Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

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Has a certain smell ever instantly transported you back to the warm, sunny kitchen of your childhood? You know, that comforting aroma that floods your senses with nostalgia and memories of sitting around the dinner table with your loved ones? For me, that evocative scent is the unmistakable essence of my mom’s classic homemade meatloaf baking away in the oven.

What goes well with meatloaf?

A good meatloaf is the quintessential comfort food, so it pairs perfectly with all the classic homestyle sides. My mom always served it alongside:

  • Fluffy mashed potatoes, maybe with a crispy fried onion topping
  • Creamy mac and cheese, the noodles bathed in a velvety cheese sauce
  • Tender, buttery green beans or roasted brussels sprouts
  • Sweet glazed carrots
  • Tangy cabbage slaw for crunch
  • Warm dinner rolls or biscuits to soak up any extra gravy

With hearty accompaniments like those, it was a well-rounded, stick-to-your-ribs feast. No one ever left the table hungry!

How to Make the Best Meatloaf

There’s an art to creating a meatloaf that’s dense and meaty yet incredibly tender and moist. Here are some key tips:

  • Don’t overmix the meat mixture or it will become dense and tough. Gently fold everything together until just combined.
  • Avoid packing the meatloaf too tightly into the loaf pan. This can make the texture overly compacted.
  • Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing into it. This allows the juices to reincorporate and set so your slices stay moist and held together.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 160°F in the center. This takes the guesswork out of doneness.
  • A flavorful glaze adds incredible moisture, flavor and helps create that coveted crispy outer crust.

Ingredients in Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

  • Ground beef – I use 85% lean for the perfect balance of flavor and juiciness. Avoid super lean or the loaf may come out dry.
  • Italian breadcrumbs – These seasoned crumbs add great classic flavor. Panko also works nicely.
  • Eggs – These are the binder that helps hold the loaf together.
  • Heavy cream – Using cream instead of milk makes for an ultra tender, moist texture.
  • Garlic powder, salt & pepper – You can’t beat this classic savory seasoning blend.
  • Bell pepper & onion – For aromatic veggie flavor in every bite.
  • Olive oil – To sauté and lightly caramelize the veggies.
  • Tomato sauce & BBQ sauce – My mom’s signature tangy-sweet glaze adds incredible moisture and caramelizes beautifully.

FAQ

What is the ideal internal temperature for meatloaf?

For food safety, you’ll want to bake your meatloaf until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F in the center.

Can I use milk instead of cream?

While not ideal, you can substitute milk for the cream if needed. Just know the texture may come out slightly less moist and rich.

What can I use instead of breadcrumbs?

If you don’t have breadcrumbs, try equal amounts of crushed crackers, cracker crumbs, panko, crushed stuffing mix or even oats.

How long does meatloaf last in the fridge?

Leftover meatloaf will keep for about 4-5 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Storing Instructions

Make Ahead:

This meatloaf can be prepared through step 5, covered tightly and refrigerated for up to 2 days before baking. Let come to room temp for 30 mins before topping with glaze and baking.

Freeze:

To freeze baked meatloaf, let it cool completely then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil. Freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

To freeze unbaked meatloaf, prepare through step 5 then cover tightly and freeze raw for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight, top with glaze and bake as directed.

Reheat:

To reheat baked meatloaf, place slices in a baking dish with a splash of broth. Cover and bake at 300°F until heated through, about 25 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Meatloaf Recipe

There’s an art to creating a meatloaf that’s dense and meaty yet incredibly tender and moist.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the Meatloaf:

For the Glaze:

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl, use a fork to gently mix together the ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, heavy cream, garlic powder, salt and pepper until just combined. Don’t overmix.
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion and bell pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until softened. Let cool slightly.
  • Add the cooked veggie mixture to the meat mixture and gently fold everything together until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix.
  • Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the prepared loaf pan and use your hands to lightly shape and flatten it into an even loaf shape. Don’t compact it too tightly.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, brown sugar (if using) and worcestershire sauce (if using) until combined.
  • Pour the tomato-BBQ glaze evenly over the top of the meatloaf and use a spoon to spread it in a thin layer.
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F in the center when checked with a meat thermometer.
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to reincorporate.
  • Serve meatloaf warm with your favorite classic sides like mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, glazed carrots, etc. Enjoy leftovers in sandwiches the next day!

Notes

  • For extra moisture and richness in very lean beef, add an additional egg yolk.
  • Let the meatloaf rest for 10 mins before slicing so it holds together nicely.
  • Leftovers keep for 4-5 days refrigerated or can be frozen for up to 4 months.

This nostalgic old-fashioned meatloaf recipe is classic comfort food at its finest! One taste will flood you with warm memories of family dinners for years to come. I hope you give it a try for your next cozy meal!

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