Meatloaf, Plain And Simple

November  2, 2011
4 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

The other day, after speaking with my mother, I was thinking about the best sandwich she packed for my lunch when I was in school. It was leftover meatloaf on white bread with mayo -- hands down. So, I decided to make meatloaf. My recipe is simple and produces a moist flavorful loaf -- no bells and whistles, just a plain ole meatloaf. In my opinion, it's comfort food at its most basic. I use ground beef and ground pork in mine; you can use all beef, just make sure its 80%, as you want the meat to be fairly fatty. The celery, carrot, parsley, and onion are ground in the food processor, which adds extra moistness. I use fresh bread crumbs and top the loaf off with ketchup. —sdebrango

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Sdebrango’s two kitchen helpers are her pugs, Izzy and Nando.
WHAT: A no-frills meatloaf to make for dinner one day, then eat as a lunch sandwich the next.
HOW: Grind celery, carrots, onion, and parsley in a food processor. Mix with sautéed peppers and mushrooms, fresh bread crumbs, puréed tomato, and ground meat. Shape it into a loaf, cover with ketchup, and bake.
WHY WE LOVE IT: If you grew up with a meatloaf-making mother, this one is just like the kind she used to make. It has everything you love with none of the distractions. Tasty and simple with no fancy or weird ingredients, it requires no accompaniments except fresh bread. It’s even better on a sandwich the next day -- the flavor and texture only gets better with a little time. —The Editors

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Makes one big loaf
  • 1 splash olive oil, for coating baking pan and sautéeing
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 small onion (yellow, white, or red -- your choice)
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley with large stems removed
  • 1 small bell or Cubanelle pepper diced
  • 6 mushrooms (I used white stuffer type), cleaned with tough part of stems removed
  • 1 pound 80% ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 small tomato (about 4 ounces), cored and puréed in blender
  • 1 pinch Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 splash ketchup to slather on top of loaf
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F and lightly oil a rectangular baking dish or loaf pan. Cut celery, carrot, and onion into large chunks, and add them to food processor along with the parsley. Process until the vegetables are ground.
  2. Dice the pepper and mushrooms and sauté them in a small amount of olive oil until the pepper softens.
  3. To a large mixing bowl add the meat, ground vegetables, sautéed pepper and mushrooms, bread crumbs, egg, puréed tomato, salt and pepper, Worcestershire, and cream (if using). Mix with spoon—or better yet, your hands—until it's all combined. To check the seasoning, fry off a tiny test patty, taste, and adjust accordingly. Plop the meat into the oiled baking pan and shape into a loaf. Cover with ketchup.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, remove from oven, and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing. If there are any leftovers, make sandwiches. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Josh Hicks
    Josh Hicks
  • Joe
  • Claudia Auger
    Claudia Auger
  • jane
  • allison969
I have loved to cook for as long as I can remember, am self taught learning as I go. I come from a large Italian family and food was at the center of almost every gathering. My grandfather made his own wine and I remember the barrels of wine in the cellar of my grandfathers home, I watched my mother and aunts making homemade pasta and remember how wonderful it was to sit down to a truly amazing dinner. Cooking for me is a way to express myself its my creative outlet. I enjoy making all types of food but especially enjoy baking, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and I share my home with my two dogs Izzy and Nando. I like to collect cookbooks and scour magazines and newspapers for recipes. I hope one day to organize them.

65 Reviews

Josh H. May 21, 2022
I've grown up eating meatloaf, and this is, by FAR, the best meatloaf I've ever made myself. No wonder they made sandwiches right off the bat in the YouTube video, because there won't be any leftovers the next day!

I made it for dinner tonight, and I'm making another just so I can have leftovers. I'm sharing this recipe with everyone I love, so so good - thank you!
Josh H. May 21, 2022
also a tip, though an extra dish - pack your meat mixture into a greased loaf pan and flip on the baking sheet to ensure evenness!

Forming it fully freehand can be a bit difficult for some - just round out the edges a bit after to keep it rustic!
sdebrango May 21, 2022
Thank you so much Josh!! I am so happy that you liked it. ❤️
sdebrango May 21, 2022
I have seen people use loaf tons for meatloaf but never tried it. That’s a great idea thank you so much!
sdebrango May 21, 2022
Tins not tons😂
Deena G. April 3, 2022
Delicious! Flexible recipe, upping the flavor & nutrition with addition of vegetables.
sdebrango April 3, 2022
That makes me happy, thank you so much and yes it really is a flexible recipe. So glad you liked it!❤️
pinky February 10, 2022
Joe February 3, 2021
I love this recipe. Perfect!! My mom never used peppers or mushrooms, however I will give it a try. I bet its just great ! Many thx from a fellow Brooklynite.
sdebrango February 3, 2021
Thank you Joe, my Mom used green peppers but not mushrooms, I really love them in this recipe. I do hope you like it! So happy to meet a fellow Brooklynite!!
Helen January 25, 2021
Loved this. The first meatloaf I've ever made, more or less followed to the letter though left out the pepper so put in a few more mushrooms. Baked for an hour, came out perfectly. They were moist with incredible texture and flavour. Will do again!!
Claudia A. September 3, 2020
This recipe looks great and I'd like to make it, but won't because there are so many ingredients where the quantity is unclear: 2 stalks celery, 1 medium carrot, 1/2 small onion (yellow, white, or red -- your choice), 1 small bell or Cubanelle pepper diced, etc.

Why not provide actual measurements? Also, for the
6 mushrooms, what the heck and size are "stuffer type mushrooms"?

Some of us don't live in the United States so have little knowledge about vegetable sizes there. Thank you!
sdebrango September 3, 2020
I’m so sorry that it’s confusing. I didn’t realize that outside of the US there is such variation. Honestly, it does not have to be exact. I will measure next time I make it and add to the recipe. Stuffed mushrooms are white or cremini mushrooms that are quite large, big enough to add stuffing to make stuffed mushrooms but really any mushroom would do. I will measure next time I make and add to the recipe:
jane March 30, 2020
I made it tonight ... did everything per the recipe except I didn't have a tomato so I used a tad less than a 1/4 cup tomato sauce. I used my own dried organic parsley, and added it to the green pepper and mushrooms while sautéing . I put about a tablespoon of horseradish in the ketchup ... was so yummy.. my sides were mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach !
sdebrango March 30, 2020
Thank you so much and I love how you have made it your own! The beauty of this recipe is that you can add or subtract whatever you like. Thank you again for trying it and I love your additions.
Whitney September 28, 2019
I tweaked. Fennel instead of celery. Almond flour instead of bread crumbs. Coconut milk instead of cream. Didn't have mushrooms, sadly. Worked out well!
sdebrango September 28, 2019
Thank you for letting me know!! That sounds awesome. Love fennel!! So glad you gave it a try and you liked it!!
ellory February 5, 2019
Can you leave off the ketchup entirely or will this dry out the meatloaf?
sdebrango February 5, 2019
Hi Ellory; truth be told I’ve never made without the ketchup. I think it would be ok to do so just watch and make sure it doesn’t look dry maybe baste with pan juices. You could always use something else as a glaze on top if you have an aversion to ketchup. Let me know how it works for you!!
Knsukut January 4, 2019
Made this tonight. Turned out great! Didn’t have the parsley, loved the sauted mushrooms. Might try adding some spinach next time....possibilities are endless.
sdebrango January 4, 2019
Thank you so much! Love the idea of adding spinach, you can add so many different ingredients to tailor to your taste and what you have in the fridge or pantry. I just bought everything to make it this week!! So happy you enjoyed and thank you again!!
Penny H. August 5, 2018
Yikes! This may be a great meatloaf but sixteen ingredients, several of which aren't usually available in the average kitchen. I find it hard to believe that prep time is only 20 minutes - it would take me longer than that to gather the ingredients if I already had them in my kitchen. Maybe 20 minutes for the final mixing if you had a kitchen full of helpers to do all the heavy lifting.
sdebrango August 5, 2018
Hi and thank you for the input the prep time may take a bit longer than 20 minutes. It takes about 5 minutes to process the vegetables in the food processor. Then you chop the peppers and mushrooms and sauté that can take 10-15 minutes given-or take. You can cut prep time by adding the mushrooms and peppers to the processor and skip the sauté: yes there are quite a lot of ingredients but it’s mostly vegetables. Sorry that you think the recipe is unmanageable, I never said that it was only a few ingredients, when I say plain and simple I mean there is nothing fancy and it can of course be tailored to suit your taste and what is in your pantry.
[email protected] September 19, 2017
One of the best meatloafs I've had. Moiste. Flavorful. Easy to prep. Big win!
allison969 August 29, 2016
Indeed this is a delicious version of meatloaf, but "plain and simple" is a bit of a misnomer. This is not difficult, but I've gotten equally successful results with 5 fewer ingredients (and not having to peel, core, and process a small tomato). This one is better when you're in the mood to do something slightly better than routine with more veggies than a traditional recipe would call for. (More veggies = good)
stephanieRD August 29, 2016
If I don't have a small tomato laying around to use, I'll just use some canned tomato and it works just as well. :)
Bill S. August 28, 2016
I'll definitely try this, but my question is more basic (maybe naive) regarding meatloaf: mine are tasty, but fresh out of the pan and the oven, they just aren't really loaves. They crumble apart. I believe I'm using the right binders, etc. Something I'm doing wrong, or missing? Thanks
Shortrib June 24, 2016
Who knew a meatloaf could blow your mind? Outstanding.
anotherfoodieblogger January 15, 2016
Well look at that, I even favorited and commented on this recipe over a year ago. So glad to connect over here too. :) Congratulations on this past win!
marymary January 12, 2016
Delicious with garlic/gouda mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli last night. I added a chopped jalapeno to the finely chopped vegetables (I didn't grind them in the food processor) and sauteed them all together before mixing in the beef/pork. I lightly decorated the top with a latticework of ketchup. Definitely the best meatloaf I've ever had. Cooked in 50 minutes in convection oven at 350. We don't eat a lot of salt, so 1/2 tsp was perfect for us. I've never had a meatloaf sandwich, but will have to try it one day.
Kathcooks October 17, 2015
Really good meatloaf. Tender, moist, flavorful. Cooking time was spot on. I do believe 1 1/2 tsp. of salt would be perfect. Makes great sandwich.
twinjadojo January 28, 2015
A perfect meatloaf! 1 tsp of sea salt was just about right (we checked with the fry-off method, though the final loaf tasted less salty); next time we'll do a more generous tsp. My loaf required about 1hr 20 mins to cook thoroughly, and was juicy as can be. We served this with sour cream mashed potatoes and buttered corn and licked our blue plate specials clean. Dreaming of the meatloaf sandwich I've got planned for lunch. Thank you for this recipe!
stephanieRD January 18, 2015
My meatloaf is in the oven as of 5 minutes ago and I can hardly wait! I'm so excited to eat this. Love meatloaf. Using all beef since that's what I have on hand.
stephanieRD January 18, 2015
It's SO GOOD and MOIST. This recipe is going in my "Bombass Cookbook" ASAP! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!