Richly flavored, juicy, and perfectly fork tender, this old fashioned meatloaf is perfect for anyone craving a delicious classic meatloaf recipe that is done the way it should be. Dare I even say? This family favorite is better than your mom's meatloaf!
What is it?
An old-fashioned meatloaf relies on enhancing the rich beef flavor with simple ingredients, rather than trying to transform it into something else, like say my Cheeseburger Meatloaf. A traditional meatloaf recipe is made by adding breadcrumbs, eggs, seasonings and liquid to ground beef. The breadcrumbs soak up the liquid, making the loaf less dense, while the eggs bind the moist meatloaf together.
Classic meatloaf should be topped with a ketchup-based sauce, often brown sugar is mixed in to create a tangy glaze. It should be perfectly fork tender, but not crumble apart, and boast a rich beefy flavor. Each bite should be dripping with nostalgia, and taste like 1957.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Lean ground beef - I recommend 80/20 or 85/15 beef (ground chuck is perfect). Don't go with a fattier grind than that or the meatloaf will be greasy. Although, less traditional, other meats like ground pork or ground turkey can be substituted or combined with the beef.
- Plain breadcrumbs - Panko bread crumbs can be substituted.
- Yellow onion - A sweet onion is a good substitute.
- Beef broth - Beef stock also works well. Milk is a good substitute and a traditional choice, but beef broth fortifies the richness of the meat.
- Large egg
- Tomato paste - You can substitute ketchup.
- Worcestershire sauce
- Table salt
- Garlic powder - Fresh garlic can be used for a stronger garlic flavor.
- Ground sage
- Ground black pepper
- Brown sugar
How to make it
To make this old-fashioned meatloaf recipe, begin by crumbling the hamburger meat into a large mixing bowl and combining it with your breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl, mix together the grated onion, beef broth, egg, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, sage, and black pepper. Then combine the two bowls to form your meat mixture.
Prepare your meatloaf glaze by mixing together the ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Then paint a spoonful onto the bottom of your bread pan. Add the meatloaf mixture to the bread pan (or you can free-form it on a rimmed baking sheet), and form an even loaf shape, then paint the remaining meatloaf sauce on top of the meatloaf.
Bake the meatloaf at 350 degrees for 1 hour, uncovered. Always check on your meatloaf after 45 minutes with an instant-read thermometer, as cooking time can vary. I've had meatloaf finish cooking at 50 minutes, and some at 1 hour and 15 minutes. Meatloaf is done when the internal temperature exceeds 160 degrees.
Storing and Reheating Leftover Meatloaf
Leftover meatloaf should be placed in an airtight container and kept in your refrigerator. It can be stored for up to one week, but I recommend enjoying it within five days for the best flavor. You can reheat individual servings in the microwave, but the leftover slices also make phenomenal meatloaf sandwiches when pan-fried.
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Old Fashioned Meatloaf - Classic Meatloaf Recipe
- Bread loaf pan
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef (80/20 beef recommended)
- ¾ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ cup grated onion
- ¾ cup beef broth
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground sage
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- Mix ketchup, Worcestershire, and brown sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Crumble beef into a large bowl and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated onion.
- Add all remaining meatloaf ingredients to a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Once combined, pour into the bowl with meat and mix with your hands to combine all ingredients together. (see note below)
- Ladle a couple tablespoons of sauce on the bottom of a bread pan and add meatloaf, pressing to form into the shape of the pan.
- Top meatloaf with remaining sauce.
- Place meatloaf in the oven for 1 hour, or until internal temperature exceeds 160 degrees. Check for doneness after 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let rest 5 minutes, then slice and serve.
This recipe was originally published here on April 18, 2018.
I agree with all the other comments - your meat loaf recipe is amazing! My husband loves to use his smoker and this took it to another level. ❤️😋
This truly is the best meatloaf ever. Mine is in the oven now and this is probably the 7 or 8th time I've made it since I discovered Fox Valley Foodie! Thank you!!!
Realized it was time to come amd rate this once my mom asked me for a meatloaf recipe and I told her about this one, which has become my go to. Delicious!
Best meat loaf recipe ever - tastes exactly how meat loaf should!
I made this meatloaf tonight for our dinner. It is absolutely delicious and will now be my go to recipe. It is moist and the flavors meld beautifully my 16 year old son enjoyed 3 hefty slices. Thanks for sharing I will recommend this recipe to family and friends!
I've made this meatloaf a couple of times and have to admit that it's the best recipe I've found. I served it last night at my mother-in-laws (she's 92) with a side of mashed potatoes and she cleaned her plate! After reviewing this recipe versus others, I think what sets this recipe apart is: using beef stock instead of water; easing up a bit on the breadcrumbs; grating the onion versus chopping; and blending the ingredients before incorporating into the meat/breadcrumb mixture.
Thanks for the recipe!
I made this & it was a total hit, it is now one of our weekly meals. Thankyou so much.
I'm planning on trying this but need clarification on the breadcrumbs. Do you use breadcrumbs that are purchased in a container or rip of pieces of bread? I know this sounds basic but that's me! 🙂 Thanks for the help!
Fox Valley Foodie
I purchase plain dry breadcrumbs, but there is no reason why you cannot make your own. Breadcrumbs are made from stale, dry, pieces of bread, so ripping fresh bread won't work well.
can you use toasted bread or almond flour?
Fox Valley Foodie
Toasted bread would work just fine, just crumble it fine like traditional breadcrumbs. Almond flour may work, but I don't cook with it, so I can't say for certain.
Made this meatloaf on Christmas Eve and,it was the best I ever made!! Making it again today for Sunday dinner!!
I started making this in April of 2018 and still making it today! My other half requests it constantly!!
My mother made excellent meatloaf with saltine crackers, in place of breadcrumbs and she's the only person I've ever known who could give a burnt taste to boiled water. Most of her concoctions required a decent burial but her meatloaf and bread pudding were top shelf.
Thank you for your food blog. I’m so glad I found this meatloaf recipe. My Mother and Aunt were amazing cooks. They could make a can of pork and beans in to a warm childhood memory. Your recipe brought back that feeling. I watched my family at the dinner table last night start to eat the meatloaf...
OMG not a sound. Then everyone starting say “ this meatloaf is the best ever!”, it was amazing!
Thanks for helping me create another, warm childhood memory😍
Fox Valley Foodie
Thanks for the kind comment, that is exactly why I love doing what I do!
This is by far the BEST meatloaf I’ve ever
prepared and trust me there have been many
after 50 years!
Moist and so rich in flavor no gravy required!! I wouldn’t
change a thing in this recipe.
Nothing beats a classic, this meatloaf just looks truly amazing, the beef looks so perfect, looks like all the moms do have to step up their game!!! lol...great post and recipe
To go against my mothers meatloaf would be a sin, rest her soul. Looks like i need to go to church, because it is better.
Fox Valley Foodie
Haha, your mother will forgive you!