One of the biggest pains when making a delicious meat sauce is messing with the meat. Well, guess what: with this version, the meat’s already been messed with, and it’s a snap!–Sam Zien

*How do I keep my meatloaf from drying out?

If you’ve followed our recipe for Sam Zien’s meatloaf with spinach, you shouldn’t have any dried-up meatloaf to begin with. But, we get it, dry meatloaf happens. This recipe for a leftover meatloaf sandwich has a super tasty, creamy sauce that will amp up the moisture in your ‘loaf, but there is another thing you can do. Add a very little bit of water to your skillet when you’re reheating the slices and cover them with a lid. Once the liquid is gone, the slice will quickly crisp.

A skillet filled with leftover meatloaf pasta sauce, with a pile of pasta on the side.

Leftover Meatloaf Pasta Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Leftover meatloaf pasta sauce makes weeknight dinners a snap. Sam Zien’s recipe reinvents the traditional ground beef and tomato sauce using what you’ve already got at home.
David Leite
Servings4 cups sauce
Calories336 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small (6 oz) onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups crumbled leftover meatloaf*
  • One (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional)
  • Cooked pasta, for serving


  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. When hot, add the onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the meatloaf and mix well to combine.
  • Squish the tomatoes into the pan by hand, breaking them up well. Add any extra can juices along with the Worcestershire and oregano. Taste, and add sugar, if desired.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until thickened and the flavors have melded, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Spoon the sauce over cooked pasta.

Adapted From

Sam the Cooking Guy: Recipes with Intentional Leftovers

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 336 kcalCarbohydrates: 11 gProtein: 26 gFat: 24 gSaturated Fat: 7 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gCholesterol: 79 mgSodium: 418 mgPotassium: 420 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 6 gVitamin A: 244 IUVitamin C: 20 mgCalcium: 77 mgIron: 5 mg

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Sam Zien. Photo © 2020 Lucas Barbieri. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I love pasta and am constantly on the lookout for new sauce recipes. I love the flavor from slow simmering a tomato sauce for hours but sometimes you need something quicker for a weeknight meal. The thought of using leftover meatloaf in a pasta sauce never crossed my mind but thankfully it crossed someone else’s because this recipe is to die for. Not only is the finished sauce the best I’ve ever eaten but the included recipe for meatloaf is incredible!

My husband is a meatloaf fanatic and loves my standby dish but even he said this is the only meatloaf he wants from now on. And the leftover meatloaf pasta sauce? According to him, I’m not allowed to make any other recipe from now on. This meatloaf is so moist and flavorful with the combination of beef and pork. The spinach not only makes the finished product look beautiful, it adds to the moistness and texture of the loaf. I simply can’t say enough about this meatloaf and pasta sauce. Yummy!

I’m a sucker for a pasta sauce. While this doesn’t capture the same lightning-in-a-bottle brilliance, flavor, and ease of the gnocchi sauce using this same meatloaf, it also doesn’t have a cup of heavy cream doing all the heavy lifting, and succeeds in being another great option for using leftover meatloaf without costing you a day’s worth of calories in one sitting. It comes together quickly, is perfect for a weeknight dinner, and is probably just as good with any meatloaf you have on hand.

My only gripe is the leftover meatloaf pasta sauce tastes too sweet for me since I prefer a savory tomato sauce…so next time I’ll omit the sugar. However, if you have leftover meatloaf glaze, I could see adding some of this glaze into the pan around when you add the garlic, letting the natural sugars caramelize like you would tomato paste, and this could bring a little sweetness and heat without being as strong as the granulated sugar.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has 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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    1. The meatloaf recipe is in there as a link. This recipe calls for the already made meatloaf. You crumble it and stir it in the sauce.