Meatloaf May Not Be Cool, But This Ina Garten Recipe Is Good Enough to Serve Company

It hits all the nostalgic, comfort-food notes we crave in the winter months.

Old-Fashioned Meatloaf
Photo: Will Dickey; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee

In an era of kale Caesar salads and turmeric lattes, meatloaf feels decidedly frumpy and uncool. There’s a “Leave It to Beaver” earnestness about the stuff. On dinner tables frequented by Brussels sprouts, meatloaf is the well-meaning uncle who rehearsed knee-slappers all the way down the interstate on his way to the family festivities: Beloved, but not particularly hip. So when I asked my fiancé what sounded good for dinner this week and he suggested “meatloaf,” I cringed a bit. Without an old family recipe to guide me, I took to Google and breathed a small sigh of relief when one of the first to pop up was attributed to none other than Ina Garten. If it was good enough for the Barefoot Contessa, I thought, it surely was good enough for us.

Beyond belonging to the icon who brightened our quarantines with what was arguably the world’s most enormous cosmopolitan, Ina Garten's meatloaf recipe had other attractive qualities: a short ingredient list and only about 15 -20 minutes of active cook time. Sold. I even had many of the ingredients on hand, so the grocery bill wasn’t extravagant either. 

In the tradition of classic meatloaf, Ina’s includes onions, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup for flavor and eggs and breadcrumbs to bind it all together. I splurged on pre-diced onions to save myself the chop time and the mess and opted to include just two cups of onions instead of the three the recipe called for. We didn’t miss the third cup, either; two seemed like a gracious plenty.

For those squeamish about handling raw ground chuck, this recipe probably isn’t for you, as it requires massaging two-and-a-half pounds of it into a loaf on a sheet pan. But if you can stomach that step, the end result is so worth it. Ina’s meatloaf is moist, flavorful, and wholesome—the kind of food that sticks to your ribs and transports you to your grandmother’s kitchen, even if she never actually made the dish. No, it’s admittedly not the prettiest thing to serve to guests, but if you’re looking to treat company to a nostalgic and delicious winter dinner that won’t require a whole lot of effort or expense, Ina’s meatloaf hits all the right comfort food notes. Your kale Caesar could never.

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