Not Your Cafeteria Meatloaf

February 20, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 8-10
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.
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29 Reviews

JenJ1965 December 2, 2021
I found the recipe to be too watery. It needs more breadcrumbs. i thought it would bind more since it had 5 eggs. but it didn't . Is also a bit too sweet for me.
Mary A. January 20, 2020
I used this recipe but added a small yellow crookneck squash, small zucchini, and red or yellow chunk of a bell pepper to vegetable mix. Meatloaf was moist and flavorful!
I agree with cooking the mixture to taste. Great idea.
Karen S. January 15, 2020
For someone who isn’t a big fan of meatloaf, this recipe forever changed my husband’s mind. I followed the recipe only omitting the test patty and the sauce as I didn’t feel they were necessary. Will definitely make this again.
kristin T. September 7, 2016
Have recently signed on to do special events catering for a lovely local church in our University community. They suggested I make meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, and greens this week (we are in the South here in Charlottesville after all). I have not made meatloaf in many many years and do not accept the ordinary, so researched and found this recipe. I had to multiply the amounts by 10 to feed everyone (thank god for restaurant grade food processors!). It was an enormous success and the mammoth prep was worth it. Light, moist, flavorful, with no flavor predominating. 80 year old Southern belles who have been making meatloaf for years came into the kitchen to hug me and tell me it was the best they had ever eaten. If there are any leftovers, I bet this would make a killer meatloaf sandwich (always my favorite thing about meatloaf). Will never use another recipe!
Elizabeth E. January 3, 2014
what temperature is your oven?
Pat E. September 29, 2013
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!
Kathcooks September 27, 2013
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.
beejay45 July 21, 2013
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!
LadyDiTejas March 17, 2013
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).
FunkyLady February 11, 2013
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.
Peggles13 November 16, 2012
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.
SJR November 16, 2012
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.
Peggles13 November 17, 2012
And here, I always think I'm using a deft touch! I will try it again. Thank you for the suggestion.
LadyDiTejas March 17, 2013
Also, 95% lean is *very* lean; you might want to try a 90% or even 85% lean.
SJR July 26, 2012
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.
SJR July 12, 2012
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!
Muse May 6, 2012
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!
abbyarnold April 18, 2010
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!
abbyarnold March 24, 2010
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!!
ADRIENE March 28, 2010
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.
mrslarkin March 18, 2010
Yum, bacon and eggs! Thanks for the recipe, ADRIENE!
marybeaulieu March 18, 2010
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!
Merrill S. March 18, 2010
Darn. We'll look into that. Sorry for the frustration!
Amanda H. March 19, 2010
I tried it on my iPhone and had the same problem. Sorry about this -- will try to get it fixed asap.
monkeymom March 18, 2010
Congrats for making the finals. love that bacon, we will definitely try this at my house.
ADRIENE March 18, 2010
Thank you! I hope you enjoy it... I actually double this recipe and freeze it, it freezes great.
WinnieAb March 18, 2010
OMG this sounds soooooooooooo good!