Classic Meatloaf

DinnerComfort FoodBeefItalian Sausage

BEST Meatloaf EVER! With ground beef, pork sausage, onion, celery, garlic, egg, parsley, and breadcrumbs.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

This meatloaf is one of the first recipes we put on Simply Recipes over 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.

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.

Classic Meatloaf Recipe

  • 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.


  • 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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Classic Meatloaf

265 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Roberta

    Loved it! I’ve been looking for a great recipe with good consistency and flavor because we all love meatloaf. This is it! I used sweet Italian sausage and a green pepper since that’s what I had on hand. It was great!


  • Tina

    Wow, best meatloaf ever! I forgot the parsley though and I even bought just for this recipe, but it is the I have been searching for a good meatloaf recipe and my search is over. Per another reviewers suggestion I baked it on a cookie sheet, which is now soaking and I hope I can save it, but even still worth the ruined cookie sheet. I used barbecue sauce and used fresh sourdough bread crumbs and Italian sausage as suggested. So worth the extra step of sautéed veggies, it wasn’t that time consuming. Thanks for sharing this terrific recipe. Might try adding mushrooms as someone suggested. Recipe is good as posted, always try that first and this one does not require tweaking.


  • Elizabeth

    Made with Italian Sausage and instead of ketchup used a spicy barbecue sauce I had in the fridge. So yummy!

  • Amy MaC

    I lurve lurve lurve the recipe! I’ve been making it since I found it a few years ago, and people never go with less than third helpings! Thank you! The only variation I take on this amazing recipe is I add a small amount of crushed up sweet corn, which just adds a bit more moisture to the loaf, and gets rid of that half can of corn I have usually have left over from the meal before. Thank you again!


  • Jill Z

    My husband loves this recipe. He makes sandwiches to share with golfing buddies, they all go crazy for the meatloaf. Today I added a twist, after seeing a Bobby Flay cooking show. I used Korean Bafbeque sauce and shisito peppers instead of catsup. I also made Ina Gartens smashed potatoes to serve with this and steamed broccoli with lemon. Crazy good and healthy? I made meatloaf with 1 lb mild pork sausage and 1 1/2 lb of ground beef, 20% fat, but fat drains off in my special meatloaf pan with insert to hold meat and let fat drain to bottom. Can’t wait to see if the guys go for these sandwiches.


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