Best Meatloaf

Best Meatloaf

It’s not your grandma’s meatloaf, it’s better… there, I said it! I know, some of you are thinking “them’s fightin’ words” and hitting unsubscribe right now. But in all seriousness, I don’t go labeling recipes as being “best” willy-nilly. As a mater of fact, out of nearly 600 recipes, there have so far only been 3 that I’ve deemed worthy of getting the title “best”.

Sure I have a page with a few dozen of my favorite dishes on this site, but in order to get “best” in the title it has to be something unparalleled. In this case, this meatloaf is the kind of delicious that has me sneaking back to the fridge to nibble on leftovers as I write this post.

While meatloaf has legitimate ancestry stretching back to various dishes from across Europe, it didn’t become widely popular in the US until the Great Depression. Rationing made it necessary to find clever ways to stretch what little meat was available, and it’s around that time that meatloaf became as American as apple pie (which isn’t actually American at all, but that’s a topic for another post). Sadly the budget friendly, belly filling qualities of meatloaf made it perfect for school cafeterias and microwave dinners, which gave it a bum rap over the years.

Best Meatloaf Recipe

The thing with meatloaf is that it’s not a solid piece of meat, which means you can season it right to the core, then adjust the richness and texture to suit your tastes. Personally I like my meat tender, moist and flavorful. To paraphrase Descartes: “I crave, therefore I make”.

Breadcrumbs and milk not only make the meatloaf tender, the milk adds moisture, while the breadcrumbs reabsorb the juices released by the meat. As for flavor, I throw everything I have in my flavor arsenal at it; this includes onions, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and to top it all off, thick slices of bacon. A sweet tomato glaze on top not only helps disguise the rather unsightly log of meat, it brings a balancing sweetness to the savory meat underneath.

Make It Better

Add 1 cube of caramelized onions from my perfect caramelized onions post to add a flavor boost that will take this meatloaf to another level.

The other trick to making a great meatloaf is to not take the name so literally. If you make meatloaf in a loaf pan it ends up cooking in its own grease, making it soggy. By forming it into the shape of a loaf on a sheet pan, the excess fat drains away, leaving you with a moist, tender loaf that’s neither mushy nor greasy.

Serve this with mashed potatoes, and use the leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches (not that you’ll have much in the way of leftovers).

As a house-keeping note, you may have also noticed that I’ve started adding an equipment section to each post (like the one below). The idea behind the section is to demystify what equipment you’ll need to make the dish. Use the arrows to scroll through the list and mouse-over each piece of equipment to see a description of what it is. Also, if you happen to be missing a piece of equipment, I’d be much obliged if you bought it through one of these links, as the small cut of sales I get help pay for the cost of running this site.

Equipment you'll need:

Best Meatloaf
Print Recipe
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Votes: 68
Rating: 3.81
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Tender, juicy meatloaf topped with crispy bacon and a sweet tomato glaze.
Best Meatloaf
Print Recipe
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 68
Rating: 3.81
Rate this recipe!
Tender, juicy meatloaf topped with crispy bacon and a sweet tomato glaze.
Servings Prep Time
people 15minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
people 15minutes
Cook Time
  • 450 grams beef - ground
  • 280 grams pork - ground
  • 1/2 medium onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 40 grams cheese - Gruyère grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk - whole
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pimentón smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste
  • 5 sprigs thyme - fresh stems removed and minced
  • 170 grams thick-cut bacon
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add the ground beef, ground pork, onion, garlic, panko, Gruyere, egg, milk, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, honey, soy sauce, pimentón, salt, pepper and thyme to a bowl. Put a food-safe glove on and use your hand to knead the mixture until uniform.
  3. Line a broiler pan with some parchment paper. This makes cleanup much easier and it prevents the meatloaf from sticking to your pan. Shape the meat mixture into a loaf on the parchment paper. Top with the bacon, slightly overlapping each slice.
  4. Bake the meatloaf for 30 minutes. While the meatloaf is in the oven, make the glaze by mixing the ketchup, honey, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard in a small bowl to combine.
  5. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and cover with the glaze. Return the meatloaf to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until an instand read thermometer reads 160 degrees F.
  6. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with mashed potatoes.

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  • Megumi Nagumo

    Looks amazing! makes me hungry at midnight..

  • The Culinary Chase


  • Marge Hennessy

    I really love your blog and the concept behind it! Gorgeous photos, too! :)

  • Jenn@slim-shoppin

    That looks amazing Marc!  

  • Simon @

    A very sophisticated meatloaf.  Great job!

  • Oui, Chef

    WOW…sounds great, and you even made it look good in a photo, a near impossibility with meatloaf!

  • IGredux

    that top picture…  ohhhh…  that top picture…   i think my eyes are melting…

  • Agnes

    Hi, Marc; If I use my food processor to mix the ingredients together, how many pauses do I need to do? Do I need to mix or knead till all ingredients are all stick together or just till combined? tks for reply

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Agnes, you want everything to be well mixed together, but be careful not to over-process the mixture otherwise the meatloaf will take on a rubbery texture.

  • Agnes

    tks, Marc. If I do 45 seconds will that be considered too long? Sorry, I am new in cooking.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Honestly I’m not sure because it will depend on how powerful the motor on your food processor is, the size of it, etc. One thing I do know is that you won’t want to run it continuously as it will not mix evenly. You’ll want to pulse it, scraping down the sides as you go. If you’re worried about how it’s going to turn out, hand-mixing is a safer/faster option since you don’t need to worry about over-mixing and you won’t have to keep opening up the food processor to scrape down the sides.

  • Agnes

    tks, I will try tonight by hand mixing. I will find other ways to use the food processor then.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Food processors are great, I have lots of recipes on here that I use a food processor in,  but this just isn’t one of them:-) Good luck!

  • Moodie Foodie

    Just made this tonight for dinner.  The addition of the paprika brought it home for me.  Thanks for this great recipe

  • Chester

    Had this for dinner tonight and it was great but I was left feeling it could use more salt. I used Kosher salt in the mix, is that what was intended or should I have used table salt?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Chester, I used to use Kosher salt measures for all my recipes, but because the salinity of Kosher salt varies wildly by brand (Morton’s brand is twice as salty as Star), it caused issues with readers ending up with food that was too salty. Since Kosher salt (with the exception of Morton’s) is half as salty as table salt, you generally need to double the amount of salt called for in a recipe (unless it specifically says to use Kosher salt).

      I realize this is a pain, and confusing, but it’s the unfortunate reality thanks to a lack of standards about what Kosher salt is. My best advice is to taste everything as you go so you can adjust accordingly. In the case of meatloaf since you won’t want to eat the mix raw, you can microwave a small clump of meat for a few seconds until cooked and give it a go.

  • Tim

    Mix is made and chilling/marinading in the fridge for cooking in about 6 hours. Accidentally put the mustard into the meatloaf mix. Hoping that won’t be too overpowering. Probably just give it a bit of zing. Half a teaspoon of salt seems light for so much meat. I guess though there is salt coming in from the soy and worcestershire. Shall report back on the level of brownie points this gains me with the fiancee and parents. Thanks!

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Tim, If you’re using kosher salt (any brand but Morton’s) you’ll need to double the salt. If you’re worried, take a spoonful of the mixture, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds until cooked, and taste it before you bake the whole thing. Keep in mind there’s salt in the bacon and glaze. Lastly, if you’re refrigerating the mix, be sure to give it more time in the oven as you’ll be starting from a lower internal temperature and it will take more time to cook through.

      • Evan Jacobs

        This is an amazing tip. I never thought to test cook the meat mixture in the microwave!

  • Mikimoto

    Looks fab…however, the recipe is confusing: the glaze ingredients also seem to be included in the meatloaf itself. Is that correct?? Thanks! :-)

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Yep that’s right. It’s good to flavor both the meatloaf and the glaze.

      • Mikimoto

        Made it and it was truly amazing. Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Barbara Saturna

    I made this last night for dinner and it was a hit! The only thing I would do differently is cook the bacon before hand so it is crispy and crumble it into the meat mixture. The glaze would be the only thing on top. When I made it your way the bacon was not crispy and the meatloaf was hard to slice. Otherwise it was delicious!

  • Kara Betancourt

    I’m not seeing a recipe for the glaze??

  • Kara Betancourt

    Never mind! I see it now! In the oven 😉

  • pcstock

    I use concentrated tomato paste in a tube. How do you advise according to your recipe quantity?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      I use the type in a tube too. Just squeeze it into a measuring spoon.

  • Pcstock

    Thx. Just didn’t know if your amounts were with the tube tomato paste. That is the only kind I use.

  • Sela

    The best meatloaf ever!!! Thanks for sharing your recipe, Sela from Michigan.

  • AmyAlbrecht

    Have to try :)

  • Gina

    Finally made is yesterday and it is so yummy!!! I also made the mistake of adding mustard (like one of your readers below) and put in 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce instead of 1 TBSP (mistook the measurement of the glaze recipe to the meat mixture) ..but the meatloaf still turned out great! Thanks Marc for sharing this recipe. Will do this again soon!

  • Natasha

    I literally just served this up to my family!! My goodness this in my opinion is the BEST meatloaf recipe I have ever cooked, it was a huge hit. This will now be my go to recipe. Unfortunately I had no bacon in the house but everything else, if it tastes this good without bacon I can’t wait to try it with. Moist, flavourful and just absolutely delicious. Thank you soooo much for posting this, I have been looking for this recipe for years!!! :)

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  • rebecca at thisfineday

    I hate hate hate meatloaf, but I may be able to make a serious exception for this bad boy! Thanks- you may have just converted me to a meatloaf lover.

  • SandyS

    It says to put the Worcestershire sauce and the honey in with the meat mixture. Then at the bottom it says to make the glaze with them. I think I just messed this up. To late now, it’s in the oven:/ Hope it still tastes good.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Sandy, if you look in the ingredients list, Worcestershire sauce and honey are listed twice (once in the middle and once towards the bottom). I separated out the measurements to avoid the problem you had. Did you end up adding worcestershire sauce and honey twice to the meat or did you just miss the second time they were listed in the ingredients?

  • Judy

    What other cheese can u use other than gruyere?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Comte, is the closest, but cheddar, pecorino, or even parmesan would work.

  • jatipete

    it looks and reads yummy. gotta try it sooooooooooooooooooon…

  • Rudy the cat

    Marc, loved your meatloaf, changed one thing, (not any of the receipt), cooked the bacon bout half way and cut it into smaller pieces and sprinkled it on top of the glaze. That seems to work better for me. Thanks.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Glad to hear you enjoyed it! If you’re looking for crispy bacon on top, I can see how par frying it would definitely work better:-)

  • Brenda

    Marc, I made this meatloaf tonight and my family could not seem to get enough of it. It was simply delicious. This recipe is the best and will be used by me often. I hated meatloaf but this did not even taste like what I was used to. My husband is already looking forward to me making it again..

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  • amy

    oh my its in the oven at this very moment and it smells and looks very delsih!!!!
    thanks for this easy and incredible recipes

  • Tina

    I am NOT a fan of meat loaf, but my husband is. So when I found this recipe I had to make it for my husband. Let me just say that because of this recipe I am now a meat loaf LOVER!!!!! It is AMAZING, and my kids ( 6 and 9 ) love it too!!! Thanks for this awesome recipe, and opening my pallet to bigger, and better things 😀

    • Marc Matsumoto

      I know what you mean, and I’m glad to hear this was able to change your mind:-)

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  • Nate O

    Awesome recipe! When I make it, I like to add an extra tsp of pimenton, don’t overlap the bacon (it gets soggy) , and finish under the broiler to get the bacon extra crispy.

  • Michelle

    AWESOME!!! So excited about this recipe…I added a good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley to the mix and followed all the rest. I wish I had another stomach :)). I will be including this in my rotations. BEST EVER!!! I am so happy to have such a hit to share or maybe I’ll keep ’em guessing. Thank you very much, I’ll be checking out more of your work.

  • Baily

    This is one of the best meat loaf I ever ate! I follow the recipe exactly, but opt out the bacon, not a fan of bacon. It was still so tasty! thank you for sharing this recipe with the world! I found my new favorites dish to make!

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Baily, glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  • Sarah Mcl

    Fully expected this to be a let down. WOW. So tasty. A new favourite that will be getting made regularly – so easy too!


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