Your family will love this exceptionally tender Brown Sugar Meatloaf. It is loaded with the rich flavors of Worcestershire and French onion and painted with a sweet brown sugar glaze. Taste why readers are calling this the best meatloaf recipe ever!
Is there any dinner entrée name that sounds more appealing than “Meatloaf”? Think about it… Loaf of meat. Mmm, tantalizing… I guess it is a perfectly descriptive name. Truth in advertising, if you will. However, growing up I never really had meatloaf. What I was served would be more aptly named “meatbrick“. It was a largely flavorless, overly dense, hunk of meat, that sent me running from the idea of meatloaf for years.
My wife, however, loves meatloaf and routinely asks me to make it. I developed this Brown Sugar Meatloaf for her, and guess what? I love it too! Who knew meatloaf could taste good! Well, I guess everyone but me knew that. So, I guess I may be the last one to the party, but at least I have a great meatloaf recipe to show for it!
How to Make Brown Sugar Meatloaf
There is a secret ingredient in my meatloaf. I add one onion soup mix packet. I got the idea from my father in law, who uses it in his burgers. It really adds a great depth of flavor to the meatloaf, without being overpowering at all. That alone is worth trying this Brown Sugar Meatloaf recipe.
The best meatloaf is tender, not a dense brick. Adding breadcrumbs and milk helps keep the meatloaf tender while adding moisture, and the egg will bind it all together. However, the way in which you work the ingredients together will make a big difference in the final outcome. Much like creating a great meatball, you have to be careful about overworking the meat. If you squish the ground beef or work it excessively your meatloaf will get dense.
What Temperature to Bake Meatloaf
In my opinion, the best temperature for baking meatloaf is 350 degrees. It is a low enough temperature to allow the interior of the meatloaf to heat up before the exterior dries out. For this reason, I also recommend using a digital oven thermometer (affiliate link). Since cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your meatloaf, using a digital oven thermometer will ensure you remove the Brown Sugar Meatloaf as soon as it is done baking. No one wants to eat overcooked dry meatloaf!
What Hamburger for Meatloaf
Speaking of dry meatloaf, the best hamburger to use in meatloaf is the traditional 80/20 blend of meat/fat. This is the same blend the best burgers are made from. If you go with a lean hamburger blend, like 90/10, your meatloaf will not have enough moisture and will lack juiciness and flavor. Conversely, too much fat would lead to a big greasy mess.
The meatloaf glaze is what separates a good meatloaf from a great meatloaf. In a pinch you can certainly use plain ol’ ketchup for your glaze, however, adding brown sugar and cider vinegar adds an enticing sweet and sour component that your family won’t be able to get enough of.
The brown sugar glaze is exceedingly simple to make, just mix together 1/2 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and a quarter cup of cider vinegar and paint it on the meatloaf before it goes in the oven.
What to Serve with Meatloaf?
Mashed potatoes! There is no greater side dish, or more classic pairing, than meatloaf with fluffy mashed potatoes! This is a great pairing not only because they taste great together, but also because the mashed potatoes can be prepared on the stove top while the meatloaf bakes. You could even make some buttermilk cornbread to serve with the meatloaf. Cornbread can be made in advance and warmed prior to serving, or you can bake them with the meatloaf, even though the oven temperature may not be perfect.
Brown Sugar Meatloaf
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 oz packet onion soup mix
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon table salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Gently crumble ground beef in a large bowl, breaking up into small pieces. Add remaining meatloaf ingredients to the bowl and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.
- Mix all sauce ingredients together and spread half of the sauce along the bottom and sides of a loaf pan.
- Add meatloaf to a loaf pan and press firmly into a loaf shape.
- Liberally paint remaining sauce over the loaf.
- Place meatloaf in the oven and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees.
- Let rest for five minutes and serve.
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