A free-form meatloaf has a few advantages. There’s more browned surface on the top, which is the part I like the most, and it looks nicer. This American classic simply must be served with mashed potatoes and gravy and leftovers make the perfect sandwich filling.–Laura Washburn

How do I make my meatloaf moist?

A lot of this depends on the recipes and its various ingredients. But a lot of the moisture depends on the percentage fat in the meat. For the moistest meatloaf, use the fattiest ground beef and pork you can find at your butcher or meat case.

A partially sliced bacon-wrapped meatloaf on a rimmed baking sheet with a knife beside it and bay leaves scattered around it.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

5 from 1 vote
This bacon-wrapped meatloaf, made with ground beef and pork, has all the rustic comfort food qualities that we’re craving. And it comes together easily enough to make whenever said craving arises.
David Leite
Servings6 to 8 servings
Calories719 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 medium (6 oz) onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • Leaves from a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound, 10 ounces ground beef, preferably 85/15
  • 12 ounces ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1⁄4 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or regular paprika
  • 4 tablespoons chili sauce or ketchup
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves, plus extra to garnish
  • 5 to 6 bacon slices
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mashed potatoes (optional)
  • Gravy (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180°C).
  • In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, celery, and parsley, and pulse until finely chopped, about 30 seconds.
  • Transfer the mixture to a skillet along with the oil and cook over low heat until softened, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked onion mixture, beef, pork, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, thyme, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili sauce or ketchup. Mix with your hands until well blended.
  • Form the mixture into an oval loaf shape approximately 10 by 7 by 2 inches (25 by 18 by 5 cm).
  • Place the bay leaves in the middle of a heavy rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan and place the meatloaf on top. Arrange the bacon slices lengthwise on top, at equal intervals, to cover the meatloaf.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: The bacon may not completely cover the surface of the meatloaf. That’s perfectly fine. Just space the strips evenly.

  • Bake until the meatloaf is browned and the internal temperature is 160°F (71°C), 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the exact shape and size. Do check the meatloaf regularly and, if there are pan juices, you can use them to baste the meatloaf to help keep it moist.
  • Let the meatloaf rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving, if desired, alongside mashed potatoes and gravy.
Home-Cooked Comforts

Adapted From

Casseroles and Other One-Pot Dishes

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 719 kcalCarbohydrates: 23 gProtein: 39 gFat: 52 gSaturated Fat: 18 gMonounsaturated Fat: 24 gTrans Fat: 2 gCholesterol: 202 mgSodium: 1299 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 5 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Laura Washburn. Photo © 2020 Martin Brigdale. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I love meatloaf and when it’s wrapped in bacon you just can’t go wrong.

This is a very moist meatloaf and I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to transfer it to the baking sheet without falling apart but it held together. It does tend to fall apart when you’re eating it. However, it doesn’t matter if it falls apart because the flavor is so good. You get a hint of the bay leaves but without overpowering and the chili sauce adds that little extra zip.

I love having the celery and onion added and next time I’ll finely shred some carrots and add to the mix. I used smoked sweet Spanish paprika.

I shaped my meatloaf into an 8-by-11-by1 1/2-inch oval. I checked the time after 1 hour and it was already up to 177°F. Although it was overcooked, the meatloaf was still moist. I didn’t baste the meatloaf and the bacon turned out perfect without drying out.

Update: Today I was trying to decide what to have for lunch and saw leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I got creative and diced up the meatloaf, made a roux with beef stock, and added some cooked peas and carrots. I thinned down the mashed potatoes and made Shepherd’s Pie. I was so good and turned leftovers into a whole new meal.

This is a good meatloaf. And it’s elegant looking. The bacon adds a nice “crust” to it, not to mention the added flavor. It’s not unusual, but who’s looking for creative or unusual meatloaf? When you want meatloaf, you want that comfort food that’s moist, smells delicious as it cooks, and reminds you of a pleasant family meal. This meatloaf does all that and more.

I cut it right from the oven and it held together pretty well. After it cooled a bit, it held together even better.

This was the tastiest meatloaf I have ever had. The flavor was so good. I was hoping for leftovers but that didn’t happen. My family of 6 ate it all and everyone loved it.

I used lean ground beef and ketchup for kids as I didn’t want it too spicy. I let the loaf sit for about 5 to 10 minutes while I set the table. The slices held together perfectly!

Excellent. Thumbs-up!

I had never made a meatloaf before and so I wanted to try this recipe. The meatloaf makes a nice dinner when served with mashed potato, gravy and vegetables. I found that fussy people also enjoyed the meal so it was a winner all round.

My meatloaf was completely covered by the bacon. I found that the meatloaf cut more cleanly into slices if I let it cool for half an hour before trying to cut it. I found that the slices held together well after cutting. However, the bacon on top of the meatloaf made it harder to cut through the meatloaf well.

I also disliked the bay leaves underneath the meatloaf, as it was impossible to tell where they were and I would find them on my plate and had to disgard them.

A super satisfying classic meatloaf dressed with bacon and the perfect combination of spices. This came together super easily and the use of a food processor made it even quicker and easier to get the perfect mince for the onion, celery, garlic, and parsley.

Given the choice of ketchup or chili sauce, I went for the chili sauce. We loved the spicy tang that it added and it worked well with the smoky taste of the bacon. I made a gravy right in the baking pan with the drippings from the meat and the bacon. Awesome aromas filled the kitchen while it was baking in the oven. I served it up to my boys (my husband and my son) with some mashed potatoes and string beans. Instant comfort on a fall day. I will be making this version again and again.

I wound up with more of a round-shaped meatloaf rather than an oval, which worked very well for laying the strips of bacon over the meat and covered the entire surface with the bacon.

I let it rest for about 10 minutes before moving it onto a platter. I made a gravy with the pan drippings right in the baking pan on top of the stove. I used a gravy separator to remove most of the fat, added some flour and water I mixed in a cup, and added that to the pan with some salt and pepper. The gravy really didn’t require any additional seasoning.

I then sliced some pieces of meatloaf about 1 1/2 inches thick and they held together quite nicely. I could have easily served 6 to 8 people. Since it was just the 3 of us, we had seconds and even wound up having enough for a tasty sandwich for my husband to bring to work the next day, which he said was even better than the night before.

For the bread crumbs, I used some old stale hot dog rolls that were in the freezer since about May. I toasted them and then broke them apart and blitzed them in the food processor. They worked very well.

I served up some mashed Yukon gold potatoes with the skins on and steamed green beans.

This recipe gives a moist and tender meatloaf and is full of flavor. Eggs and bread crumbs help hold the meatloaf together, but make sure that it rests at least 15 minutes before slicing. This way, you’ll have perfect slices of meat.

This is an excellent meatloaf recipe. It was easy, quick, and I already had all of the ingredients! This only takes 20 minutes from beginning to end to mix up, shape in the pan, and adorn with bacon. The bacon definitely adds a yum factor.

I thought the seasoning was just right and I wouldn’t adjust a thing. I liked that the vegetable mixture was minced and then sauteed. It added flavor, some color, and allowed the vegetables to be evenly distributed throughout the meatloaf mixture. The meatloaf was moist and held its shape when sliced and served. We ate the leftovers the following day and they were just as good as the day it was made. This is comfort food at its best!!!

A sliced bacon-wrapped meatloaf on a white platter.

Great meatloaf and mashed potatoes, a salad with a fresh vinaigrette, and hot rolls, and you will be serving up memories of mom’s Sunday dinner. This flavorful meatloaf, topped with bacon while sitting atop a few bay leaves, makes a generous meal with leftovers if you’re a small family.

Ours was very lean as I ground lean pork chops and stew beef meat, using large grinder holes. Both meats were quite lean. I would use pork shoulder next time for a bit more fat. I used full fat milk, regular paprika, and ketchup.

Make sure you use a large bowl for lots of room to mix all ingredients. I also placed it on a large piece of heavy duty foil with edges rolled up for an easier cleanup. I like the free form as its easy to cut and set on a platter for a nice presentation if you have a long platter to serve it on.

We dug into it as soon as it was done. We got 10 good size servings and after it cooled a bit, it cut just as nicely. A bit more fat and it would be moister. But it was very good as I made it.

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
    Every once in a while we need a comfort food meal and meatloaf is on the shortlist. I have to confess, I made the meatloaf without the bacon because I wanted to cut down on fat. But what attracted me to this recipe was the inclusion of chopped vegies minced in a mini food processor (I added a carrot) and fresh bread crumbs instead of dried. We enjoyed a comforting meatloaf that held together for slicing after a 20-minute rest. Two thumbs up from our household! I served this with David’s Crispy Herbed Parmesan Potatoes and sauteed garlicky Italian green beans with a nicely mellowed Cabernet Sauvignon.