5 Secrets for Making Better Meatloaf

Make a flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth meatloaf that rivals Mom's.

Want to recreate the deliciously tangy, moist, and versatile meatloaf you had as a kid? Nicole McLaughlin shares her best tips for getting that perfect, ketchup-topped bite that tastes better than Mom's. Get the best tips for making the most succulent meatloaf right here.

Momma's Healthy Meatloaf
Photo by Allrecipes Magazine.

1.Meat Matters

The right cut of meat makes for a juicy, crave-worthy loaf that just might taste better than Mom's. "I like using a ground sirloin so you don't get so much shrinkage as it cooks," says McLaughlin. "The fattier the meat used, the smaller your meatloaf will be after cooking."

2. Texture Tips

The ideal meatloaf holds its shape while staying moist, which is no easy feat. "You need the vegetables in the mix for flavor and moisture, but no one wants to bite on a big chunk in their meatloaf," shares McLaughlin. She adds finely chopped onion and bell pepper for a subtle snap.

Clever cooks get deliciously rich texture by adding milk to seasoned breadcrumbs and allowing all the liquid to be absorbed. This time-honored tradition for making the most succulent meatloaf creates a flavorful binder that evenly distributes moisture throughout the loaf.

a glazed meatloaf on a white ceramic platter with two slices cut, garnished with celery leaves

Get the recipe for Better Than Mom's Meatloaf here

3. Spiced Right

Most meatloaf recipes are fairly straightforward when it comes to diving into the pantry. Salt and pepper reigns, but it's easy to add complexity and character by going deeper into the spice rack. Try adding minced garlic, parsley, and thyme for a deeply savory taste.

For mouthwateringly bold meatloaf, add Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and ketchup to the pre-baked mixture. This blend ensures that each bite is deliciously balanced with just a hint of sweetness.

4. Handle with Care

Once all the ingredients are assembled in a mixing bowl, use a light touch to combine. Set aside the spoon and work the mixture lightly with your hands, just long enough so everything has been incorporated.

When adding it to the loaf pan, gently pat down the meatloaf mixture rather than packing it in too firmly to avoid a mushy bake. No loaf pan? No problem — you can form a loaf on a standard baking sheet for similar results.

5. The Big Finish

A sweet ketchup glaze is the traditional topper on the majority of meatloaf preparations, but some prefer a more savory approach. Nicole's secret to a perfectly tangy ketchup topping is balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. "Cutting the (store-bought) ketchup taste just a little bit makes me love this topping," she shares.

Be sure to let your meatloaf rest before slicing and serving. The wait time allows the flavorful juices to stay sealed inside for that perfect bite. Pair the finished product with mashed potatoes and green beans for an enticing taste of home.

Momma's Healthy Meatloaf
Momma's Healthy Meatloaf | Photo by Sherri.

Ready to drool some more? Explore more than 200 meatloaf recipes and a guide to making the ultimate mashed potatoes to serve alongside your meatloaf masterpiece.

Updated by Leslie Kelly
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