Old-Fashioned Meatloaf


A classic recipe even Momma will love.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 37 mins
6 to 8

Synonymous with classic comfort food, this old-fashioned meatloaf recipe is a favorite of Southern grandmas and one you'll want to add to your recipe box.

The key to any great meatloaf lies in its ability to be easily adaptable, and this recipe is no different. Don't have any celery on hand? You can easily substitute with carrots or bell peppers. And, if you run out of breadcrumbs, you can use oatmeal as a binder instead.

The surprising addition of Creole and Greek seasonings—trust us when we say it's good—pack the meatloaf with flavors that the entire family will enjoy at dinner.

Southern Living Old Fashioned Meatloaf on a plate to serve with mashed potatoes

Will Dickey; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

Old-Fashioned Meatloaf Ingredients

  • Vegetables: Celery and onion added a much-needed crunch to this meatloaf recipe. If you happen to have carrots or sweet peas in the fridge, toss them in for some added color.
  • Ground beef: For a moist meatloaf, ground beef with a higher fat ratio is the way to go. While this recipe calls for two pounds of lean ground beef, you can switch things up and use a blend of beef, pork, veal, or lamb. If you choose to stick with ground beef, opt for an 80/20 or 85/15 package to ensure your meatloaf stays nice and moist when baking.
  • Worcestershire sauce: A staple in every Southern pantry, Worcestershire sauce gives the base of this meatloaf an umami-rich edge. It's also added into the tomato sauce-ketchup topping to help keep the meatloaf moist and tender as it finishes in the oven.
Old Fashioned Meatloaf ingredients

Will Dickey; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

  • Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are used in this recipe to absorb excess liquid released from the ground beef while keeping your meatloaf nice and moist. In addition, they also add volume to the mix and help hold the meatloaf together, preventing it from falling apart when it's ready to serve.
  • Ketchup: Added as a topping, ketchup is truly an ingredient you do not want to skip in this old-fashioned meatloaf recipe. Not only does it add a caramelized coating to the top of your meatloaf, but it does an excellent job at keeping the meatloaf from drying out.
  • Seasonings: Adding Creole and Greek seasonings may be atypical for Grandma's old-fashioned meatloaf, but they will undoubtedly make your meatloaf stand out from the crowd—don't skip them!
  • Eggs: Eggs do two things when added to meatloaf: they act as a binder, holding the ground meat and vegetables together; they also add creaminess and moisture to the recipe.
  • Tomato sauce and tomato paste: Making up a majority of the sauce topping, the tomato sauce and tomato paste both add depth and flavor to this recipe. The sauce also ensures that the meatloaf stays moist as it finishes baking in the oven.

The Best Meat To Use for Traditional Meatloaf

Since this meatloaf recipe cooks in the oven for 45 minutes, the key is to use ground meat with a higher fat-to-lean ratio. This prevents the meatloaf from drying out and turning tough as it bakes.

For this recipe, we recommend using an 80/20 (which is 80 percent lean meat and 20 percent fat) or an 85/15 package of ground beef instead of a 90/10 blend.

How To Make Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

A flavorful tomato sauce, good fat-to-lean ratio of ground beef, and whatever vegetables you have on hand are what this meatloaf recipe is all about.

Step 1. Sauté the vegetables: Begin by sautéeing chopped onions and celery in butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until just tender.

Step 2. Assemble the meatloaf mix: Add the cooked vegetables to a large bowl with the ground meat, Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. Lightly beat two large eggs and add them to the bowl. Mix everything until well combined. Get in there with your hands if you have to.

Step 3. Blend the tomato sauce: Stir together tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce until well blended.

Step 4. Shape and bake the meatloaf: Shape the meatloaf into a 10- x 5-inch loaf, and bake it according to the instructions. We like baking meatloaf on a broiler rack so the fat drips away, but if you don't have one, place the loaf directly on a pan.

Step 5. Add the tomato sauce: After 45 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven, and pour or brush the tomato sauce evenly over the meatloaf's top and sides. Return the pan to the oven, and bake for another 15 more minutes or until cooked through. Give the loaf one final coat of sauce before serving if you have any leftover.

How To Serve Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

The right sides can elevate even the simplest of meals, meatloaf included. If you're looking to take this old-fashioned meatloaf from a casual weeknight dinner to a summer potluck with friends, here's what we recommend serving with it:

How To Store Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

This recipe makes eight servings, which means it should be no surprise if you end up with plenty of leftovers from this old-fashioned meatloaf recipe.

While you can certainly store your leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days to eat throughout the week, we recommend taking a couple of slices of bread and turning your leftover meatloaf slices into a hearty sandwich for lunch.

Can I Freeze Meatloaf for Later?

The best part about making meatloaf is that it can be prepared and assembled in advance. Depending on your schedule, you can freeze the meatloaf raw, or bake it ahead of time and freeze the entire cooked loaf.

When you're ready to eat it, let it defrost in the fridge before popping it into the oven to either reheat—until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F—or bake according to the recipe instructions.

Tips for the Best Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

  • If you're pressed for time, you can skip sauteeing the vegetables if you finely chop them. Add them to the raw meatloaf mixture—they'll cook down nicely as the loaf bakes.
  • Out of breadcrumbs? Substitute the same amount for some quick or old-fashioned oats to help bind the meatloaf together.
  • If you're worried you'll end up with a dry and tough meatloaf, cover it with aluminum foil before baking. Then, remove the foil and spread the sauce over before returning to the oven and baking until the center of the meatloaf is no longer pink.

Editorial contributions by Christabel Lobo.


  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped

  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided

  • 1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup ketchup

  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon ketchup

  • Garnish: chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Sauté the celery and onion:

    Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat; add celery and onion, and sauté 7 minutes or just until tender.

    Southern Living Old Fashioned Meatloaf cooking the onions and celery in a skillet

    Will Dickey; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

  2. Shape the meatloaf:

    Stir together celery mixture, ground beef, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

    Southern Living Old Fashioned Meatloaf mixture in a bowl

    Will Dickey; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

    Shape into a 10- x 5-inch loaf; place on a lightly greased broiler rack. Place rack in an aluminum foil-lined broiler pan.

    Southern Living Old Fashioned Meatloaf shaped on the pan to bake

    Will Dickey; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

  3. Bake the meatloaf:

    Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and 1 tablespoon ketchup until blended; pour evenly over meatloaf, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until no longer pink in center.

    Southen Living Old Fashioned Meatloaf adding the ketchup glaze

    Will Dickey; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

    Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

    Southern Living Old Fashioned Meatloaf sliced on a platter to serve

    Will Dickey; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the secret to moist meatloaf?

    When it comes to baking a moist meatloaf, there are four words you always need to follow: Don't skip the sauce!

    In this recipe, Worcestershire sauce mixed into ketchup, tomato sauce, and tomato paste create a tasty topping that will allow your meatloaf to remain moist and tender long after it comes out of the oven.

Test Kitchen Tip

For testing purposes only, we used Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning and Cavender's All-Purpose Greek Seasoning.

Additional reporting by
Christabel Lobo
Christabel Lobo

Christabel Lobo is a freelance food writer and illustrator based between Washington, D.C., and India. She has contributed to Southern Living, Allrecipes, Zagat, OpenTable, EatingWell, Cooking Light, Insider, and more.

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