how you'd like them to be served. Whether served fresh with some rich and smoky gravy, with garlic bread or mashed potatoes on the side or reheated the next day for a sandwich, you will need to prepare the following ingredients to cook an amazing, grease-free meatloaf.
For the meatloaf:
2 lbs ground sirloin
2 large eggs
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 large onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
1 cup of beef broth
cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp sage (fresh and chopped)
1 tbsp thyme (fresh and chopped)
1 tbsp rosemary (fresh and chopped)
1 cup of breadcrumbs
cup of cheese (finely grated, preferably parmesan)
1 tsp of salt (preferably kosher salt)
1/3 cup of milk (whole is best)
Topping your meatloaf with a nice and rich sauce has also been suggested by many. You can use Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, ketchup, tomato paste, or the well-loved BBQ sauce on top of your dish. But don't limit yourself to these options. Read more to find the ingredients that Meredith used in her version of a meatloaf sauce that definitely catered to her liking.
For the meatloaf sauce:
- 1 cup of ketchup
- 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp of blackstrap molasses
- 2 tbsp of dark brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
- tsp of garlic powder
- tsp of onion powder
Notes and Tips
Most recipes are fairly upfront when it comes to diving into the kitchen. But for mouthwateringly bold meatloaf, Kelley and Mincey (2016) share Nicole McLaughlin's best tips on making that flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth meatloaf that can rival any other version out there.
- The choice of meat matters
"I like using a ground sirloin so you don't get so much shrinkage as it cooks," says McLaughlin. She further adds that if you use fatty meat, it's very likely for your meatloaf to be extra smaller after cooking.
- Texture tips
When cooking your meatloaf, it should definitely be moist, but you need to balance it well so it doesn't end up being neither soggy nor greasy. No one wants to eat meatloaf where oil sits in your mouth longer than the juices of the meat.
McLaughlin further explains how milk plays a crucial role in maintaining the meat's delicious texture. "Clever cooks add milk to seasoned breadcrumbs, allowing all liquid to be absorbed and distributing moisture evenly throughout the loaf," she adds. But, if anything, use whole milk!
- Spiced generously
If you want to add a touch of complexity and extravagance to your meatloaf, Be generous with the amount of spices you use in your recipe. But of course, don't just add anything you find interesting in your pantry. Add flavorful spices that blend well with each other and be generous in amount!
In Nicole's version, she recommends adding garlic, parsley, and thyme along with the salt and pepper duo for a deeply savory taste.
- Proper kitchenware is key
When you cook with the right tools and equipment, you save yourself a lot of time. Don't just equip your kitchen with basic tools to save yourself extra bucks. Regardless if you cook professionally or just to provide food to eat on a daily basis, It's always more practical to invest in excellent-quality kitchenware than waste your time improvising on cheap ones. It saves you time and frustration. Trust me.
And also, the right cooking utensils cook your meals on time and produce delicious taste!
- The Finale
And of course, there is nothing more important than topping off your cooked meatloaf with a sauce of your choosing. Nicole's secret to a perfectly tangy ketchup topping is balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. She also shares how "cutting the ketchup taste just a little bit makes me love this topping."
But again, do not limit yourself to choosing a sauce that is used by many in their recipes. Feel free to explore and experiment on your own to find a flavor your taste buds will remember for a lifetime.
How Different Chefs Make Meatloaf
Don't you also wonder sometimes how different chefs add their own creative touch on their meatloaf recipe? Let's take a quick look at how Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray typically make theirs.
Martha uses the same ingredients as mentioned above. She only adds a few more vegetables, such as celery and carrot, and prefers using 3 whole white bread instead of packed bread crumbs, which we think is a great idea as well if you ask us. She also uses Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard in making her sauce. Martha bakes her meatloaf for about 1 hour and 20 minutes at 160 degrees before serving.
The same goes for Rachel. She makes use of the same ingredients above and also uses whole white bread instead of packed bread crumbs. The only difference is the sauce. Unlike Martha, Rachel prefers glazing her meatloaf with ketchup. It takes her about 20 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to bake the meatloaf. A total of 1-hour preparation before serving.
Best Meatloaf Variations
There are so many creative and interesting ways for one to take this classic dish and take it up a notch! You can experiment on your own or even explore the recipes of different chefs to learn what caters to you best. Try any of these!
- Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf Recipe
- Mozzarella Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
- Philly Cheese Steak Meatloaf Recipe
- Turkey Meatloaf Recipe
- Honey Barbecue Sauce Meatloaf Recipe
Best Sides to Serve With Meatloaf
Aside from the classic, all-time favorite garlic bread and mashed potatoes meatloaf sidekick, try serving your meatloaf with these other sides that make your dish more delicious!
- Roasted root vegetables
- Caramelized Brussel sprouts
- Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa
- Mushroom and Parmesan Risotto
How to Store Meatloaf
According to Meredith's version, you can store your leftover meatloaf in an airtight container or wrapped in a plastic wrap in the fridge for a day or two. For anything longer than two days, it is highly suggested to put the meatloaf in the freezer instead until it is ready to use. Raw meatloaf should last up to six months stored in the freezer.
History of Meatloaf
As it turns out, meatloaf has been around for over centuries now. Yes, centuries. Since the 5th century to be more precise on the number. It has been mentioned in the Roman cookery collection Apicius as early as the 5th century. It is a traditional German and Scandinavian dish which is almost considered a cousin to the Dutch meatball.
"The history of meatloaf dates back to medieval Europe, where it is believed the idea for meatloaf came about as a way to use up leftover food scraps and to keep excess meat and vegetables from going to waste," Meredith says.
If you go to your favorite restaurants, there is a very big chance that they have at least one dish on their menu that reads: meatloaf. It's a lot easier now because you can just simply order for yourself right away. But don't you think it's a lot more fun to explore a variety of recipes and opinions and ways to cook this classic dish? If you ask us, we would make this for ourselves, so we can add our own creative spin to the recipe. We bet that's more fun!
And if you have not tried this mouthwatering dish yet, let us tell you, you are definitely missing out on a game-changer.