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Basic Meatloaf Recipes and Simple Variations to Make Ahead and Freeze

Updated on January 22, 2011

Our basic meatloaf recipes use ketchup, breadcrumbs or oatmeal and cheese. This old-fashioned presentation, which is moist and slices beautifully, is the ultimate comfort food. But, this easy to prepare entree does not have to be boring. Once we introduced our best ever meatloaf with sundried tomatoes at our make ahead recipe store to overwhelming applause, we decided to try some variations. Below are some favorite combinations of our customers:

  • Spinach and pine nuts
  • Bacon and cheddar cheese
  • Salsa, Mexican cheeses and cilantro.

How long do you cook meatloaf in the oven? Answer: A one-pound loaf takes just one hour if it is completely defrosted and cooks in a standard pan. If it is already prepared and ready to go in the oven (which is the hallmark feature of our make ahead recipe process,) then that's an entire hour to do something you value (workout? read a good book? homework?) while a healthy and delicious dinner cooks in the oven.

Directions for the basic meatloaf recipe and variations are provided below.

Basic Meatloaf Recipe with Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Basic Meatloaf Recipe with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Basic Meatloaf Recipe


  • 1 Egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced (approx. 1/2 medium sized onion)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup ketchup plus extra for the top
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs or oatmeal
  • 1 pound ground beef


  1. Add all of the ingredients, except for the meat, to a large bowl and thoroughly combine with a spoon. (Tip: the ingredients will be uniformly distributed throughout the meatloaf by combining everything but the meat first.)
  2. Combine the ground beef with the mixture from step 1. (Tip: use a pair of plastic gloves during this step.) Make sure the ingredients are thoroughly combined, but don't over handle the meat or it will become tough.
  3. Lift the mixture into a loaf pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray. You can also press the mixture into large cupcake tins, mini loaf pans or make some of the mixture into meatballs.
  4. Press mixture into pan and smooth top.
  5. Spread additional ketchup on top, if desired.
  6. See cooking directions below to enjoy this recipe now.
  7. Wrap any portions you are going to freeze. Place lids on pans or encase with aluminum foil and then fully encase the covered pans in plastic wrap.
  8. Label with print and cut cooking directions below.

Print and Cut Cooking Directions

Basic Meatloaf Recipe With_________________________________

Instructions: Thaw in refrigerator for approx. 24-36 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for approx. 1 hour or until meat thermometer registers 160F.

Serving Suggestions: Creamy mashed potatoes or Mock “cauliflower” potatoes and fresh green beans.


Preparation Date:________________

Spinach and Pine Nut Meatloaf
Spinach and Pine Nut Meatloaf

Spinach and Pinenut Meatloaf

Picky eaters won't know that vitamin-c packed spinach has been added. A sophisticated palate will enjoy the surprise of the pine nuts.

Addthe following ingredients to the Basic Meatloaf Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts


  1. Follow the directions for the Basic Meatloaf Recipe. Add the spinach and pine nuts in step one.


Bacon and Cheese Meatloaf

All the ingredients of your favorite burger are included in this meatloaf.

Substitutecheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for the mozzarella cheese in the Basic Meatloaf Recipe.

Addthe following ingredients to the Basic Meatloaf Recipe:

  • 1/4 cup bacon, cooked and diced


  1. Follow the directions for the Basic Meatloaf Recipe. Add the bacon in step one.

Cheesy Salsa Meatloaf

This version has a bit of a kick that is offset by the cheese. Try different types of salsas and get completely different results. (We love mango salsa!)

Make the following changes to the Basic Meatloaf Recipe.

  • Substitute Monterey Jack cheese for mozzarella cheese
  • Substitute Salsa for Ketchup
  • Add 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


  1. Follow the directions for the Basic Meatloaf Recipe. Add the cilantro in step one.


Empanadas are easy to make when the filling is crumbled meatloaf.
Empanadas are easy to make when the filling is crumbled meatloaf.

More Tips and Suggestions

  • Make memorable meatballs with any of the basic meatloaf recipes!
  • Use cupcake tins or make mini loaves.
  • Crumble cooked meat and make empanadas using crescent roll dough. Sandwich the filling between layers of dough and cook according to instructions.
  • Serve with Creamy Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes (cook these at the same time.)


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    • laringo profile image

      laringo 4 years ago from From Berkeley, California. things to add to meatloaf. Can't go wrong.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Mmmm another great recipe to bookmark.

      I will let you know how I get on.

      Thanks for sharing and take care


    • DinnerMom profile image

      DinnerMom 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanks for reading. Enjoy!

    • carrie450 profile image

      carrie450 6 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      Sounds scrumptious DinnerMom. I will try them out, thanks