Classic Meatloaf

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

This meatloaf is one of the first recipes we put on Simply Recipes ten years ago. It’s one of my father’s favorite things to cook and anytime we kids know he’s making it, we make our way to my parent’s house for dinner.

My dad’s trick? He mixes Italian pork sausage (half sweet, half spicy) in with ground beef. The original recipe came from an old issue of Gourmet (April 1994) and my father has been changing it over the years to his taste (including using Italian sausage instead of plain ground pork).

It’s no ordinary meatloaf. It takes a little extra prep time to make the “sofritto” base of minced carrots, onions, celery, and garlic, but it is so so worth it! Like a giant Italian meatball, in loaf form.

Classic Meatloaf

It looks like the sofritto could be a time consuming extra step to prep, but you can easily put the vegetables in a food processor or mini chopper to speed up the prep time. The smaller mince size that you can get with the food processor will also help the meatloaf hold together better.

From the recipe archive. First posted in 2004.

Classic Meatloaf Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6, with plenty for leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches

Italian sausage makes a difference in this recipe! We use a combination of spicy and sweet, but it you only have one, choose sweet Italian sausage.

If you don't have access to spicy ground pork or Italian sausage, mix in a half teaspoon each of fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, and hot sauce into regular ground pork.

Save prep time by roughly chopping the celery, carrot, onion, green onions, and garlic and pulsing them in a food processor or mini-chopper to get them finely chopped.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped green onion, including the green onion greens
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 teaspoon salt (use 1 1/2 teaspoons if using Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup ketchup, divided 1/3 and 1/3
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef (chuck)
  • 3/4 pound of spicy ground pork sausage or Italian sausage (a mix of sweet and hot if you are using links)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (take a couple slices of fresh bread and pulse in a blender until you have crumbs)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350° F, with a rack in the middle of the oven.

2 Sauté onions, celery, carrot, green onions, garlic, then add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup: Melt the butter in a large, thick-bottomed skillet, on medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the finely chopped onions, celery, carrot, green onions and garlic to the pan and cook for  5 minutes.

Cover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, until the carrots are tender, stirring every so often.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and one-third cup of the ketchup. Cook for another minute and remove from heat to cool.

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3 Mix vegetables with ground beef, sausage, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley: Once the vegetables have cooled to the touch, place them in a large bowl with the ground beef, Italian sausage, eggs, breadcrumbs and parsley. Use your (very clean) hands to mix them together until everything is evenly distributed.

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4 Place in loaf pan, cover with ketchup: Place the meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan (either 4x8 or 5x9) and press to make compact in the pan. Or you can form a free-standing loaf onto a rimmed baking pan. Cover the meatloaf mixture with the rest of the ketchup.

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5 Bake: Bake for 1 hour at 350°F, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf reads 155°F. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Then use a metal spatula to gently lift the meatloaf out of the loaf pan to a serving plate.

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Make thick slices to serve. The meatloaf makes great leftovers, just chill and reheat. Slices are good in sandwiches as well.

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Showing 4 of 238 Comments

  • Beth

    I found this recipe a few years ago and it is now my favorite meatloaf ever. The only thing I do differently is to make a free form loaf on a baking sheet instead of baking it in a loaf pan. I like a crusty outside. Delicious!

  • Lori Erokan

    As a kid, meatloaf, baked potatoes, and peas was always my favorite meal–and I still love it. When I was raising my four kids, I used another recipe (twice a month at least haha!), but after 30 years of making it, I was kind of tired of it. Found this recipe here a few years ago, and now it is my go-to. But one thing the first recipe taught me (mentioned in Elise’s recipe as an option) was to form the loaf into a mound, place it in the middle of a 13″x9″ pan, and bake it that way. My mom had taught me to press the meat into a loaf pan, but that results in a pretty greasy loaf. With the mound method, the oil just drips off and end up in the pan. I’m making this tonight!

  • Maria Sawszak

    Hi Elise,
    Thanks for this great recipe. What a brilliant success! Followed your instructions but doubled the quantity as we wanted to share with neighbours. I will keep this recipe and certainly make the meatloaf again. Great for these cold winter weather.

  • Tommy C.

    I made this in my gas grill in a loaf pan with indirect heat at 350* for 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was done when the internal temp read 165*, and then let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. The only thing I added was a half cup of panko bread crumbs to the fresh breadcrumbs (I used a hamburger bun potato roll) as the loaf was a a little too soggy. Instead of ketchup on top I used Howard’s sweet pepper relish. (It’s delicious on meatloaf) This the BEST meatloaf recipe I have ever had, and I LOVE meatloaf. The flavor addition of the hot Italian sausage was brilliant. I used 4 links without the casing and incorporated it into the meatloaf meat mixture of beef, pork, and veal. Outstanding!

  • Sakimi

    This is the the best meatball recipe I ever cook. My family loves it thank u 4 sharing. Iove it..

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