An (almost) instant upgrade for any meatloaf recipe.

 

Meatloaf loves ketchup. It’s a fact. Whether you slather a thick layer of ketchup on top of the meatloaf before it goes into the oven, add a few tablespoons to the ground meat mixture, or serve extra ketchup on the side, this tangy-sweet, umami-rich condiment balances out the richness of the beef, making it an essential part of the dish. (Unless you prefer yours with gravy.) While ketchup is a pretty perfect thing on its own, we found a way to make it even better.

Southern Living’s Boarding House Meatloaf is not only one of our best-loved meatloaf recipes, it’s also one of the most popular recipes on our site. While the meatloaf itself is tasty—it’s your typical mix of lean ground beef, eggs, bell peppers, and onions, with the unexpected addition of oats as a binder—it’s the sauce that goes on top that makes it special.

Guess what’s in that sauce: Ketchup! But not just ketchup. We gussied it up a little bit with chopped onion and bell pepper sautéed in butter until tender, which add texture, and a tablespoon of cider vinegar, which makes the sauce extra tangy. In our Boarding House Meatloaf recipe, we spread half of the sauce on top of the meatloaf to make a nice sticky glaze as it bakes, then serve the remaining half of the sauce on the side. (It’s also delicious on roasted potatoes, which happen to be a great side dish for meatloaf.)

This simple sauce will improve just about any meatloaf recipe, but if you like your meatloaf with a spicy kick, you can substitute jarred chili-garlic sauce or sriracha for some of the ketchup. Try it the next time you’re craving meatloaf and you’ll be surprised by how much better it is than plain old ketchup.