Let's Make Meatloaf

You have to travel far and wide to find someone who doesn’t like meatloaf.

By Katie Workman


Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, allow us to present one of the most comforting foods in the world; a food that says, “I love you,” “Do you need a hug?” and, “It’s time for supper,” all at once. Here is a food that’s the opposite of trendy and the opposite of chic (except when it’s being served at trendy and chic restaurants as a retro homage to the diner blue plate special). Step right up, folks: it’s time for meatloaf.

Many of us forget about meatloaf for periods of time, and then rediscover it with renewed appreciation. Because while meatloaf is a classic dish, it’s also incredibly flexible in terms of how you can make it.

Into the Mix

Yes, you can make it with meat…beef, pork, lamb, veal, or a combo of any of these. And of course there are the chicken and turkey varieties, very popular these days and not as rich or heavy as some others.

There are also vegetarian versions for those who crave the simple homeyness of a meatloaf. These folks want their loaf without the meat.

Spice It Up

There are any number of ways to season and spice a meatloaf, making the variations nearly endless. This all-American favorite can easily be given an Italian flair, a Mexican bent, a Chinese flavor, or a Morocan twist, to name but a few ethnic influences meatloaf takes kindly to.

Other ingredients that can be added to a meatloaf to shake things up are various grated or shredded cheeses, herbs, spices, and any number of finely chopped vegetables. Try cooked broccoli, scallions, spinach, or shredded carrots. Chopped olives, capers or a bit of soy sauce provide a pleasantly salty punch. 

Play around with toppings, too, from ketchup to chili sauce to barbecue sauce to marmalades and chutneys to tomato sauce to slices of bacon. Need more ideas? Varying the topping can add interest to an old favorite. Find inspiration for all of those condiments staring at you from the door of the refrigerator.

The Right Size

Also, you can make them small, for cute, individually sized portions, or bake up a four or five-pounder for a crowd.  You can make the meatloaf a day beforehand and leave it unbaked in the fridge. Pop it into the oven an hour or two before dinner.

A big pile of fluffy mashed potatoes, maybe some green beans, and a slab of flavorful meatloaf. Pass the ketchup.

And if you haven’t experienced a day-after meatloaf sandwich, then you are in for a revelation. Cutting edge? Not so much. Satisfying? Yes, yes, yes.

Katie Workman is the author of the upcoming The Mom 100 Cookbook, to be published in the spring of 2012. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Cookstr.com, a website devoted to trusted, tested recipes from the best chefs and cookbook authors