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The Best Ever Brown Sugar Meatloaf recipe

Updated on July 8, 2015
5 stars from 1 rating of The Best Ever Meatloaf

I've always loved meatloaf, but this has been a favorite not only of mine, but my husband, both of our families, and every else we've invited over to try it. We make it over and over again and have never gotten tired!

What makes this recipe different is the fact that it chocked full of veggies. Yes! Vegetables! Every time I make it, I use whatever combination of veggies I have in the refrigerator. Sometimes it's radishes, jicama root and broccoli, sometimes I have cauliflower, parsnips, green onions, or brussel sprouts. However I always use carrots. And then there's the secret ingredient! Shhhhhh . . . it's brown sugar. I put it in the meatloaf and also on top. Talk about yummy!

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: Serves six people.


  • 3 slices wheat bread
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large celery stalk
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons ketchup, separated
  • 2 teaspoons + 2 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard, separated
  • 1 pound hamburger, as lean as possible
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 tablespoon rosemary, second part for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar, keep separated
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small purple onion
  • (Optional) other veggies in your fridge


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place slices of bread in the bowl of a food processor. Process until fine crumbs form, about 10 seconds. Transfer breadcrumbs to a large mixing bowl. Do not substitute dried breadcrumbs in this step, as they will make your meatloaf rubbery.
  2. Place carrot, celery, yellow onion, garlic, and parsley in the bowl of the food processor (along with any other veggies you intend to include). Process until vegetables have been minced, about 30 seconds, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. (Chopping vegetables this way saves time and ensures that vegetables will be small enough to cook through and not be crunchy). Transfer vegetables to bowl with the breadcrumbs.
  3. Add 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup of brown sugar (a little more if you desire), 2 teaspoons dry mustard, hamburger, eggs, salt, and rosemary. Using your hands, knead the ingredients until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. The texture should be wet, but tight enough to hold a free-form shape.
  4. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray before transferring mixture to pan. Place loaf pan on a cookie sheet in the over, just in case of drippings.
  5. Place the remaining 3 tablespoons ketchup, remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a bowl. Mix until smooth. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the glaze over the meatloaf (currently in the oven).
  6. Pour olive oil in a medium saucepan set over high heat. When oil is smoking, add purple onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and golden in places. Add 3 tablespoons water, and cook, stirring, until most of the water has evaporated. Transfer onion to a bowl to cool slightly, then sprinkle onion over the meatloaf (also while in the oven). I know this sounds strange, but I promise, it will really make it amazing!
  7. Bake 30 minutes, then sprinkle rosemary needles on top. Continue baking meatloaf about 25 minutes more. Let meatloaf cool for 15 minutes once removed from the oven. You are going to be in love with the smell wafting through your kitchen!

Nutrition Info

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 (1 inch) slice
Calories 372
Calories from Fat225
% Daily Value *
Fat 25 g38%
Carbohydrates 19 g6%
Fiber 1 g4%
Protein 18 g36%
Cholesterol 101 mg34%
Sodium 335 mg14%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

I know this recipe sounds a little complicated, but with a food processor, it really goes by quickly, especially once you've made it once or twice. My husband is one of those who doesn't like to eat vegetables if he has a choice, so I love hiding them in my main dishes with some homemade mashed potatoes (his favorite!) on the side.

You'd be shocked at the number, and kind of vegetables I hide in this meatloaf. No one that we've ever served it to has ever noticed the veggies! Your kids, your family and your husband are going to love it! I promise!

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    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 5 years ago from Fountain, CO

      lol You'll understand as soon as you try this recipe. lol You'll never be able to go back to your old one. It really does taste that good!

    • georgialgal1984 profile image

      Mrs Clark 5 years ago from United States

      I will have to try this then. Who doesn't like meatloaf? I don't understand...

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 5 years ago from Fountain, CO

      You should try this recipe for him! Really! When I first told my husband that I was going to make meatloaf, he grimaced and said he'd never liked meatloaf. So I asked him to give it one more try.

      The secret ingredient in this one is brown sugar and all of the veggies. It has all kinds of wonderful flavors in it, and best of all, it's a little sweet. He loved it and now tells everyone that I make this amazing meatloaf. This is one of our "special" dishes that we make for guests when we have a dinner party. Try it out! I bet he'll change your mind!

    • georgialgal1984 profile image

      Mrs Clark 5 years ago from United States

      I *heart* meatloaf. Unfortunately my husband does not. :( I don't make it a lot but I think it is wonderful fresh, or reheated, with extra ketchup on top!

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 5 years ago from Fountain, CO

      Thanks! Now you've got to try it!! :) Your family will thank you!

    • profile image

      lesliebyars 5 years ago

      I love meat loaf and that picture made me hungry.Voted up and awesome.