This isn’t the homemade meatloaf that graced your traditional childhood dinner table. It’s better. All the comforting flavors and sticky-sweet glaze that you remember and require for the meatloaf of your dreams. And then we slipped some bacon and caramelized vegetables into the beef and pork mixture to make it truly extraordinary.–Bryan Voltaggio

How do I keep my meatloaf moist?

Meatloaf often gets a bad rap. But when you’ve had one that’s juicy and moist, you know better than to turn your nose up. The secret to keeping your homemade meatloaf tender and not dried out is making sure there’s enough of the right components in there to begin with, as well as adding a little more. Use a fattier grade of ground beef as the lean stuff will crumble and be dry. Also include ingredients that are high in moisture themselves—carrots, eggs, onions, celery, or anything wet, really. Finally, a thick layer of glaze helps to keep everything beneath it juicy and tender.

Half a cooked meatloaf in a red loaf tin with two slices cut from it.

Homemade Meatloaf

5 / 7 votes
This homemade meatloaf has the best comforting flavor and bread crumbs and easy sticky-sweet glaze that you remember from childhood but it feels all grown-up thanks to the addition of bacon and caramelized vegetables.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories966 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes


For the meatloaf

  • 2 bacon slices, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into small dice
  • 1 large celery rib, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 medium (3 oz) onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade ketchup
  • 2 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt

For the glaze


Make the meatloaf

  • In a large heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium-low heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until it crisps, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the ketchup, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the vegetables are completely tender, 10 to 15 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and let the vegetables cool completely.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, and bread crumbs.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and salt until smooth. Pour over the meat. Add the cooled vegetables and use your hands or a rubber spatula to mix everything together.
  • Gently press the meatloaf into a 9-by-5-by-3-inch (23-by-13-by-8-cm) loaf pan.

Make the glaze

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, sorghum syrup or molasses, vinegar, and salt. Taste and, if desired, adjust the ingredients accordingly. Reserve 3 tablespoons for brushing over the finished meatloaf.
  • Brush some of the glaze over the meatloaf and bake for 30 minutes. Brush with the glaze again, rotate the pan, and bake for 15 minutes more. Brush with the glaze again, rotate the pan, and bake until cooked through, and the internal temperature registers 160°F (71°C), 15 to 30 minutes more.
  • Remove from the oven and, if desired, pour off any fat. Brush the meatloaf with a final coat of the reserved glaze and let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Originally published March 25, 2020.

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 966 kcalCarbohydrates: 43 gProtein: 88 gFat: 47 gSaturated Fat: 18 gMonounsaturated Fat: 20 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 360 mgSodium: 2129 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 25 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Bryan Voltaggio. Photo © 2015 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Meatloaf is one of the few dishes in my house that pleases everyone, even the littles under 6, so I didn’t hesitate to try this recipe. It was mostly a hit until my daughter caught sight of carrot; however that was probably my fault for not making a finer dice of them for her anti-veggie radar. The semi-caramelized vegetables and diced bacon were nice additions and the meatloaf was dense but not dry. I thought the glaze was a little too strong in the molasses flavor for my kids so I ended up adding a little more ketchup and vinegar to mellow it out.

This was as hearty as expected and perfect for a January-in-the-midwest dinner. I went with 15% fat ground beef. If there is a negative, it would be the amount of fat I had to pour out after it was done. Given that there is a fair amount of pork, I will probably help my heart out and go with leaner beef in the future.

I would say that it would generously serve 4 to 6 with sides.

I love to see a dish that is so trite and revered brought back into the spotlight. The chef here has recreated meatloaf in a way that sticks to tradition and brings it into the gourmet atmosphere. The flavor was rich and familiar and I will certainly refer back to this meatloaf recipe in the future.

I cooled my meatloaf and started to eat it the next day. We’re only 2 in my house, so we’ve been slicing it out of the pan as we go, and searing each piece to heat it up. The leftover glaze is nice to have on hand, I mixed mine with Sriracha to cut the sweetness a bit and to add a bit of spice. The glaze was great and reminiscent of old-school sweet glazes, but it’s very sweet. If someone were inclined to fancy this up even more, I’d say add some spice, some herbs, maybe chopped green onion.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This meatloaf recipe was delicious and quick to put together. The glaze was exceptionally fantastic! It made enough for leftovers too, which is always a plus. I will be making this again.

    1. Thanks, Joan. Your photo looks delicious and leftover meatloaf is always a good thing!

    2. Woo hoo, Joan! We’re so glad to hear the recipe was a success. And who wouldn’t love some leftover meatloaf? It’s great for sandwiches!

  2. I’m a sucker for a good meatloaf recipe and this will surely be added to my go-to list. I did change the mix a bit, substituting turkey for the pork. It didn’t vary THAT much from my mother’s classic, but the celery was a nice addition, as was the terrific glaze! Full transparency compels me to add what I added (according to Mom): 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper, chopped fresh parsley, and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Yum.

  3. 5 stars
    I loved this. And I always thought I made pretty good meatloaf!

    I blitzed the carrot and celery in the mini food processor that’s always on my counter. I browned them Anne Burrell style with the cooking bacon.

    Can I suggest that there’s an easier way to approach celery? I don’t peel off a rib. I just take the head and start slicing from the tip and work my way through toward the roots. My chickens are always happy to get the dried ends each time I approach a shorter and shorter head again. The stuff I slice off has a mix of older and more tender ribs plus the leaves that I think add a lot of flavor. I just have to make a mental calculation about how much is 1 or 2 or 3 ribs. …but then I think if recipes were written for a volume like 1/4 cup, for example, they’d be more precise anyway. …so I’m just waiting for the industry to catch up with me.

    Also, there’s so much flavor in the lowly celery. Besides the ribs and leaves, the base — dried out though it may be — has an excellent unique flavor of it’s own. I slice off only the dried brown margins for the chickens and enjoy the meaty sweet solid for myself.

    But, once again, and back on topic, excellent meatloaf!

    1. Thanks, Rainey! I’m delighted that you enjoyed it. And I LOVE your tip about the celery. Definitely going to try that!

      1. Hope you’ll find it helpful. I forgot to mention that it’s so much easier and more secure to hold only a massive attached head than individual ribs.