Social Question

MilkyWay's avatar

So what exactly is meatloaf?

Asked by MilkyWay (13705points) June 15th, 2011

I’ve seen some people here love it. I’ve seen people on American TV mention it… but I honestly have no idea of what exactly it is.
What ingredients (besides meat) is it made of? How is it prepared?

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66 Answers

ucme's avatar

If the wife ever attempted to cook one i’m guessing it would look, taste & smell like a housebrick :¬(

Jude's avatar

Nasty, vial stuff.

Ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, Lipton onion soup mix and chopped onion. Mix (squish with hands), place into a loaf pan and put a strip of ketchup on top. Bake.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Depends on your recipe. Meatloaf can be made many, many ways. It’s like a giant hamburger, more or less. I happen to like it, but lots of people hate it. I think it depends a great deal on how it is prepared.
I make mine with barbecue, my mother makes hers with pepperoni and cheese and tomato sauce, and my grandmother made a classic meatloaf with peppers and gravy. Ketchup is probably the most popular topping.
All in all it is just a big hamburger that you cut into slices and usually eat with mashed potatoes.

Joker94's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf said it best; it’s a giant hamburger. I usually eat it with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots. A1 sauce goes pretty well with loaf too…

gailcalled's avatar

Traditionally it was a way of stretching meat. Chop it up and dilute with bread or cracker crumbs, chopped onions, peppers, carrots. celery (whatever your heart desires), season, bake.

Lipton’s onion soup mix is horrible mixed with anything. Make your own gravy, and meatloaf is not half-bad. I used to love cold, sliced meatloaf sandwiches (on white bread with ketchup) in my brown bag in lower school.

MilkyWay's avatar

Cool, thanks for telling me guys :)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s no wonder why you guys hate it. You’ve got to get more moisture into it so it’s not like an old shoe. Mix in some tomato paste, ketchup, milk, or olive oil. I make a heck of a good one that come’s out moist and tender.

Cruiser's avatar

If it is done right….the way I make it, it is yummy hot and even better sliced thin for sandwiches.

I have to put chocolate frosting and a candle on it to get the kids to eat it though! XD

josie's avatar

Sorry to read all of this disparagement of meatloaf. You people obviously have not experienced Josie’s Famous Meatloaf.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Mmm, I love meatloaf sandwiches.

Meatloaf is definitely one of those things that can go either way. Good meatloaf is awesome, probably one of my favorite dinners. Bad meatloaf, on the other hand, can be downright scary.

mazingerz88's avatar

I think Meatloaf is a chubby American rock singer that dabbled in acting as well?

Jude's avatar

It gives me heartburn.

Blueroses's avatar

My grandmother’s meatloaf tastes like the sole of a nomad’s sandal after wandering 40 days in the desert.

When I make it, I mix ground beef and lamb with V8 juice, rolled oats, eggs and minced onions and it’s delish with mashed potatoes.

Jude's avatar

I need to get my mitts on some good meatloaf.

Qingu's avatar

Meatloaf is essentially a large meatball. (Unlike hamburgers, both meatloaf and meatballs have some sort of binder or binders, such as eggs, bread crumbs, and/or a panade of bread + milk).

The whole point of meatloaf is to maximize the surface area of the meat to act as a repository for a carmelized, spicy, vinegary, ketchup-based glaze.

JLeslie's avatar

I use the Liptons beefy onion soup recipe on the back, but I cut the ketchup in half. I use Progresso Italian bread crumbs, I don’t remember if it calls for Italian or plain? And, I add some chopped raw onions. I serve with mashed potatoes and either corn or sauteed green beans. Meatloaf Sandwich the next day is realy good. White bread (can be the good stuff, like a french bagguette, or simple white toast) with some ketchup.

I use ground round.

zenvelo's avatar

@Jude With that recipe no wonder you think it’s vile.

I make a meatloaf with ground turkey breast, bound with brown rice and whole wheat bread crumbs, with onions, shredded carrots, celery, garlic and tomato paste. Glazed with a ketchup/honey mixture. Delicious!

Jude's avatar

I say, post your meatloaf recipe and we’ll bake ‘em and rate ‘em. We’ll see whose is the best!

Qingu's avatar

CI’s recipe is rad; I never thought it possible that meatloaf could be delicious until I made it. It’s freeform so more surface area for the glaze than if you bake it in a pan. It also bakes on a wire rack so the grease can drain out instead of grossly pooling around the thing.

Of course, like all CI recipes, it is an insane and overinvolved undertaking that relies on freezing grated cheese, using ¼ cup tomato juice, soy sauce, and gelatin. But, delicious!


If you can’t find chuck and/or sirloin, substitute any 85 percent lean ground beef. Handle the meat gently; it should be thoroughly combined but not pastelike. To avoid using the broiler, glaze the loaf in a 500-degree oven; increase cooking time for each interval by 2 to 3 minutes.


* Meatloaf
* 3ounces Monterey Jack cheese , grated on small holes of box grater (about 1 cup)
* 1tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
* 1medium rib celery , chopped fine (about ½ cup)
* 1medium clove garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
* 2teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
* 1teaspoon paprika
* ¼cup tomato juice
* ½cup low-sodium chicken broth
* 2 large eggs
* ½teaspoon unflavored gelatin (powdered)
* 1tablespoon soy sauce
* 1teaspoon Dijon mustard
* ⅔cup crushed saltine crackers
* 2tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
* ¾teaspoon table salt
* ½teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1pound ground sirloin
* 1pound ground beef chuck
* Glaze
* ½cup ketchup
* 1teaspoon hot pepper sauce
* ½teaspoon ground coriander
* ¼cup cider vinegar
* 3tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese on plate and place in freezer until ready to use. Prepare baking sheet (see illustration below).

2. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foaming; add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add tomato juice. Cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from pan, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Whisk broth and eggs in large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper, and onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add ground beef; mix gently with hands until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Transfer meat to foil rectangle and shape into 10 by 6-inch oval about 2 inches high. Smooth top and edges of meatloaf with moistened spatula. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf reads 135 to 140 degrees, 55 to 65 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and turn on broiler.

4. While meatloaf cooks, combine ingredients for glaze in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meatloaf with rubber spatula; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 5 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; place back under broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Let meatloaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.

Qingu's avatar

(to prepare the baking sheet, fold heavy-duty aluminum foil into a 6×10 inch rectangle (i.e. the size o’ the meatloaf), put it on a cooling rack, put the cooling rack on a baking sheet, and poke the foil with a bunch of holes with a skewer. Then spray it with nonstick cooking spray.)

MilkyWay's avatar

@Qingu Thanks for sharing that :D
I might just try it out…

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu I make meatloaf because it is simple. Yours does not look simple, so many ingredients.

@all I make mine in my toaster oven. I use half the recipe, which is 1 pound of beef, use a cooking sheet, cover the sheet in aluminum foil, shape the meat into a loaf, no cover so it browns on top. Easy clean up.

Blueroses's avatar

I have a meatloaf pan that is indispensable. It reduces the cooking time and the meatloaf doesn’t just sit and boil in fat. The drippings caught in the bottom pan, I use to make savory brown gravy. (I hate ketchup or sweet glaze on meatloaf.)

King_Pariah's avatar

A singer/actor who had tits in Fight Club

YoBob's avatar

There are as many meatloaf recipes out there as there are non-vegitarian grandmas in the world.

The basic recipe goes something like:

A couple of pounds of ground beef
A couple of eggs
A starchy filler of some sort (generally something like several crushed saltine crackers)
A squrt of mustard
A squrt of katchup
Salt, pepper, garlic, and whatever other seasoning suits your fancy to taste
Squish it all together, shape it into a loaf, and pop it in a 350 oven until cooked. It’s also a good idea to glaze with another brushing of ketchup towards the end of cooking time.

Pretty good stuff… ;)

Qingu's avatar

@JLeslie, there is no such thing as a simple Cook’s Illustrated recipe. :)

gailcalled's avatar

@Qingu: That’s not a recipe; it’s a career change.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Meatloaf is what you make when the grocery store puts odd sized packets of ground beef on sale after 9pm at night. You can chop up the heels of bread, a few odd crackers left at the bottom of a box, the last few eggs in a carton, wilting celery and shriveled diced up potatoes and you’ve got a meal. I like to add a few dollops of BBQ sauce to tomato paste and smear that across the top. As much as I dislike wheat bread, meatloaf slices taste pretty good on it.

gailcalled's avatar

You can also add or mix ground veal, pork or turkey to taste.

( vile and not vial.)

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t smear any sauces on top like some others have stated. I like it to be dry and a little crunchy on top. I don’t mind gravy over the meatloaf and mashed potatoes when served, but I usually don’t bother with it.

JLeslie's avatar

@queenie Are you going to make one? Where do you live?

MilkyWay's avatar

@JLeslie I’m considering it. I live in London UK

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Now I’m curious as to what jellies consider more cringe worthy, meatloaf or fruitcake?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Can’t beat good meatloaf, can’t stand bad meatloaf

1 lb ground venison
¼ lb ground sausage
1 egg
½ cup bread or cracker crumbs
medium onion minced
bell pepper diced
1 tblspoon Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
fresh minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2–3 strips of bacon
ketchup or BBQ sauce optional

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix thoroughly all ingredients except the bacon and sauce.
Put mix in a greased loaf pan, place bacon strips on top of loaf.
Cover with foil bake for 30 minutes.
Remove foil, add BBQ sauce or ketchup if desired
return to oven for 15–20 minutes until done.

Let loaf sit covered for 5 minutes before serving with mashed potatoes and green beans.

JLeslie's avatar

It looks like you can get the liptons

Some recipes are rather sweet, so it might take a second try to get the flavor to your liking. That is why I cut the ketchup in half, my husband thinks it is too sweet otherwise. I know cuts of meat can be different in the UK. Use what you would use for a meatball I think. I always use ground round for all ground beef myself.

MilkyWay's avatar

@JLeslie Okay, thanks :)

Pandora's avatar

Everyone makes it different but the main ingredients in all meat loaf is ground beef, seasoning of your choice, and bread crumbs and most of the time some egg whites to help hold it together. Then you shape it into a loaf and bake.
Thats why its called meatloaf.

JLeslie's avatar

I use egg beaters instead of egg to cut the cholesterol.

LuckyGuy's avatar

What is meat loaf? In tenth grade it was the end of one of our favorite jokes.

“Don’t let your meat loaf.”
Ha ha. Hysterical. Kids!

YARNLADY's avatar

In our family, the ingredients are variable, but it is considered a treat. My son begs us to make it for the family dinners.

Blueroses's avatar

I am now making a meatloaf. Thanks @queenie!

Coloma's avatar

I happen to LOVE my meatloaf, and yes, no Lipton onion soup mix….blech!

I just add a raw egg, bread crumbs, a splash of tomato sauce, diced onion and green & red bell pepper, and…the coupe de gras for me, I like a nice tomato paste ‘frosting’ that bakes up all lightly brown and delicious.

Gotta have the traditional meatloaf dinner once a year or so, with fresh mashed potatos and green peas. The perfect bite has a little of everything in it.

Okay…too hot to bake a meatloaf over here today, but, oooh, sounds good!

I think I made one back in October, maybe. lol

redfeather's avatar

I remember my mom putting a slab of meatloaf on my plate and I would sit and silently cry. I wasn’t allowed to leave the table till I ate it. So I’d sit there for hours staring down this chunk of now cold meatloaf. Holy Lord I hate it. She doesn’t make it anymore, just once a year in the shape of a bone she makes chicken meatloaf for my dog’s birthday.

JLeslie's avatar

@redfeather How awful. It always makes me queazy when I hear stories of children being force fed.

redfeather's avatar

I’d choke it down, gagging and crying. It built character ;)

Coloma's avatar


Poor baby. My childhood trauma was my ancient aunts tomato aspic salad.
Horrible, horrible tomato jello with little bits of nasty things in it like green olives and green onions. Oh God…I remember that repulsive, quivering blob in the shape of some funky 1950’s jello mold, wobbling it’s way across the table on a bed of butter lettuce. I had to take some to ‘be polite.’

Thank God ‘it’ died with my aunt! lol

MilkyWay's avatar

@redfeather Gee, I know what not to make for you then.
@Blueroses Hope you don’t get heartburn this time honey.

JLeslie's avatar

@redfeather I don’t see how. I think it is abusive.

redfeather's avatar

@JLeslie my parents werent abusive, just that old fashioned clean your plate attitude. We joke about it now.

JLeslie's avatar

@redfeather I don’t mean to label them as abusive, but I do think it is abusive. My parents never made me eat anything, but they did scream a lot. They could be seen as verbally abusive, but I just blow it off as crazy loud Jewish New Yorkers.

Kardamom's avatar

Meatloaf is very common in the U.S., especially in the southern states. There are generally 2 main kinds, one that has a tomato (ketchup-like) sauce and the other one has a savory brown gravy, but both of them are generally made from ground beef, herbs and bread crumbs rolled oats and eggs that are used as a binder, then it is cooked in a bread loaf pan and it has one of 2 standard types of sauces poured on top. It is often served hot with mashed potatoes and peas. Meatloaf also served, cold, to make sandwiches. People either love it or hate it. Before I became a vegetarian, I loved it. I have had several decent vegetarian versions of meatloaf that were pretty good too (usually grain based).

This meatloaf recipe by Paula Deen is pretty standard for the tomato sauce topped loaf.

And this recipe is pretty standard for meatloaf with brown gravy.

If you like Shepherd’s pie or Pot pies, you will probably like meatloaf.

There are also fancier (but not typical) versions of meatloaf such as this one by Emeril Lagasse, that uses multiple kinds of meat. This is not the typical kind of meatloaf that most diners, or mothers make at home, this is definitley kicked up a notch!

And meatloaf made with ground turkey, instead of ground beef, is becoming much more common, now that people are trying to be more health conscious, such as this one by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

If you want to try a vegetarian version of “meat loaf” you might like this one that uses lentils as the base, instead of meat.

And here’s another one that replaces the meat with cottage cheese and cereal.

And this vegetarian version uses nuts and mushrooms in place of the meat.

Bon appetite!

Coloma's avatar


I’m the tomato paste crust fan. No gravy. Ick. :-)

Cruiser's avatar

@redfeather I was 10 rs old and deathly ill in the hospital and my grandma was visiting me and “made” me eat the hospital meatloaf AND cold lima beans on my dinner tray to get my strength back. I was crying the whole time and have never ever forgotten that nightmare moment. Utterly awful

Blueroses's avatar

Oh @Cruiser my heart goes out to your poor younger self. Hospital food is an oxymoron. They even manage to screw up Jell-o.

yankeetooter's avatar

It’s the stuff that my Mom makes that nobody else knows how to make right (sorry everyone)...

Coloma's avatar

Childhood traumas have a longstanding effect, I would not eat jello, or grapenuts cereal or drink lipton tea, ever again in my life!

redfeather's avatar

@Cruiser poor little lamb. When you got better did you make her eat it?

zenvelo's avatar

Meatloaf was also dinner in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

King_Pariah's avatar

@zenvelo It was a mercy killing

Cruiser's avatar

@Blueroses @redfeather I was mortified not only by the hideous meat thing on the plate but that there was no one there to save me from my own Grandma who was torturing me during a time when I was already close to death. I was out of my mind scared!

JLeslie's avatar

@Cruiser Like I said above, abusive. I just can’t stand force feeding anyone, especially children. Just awful. I would have bought you cheetos and cookies from the vending machine.

fundevogel's avatar

Mmmm meatloaf. I’m going to try @Qingu‘s recipe, but I think @josie owes us his as well.

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