Not Your Cafeteria Meatloaf

By • February 20, 2010 25 Comments

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Author Notes: I have never liked meatloaf until I decided to make my own one day. Which in all honesty, it took several times of making before I came up with this formulation. This takes some time, but the end result is an extremely flavorful and moist meatloaf, not at all like the memories of the meatloaf you used to eat in the cafeteria. I always serve this with roasted potatoes. If you surround the meatloaf with peeled, cut potatoes they pick up all of the flavors and fat from the meat and bacon.ADRIENE

Food52 Review: At first, we were skeptical about a meatloaf containing this much bacon (1 lb.) and this many eggs (5). Admittedly, our curiosity was piqued. We found that the bacon infuses the meatloaf with a deep smokiness and because ADRIENE calls for lean meat, the fat from the eggs, bacon and cream is welcome, not overkill. Chopping veggies in a food processor is a great time saver, and the ketchup, parmesan and Worcestershire add several more layers of flavor. We especially love the patty test for seasoning (it only took us one try!), and the homemade ketchup that's slathered over the top of the meatloaf. This recipe serves a crowd, and although we made one large loaf, it might be wise to make two smaller ones -- they'll cook faster, without browning too much on top. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 8-10


  • 1 28 oz can tomato puree
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cider vineagr
  • salt & pepper


  • 3.25 pounds ground beef (lean)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 16 oz package of bacon cooked (until crisp), small diced
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 carrots (peeled)
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • salt & pepper
  1. First make the sauce. Add all ingredients in one pot and bring up to a boil. Adjust salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar to your preference. Turn of flame and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rough chop the carrots, onion, celery and garlic. Add the rough chopped vegetables to a food processor and chop until very small pieces, about the size of large breadcrumbs. Pour into a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, cream, bacon, cheese, bread crumbs, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to the large bowl and mix until everything is completely combined.
  4. Now add the ground beef to the bowl and mix extremely well until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed through the meat.
  5. Take a small non-stick saute pan and put a touch of oil in the pan until hot. Take a TBS. of the meat mixture and make a flat patty and cook in the saute pan, flip over and cook on both sides for a few minutes. Cool off and check for seasoning. This is a must do, do not skip this step! It usually takes 2 tries until you have the salt, pepper or whatever ingredients you might want more of adjusted.
  6. Take a baking pan and grease thouroughly. Now form the meatloaf into one large loaf in the center of the baking pan. If you are adding potatoes now would be the time to season them and add around the meatloaf.
  7. Brush the sauce on the meatloaf and put in the oven. Every 20 minutes or so pull out the meatloaf and re-baste with the sauce. If the meatloaf starts getting too dark on top then cover loosely with a sheet of foil paper.
  8. Cook until the center of the meatloaf registers 160 with a meat thermometer. This will take around 2 hours, depending how thick you form the meatloaf. Let the meatloaf sit for 15 minutes before you cut. Use additional sauce to top cut meatloaf if you desire.

More Great Recipes: Ground Beef|Beef & Veal|Entrees|Bread|Tomatoes

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Comments (25) Questions (1)


over 1 year ago Elizabeth Ellis

what temperature is your oven?


almost 2 years ago Pat in SoCal

Taking Abby Arnold's comments to heart I made this with what I had on hand. Some ground beef and some ground pork, all the veggies, some bacon and some procuitto, only had two eggs so a littl more cream, not quite enough a handful of parsley that I just gotta have in meatloaf and it was incredible! The tomato sauce was wonderful and I put some yellow peppers on top because those are great in the sandwiches. Only flaw...not enough leftovers!


almost 2 years ago Kathcooks

This is a keeper. This was really enjoyed at my house, and we are always on the lookout for the perfect meatloaf. This version landed high on our list. I made the recipe exactly as written with the exception of the sauce which I left out. We are just not tomatoey topping fans. It was delicious without the sauce. Thanks for sharing this wonderful meatloaf.


about 2 years ago beejay45

This is almost a pate! I don't think I'd change a thing except the Parm. For me, that's not a good fit here. I do love meatloaf sandwiches (really the main reason I make meatloaf), and I love the way you've incorporated all sorts of fragrant and flavorful veggies and herbs into the loaf, rather than just using dried herbs or seeds. This is going to be my next meatloaf. I can almost smell/taste it already. Thanks!


over 2 years ago LadyDiTejas

This was very good; have made it as meatloaf, and also adapted as meatballs (admittedly *heavily* adapted for meatballs: added ground pork, hot italian sausage, and ground turkey; no bacon; used polenta instead of breadcrumbs).


over 2 years ago FunkyLady

Made this recipe last night and it came out fantastic. I ground my own meat, using chuck roast and pork shoulder. I reduced the amount of bacon by about two thirds because the pork shoulder. I highly recommend grinding your own meat, it came out incredibly moist and the texture was perfect.


almost 3 years ago Peggles13

I was excited to try this recipe, and thrilled when the flavors blended just perfectly. The flavor profile is exactly what I had in mind. Can anyone help me figure out how to get better texture? My end result for every meatloaf is a granular and tough texture. I cooked this recipe to an internal temp of 150+, and let it rest until the temp rose to 160. I used Laura's Lean Beef brand, 95% lean.


almost 3 years ago SJR

If you are using your hands to combine the mixture, perhaps you are over mixing it. When you use your hands you do not want to overwork the meat because then the fat breaks down from the heat of your hands. When this happens, it causes meat loaf to become tough.


almost 3 years ago Peggles13

And here, I always think I'm using a deft touch! I will try it again. Thank you for the suggestion.


over 2 years ago LadyDiTejas

Also, 95% lean is *very* lean; you might want to try a 90% or even 85% lean.


about 3 years ago SJR

I made it again last night using the same amount of ground turkey & the same proportion of ingredients as last time (cutting it down to accommodate for less meat), but I also did a few things differently:

*I used skim milk instead of canned condensed milk
*I left out the tomatoes (because I forgot even though they were sitting in front of me)
*I used 1/4 cup Heinz ketchup & 1/4 cup Heinz chili sauce

Now that I know I can get the same great results using skim milk, I will use that from now on. Additionally, using the chili sauce along with the ketchup gave the meatloaf a fantastic, unique flavor, so I will continue to do that as well - the chili sauce is a must!! Further, same as last time, we did not put any type of sauce over the meatloaf when we ate it because the flavor is just too fantastic to risk being masked by any type of condiment.


about 3 years ago SJR

I made this last evening, & even though I modified the recipe to accommodate our preferences, it still is one of the tastiest meatloaves I have ever had. I also scaled the ingredients down a bit since I only had 1.25 lb of meat to use instead of 3.25 lb in the recipe. As such, I used 3 eggs & the loaf firmed up perfectly! Here is what I did differently:

*I used ground turkey instead of ground beef
*I omitted the celery (I accidentally forgot about it)
*I added 1/2 cup fresh minced parsley
*I added 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
*I sautéed all of the veggies in olive oil till soft before adding to the bowl
*I used canned condensed milk instead of cream
*I used Proscuitto instead of bacon (cooked it till it was really crisp)
*I seasoned the mixture with sea salt, cracked pepper, & Old Bay Seasoning

On another note, I did not make the ketchup sauce, & I am so glad I didn't because the meatloaf is so flavorful that I could not see putting anything on it to take away from the flavor - it's superb! Thank you so much - this is my favorite! The leftovers are fantastic too!


over 3 years ago Muse

Oh my goodness is this recipe ever the Bomb! I just finished making this for dinner, and one of my room-mates ate almost half of the meatloaf himself! Needless to say everyone enjoyed it - but would not stop pestering me about when it would be ready for them. This is now my number one FAVORITE recipe for meatloaf...thank you SO much for sharing this one!


over 5 years ago abbyarnold

Made it again last night in response to begging from the teens! They are quite keen to have sandwiches today. This has become a real favorite. Many thanks, Adriene!


over 5 years ago abbyarnold

I made the meatloaf last night. It was totally delicious~! The teenage boys were in love with it, and talked of meatloaf sandwiches, meatloaf burritos, etc. for the leftovers. They also loved the roasted potatoes cooked alongside the meatloaf.

One real advantage to this recipe, in addition to its deliciousness, is that it uses ingredients that I already had in my cupboard. I had to buy the ground beef, but it felt like I was truly making meatloaf as it should be made, stretching out the ground beef with things that could stand being used up. I always feel odd buying ground pork and ground veal to use for meatloaf, which should be a way to eek an extra meal out of those ration coupons, food stamps, etc.

The constructed ketchup sauce was also a big hit with the teens, and again it was nice to not have to use up a whole bottle of ketchup on top of the meatloaf.

Many thanks!!


over 5 years ago ADRIENE

Thank you! I am so glad you and your family liked it. You are so right about using up the ingredients in the cupboard..that's exactly how I feel every time I make it also.


over 5 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Yum, bacon and eggs! Thanks for the recipe, ADRIENE!


over 5 years ago marybeaulieu

This recipe isn't syncing up with GroceryZen on my iPhone correctly, this is the first problem I've had with that (most of the ingredients don't transfer). It looks great, can't wait to try it!


over 5 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Darn. We'll look into that. Sorry for the frustration!


over 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I tried it on my iPhone and had the same problem. Sorry about this -- will try to get it fixed asap.


over 5 years ago monkeymom

Congrats for making the finals. love that bacon, we will definitely try this at my house.


over 5 years ago ADRIENE

Thank you! I hope you enjoy it... I actually double this recipe and freeze it, it freezes great.


over 5 years ago WinnieAb

OMG this sounds soooooooooooo good!


over 5 years ago ADRIENE

Yep..I like my eggs:)


over 5 years ago dymnyno

Wow!! 5 eggs!!