Southern Meatloaf

Pimiento peppers in the meatloaf put a Southern spin on this comfort food favorite.

Southern Meatloaf
Photo: Photographer: Stacy Allen; Food Stylist : Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Lindsey Lower
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 35 mins
Servings:
8

Whether it's sliced on a plate alongside some smashed baby red potatoes or piled on bread in a sandwich, there are few meals heartier or more comforting than meatloaf. But if you've made your mom's traditional meatloaf what feels like one too many times and you're clamoring for something new, give this Southern Meatloaf a try. It has all the trappings of a stick-to-your-bones, old-fashioned meatloaf with distinctive Southern flair. Here's everything you need to know.

What Makes Southern Meatloaf Southern?

To make this Southern Meatloaf truly Southern, we added a couple recognizable ingredients. The first is diced pimientos, which add sweetness, heat, and tanginess to the meatloaf. Then, instead of glazing it with ketchup the traditional way, we took the condiment and added some brown sugar and dry mustard, making a barbecue sauce-esque mixture to brush on top that gives the meatloaf additional sweetness.

Southern Meatloaf Ingredients

You likely already have many of the ingredients for Southern Meatloaf on hand in your kitchen, but here's everything you need to make the mouthwatering dish.

Bell pepper, onion, and olive oil
We use green bell pepper and sweet onion, but feel free to use your favorites. These get finely diced and sautéed in the olive oil to add freshness and moisture to the meatloaf.

Breadcrumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, and eggs
These ingredients form the panade, or the starch mixture that holds the meatloaf together and keeps it tender. We like plain breadcrumbs as opposed to oats, which while more traditional didn't keep the meatloaf from crumbling and didn't give it the density and texture we craved.

southern meatloaf
Photographer: Stacy Allen; Food Stylist : Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Lindsey Lower

Ketchup
This meatloaf staple is used twice, once in the meat mixture itself and again as the base for the glaze.

Ground beef
Use 90/10 lean ground beef if you can find it, which keeps the meatloaf from getting too soggy and cooking in its own fat.

Diced pimientos
You'll need a whole 4-ounce jar of this Southern pantry staple.

Herbs and spices
Giving the meatloaf its smoky-spicy flavor are smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper. There's also some chopped fresh parsley for brightness.

Brown sugar and dry mustard
These sweet and savory ingredients are mixed into ketchup to form the delectable glaze for the meatloaf.

Notes from the Test Kitchen

Our recipe developers and testers worked hard to make this Southern Meatloaf wow-worthy. They found that packing the meat mixture into a loaf pan and inverting it onto a baking sheet gave it the best shape and most even cook, but if you don't want to dirty a loaf pan you can shape the mixture into a loaf free-hand.

You can also prep your meatloaf ahead of time, adding it to a loaf pan or shaping the loaf then wrapping it in plastic wrap and keeping it in the fridge for up to a day.

shaping meatloaf
Photographer: Stacy Allen; Food Stylist : Karen Rankin; Prop Stylist: Lindsey Lower

To keep the top of your meatloaf from cracking in the oven, place a baking sheet with some water on it on the lower rack. The additional moisture it creates will prevent drying and cracking.

How to Serve Southern Meatloaf

Serve this delicious Southern Meatloaf as you would any other: Sliced on a plate alongside garlic mashed potatoes or as a burger or sandwich. You could even break it up in a frying pan, creating a meatloaf hash, and then top it with fried eggs.

Editorial contributions by Alyssa Sybertz.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (from 1 medium [9 oz.] pepper]

  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion (from 1 small [6 oz.] onion)

  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs

  • ½ cup whole milk

  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 3 Tbsp., plus 3/4 cup ketchup, divided

  • 1 ½ lb. 90/10 lean ground beef

  • 1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimientos, drained

  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika

  • 1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt

  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper

  • ½ tsp. garlic powder

  • ¼ tsp. onion powder

  • ¼ tsp. black pepper

  • 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar

  • 1 tsp. dry mustard

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add bell pepper and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and let cool 5 minutes.

  3. Add breadcrumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, and 3 tablespoons of the ketchup to onion mixture in bowl, and stir to combine. Add beef, pimientos, parsley, smoked paprika, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper; gently mix using a spatula or hands until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

  4. Press meatloaf mixture evenly into loaf pan; invert pan onto foil-lined baking sheet to release meatloaf. (Alternatively, shape meat mixture into a 9- x 5-inch loaf shape on baking sheet.) Bake meatloaf in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, stir together brown sugar, dry mustard, and remaining 3/4 cup ketchup in a small bowl. Set aside.

  6. Increase oven temperature to 400°F (do not remove meatloaf from oven), and bake until top forms a golden brown crust, about 5 minutes. Brush meatloaf with brown sugar mixture, and bake until a thermometer inserted in center of meatloaf registers 160°F, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

Updated by
Alyssa Sybertz
Alyssa Sybertz

Alyssa Sybertz is a freelance writer and avid home cook with nearly a decade of experience writing about food, cooking, nutrition, and wellness. She is the author of The OMAD Diet: Intermittent Fasting with One Meal a Day to Burn Fat and Lose Weight, for which she developed over 100 recipes. In addition to writing about food and cooking for Southern Living, she writes about cooking for Allrecipes and Reader's Digest, pregnancy and parenting for Verywell Family, health and fitness for Peloton, and nutrition for First for Women and other outlets.

Alyssa is the food editor for Closer Weekly. She also edits special interest health and nutrition magazines for Centennial Media on topics including intermittent fasting, gut health, and the keto diet. Prior to working as a freelance food and wellness writer, Alyssa was an editor at First for Women magazine, where she contributed to the nutrition, food, and fitness sections.