I’m always on the hunt for the world’s best meatloaf recipe. It’s a home-style classic that is making a comeback, but it’s different now. We will no longer settle for the dense, dry loaf of our youth. Meatloaf can be delicious!
The secret lies with a few tricks.
Meat. You cannot use lean ground beef alone. It’ll come out dry because there’s no fat in it. When it comes to meatloaf, fat is your friend. If you want to make a leaner meatloaf, try a combination of lean and not so lean meats. For example, use lean beef or ground chicken with ground sausage (like in the recipe I’m going to share with you).
Breadcrumbs. Your best meatloaf might not be Keto or low-carb friendly. Sorry, but someone needs to discuss these truths. I’m sure there are bread substitutes (like almond flour) you can try, but that’s not this recipe. Straight up breadcrumbs make meatloaf less dense and help to hold in the juices. Remember, you are making meatloaf, not a meatbrick. If you are watching your carbs, just eat less meatloaf and more salad.
Vegetables. Shhhh! Meatloaf is a great way to hide those veggies your picky eaters won’t touch with a 10-foot pole. It also adds a bunch of moisture when the veggies break down and cook. The key is to chop them really finely so no one notices them. They’ll make your meatloaf tasty. The breadcrumbs will capture the juices and do its thing.
Do not over mix. I actually have a difficult time following this one. My OCD comes out. I have a tendency to mix everything together a lot because I want it well blended. But over mixing messes with the texture and leaves you with tough, dry meatloaf. You should barely mix it. You’ll end up mixing it a little more when you add the vegetables and then again when you put it in the pan. Whatever you do, do not compress it in the loaf pan. Smooshing (a real word) makes it dense, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid.
I’m a fan of several meatloaf recipes. Let me count the ways. Ina Garten’s Meat Loaf, BA’s Meat Loaf with Barbecue Sauce, and The Pioneer Woman’s Meatloaf are good choices, although I’m not a fan of ketchup on meatloaf. I’d like to try BA’s Best Beef-and-Bacon Meatloaf, but I’m skeptical because bacon on meatloaf never seems to crisp up for me. If you want to try a leaner one with turkey, go for Giada’s Turkey Meatloaf with Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. I was impressed with the short cooking time of Sheet-Pan Glazed Meat Loaf and Blue Cheese Spinach Meat Loaf Muffins.
This recipe was inspired by The Spruce Eat. I needed to use up the leftover sausage from the Christmas dressing I made and this seemed like a perfectly good recipe to try out. I changed up the type of sausage to use and added a few tips for you. I was also surprised that they want you to pack the meat into a loaf pan, which is a big NO in my book.
Barely combine the meats, egg, and breadcrumbs. Remember, you’ll be mixing it again. Pulverize your canned tomatoes. I like to use a NutriBullet, but you can use a food processor or even chop it up with a knife. Chop up onion, garlic, and bell pepper into tiny pieces. Add these to a bowl along with your seasonings and cheese.
Mix it up with half of the tomatoes and meat mixture. Lightly press into a loaf pan.
Go find something fun to do while it bakes. Like make a bundt cake while watching HGTV. I know. I’m weird.
After an hour, spread the rest of the tomato mixture over the top of the meatloaf. I like it better than ketchup. There’s something not right about warm ketchup.
About 15 minutes later, pull it out of the oven and let it rest a bit like you would a steak. This helps keep the juices in. I did expect the tomato to brown a little, but it didn’t. and that’s okay.
Not your mom’s meatloaf. Better. But don’t tell her.
Beef and Italian Sausage Meatloaf
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
- 1 large egg slightly beaten
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes divided
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 bell pepper any color, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese freshly shredded
- Spray cooking oil in a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 375F.
- In a large bowl, combine meats, egg, and breadcrumbs until barely blended.
- Puree tomatoes in a food processor.
- Add half of the tomatoes to the meat mixture. Then, add diced onion, minced garlic, diced pepper, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and shredded cheese to the meat mixture. Mix until barely blended.
- Put meat mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour.
- Top with remaining tomatoes. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature is about 155F.
- Allow the meatloaf to rest for about 5 minutes, slice, and serve.