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This Classic Meatloaf recipe was my dad’s claim to fame, at least in our house! It’s tender and juicy and has a uniquely delicious flavor. The brown sugar and ketchup glaze just puts this meatloaf over the top!
If hearty, classic, comfort food is your thing, you’ve got to try some of our other childhood favorites! We’ve got the best Chicken Fried Steak Recipe with Homemade Gravy, Swedish Meatballs, and One Pot Creamy Chicken and Noodles, and a lot more!
The Best Meatloaf Recipe
When I was in about 5th grade, my dad was put on permanent disability due to some health issues. So my mom was the one who went to work and my dad stayed at home. It was an unusual dynamic in those days (which makes me sound very old). When I was a kid it was becoming common for both parents to be working and it was really unusual to have a parent at home, much less the dad.
Given our family dynamic, my dad was the one who did a lot of the cooking. He had a few specialties that I remember fondly and love to recreate, like this classic meatloaf recipe. It’s a simple meatloaf recipe, but he definitely had his own twist to it. For example he used Porterhouse Seasoning, which I don’t see a lot of now but you can find it in the spice blends section of your grocery store. It’s a great dry rub for meats, especially beef, and is a blend of salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, oregano, paprika, parsley, celery, and rosemary.
How To Make Meatloaf
My dad made the best meatloaf, but it was just slightly different each time depending on what we had on hand. One of the big swaps he would use is oats versus crackers. If you are going to use oats in your meatloaf you want to use Quick Cook Oats; the regular oats just won’t work the same. But most often he used crushed up crackers, like Ritz or Townhouse. That’s how I’m writing the recipe, but you can swap out for another binder like the oats or even breadcrumbs if you like. The biggest flavor bump in this meatloaf recipe is the Porterhouse Seasoning. If you can’t find it, you can sort of put together your own or use a similar spice blend… or just plain salt and pepper if you like.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Ground beef – I like to use a higher fat content like 80/20 but you can go as low as 90/10.
- Breadcrumbs or crackers
- Porterhouse seasoning
I like to add a glaze to the top, although my dad didn’t do this. I think he kind of like the crunchy bits you end up with on top. But the glaze helps to keep the top moist and tender and adds a delicious bit of flavor, so it’s my little twist to Dad’s Classic Meatloaf Recipe.
Mix it just right
One of the keys to a good meatloaf is the mixing – do not over-mix, or you could end up with a tough meatloaf. The best advice I can give you is not something everyone likes to hear – you’ve got to use your hands! When you mix ground beef with a spoon or spatula you just aren’t able to easily combine all of the ingredients with the seasoning unless you mix for a while. This can cause the meatloaf to become dense and tough. Mixing with your hands – squeezing the meat between your fingers – allows the mixture to combine much quicker so it can stay nice and moist.
Why did my meatloaf fall apart?
Most likely, the culprit behind a crumbly meatloaf is not enough of a binder. The ingredients used to bind the meat together are some sort of bread (crackers, breadcrumbs, etc.) and eggs. If you use too much liquid, this could also cause the meatloaf to become too moist, and again fall apart. It’s a little like Goldilocks, you have to get it just right! But not to worry, this recipe will give you the proper ratios of ingredients for the best meatloaf around!
One last trick
One of my biggest pet peeves about meatloaf is when the juices all pool at the bottom and soak up into the meatloaf at the bottom, making it a little greasy. I recently purchased a Meatloaf Pan (seen above), and I love it! It was pretty affordable and is a great tool to have if you have a family of meatloaf lovers like we do. It also makes it really easy to lift the meatloaf out of the pan to slice. (This is another helpful tip for keeping your loaf together!).
Meatloaf is a classic dish that deserves respect. It should always be presented with the holy grail of side dishes – my Best Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes! Of course Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes are amazing, too. Don’t forget the veggies – A crisp green salad is delicious but since we’re going old school classic here, I love me some Honey Roasted Carrots.
What to do with leftovers
My dad was always excited on meatloaf night. Not because he loved the loaf itself (although he really, really did). It was because he knew that meant he be enjoying meatloaf sandwiches for the next few days. That’s one great way to use up leftover, but a slice or two will reheat really nicely in the microwave.
Store leftovers in the fridge in a sealed container for 3-5 days. You can also place in freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to six months.
Dad’s Classic Meatloaf Recipe is the best, but these other delicious meatloaf recipes are pretty great too:
And for even more classic ground beef recipes, try these:
Classic Meatloaf Recipe
- 2 pounds ground beef 85/15
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
- 1 cup crushed crackers quick cook oats or breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons Porterhouse seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9”x5” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl using your hands, just until combined. Do not overmix - The less you mess with it, the better it will be!
- Shape into a loaf and place into a loaf pan.
- In a small bowl combine ½ cup ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Brush about ⅓ of the mixture over the top of the meatloaf.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, then pour remaining sauce over the meatloaf. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15-25 minutes or until meatloaf is completely cooked through. Meat should register between 155 and 160 degrees F.
- Let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.