No, not the singer although I listen to him often while cooking. Meatloaf has been a staple for people trying to stretch a small amount of inexpensive meat as far a it can go, and when made right, meatloaf is both delicious and plates well for a modest dinner party. Serve with mashed potatoes and sauteed corn or steamed green beans to make a classic blue plate special. Add some skillet bread and you’re halfway to your own Leave To Beaver episode. To make a good meat loaf, there are some general guidelines you should follow to ensure you get moist, tasty, and well structured loaf.

General Meatloaf Rules:

  1. It maybe counter to everything your fitness guru tells you, but avoid lean beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb. You want the cheap ground beef (15% fat). Not only will it provide the best taste, the fat helps keep the loaf moist.
  2. Proper salt is essential to bring out the taste. Screw your doctor who’s just pushing pills anyway and add 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt per pound of beef. Pepper is optional but I like to add it.
  3. You need to balance the loaf with something sweet, which can be in the form of ketchup, salsa, brown sugar, white sugar, maple syrupy or honey. Ketchup is a common ingredient but that’s mostly because its cheap and convenient. Play around and see what your senses get off on.
  4. You need to have eggs to bind everything together, do not use egg substitute, that would be like gluing fine furniture with kindergarten paste.
  5. You need a starch for structure. In WWII it was popular to use oat meal, which I like, but you can also use bread crumbs, Panko, or even crackers. Don’t be afraid to follow your flare, it’s just meatloaf after all.
  6. Usually you need to add whole milk to the loaf to soften the starch and to provide extra moisture.
  7. Vegetables are optional but a nice addition. However, they will not cook in the loaf so if you are adding onions, carrots, garlic (always), celery, fennel, chili, etc., you need to saute them first. Not only will that soften the vegetables, sauteing them also brings out their flavors. Note: keep in mind that you never add salt while sauteing mushrooms and if you are sauteing garlic with other vegetables, add the garlic for the last 1 minute of cooking.
  8. Final note: once you remove the meatloaf from the oven let it rest at least 10 minutes, like you do for steak. That will keep the juices from flowing out when you slice it, which leads to dry meatloaf. If you make multiple loafs (like I always do). Let the loaf completely cool and then slice prior to freezing. Stack each slice on parchment paper so you can later pull apart the number you want to thaw. They will keep for months if you vacuum seal the storage bag and it is very easy to remove a few slices for dinner and reseal the bag. Also, and this is important, always thaw meat in the fridge. It takes longer, but the results are worth it.

Standard Meatloaf Recipe Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Onion – diced
  • 8 oz Whole milk
  • 1 cup Bread crumbs – or Panko or even crackers
  • 2 TBL Brown sugar
  • 2 TBL Mustard – Dijon is a good option
  • 3 oz Mild salsa or ketchup
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mise en Place – measure and prepare your ingredients prior to starting.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
  3. Sautee the onions until just starting to get soft, ~5 mins.
  4. Combine the beef, egg, onion, milk and bread in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Use your hands to thoroughly mix all the ingredients (best to wear disposable gloves).
  6. Place in a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan
  7. Combine brown sugar, mustard and salsa in bowl and pour over the meatloaf.
  8. Bake for 1 hour or until internal temperature is 160 F.
  9. Keep in pan to cool on a rack for 10 mins.
  10. Remove from pan and let cool a few minutes more.
  11. Using a bread knife, gently slice the meatloaf.

NOTE: Serve with a side of potatoes and green vegetables. I usually go with green beans, it’s the only cuisine that I like to serve to green beans. If you want to make this an old school blue-plate special, make the potatoes mashed and serve with a brown gravy. I usually will skip the gravy but that’s just me. If anything, a touch more salsa, but everything is better with a touch more salsa.