Friday, March 2, 2007

Classic “All American” Meatloaf

This recipe is a version that Alton Brown did on Good Eats. I’ve added a few extra ingredients, like mushrooms, which I believe helps make a very moist meatloaf. Do I feel bad stealing Alton’s recipe? No, because he stole it from someone, who stole it from someone, and so on and so on. I've tried many recipes and this is my favorite for flavor, texture and it's just plain easy to make.

I believe this is the first demo I make you dust off your food processor for. I know they are a pain to drag out and clean, but they are crucial to this recipe! The real secret to this method is the veggie puree we add to the meat and bread crumbs. Not only do these aromatic vegetables add tons of flavor, more importantly they add moisture to the mix. Most “bad” meatloaves are nothing more than giant baked hamburgers.

Another important tip is to use a digital meat thermometer to check for an internal temp of 155° F. This will produce the best final product. The times I give can be very tricky since all ovens are different and you may not have shaped yours exactly the same as mine. When you go by internal temps you take the guess work out of it.

Stay tuned, as I will show you my mushroom sauce recipe that I garnished this beautiful loaf of meat with. In fact, it just stopped raining here in Northern California, so there should be a nice selection of wild mushrooms to use. Enjoy!

2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80% lean)
1 carrot
1 rib celery
1/2 onion
1/2 red bell pepper
4 white mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
2 tbl olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp olive oil

2 tbl brown sugar
2 tbl ketchup
2 tbl Dijon mustard
hot sauce to taste


hkfreak said...

OK, I'll say it again....

Unknown said...

Yeah, thats what I said. :)

Anonymous said...

A couple of questions -

When you say about 1tsp salt per lb meat ... is that table salt or the larger Kosher flaked salt.

I'm not sure if it's true (guess I could be not so lazy and get out the scale and do the experiment) but I've heard that by 1 tsp Kosher is about half the weight of 1 tsp table salt. Is that true? So if I've been using Kosher salt should I be adding somewhat more than the recipe?

And because some of us are like 2 year olds and have to know why: why do you bake 15 minutes before you glaze?

Thanks again...

Chef John said...

good questions...

it was regular salt. yes, larger flake salt do weight less, so you many need to add a bit more than recipes say. The best thing to do when you are making meatloaf or meatballs is to cook a small piece and adjust. Im sure there are some conversion charts online somewhere for kosher/regular salt.

The reason for the 15 minutes is that the glaze "sticks" better on a hot meatloaf vs. raw cold meat, but more importantly the glaze could burn if it was on for the entire time.

Anonymous said...

I made your meatloaf recipe for dinner tonight and it was a big hit! It's way better than the old recipe that I had been using.

But I do have a question about the cooking time and temperature. After 45 minutes cooking time the internal temp of the loaf was only 100F degrees. It took almost 90 minutes to reach 155F. Did I do something wrong?

*Weight of meat was 2.5 lbs
*Oven temp was 325F (double checked with oven thermometer)
*My oven is traditional (non-convection)
*Loaf was shaped same as yours.

I did one thing different however. I used my special meatloaf pan that holds the loaf up above the grease.
Could that double the cooking time?

Thanks for a great recipe.


Chef John said...

No, I have no idea! But, thats the beauty of internal temps. It was done right. I really can't tell you why the 40 minutes extra. Maybe MY oven is wrong! I better calibrate. Im glad you enjoyed it!! Keep watching and tell a few hundred friends about the site.

Anonymous said...

The only safe cooking temp that matters, especially when dealing with meat, is the internal temperature. There are probably very few ovens - even those calibrated - that will cook the same every time - so the only way to insure the correct length of time is to gauge it by the internal method, using the recommended oven temp as only a "setting" to reach this destination.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef,

I loved this meatloaf. Moist and delicious. I probably needed to watch the hot sauce a little better though. I love your work THX :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

I tried your classic Meatloaf recipe sometime ago and it's great.

Here's a variation of your recipe, which I think you'll like.

Feedback/comments/suggestions are appreciated.


Classic Meatloaf (variation)

Liquid Seasonings
2 tbls of Ketchup
1 tbls Horseradish
1 tbls Honey Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Mexican-style Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Dry Seasonings
1 tbls dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons of Salt
1 teaspoon of fresh ground Black Pepper
1 tbls Dry Mustard
1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon of whole Green Peppercorns, rinsed

Mix the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

1 carrot
1 rib of Celery
1/2 Onion
3 cloves of fresh peeled garlic
1/2 Green or Red Bell Pepper, veins and seeds removed

Roughly chop the ingredients and then process to a course puree using your food processor. Do not liquify the vegetables.

1/2 cup of Brown sugar
1/8 cup of Ketchup
1 tbls of Mexican-style Hot Sauce
1 or 2 teaspoons of Rice Vinegar, too taste

Mix the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

1-1/2 lbs of lean ground beef (80% beef/20% fat)
1/2 a can of peeled, seeded and chopped Tomatoes (Drain carefully in a strainer to remove any excess liquid)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of homemade breadcrumbs
1/4 to 1/2 cup of Parmesan or Romano Cheese, too taste


Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add the course pureed Mirepoix, Liquid Seasonings, 2 beaten eggs and the chopped tomatoes. Mix together, gently.

Next, add the Dry Seasonings, breadcrumbs and Parmesan or Romano Cheese to the Meatloaf mixture. Mix together, gently.

Cover a baking pan's surface with aluminum foil. Add 1 tbls of Olive Oil to coat the Aluminum foil. Place the Meatloaf mixture on the Aluminum foil and form into a loaf.

Bake the Meatloaf at 325 F for 30 minutes. Remove the Meatloaf from the oven and coat with the glaze. Return the Meatloaf to the oven and cook for another 45 minutes or until the Meatloaf's internal temperature reaches 155 F.

Anonymous said...


I have a question regarding storing "prepared" meat. When i say prepared, I mean seasoned and ready to go. How long can I keep prepared meat in the refrigerator before cooking it? I'm thinking if I mix up a batch thats too big, I can bake half of it, and then cook something else with the remaining meat later in the week.

Chef John said...

it wont spoil in a few days, but the acids, salt, spices, and vegetable juices will start to affect the protein and you may get a strange texture. Better to freeze.

Anonymous said...

hey, I tried the recipe yesterday with the mashed potatoes, and mushroom sauce...and some lovely british garden peas, yummy!

For a first time, I was astonished at how well things worked out. The mashed potatoes just turned out perfect just like on your video.

If I had to say just one thing, I'd say that the glaze wasn't as successful as the rest. I did it right, and it looks really appetizing, but my friends and I all thought it didn't really have its place on a meatloaf...but nevertheless a delicious meal, a great culinary evening, thanks for sharing this recipe!

Chef John said...

The glaze is just traditional and can certainly be left off. It won't hurt my feelings too bad! ;) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I found your site after searching for a meatloaf recipe on youtube. This is really is the best recipe ever for meatloaf, and personally I love the sauce and it's spicy kick.

I did make some changes to the recipe mainly for dietary issues (I'm avoiding sugar). The changes I made : substituted 1 lb. of ground pork for 1 lb. of ground beef, also I didn't use the carrot, I didn't have Worcestershire so instead I put 1 tbls. of soy sauce and 1 tbls. A-1, my glaze was almost the same except it was made with splenda and the hot sauce I used was Chile Habanero made by the brand El Yucateco. I wasn't trying to change your recipe but even with the changes this meatloaf was so delicious and incredibly moist. I'm actually making it again right now.

One thing about your recipe that confused me was the 3 tbls. of olive oil. I didn't see you use them in the video. Was the oil to grease your pan?

Once again excellent recipe and excellent video. Your blog is now one of my favorites and I look forward to finding other delicious recipes here.

Chef John said...

thanks! I think the O.O. was just for the dish and to rub as I shaped the meat. You can omit.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Recipe Chef John,

First time I made meatloaf,I would not change the flavors in this recipe in anyway. Better than Boston Markets by far.

Susan Chin said...

Hi Chef,

I wonder why my meatloaf is raw in the center after baked for 30 mins and 45 mins after glazed. I'm using the loaf pan to make this meatloaf. Is it because of my loaf pan too thick? I baked it at 325F. Should I change the temperature to 350F and baked for 45 mins and 45 mins after glazed? If I bake too long will my meatloaf goes too dry?

Hope to hear from you Chef. Have a good weekend....

Chef John said...

There are many variables, so don't change anything, just leave in until younger internal temp of 155. Why did you remove if it was still raw? You can go strictly by time for this stuff. If you don't, you must get a thermometer. Good luck!

Chef John said...

Until you get not " younger". iPad autocorrect

Susan Chin said...

Hi Chef,

Thank you Chef for your prompt reply.

I baked my meatlof as per your time on the recipe. Because my thermometer is broken and I don't have a spare. So I just pressumed the meatloaf is fully cooked. I didn't know that the center is still raw but until I cut the meatloaf. However I rebaked it for another 15 mins, but the meatloaf is no longer juicy.

Anyway Chef I will buy a new thermometer and try to make this meatloaf again. Thanks for your adviced.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Chef John said...

Ah, I see! I hope it's perfect next time! :-)

Anonymous said...

Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hrs until temp is 165

Anonymous said...

What is the purpose of the olive oil, it has it in the written recipe but cannot see where it is used.

masterT said...

I have been searching for a great meatloaf recipe for many years; I have tried quite a few..... Lipton Onion Soup Meatloaf, Quaker Oats Meatloaf, Food Network Meatloaves, etc... I have tried those out on my family and their response was always they were OK BUT last night when I made your meatloaf recipe they LOVED it. I made enough for leftovers and my kids and husband are looking forward to eating it again tonight. My daughter and her boyfriend wanted to make a meatloaf sandwich for lunch today. It is the most amazing meatloaf recipe that I have ever tried and I have made many. It is incredibly moist and flavorful! GREAT RECIPE!
I also made your mushroom gravy recipe and it was also a hit. My husband said that it was the best homemade gravy that I have ever made. My kids couldn't get enough (even though the meatloaf is amazing on its own); they kept pouring the gravy over the meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Thank you for such amazing recipes and a great "How To" video!!! Keep the amazing recipes coming!!

Anonymous said...

325 F is just too low.

Chef John said...

It's actually perfect if you want moist meatloaf. You may want to read the review above your (crazy) comment.

Michelle said...

I'm making your meatloaf this weekend. I'll be serving 10 people and I was wondering if you could suggest how I can scale up your recipe to yield 10 servings. Would doubling the recipe work? Any suggestions on adjusting the cooking time? I don't usually make a recipe for the first time when I'm having guests, but your meatloaf sounds wonderful and I'm sure it'll be a hit :)

Chef John said...

Yes, I would do 2. May take longer, but use internal temperature to be sure.

Peg said...

I made your "for many people, meatloaf is just a baked hamburger" comment my Facebook status. It was just too good to pass up. So is "Shiitake happens", but outside of the context of the video, it just wasn't the same.

Can't wait to try this!

Anonymous said...

This is the
BEST meatloaf recipe that I have ever tried in my 40 years of cooking. Its now a family staple. Thanks so much!

Jozielee said...

Superb meatloaf.

Paul M said...

Thanks so much for this recipe!! Meatloaf is a huge fave of mine, and I had a failed attempt before trying this one, but it was easy, juicy, and delicious. And the mushroom gravy is awesome too! Shitake mushrooms make this really good. Yum. Great videos too. So helpful.

Prospero said...

Thanks chef, turned out yummy.

I was missing some items and made the following substitutions:

- Tomato for red bell pepper
- no mushrooms
- oats for bread crumbs
- Blender for food processor (yes I made a slush but that's fine.)

Going into the oven my loaf was not as dry as yours so I doubled the cooking time. When it was done I gobbled up half the loaf in one sitting while watching a documentary on the American Pitbull Terrier and no, the irony was not lost on me.

1Bigg_ER said...

Made this last night.Made a few changes because I'm a good student and the boss of my meatloaf. I like a touch of chunks in my meatloaf, for the color and texture. So what I did was saute some bacon, place the bacon pieces with the veggies in the processor, then back to the saute pan to partially cook the veggies. Let that cool then add to the meat. Added a touch of cumin and chipotle pepper.
Now that's comfort food.

Sarah in Chicago said...

...My sister's best friend calls it "Whats-That-There" sauce. Easier to say AND to spell!

sbamontillado said...

My son is allergic to eggs. May I just leave out the egg, or should I add something else for binding and moisture? I'm not sure if flaxmeal and water would work in the meatloaf.

Best wishes.

Chef John said...

Not sure about subs, but you can leave out. Just not as good a texture.

Anne Hastings said...

Hip Hip Hooray!!! My husband is the world's pickiest meatloaf eater. His favorite meatloaf is Boston Market's. I have tried a gazillion recipes (well, maybe not quite a gazillion). Many friends have said, "Oh, I make REALLY good meatloaf... here's the recipe". He didn't like any of them. THIS RECIPE HE LIKES!! I asked him if I should make it again and he said YES! Thank you, Chef John. You ROCK!

I halved the recipe because there's only two of us. I sauteed the pureed vegetables for a few minutes. I used 1-1/2 lbs. 80/20 ground beef, 3 mushrooms, 1 clove garlic, 1 whole egg, a PINCH of McCormick's Italian Seasoning, no cayenne, seasoned bread crumbs AND a squirt of ketchup in the meatloaf mix. I reduced the mustard to about a teaspoon and added another squirt of ketchup after tasting. Shaped it into about a 3x8 loaf and baked for 1 hour, 5 mins. total (internal temp 160).

A.J. said...

I finally tried this recipe and what a hit! My boyfriend LOVED it. I loved it too. With every bite, I found myself saying "No, but seriously, this is the best meatloaf ever!" I'm no stranger to the kitchen, but it still isn't lost on me how EASY this is to throw together--pulverize all the veggies right quick and then throw it all together in a bowl and then into the pan. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Unknown said...

I made this with the mushroom gravy, but browned the meatloaf before spooning it over. Served with your recipe/technique for mashed potatoes, green peas and homemade lingonberry sauce.

Me, my family and friends stated that it was the best meatloaf we've had. Same goes for many of your different recipes. It usually turns out perfectly.

With your help iv'e learned alot of basic techniques that I previously did wrong, and I have a better understanding for the reason of using different techniques. This usually is a dilemma when reading most recipes.

Iv'e also switched out the recipes iv'e previously used with yours. As mentioned before, yours really does come out better. And the jar of cayenne pepper does seem to decrease more quickly. I wonder why... :)

Greetings from Sweden!

Unknown said...

Chef John,

i am going to try making this tonight but i am going to try substituting the bread crumbs with pork rinds. How do you think this substitution will effect the internal temp and overall moister of the loaf??

I'm a big fan, and i love the NY filet salt trick! it makes the steak just the right amount of tender for my wife to enjoy it...which means i get to have steak again!!

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I don't understand the sub! The breadcrumbs soak in and hold moisture, which the pork does not. You may be adding flavor, but lots of extra fat, and it doesn't have the same effect to create the tender texture.

[deleted] said...

The most delicious meatloaf I've eaten I'm my life and I even over salted it. P.S I made this meat loaf in muffin tins and they were moist and delicious in 20 minutes. I know this post is a zillion years old but I just had to say something.

HHR said...

Chef John, I am confused. You have olive oil twice in the ingredient list, but I don't see it being used in the video except a bit for the form. What am I missing?

Unknown said...

Hi there,

Just wondering if I can sub oatmeal for bread crumbs? I'd like to make this for a friend who can't eat gluten.

Unknown said...

The BEST meatloaf I've ever had!

Thank you, Chef John, keep 'em coming!

churycola said...

Tried my hand at this recipe (and first meatloaf ever) tonight -- it was truly delicious! Thanks, Chef John.

I can now faithfully say that I am the Meatloaf... of my meatloaf.

D@n!kA said...

Just finished eating this... Both me and my boyfriend over ate because this stuff was so delicious >_< I set a timer for 15minutes before cutting into the meat because otherwise I wouldn't have had the willpower to wait. It was wonderfully moist and I am definitely going to try this again! This is why you're my favourite chef!