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.
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.
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
- 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade ketchup
- 1/4 cup sorghum syrup or molasses (do NOT use blackstrap molasses)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
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.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
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.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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.