Everyone has their own idea of what perfect meatloaf is, but this meatloaf, with Parmesan, parsley, and plenty of sweet ketchup-based sauce, might make your list!
I have a love-hate relationship with meatloaf. Meatloaf is one of those meals that is either really, really good or really, really bad…like mystery meat bad. I think that’s why a lot of people don’t like meatloaf….it can be grayish and mushy (or hard!) and covered in any kind of random sauce. Some people use gravy, some people use ketchup, some people use barbecue sauce, and some people use tomato sauce. Whatever sauce you prefer….that’s your business. I’m not here to judge. I’m just saying, meatloaf is so easy to do badly…but when it’s done well, it’s can be absolutely delicious.
This perfect meatloaf recipe is adapted from Pioneer Woman’s first cookbook, Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl (<–affiliate link). I’ve adapted it just a bit – for example, I leave out the bacon because YES, bacon DOES make perfect meatloaf but we do all have to draw a line at how much bacon we eat. I do my bread a little differently than she does, and my tomato gravy isn’t exactly like hers. By the way, if you don’t have brown sugar, you could use a little maple syrup or some granulated sugar + molasses (I always have a little molasses in the fridge from my Thanksgiving ham).
This meatloaf has helped me to reconcile with meatloaf. It doesn’t have any chunks. Too many chunks can ruin meatloaf for me quicker than you can blink. I never use green peppers or onions in my meatloaf. For me, perfect meatloaf is smooth and tender, not chunky or crunchy. This meatloaf meats that criteria. And my perfect meatloaf is topped with a sweet ketchup-based sauce…with more on the side for dipping. Always more on the side for dipping. This meatloaf – this is my perfect meatloaf.
Comment below and tell me – what is your perfect meatloaf?
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Yield: 4-6 servings
This recipe is adapted from Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl .
15 minPrep Time:
45 minCook Time:
1 hrTotal Time:
- 1 cup torn white bread (about 4 slices)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 pound ground beef (I used ground chuck)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If using a cast iron skillet to cook your meatloaf, like I did, place it in the oven as well.
- Place the torn bread in a bowl. Pour the milk over the top and stir to coax the bread to soak up the milk. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together the ingredients for the tomato gravy. Set aside until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, and seasoned salt. Remove the torn bread from the bowl, lightly squeezing to remove the excess milk, and place it in the bowl with the rest of the meatloaf ingredients. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients until well-mixed. Be careful not to compress or squeeze the ingredients.
- Form the meatloaf mixture into a loaf about 4-5 inches wide. Place on a broiler pan or the preheated cast iron skillet. Coat the top with tomato gravy and place it in the oven.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove and spread more tomato gravy on top. Return to oven for 20-25 more minutes. Serve immediately with remaining tomato gravy for dipping.