The Best Meatloaf Recipe Ever

The Best Meatloaf Recipe Ever

Have you ever tried a recipe, then right after eating you just wanted to share it with everyone? That happened to me tonight. I’ve always liked meatloaf, especially cold, sliced thin, between two pieces of white sandwich bread with some mayo. Mmmm. Yes, I like it hot too, though I’m not a “glazed meatloaf” kinda gal. I prefer mine with mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Not sure why, maybe because that’s how my parents made it, so that’s how I’ve always eaten it. I have enjoyed it with fries and ketchup too, that’s a tasty alternative, I will admit.

Up until now, I had always made my meatloaf with a simple McCormick’s seasoning packet. I had tried a recipe from a cookbook several years ago and didn’t like it at all, so I never really ventured out again.

Then two things happened.

1) I read about Tia’s mind blowing meatloaf experience here. She found a recipe that turned her from a meatloaf hater to a meatloaf lover. I still have that one bookmarked!

2) I received my Cook’s Illustrated newsletter that featured the recipe I made tonight.

So I printed off the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, run by America’s Test Kitchen. I have yet to try a recipe from them that hasn’t been awesome, so I felt very comfortable trying it.

This was a huge hit. Fabulous flavor, smelled awesome while it was cooking, and everyone loved it, even my picky husband. A definite keeper!

Amanda’s Notes:

1) Don’t over mix the meat, it will make your meatloaf tough. use a fork, or a wooden spoon, but only mix until everything comes together, you don’t want to compact it and smash it all together.

2) I used a meatloaf pan. If you haven’t heard of one of these, and you like to make meatloaf, you should have one. It’s basically an 8×4 loaf pan, but there’s an additional insert pan with drain holes that you place inside the loaf pan. The meat cooks in the pan with the drain holes, this allows the fat to drip down away from the meat, landing in the pan below. There’s one at Amazon here, I’ve had mine for quite a few years.

3) I didn’t use the glaze, it’s just not my thing. Here’s the recipe in case you would like it:

ANOTHER DELICIOUS IDEA >>  Meatball Sandwiches

½ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

4) There’s unflavored gelatin in the recipe. I’m guessing this helped hold it all together? I am not sure, but it’s not an entire envelope, so be prepared to only use a portion and store the rest for another time.

5) I used the ground beef I get from the farmer. It’s probably 85%.

The Best Meatloaf Recipe Ever

6) if you use a meatloaf pan, when you pull the pan out of the oven, you can run a butter knife around the edges, especially if there’s any fat that pooled around the top and didn’t drip down. This sometimes happens as the meat cooks, it blocks the crevice along the side. Just jimmy the knife around the loaf and let the fat fall down the side of it so it can drain.

Substitutions – I used dried thyme instead of fresh, so I reduced it to about 3/4 teaspoon. I also used chicken broth than I just made last night instead of canned. I froze some juice from some tomatoes I had seeded and chopped a while back, so I used that juice instead of canned. I have also used Mozzarella cheese instead of Monterey Jack, but both are great.

I can’t wait to have some for lunch tomorrow on two slices of white bread with some mayo. :)

If you’re like me and you love comfort food, you will want to try my Italian Lasagna and these Hot Hamburger Sandwiches.

5 from 1 reviews
The Best Meatloaf Recipe Ever
Servings: 8 servings
  • 3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated on small holes of box grater (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium rib celery, chopped fine (about ½ cup)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves or ¾ teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup tomato juice
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin (powdered)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ⅔ cup crushed saltine crackers
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
ANOTHER DELICIOUS IDEA >>  Tuscan Garlic Chicken
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese on plate and place in freezer until ready to use.
  2. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foaming; add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add tomato juice. Cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from pan, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk broth and eggs in large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper, and onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add ground beef; mix gently with hands (I used a wooden spoon, a fork works well too, just don’t over mix it) until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Shape meat mixture into a loaf, or use a loaf pan with a removable draining bottom like mine.
  5. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf reads 135 to 140 degrees, 55 to 65 minutes. See my note #6 above if you are using a meatloaf pan. Remove meat loaf from oven.
  6. Let meat loaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice


  1. Tami says

    That's a great looking meatloaf! We eat it the same way you do with brown gravy and no glaze. I've put ketchup in my meatloaf but never thought of tomato juice…that's nice change.

    Funny, I like meatloaf sandwiches, too, but with ketchup instead of mayo. :)

  2. Marie says

    Oh my amanda, that meatloaf looks sooooo delicious!! I must give it a try. Todd is not fond of meatloaf, but perhaps this will convert him!!

  3. cookies and cups says

    I have never heard of a meatloaf pan, but it sounds brilliant! I will have to look out for that one and also try this recipe, i have a house full of meatloaf lovers ;)

  4. Tasty Eats At Home says

    I LOVE a good meatloaf. And yes, I have a meatloaf pan – is it strange that it was among the first things I bought when I moved out on my own? I really only make it a few times a year. I've still been tweaking my recipe – but I do like some of the ideas in this recipe. I prefer glazed, but I love the addition of coriander here – and the addition of mustard in the meat. Now you've got me craving meatloaf!

  5. Teanna says

    That looks SO GREAT! And it's a CI recipe, so you KNOW it's gotta be delicious! Wow, I am craving meatloaf all over again! I have to try this recipe!

    Haha, you called me Tia! I actually used to wish that that was my name when I was a little girl so when I read that, I was like, aww! Memories! Haha!

  6. janelle says

    OH awesome. I love when cooks offer 'notes' (though I overkilled my last post on risotto… probably too many notes, but thats what I get for teaching it to a 14 year old… mom rattling on;))).

    I haven't made meatloaf for awhile, but mine includes cumin-sauteed caramelized onions as the topper (sans glaze, same as you). AND I love making small loaves and freezing them—so useful when you are short on time!

    p.s. you might want to check your Amazon meatloaf pan link, I think it broke.


  7. Bridgett says

    I am slowly becoming a meatloaf lover so I will have to give this recipe a try. I know for a fact my husband will love it, so it would be totally worth it!

  8. AmyRuth says

    Oh My, Amanda. The power of suggestion…. just sounds so good and it has butta in it. Its just baby steps away from pork love, huh? Anyway, that sounds like a really delicious meat loaf. I love meat loaf. Familey doesn't, darn it. I could make, take a serving and share with my little Mother and Daddy. I'll have to put this one in my google docs. That's where the good ones go for safe keeping.

  9. Tiffiny Felix says

    Yum! I love meatloaf, but haven't made it in a while. I'm going to have to fix that :) Your meatloaf sandwich made me smile. Back when I was first dating my husband, he was visiting me at my house and was hungry. I had some left-over meatloaf in the fridge and he joyfully made himself a meatloaf sandwich, something I'd never seen before :) Have a great day :)

  10. Mimi says

    Delicious looking meatloaf, it would be a nice change from the usual. I have never heard of putting gelatin in meatloaf, an interesting addition, that I'll have to try.

  11. biz319 says

    I love Cook's Illustrated – totally worth the $ to get the recipes online – not one has ever failed me.

    While I am not a meatloaf fan, my husband is – but I wrap his in bacon – it kind of seals in the juices of the meat and gives it a crispy crust.

  12. Susan says

    This must be the week for meatloaves! I made a chicken meatloaf this week and was delicious! Yours sounds great. Don't you just love Cook's Illustrated?

  13. Jen says

    Yum! I just made this tonight and it was excellent. I love a good meatloaf and this one was definitely it! I did use the glaze and actually thought it added a lot to the meatloaf. Will definitely be making it again.

  14. Lauren @ Delicateflavors says

    Yummy! I LOVE meatloaf. I usually make mine with 1/2 Italian sausage and 1/2 ground beef and canned Italian stewed tomatoes. I will try your recipe but will probably use half Italian sausage instead. I'll let you know how it came out. :)

  15. Megan says

    Your sending all these wonderful Fall recipes and I cant wait for the chilly nights and the smell of this meatloaf. I am a glaze kind of girl and this is right up my alley! Thanks Amanda for another great recipe!

  16. mymotherstable says

    I love your meatloaf recipe. I'm beginning to collect them. Not sure why. I've become enamored by meatloaf and searching for a great recipe.

    Kaukab's daughter

  17. mrs_aah says

    First of all, this meatloaf tasted magnificent. My only issue, (and I'm sure it was something that I did wrong) was that it didn't stay together well! For some reason, mine was all crumbles. Do you have any idea what I did wrong? Thanks

  18. Amanda says

    mrs aah – Hmm, I'm not sure, did you make any substitutions? What about the eggs, you didn't accidentally leave them out did you? Let me know if you made any changes, maybe we can troubleshoot it! :)

  19. mrs_aah says

    The only difference is I almost forgot the cheese, so I added it after all the other ingredients were already combined. Lol

  20. Amanda says

    :( I can't imagine what else might have caused it. The only other thing I can think of is liquid. Did you use zucchini like I did? If yes, did you squeeze the excess liquid out of it? If you over measured any liquids, or added anything that wasn't in the recipe (like ketchup or anything else) that could have caused it too. Also, slicing too thin could be a problem!

  21. Jay says

    Love meatloaf of every kind, with Greek being a family favourite. I've never use a loaf pan though, I just free form my meat loaf on my broiler pan. Works like a charm and you get an all-around lovely crust which my family prefers. Thanks for posting your meatloaf recipe Amada, another one for my file!

  22. Haley says

    I made this meatloaf for my fiancee last night for dinner. It was so good. He said it was better than his Grandmother's!!

    I only left out the celery.

  23. Amanda says

    So glad you like it Haley! I have made it countless times and have made adjustments for what I've had on hand too. :)

  24. Haley says

    Have you used ground turkey in this recipe at all? I'm wondering what I can substitute to make it a little lighter without sacrificing taste. Also, my fiancee took leftovers with him to work today and all of the other guys were jealous! :)

  25. Amanda says

    Haley – haha! it's definitely good cold on a sandwich with mayo, yum! i haven't tried turkey but I'm sure it would be good. You could try a combination of turkey and lean ground beef. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!

  26. Anonymous says


    I made this today with just ground turkey and it was just to die for…my family agreed, it's the best we've ever had. We also had it in the evening as sandwiches with mayo and BBQ sauce…mmmmm, good! Thanks Amanda…it's definitely a keeper..

  27. says

    I made a few minor changes (like using beef broth instead of chicken broth and I DID use the “topping) but they were very minor. I did bake this in the Perfect Meatloaf Pan. Though I did bake it a little longer than recipe stated, mine was still a little red in the middle so I had to microwave the pieces a little. That made no difference in flavor. This is one of the best meatloafs I’ve ever had. My oldest son ate two big pieces! I’ll make this again but I’ll make sure to bake it a little longer. This way I don’t lose any of the topping. NOTE: Have you had issues with the middle not being completely done when you bake it in the Perfect Meatloaf Pan?

    • says

      A couple of tips that I’ve learned after making this several times :) First, don’t packed the meat too tightly. Place all the meat into the pan, then gently form the loaf with your hands. Another thing to consider is to make sure when you place the meatloaf into the oven that you don’t leave it toward the front. The oven is hotter toward the back, so make sure it’s at least in the center. After the baking time, let it rest under a tent of foil for about 10-15 minutes. The loaf will continue to cook while its resting. You can certainly add more time to the cooking time as each oven is different. If you notice the edges getting too done you can cover it with foil in the last 15-20 minutes, which will also help keep heat from escaping, allowing it to cook more in the middle. So glad you enjoyed this as much as we do!

  28. Bella says

    Hola! ;) Yo use Worcestershire sauce en lugar de la soy sauce. No use la gelatina en polvo, ni tampoco el jugo de tomate. Use tomato paste y un poquito de Ketchup sauce. Use dry thyme. Ah y yo si hice la glaze, fue lo mejor! Me quedo deliciosa. Muchas gracias por la recetita. Saludos!

  29. Marlene says

    The gelatin is to replace the natural gelatin that is lost when using veal. Since you didn’t use veal, gelatin is an unnecessary ingredient. Though, you are right, it will further act as a binder too.

    • Marlene says

      Oh and to clarify, it’s veal that would be in meatloaf mix that you get from the grocery store. This recipe was their mimic not using the meatloaf mix.

  30. graeme says

    This is one to try when my daughter next comes for a visit. A few questions. But first, when to glaze? About 15 mins before the end?
    1. What do you think about marinading the meat (or half of it) in red wine before mincing?
    2. Add spicy salami? (put in half the loaf, add layer of salami, add rest of loaf)
    3. layer in tomato slices?

    I like to lighten up a bit, so if you have any other ideas, the wackier the better. Tks Amanda. Appreciate new recipes.

    • says

      Hi Graeme :)

      I don’t like glaze on my meatloaf, so I would suggest whatever you normally do. If you normally glaze 15 minutes before the end, then that sounds good to me :)

      1) I can’t say I’ve ever marinated ground beef before. If you do, I would make sure to drain it really well before making the meat loaf. Unless you are talking about using a full cut of meat, like round steak, marinating that and then grinding it? If so, that sounds like it would be tasty, but again I would make sure the meat is dried off before grinding it.

      2) Sounds good!

      3) Why not?

      If you would like to lighten it up, you could substitute some of the ground beef with ground chicken or turkey. I personally would keep some ground beef in there as ground poultry tends to bake up a lot drier due to the lower fat content.


  31. Kelly says

    I love this meatloaf! I have tried it before and Cooks Illustrated is always great! I wouldn’t leave out the gelatin.. it helps the meatloaf stay toether and it isn’t a messy lump when cutting. It also helps retain all the juice inside the meatloaf. I add cut up bell pepper and it’s a hit! Can’t beat that glaze which I also place a bit of it on meatloaf while it’s baking. I have made it in advance and cooked it the next day putting the glaze on as the last step in the oven /broiler. Awesome with some mashed califlower too!

    • says

      Hi Misbah. I don’t see why not, but ground chicken has a lot less fat. So I’m not sure if it will be too dry and the time may need to be adjusted. I haven’t made it that way myself, but please let me know how it turns out if you do!

    • says

      Hi Laura

      I don’t usually make a homemade brown gravy unless I’ve made a roast in the oven because I use the pan drippings to make it. For something like this meatloaf, I just use a canned gravy.

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