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Chef John's Zombie Meatloaf

Rated as 5 out of 5 Stars

"After seeing various versions of this Halloween-themed meatloaf on social media over the years, I decided it was time to post my very own. I've seen many approaches to this, such as covered in 'blood', or mummified in strips of pastry, but the ones wrapped in bacon always looked the most realistic, and the most appetizing."
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2 h servings 641
Original recipe yields 8 servings


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  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Saute diced onion, celery, mushrooms, and 1 teaspoon salt until the mixture dries out and starts to turn golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, black pepper, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  3. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons salt, ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, buttermilk, 2 tablespoons ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl. Add cooled vegetable mixture. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
  4. Slice 2 round sides, about 1/2-inch-thick, off the second onion for the zombie eyes. Push 1 clove into the center of each slice. Cut a 1-inch-wide section off the remaining onion and dice into chunks to form zombie teeth.
  5. Transfer meatloaf mixture to the prepared baking sheet and use damp hands to shape into a zombie skull shape that is 3 to 4 inches tall. Form indents to represent the eyes, nose, and mouth. Drape bacon over the face, covering most of the meatloaf. Add onion eyes and teeth. Tuck in loose ends of bacon under the sides with a spatula. Cover the onion eyes with aluminum foil to prevent browning.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees F (68 degrees C), about 1 hour.
  7. Stir barbeque sauce, 1/4 cup ketchup, and hot sauce together in a bowl to make the blood sauce.


  • Cook's Notes:
  • For crispier bacon, cover the eyes and teeth with aluminum foil and broil until bacon is brown and crispy.
  • Milk may be used in place of buttermilk, if preferred.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 641 calories; 40.6 21.5 46.1 196 1600 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 9
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It was so fun. I substituted Green olives stuffed with garlic for the cloves in the center of the eyes. By cuttint the onion at stock end you can easily have a larger hole and the olives pop rig...

The only thing I did differently was to put cooked mummy under the broiler for a few minutes, so the bacon could crisp up. It was a hit with my adult children and hubby. They all went back fo...

Reactivated my AllRecipes login just now to comment on this. First, we discovered Chef John on YouTube and love his work. Second, this was AMAZING. The flavor was great, it was moist, everything...

It was an awesome Halloween hit! I did broil it at the last few minutes just to get the bacon crispy.

This was better than my mothers meatloaf! Sorry Mom.

Everyone loved it and they were a bit grossed out!

So great! I made a second one cuz they ate it all at the pot luck! Tasted very bacony! So very good and creepy!

I put Swiss cheese in the brain cavity. I meant to put Gouda in and under the nasal orifice, and cheddar in and under the mouth. Broiled at the end to crisp up bacon. I also used garlic cloves f...

This was awesome, and everybody loved the zombie look! I backed off on the salt a bit, and added one tablespoon of brown sugar to the mix. Definitely will do this one again next year.