Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Southern Meatloaf

Southern Meatloaf

My southern meatloaf recipe topped with a tangy brown sugar-ketchup topping is a true family pleasing dish that's ready for the oven in just 20 minutes!
4.9 from 8 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Southern meatloaf on a white serving plate.

One of the most iconic of all American dinners is the meatloaf. It’s easy to mix up and happily bakes away in the oven while you take care of other things. My Southern Meatloaf recipe topped with a tangy brown sugar-ketchup topping is a true family pleasing dish that’s ready for the oven in just 20 minutes!

You know, one thing that I am not is a food snob. Now, I do enjoy trying all kinds of new foods and fancy restaurants. I love cooking new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, but I would also sit down and eat a strawberry Pop-Tart with you, too. And I’d enjoy it. So, if that means I’m not a “foodie” well that’s perfectly fine with me.

Southern meatloaf on a white serving plate.

Take this southern meatloaf recipe for instance. This recipe is good, plain all-American fare. To me, it’s on the same plane as fried chicken and hamburgers. The kind of food people in my area grew up eating. And we liked it when our mamas put it in front of us.

If you’ve never tried to make a meatloaf, please don’t hesitate any longer. It’s kinda like making a big old hamburger. Serve this with some macaroni and cheesegreen beans, or corn on the cob on the side, and just wait for the compliments.


  • 20-minute prep time
  • Appeals to all ages – kids especially love it
  • The leftovers make great sandwiches

Ingredients You’ll Need

For the meatloaf:

  • Ground beef (I use 80-20 ground chuck; the higher fat content adds great flavor)
  • Ground pork (easily available at most grocery stores)
  • Ground veal (if not available, use half beef and half pork)
  • Bread crumbs (helps to bind the meats together and also to stretch the quantity to serve more diners)
  • Salt and pepper (classic seasonings)
  • Worcestershire sauce (adds a nice depth of flavor)
  • Eggs (along with the bread crumbs, eggs bind the meatloaf and keep it from falling apart while cooking)
  • Onion (classic flavor used in meatloaf)
  • Green bell pepper (same as the onion)

For the topping:

  • Ketchup
  • Brown sugar
  • Yellow mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
    (these four ingredients together create a tangy sweet topping for the meatloaf)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Southern Meatloaf

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add the ground beef, ground pork and ground veal (if using) to a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Remaining ingredients added to mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients into the same bowl.

All ingredients after briefly mixing.

Using either your hands, a sturdy wooden spoon, or the mixer paddle, combine the ingredients until just mixed. Don’t overwork and overmix the ingredients. If using a stand mixer, use the lowest possible speed and stop when the ingredients are just combined.

Mixture shaped into two loaves on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Divide the mixture in half and shape it into two loaves on a baking pan lined with either aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Topping mixed in a small bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients until well mixed.

Two meatloves with topping poured over.

Pour half of the topping over the loaves and set aside the remainder.

Cook the meatloaves for one hour. Add the remaining topping when 20 minutes of cooking time remains.

Remove from the oven when the internal temperature reads between 160 and 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove from the oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Southern meatloaf on a white serving plate.
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Recipe Tips

  • Mixing can be done either with your hands, a wooden spoon, or a stand mixer.
  • Take care not to overmix which can make the meatloaf tough.
  • Cook the meatloaf to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check in the thickest part of the center.
  • You can use a loaf pan to cook your meatloaf or simply form a loaf on a baking sheet.
  • For easy cleanup, line your baking sheet with either aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Recipe Variations

  • Cover the top with several strips of bacon for a great smoky flavor.
  • Add other seasonings that you like. Paprika, garlic powder, oregano, and basil are all good.
  • Substitute barbecue sauce or chili sauce for the ketchup.

How to Store and Freeze Meatloaf

  • Store the well-wrapped meatloaf in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze, allow the meatloaf to cool to room temperature and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and serving.
  • May be reheated either in the microwave or in the oven at 325 degrees.

FAQs

What can I use if I don’t have breadcrumbs available?

If you don’t have the commercially produced dry breadcrumbs, you can finely crumble saltine crackers as a substitute. Or place several pieces of bread in the oven on a baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees until they’re crispy and dry. Then crumble the slices and use the resulting breadcrumbs.

Where can I buy ground veal?

If you don’t see ground veal in the meat case, ask somebody who works in the meat section. I find that they often have it in the back, maybe frozen, but don’t put it out because it doesn’t sell very quickly. If you can’t find it, just use half beef and half pork.

I don’t care to use veal in cooking. Can I substitute?

Of course. You can make this meatloaf with half beef and half pork, or all beef. I’ve made it many times with half beef and half pork sausage. That’s a great combination as well.

Does the meatloaf bake covered or uncovered?

Some cooks advise covering the meatloaf during the first part of the cooking. I don’t bother to cover my meatloaf while baking and it’s never been a problem.

What To Serve With Meatloaf

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Recipe

Southern meatloaf on a white serving plate.

Southern Meatloaf

My southern meatloaf recipe topped with a tangy brown sugar-ketchup topping is a true family pleasing dish that's ready for the oven in just 20 minutes!
4.88 from 8 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 347kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

For the meatloaf:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped

For the topping:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Add the ground beef, ground pork and ground veal (if using) to a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Using either your hands, a sturdy wooden spoon, or the mixer paddle, combine the ingredients until just mixed. Don't overwork and overmix the ingredients. If using a stand mixer, use the lowest possible speed and stop when the ingredients are just combined.
  • Divide the mixture in half and shape it into two loaves on a baking pan lined with either aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients until well mixed.
  • Pour half of the topping over the loaves and set aside the remainder.
  • Cook the meatloaves for one hour. Add the remaining topping when 20 minutes of cooking time remains.
  • Remove from the oven when the internal temperature reads between 160 and 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove from the oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

Recipe Tips, Variations and FAQs
  • Mixing can be done either with your hands, a wooden spoon, or a stand mixer.
  • Take care not to overmix which can make the meatloaf tough.
  • Cook the meatloaf to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check in the thickest part of the center.
  • You can use a loaf pan to cook your meatloaf or simply form a loaf on a baking sheet.
  • For easy cleanup, line your baking sheet with either aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Cover the top with several strips of bacon for a great smoky flavor.
  • Add other seasonings that you like. Paprika, garlic powder, oregano, and basil are all good.
  • Substitute barbecue sauce or chili sauce for the ketchup.
  • Store the well-wrapped meatloaf in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze, allow the meatloaf to cool to room temperature and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating and serving.
  • May be reheated either in the microwave or in the oven at 325 degrees.
What can I use if I don’t have breadcrumbs available? If you don’t have the commercially produced dry breadcrumbs, you can finely crumble saltine crackers as a substitute. Or place several pieces of bread in the oven on a baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees until they’re crispy and dry. Then crumble the slices and use the resulting breadcrumbs.
Where can I buy ground veal? If you don’t see ground veal in the meat case, ask somebody who works in the meat section. I find that they often have it in the back, maybe frozen, but don’t put it out because it doesn’t sell very quickly. If you can’t find it, just use half beef and half pork.
I don’t care to use veal in cooking. Can I substitute? Of course. You can make this meatloaf with half beef and half pork, or all beef. I’ve made it many times with half beef and half pork sausage. That’s a great combination as well.
Does the meatloaf bake covered or uncovered? Some cooks advise covering the meatloaf during the first part of the cooking. I don’t bother to cover my meatloaf while baking and it’s never been a problem.
 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 347kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 795mg | Potassium: 498mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 188IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is THE BEST MEATLOAF recipe ever! Using beef, pork, & veal is what’s key to the tastiest Meatloaf! It’s basically what I’ve been making since I began cooking as a young bride. I also love that this recipe uses a bit of diced Bell Pepper, which I never see in other Meatloaf recipes. I have ‘always’ added some diced Bell Pepper into my Meatloaf, either red or green. (Red is a bit sweeter, while green is slightly savory). IMO, this is THE PERFECT MEATLOAF RECIPE. Thank you for posting this recipe, Lana. I hope others make it exactly as it’s written, since it’s supurb!

  2. Looks fabulous! I sometimes just put it all in the KitchenAide mixer to combine when I don’t want to get all yucky.

    Another idea – I was watching Food Network, and they had a fellow cooking meatloaf, very similarly, but encased in bacon. Talk about the best of two worlds! He formed the loaves, and then laid out parchment paper, covered in bacon. Rolled the loaves in the bacon and paper. Cooked for about 2/3 time, then removed the paper for final cooking.

    Might want to try that.

    Miss P