Not Your Mom’s Meatloaf

Daryl Bruce
Photo from
“Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf!” 
Randy, A Christmas Story.

I don’t think it’s much of a secret but meatloaf is one of those dishes people either love or hate, there’s no middle ground. Despite this, it’s often a go-to meal in many households.

Frequent complaints against meatloaf are that it’s too dry, too dense, or too greasy. Besides that, the name itself is less than appetizing. Meat in a loafed form doesn’t exactly excite one’s taste buds.

Growing up I was a proud and active member of the ‘people who hate meatloaf club.’ In my household, Friday nights were nearly always meatloaf night. I dreaded Friday night dinners, but it was that or nothing. Possessing a healthy appetite, I sucked up my complaints and ate as quickly as I could.

My parents didn’t have a lot of time or money, so, our meatloaf nights were borne out of frugality. It allowed them to throw together a quick and filling meal incorporating leftovers from the week.

Truth be told, and because I want to stay in The Will, my mom’s meatloaf wasn’t bad. I think it was a mix of the texture and the regularity in which it was forced upon my siblings and I that by the time I moved out of the house, I swore I would never eat another meatloaf again.

Fast-forward about a decade, and I’m living on my own trying to stretch a buck. I had two pounds of ground chuck in the fridge that needed to be cooked. Rather than hamburgers, which were a staple of my diet during my twenties, I took the plunge and made a meatloaf.

It wasn’t bad, a little dry and didn’t hold together as well as I would have liked, but it triggered something in me. From that night on, I became obsessed with making the perfect meatloaf — yeah, I probably should have gotten a real hobby or tried to contribute something meaningful to the world, but screw it, meatloaf it was.

I started consulting my favorite celebrity chefs — Ina, Martha, Rachel, Jamie — to see what these wise sages deemed to be the perfect meatloaf.

I followed each recipe to the letter and noted what I liked and what I didn’t about each one. I began incorporating what I liked into my own recipe until I was comfortable enough to experiment and add my own favorite taste profiles.

Then one day it happened! I took a bite, and my knees grew weak, I threw my head back and thanked God for the day I was born. I had made an amazing meatloaf!

Being an amateur in the kitchen and full of self-doubt whenever I try making something without sticking to a recipe, I used my friends and family as guinea pigs.

After receiving glowing reviews, I took the plunge and tested it out on my mom’s discerning palate. When she asked for the recipe, I knew I had succeeded.

So, here we go this is my “Not Your Mom’s Meatloaf”


2.5 lbs lean grown beef (avoid extra lean or your meatloaf will be too dry)

For the onion mixture

2 medium yellow onions diced

1 tbsp chopped garlic (two to three cloves)

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp your favorite BBQ sauce

1 tbsp ketchup

1/3 cup of chicken stock or 1/3 cup water mixed with ½ a bouillon cube.

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried basil

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

For breadcrumb mixture

½ cup dried Italian breadcrumbs

2 eggs

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

3 tbsp sweet red chili sauce — this gives just a touch of heat. You can modify.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a skillet heat 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on medium-high. Once warm, add your diced onions, dried thyme, oregano, basil, kosher salt, and pepper. Sauté the onions until they caramelize slightly; about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add your chopped garlic and sauté for a minute or two just to cook off the raw garlic taste. Then add the chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce, and 1 tbsp of ketchup. Cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the mixture has thickened; 3 to 5 minutes. Then take your skillet off the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  4. In a large bowl add your ground beef, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Beat the two eggs and then add them to the breadcrumb mixture. Allow the eggs to be absorbed slightly by the breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the onion mixture to the breadcrumb mixture and combine. Don’t over combine or it will make the meatloaf too dense. Just mix to the point that everything is incorporated.
  6. Place the mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and form into a loaf. Ensure that the loaf is the same thickness as this will make for an even cooking time.
  7. In a separate bowl, combine the ½ cup of ketchup with the brown sugar, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and sweet red chili sauce. Whisk until the dried ingredients are fully combined.
  8. Brush on about ¾ of the sauce on the top and sides of the meatloaf and then place in the oven. Cook for 55 minutes.
  9. At 55 minutes, pour the remaining sauce over the meatloaf. Place back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

10. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes and then serve!

If you don’t like this then you must have done something wrong — only kidding.

Do you have a favorite meatloaf recipe? Do you still hate meatloaf? Let me know what you think.

Please feel free to comment below.

Daryl Bruce

Written by

A freelance writer specializing in such topics as writing, productivity, self, politics, and LGBTQ+ issues. Visit him at:

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