Cajun-Style Meatloaf

This meatloaf takes a spicy spin on the weeknight dinner classic.

Cajun-Style Meatloaf
Photo: Will Dickey
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 35 mins
Servings:
8

Revamp your meatloaf recipe with some Cajun flavors. This recipe starts with the "holy trinity"—onion, celery and green bell pepper. It gets its Louisiana kick from Cajun seasoning.

Incredibly tender and juicy, with a bit of spicy heat, serve this Cajun meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes, bitter greens, or collard greens and dirty Creole rice.

What Is Cajun-Style?

Originating in southwest Louisiana, Cajun cuisine combines traditional French cooking styles with local ingredients. It was developed by the Acadians, a group of French settlers who favored hearty one-pot meals like red beans and rice or Maque Choux.

What Is Creole Seasoning?

Another Louisiana-based cuisine, Creole food was developed with French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences. A savory and earthy spice blend with a bit of heat, Creole seasoning is available online or at your local grocery store in the spice section.

If you can't find Creole seasoning, you could make your own: Combine paprika, dried oregano, ground black pepper, dried basil, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, granulated onion, dried thyme, and granulated garlic.

How to Make Cajun Meatloaf

There are a few steps to this meatloaf recipe, but it all comes together in one loaf pan.

Step 1. Prep the pan

Tear two pieces of aluminum foil off the roll, then press them into a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan, leaving a 3-inch overhang on the long sides of the pan. The double layer helps prevent spills and seepage, but also makes lifting the meatloaf from the loaf pan easier.

aluminum foil lined loaf pan
Will Dickey

Step 2. Cook the aromatics

Onions are frequently used to meatloaves, but this wouldn't be a Cajun meatloaf if we didn't use the holy trinity—onion, celery, and green bell peppers. So for the second step, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and cook until it's tender, about 4 minutes.

Add the celery and green bell peppers, and cook for another 4 minutes. Then, add the Creole seasoning and pepper. Cook 1 more minute.

Spoon the onion mixture into the bottom of a large bowl. Let it cool for 5 minutes so it's easy to handle in the next steps.

holy trinity ingredients in a skillet
Will Dickey

Step 3. Make the meatloaf

To the bowl with the onion mixture, add the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, and some of the ketchup. You can try using a spatula to fold the meatloaf mixture, but we suggest getting in there with your hands. This is the best way to ensure the whole meatloaf is well mixed.

Once all the ingredients are well incorporated, press the meat into the prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and remaining ketchup. Spread the ketchup mixture over the meatloaf in the pan. This ketchup mixture is a bit on the sweeter side to balance the spicy hit of the Creole seasoning. But if you wanted to double down on the spice, add a bit of the seasoning to this sauce, too.

Step 4. Cook the meatloaf

Bake the Cajun meatloaf in a 350°F degree oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour. You'll know the meatloaf is done when the thickest portion of the loaf registers 165°F on a meat thermometer.

reading the temperature of meatloaf
Will Dickey

Remove the meatloaf from the oven, and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Using the foil overhangs as handles, gently lift the meatloaf from the loaf pan.

Transfer the pan to a cutting board or platter, and cut into 8 slices.

What Do You Put in Meatloaf to Keep It Together?

Eggs and breadcrumbs are an essential binder for meatloaf. They help keep the meat and other ingredients together once baked.

This recipe calls for two large eggs and one cup of dry breadcrumbs. If you're having trouble getting your meatloaf to stick together, try increasing the amount of breadcrumbs by ¼ cup.

You can substitute crackers, panko, or even oatmeal for breadcrumbs in a pinch.

How Do You Make Cajun-Style Meatloaf Moist?

This recipe's combination of ground chuck and ground pork creates a flavorful and juicy meatloaf. Fat provides flavor and moisture in this recipe, so choose ground beef with at least 20 percent fat content.

Think of your meatloaf like baking a cake: You don't want to overmix or overbake it, as both are common causes of dried loaves. Mix meatloaf ingredients until they are just combined, then stop. Since the meatloaf will be shaped in the pan, it's easy to overwork and dries out this dish.

Don't crank up the heat in the oven. Instead, bake your meatloaf at a low temperature for a more extended time. This recipe calls for 30 minutes at 350°F.

How to Store Leftover Meatloaf

Refrigerate leftover meatloaf in an airtight container or a plastic zip-top bag. Cajun-style Meatloaf will last three to four days in the refrigerator.

Cooked meatloaf can be stored in the freezer for three to four months, wrapped in plastic wrap and sealed in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container.

Raw meatloaf can also be stored in the freezer in the same manner for up to six months. It is a good idea to mark the package with a piece of tape, whether the dish has been cooked or not. A meatloaf may look a lot like banana bread once frozen, and it'll definitely ruin supper if you thaw the bread instead of the meatloaf.

How to Bake Frozen Meatloaf

Remove the meatloaf from the freezer, and thaw it in the fridge overnight. Bake as per original recipe instructions.

If in doubt, check the internal temperature, which should register 165°F on a meat thermometer.

Editorial Contributions by Alexandra Emanuelli.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium (9 oz.) yellow onion, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 medium-size (3 1/2 oz. total) celery stalks, finely chopped (3/4 cup)

  • 1 small (7 oz.) green bell pepper, finely chopped (3/4 cup)

  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Creole seasoning

  • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • 1 lb. ground chuck

  • 8 oz. ground pork

  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs

  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 large eggs

  • ¼ cup, plus 2 Tbsp. ketchup, divided

  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in top third position. Line a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with a double layer of aluminum foil, leaving a 3-inch overhang on long sides. Lightly coat with cooking spray, and set aside.

  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add celery and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add Creole seasoning and pepper; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl; spread in an even layer across bottom of bowl, and let cool for 5 minutes.

  3. Add beef, pork, breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, and 2 tablespoons of the ketchup to onion mixture in bowl. Gently fold together using your hands just until incorporated. Press into prepared loaf pan.

  4. Stir together sugar and remaining 1/4 cup ketchup in a small bowl; spread evenly over meatloaf.

  5. Bake in preheated oven until well browned and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of meatloaf registers 165°F, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes. Remove meatloaf from loaf pan using foil overhang as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 8 slices.

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