Meatloaf, Plain And Simple

November 2, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Food52 Review: 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

Makes: one big loaf
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 10 min


  • 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!

More Great Recipes:
Meatloaf|American|Carrot|Celery|Milk/Cream|Parsley|Pork|Vegetable|Beef|Serves a Crowd|Fry|Make Ahead

Reviews (48) Questions (1)

48 Reviews

ellory February 5, 2019
Can you leave off the ketchup entirely or will this dry out the meatloaf?
Author Comment
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.
Author Comment
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.
Author Comment
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!
CarlaCooks November 30, 2014
I made this tonight and both my husband and I loved it! I tweaked the recipe a bit to fit what I had in the fridge. I used a lot of mushrooms and sautéed them with leeks and the bell pepper. Once they finished sautéing, I added them to the carrot and celery in the food processor. I omitted the onion since I used a leek. I used 1 pound ground beef and 1 1/2 pounds ground pork. I didn't have any fresh tomatoes (damn you, late fall), so I added about 1/4 of a can of tomatoes. I mixed home-made garlic croutons with panko instead of the fresh breadcrumbs (no fresh bread in the house). I omitted the parsley because I HATE PARSLEY!! (sorry, I feel quite strongly about parsley!) The whole mixture made 2 loaves. Instead of covering them with catsup, I instead reduced the rest of the can of tomatoes with some added salt, sugar, and Sriracha to give it a kick, and used this to cover the loaves. I froze one of the loaves to eat later in the winter and cooked the other at the recommended temperature and time, which was perfect. Thanks for a great recipe!
CarlaCooks November 30, 2014
I always feel a bit bad about tweaking a recipe on the first go, but sometimes you just have to go with what's in the fridge! Your recipe is a great starting point, and it was very easy to adapt to my needs and likes/dislikes. I highly recommend the spicy topping!
someone November 14, 2014
Sounds great but I think the name needs tweaked. This has the most ingredients of any recipe I have found so far. Maybe Fancy Meatloaf?
Christina @. November 1, 2014
Congratulations, Suzanne! You are full of winning recipes! Yippee, very happy for you!! xx
mrslarkin October 18, 2014
Congrats on the win, sdebrango! Can't wait to try this.
bonheurcuisine October 17, 2014
Comgrats my friend! Saved it!
Horto October 17, 2014
i use raw mushrooms in the mix, adds moisture, saves extra clean up!
MrsK October 17, 2014
Worth winning the contest! I'm salivating already, lol. My congratulations to you and wish you enter many more Food52 contests in the near future. You see, I have a very selfish motive: that means you will share your recipes with the rest of us... ;-)
fiveandspice October 13, 2014
Congrats on being a finalist Suzanne! There are truly few things more wonderful that a really good meatloaf. :)