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Customizing Ideas for the Old Dinner Standby: Meatloaf

Updated on December 20, 2012

Add Some Fun to the Meatloaf Hum Dum.

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What Makes a Good Loaf o' Meat?

We've all heard the stories from relatives, strangers in the grocery store and coworkers, which binders work the best? Eggs, seasoned or plain breadcrumbs or just bread soaked in milk, the flour and ketchup mixture that works in a pinch if you are out of all of the above.

Classic for a reason, my family prefers an egg and some plain breadcrumbs though we've even used mayonnaise as the binding agent when out of egg and its below freezing outside. We generally use fresh herbs and we also choose not to buy pre-seasoned breadcrumbs which often contain a lot of salt.

Basic Cooking Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 55 min
Ready in: 1 hour 15 min
Yields: Serves 4-6

Basic Meatloaf Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • plain breadcrumbs, milk soaked breadcrumbs

Basic Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 355 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Whisk eggs lightly and add to raw ground beef in a large bowl.
  3. Add breadcrumbs, salt & pepper, seasonings, onions, Worcestershire sauce and optional veggie additions and stir into ground beef/beaten egg mixture.
  4. Transfer mixture to a 9x5-inch loaf pan. If you are using a glaze, prepare it and spread over meat mixture. Also if you are using toppings, add them just before you put the loaf in the preheated oven.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Carnivore Options

Meatloaf doesn't have to be just hamburger! You can add other ground meats to your hamburger base or get wild and toss out the beef altogether and opt for ground turkey or chicken. Food should be fun and tasty, get inventive and involve the whole family on dinner decisions (within reason naturally). Listed below are some delicious ideas to tame your family's taste buds:

  • Chorizo & Ground Beef
  • ground sausage
  • ground turkey
  • ground chicken
  • skinned & chopped bratwurst
  • ground lamb
  • ground venison

Gooey Cheese Center

Putting a yummy cheesy surprise in the center of your meatloaf is an instant jazz up. Cheddar and mozzarella snack sticks, smoked or not are easy and delicious. Half fill the loaf pan with the meat mixture then create a little ditch in the middle with the side of a long wooden spoon, fill with your cheese of choice and add the rest of the meatloaf mixture. Cook as directed.

Or you can expand your meatloaf with a fancy cheese, below are some of my favorite melting cheeses::

  • Fontina
  • Raclette
  • Queso-blano
  • Cotswald
  • Munster
  • Gorgonzola
  • Feta
  • Smoked or Regular Pepperjack


Vegetable Additions

Now plenty of people, may think why mess up the yumminess with health food but the right veggies really complement your meat and cheese choices and this cafeteria favorite could become your families favorite easy meal. All veggies should be cooked and diced fine.I like to saute in butter until tender. Remember not to overload your meatloaf or it could crumble.

  • Onions and mixed Bell Peppers (red, orange, yellow & green)
  • Mushrooms sautéed in butter and red wine
  • Grated Carrot, Zucchini & Onion
  • Jalapenoes & Green Chilies
  • Grated Potato & Cabbage
  • Celery and Onion
  • Chopped Artichoke Hearts and Broccoli
  • Chopped Spinach and Artichoke Hearts
  • Onion, Chopped Spinach and Celery





Seasonings, Toppings and Glazes Oh My!

Oh the all important seasoning, topping and glazes part of the never-ending and thoroughly under-appreciated classic realm of meatloaf. I include Worcestershire sauce in the basic recipe ingredients as I have never made a meatloaf or burger without it. Fresh herbs generally taste better but dry do just fine in a pinch. Add at the end and mix well through.

Seasonings & Herbs:

  • Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic or Garlic Powder, Salt
  • Chopped Parsley, Basil & Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Hot Sauce
  • 2 teapsoons Italian Seasoning & 1/2 teaspoon Parsley
  • Medium Picante Salsa 3 tablespoons
  • A1 Steaksauce, Heinz 57 etc. 2 tablespoons
  • 2tsp Dried Mustard, Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, & 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 packet French Onion Soup mix
  • 1 packet Ranch or Taco Seasoning
  • 2 tsp. dried mustard
    2 tsp. paprika
    1 1/2 tsp. salt
    1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
    1 1/2 tsp. basil
    1 tsp. black pepper
    1 tsp. garlic powder
    1 tsp. onion powder

Toppings:

  • Bacon Strips and Ketchup
  • Bacon Strips and Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Cheese of any sort :)
  • sliced sauteed mushrooms
  • Caramelized Onions & BBQ Sauce

Glazes:

  • Ketchup, Mustard and Brown Sugar
  • BBQ Sauce, Mustard and Honey
  • Tomato Sauce/Paste or Straight Ketchup
  • Medium Buffalo Sauce
  • Cider Vinegar, Smoky BBQ Sauce & Ketchup
  • Golden Mushroom Condensed Soup (unmixed)
  • Vidalia Brand Onion Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar, Honey and Ketchup (whisked together until smooth)


Meatloaf, All Beef or Something More?

All Beef Meatloaf or Do You Mix Your Meat?

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Cheesey Meatloaf

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