Classic Meatloaf

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BEST Meatloaf EVER! Learn to how to make meatloaf with ground beef, pork sausage, onion, celery, garlic, egg, parsley, and breadcrumbs. Homemade meatloaf is a staple. You'll want to keep this classic meatloaf recipe on hand.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

How to Make Meatloaf Taste Amazing

My dad’s trick to meatloaf? 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.

Homemade Meatloaf is Worth the Time

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. Meatball meatloaf.

It may look like the sofritto is a time consuming extra step for meatloaf, 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.

How Long to Cook Meatloaf

Since meatloaf is quite dense packed into a loaf pan, it takes a little while to bake. It also needs to be baked at a relatively low temperature so the outside doesn’t finish baking and start drying out before the center is done.

Bake this meatloaf for about an hour at 350°F, and then check it with a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf — the center should be at least 155°F when done.

Can’t Get Enough Meatloaf?

Watch the video for how to make meatloaf!

Updated March 28, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the original recipe.

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 meatloaf 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 finely chopped onion
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup 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 Cook the vegetables: 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 Make the meatloaf mixture: 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.

6 Serve: Cut into thick slices to serve. The meatloaf makes great leftovers, just chill and reheat. Slices are good in sandwiches as well.

How to Make Meatloaf (Classic)

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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326 Comments / Reviews

No ImageClassic Meatloaf

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Rollie

    Meh. The italian sausage ruins what should be “classic” meatloaf. The recipe calls for 3/4 of a pound it the sausage, but it’s overpowering and it’s like eating sausage-loaf rather than meatloaf. I regret trying this recipe. It shouldn’t be called “classic” when you’re adding something not in a typical recipe.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Julie

    This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had! I’ve never been a big fan of meatloaf. It’s literally been years since I last made one and remember having to slather it in ketchup to make it taste good. This one was so flavorful and the ketchup spread across the top before baking was the perfect amount. Served it with mashed potatoes & corn.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Priscilla

    I love great meatloaf and have tried many over the years and they were never quite right. This is the best, I follow the recipe as printed, EXCEPT I now use Hot Italian Sausage (personal preference). The sandwiches the next day are fabulous.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Lh

    Wondering….do you think this would make a good base for hamburgers on the bbq. Already know I love the baked version

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Joyce

    Very delicious meat loaf. I have made it many times. Today I am making it with baked potatoes & roasted cauliflower. There are only two of us so there is plenty for leftovers. When I have leftovers, I brown up each slice on both sides. Very yummy that way. I also do that for my meatloaf sandwiches.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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