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Southern Meatloaf Recipe

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When it comes to perfect comfort food you really can’t beat my Southern meatloaf recipe. Ground beef is combined with saltine crackers, egg onion, bell pepper and a variety of sauces and spices for extra flavor.

White plate with 2 slices of Southern meatloaf, mash potato, gravy and green peas.

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Full Recipe Ingredients/Instructions are available in the 
recipe card at the bottom of the post. 
You can find important tips/tricks in the
blog post.

My traditional meatloaf recipe is really quick and easy to prepare. With this no-fail recipe, it’s a case of mixing together all the meatloaf ingredients before shaping them into a loaf on placing them onto a sheet pan. Then it’s over to the oven to do all the hard work.

I like to top my classic southern meatloaf with a simple ketchup and brown sugar glaze, this really finishes the whole dish off.

This meatloaf packs a real punch of flavor, so I keep any sides simple. However, I almost always serve it with creamy mashed potato for the ultimate comforting family dinner.

If you are lucky enough to have any leftover meatloaf, it makes a delicious sandwich filling the next day!

Ingredients

Southern meatloaf ingredients

You can find these simple ingredients in your local grocery store. Here is what you will need for this recipe.  

  • Saltine crackers
  • Beef broth
  • Onion
  • Green bell pepper
  • Egg
  • Ketchup
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Ground beef
  • Brown sugar

How to make my Southern Meatloaf recipe 

My Southern Meatloaf recipe simple to prepare and cook. You can also print this recipe out using the recipe card below.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with foil paper and set it aside. 

Place the crackers in a large bowl, pour the beef broth over the crackers. Set aside for about 5 minutes.

Large silver bowl with crushed saltine crackers

Add the diced onion, bell pepper, egg, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and ground beef to the bowl. Use clean or gloved hands and stir the mixture until thoroughly combined.

Be careful not to over-mix the mixture. Mixing the beef mixture too much can lead to a tough meatloaf. 

Large silver bowl with raw meatloaf mixture

Place the meat mixture onto the sheet pan and form an oval shaped loaf. 

Top down image of raw meatloaf set onto a lined sheet pan ready for oven

Bake meatloaf in preheated oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. You’ll need the inside of the meatloaf to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When there are about 15 minutes left on the meatloaf, create the glaze by combining ketchup and brown sugar in a small bowl. Brush this mixture over the meatloaf and allow the meatloaf to finish baking. 

Close up image of glazed meatloaf on a wooden board

Once the meatloaf is done baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then slice the meatloaf and serve.

Expert Tips

These tips will help you make the best Southern meatloaf you’ve ever tasted. 

  • Don’t be heavy handed when mixing the meatloaf ingredients together. Working the meat too much will only result in a dense and touch meatloaf.
  • The onion and bell pepper are added for flavor so dice them small, that way they will soften nicely during the cook.
  • Fry a small piece of the meatloaf mixture in a skillet, taste it and check the seasoning before you shape and cook the meatloaf.
  • I suggest using an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the meatloaf has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the best way to check that your meatloaf has been cooked all the way through.
  • Once cooked, rest the meatloaf for 10 minutes, before slicing and serving. This will allow the juices to be absorbed back into the meatloaf, resulting in a moist and juicy meatloaf.
  • Don’t be tempted to cover the meatloaf with foil in the oven, the direct heat is needed to caramelize the meat and thicken the glaze.
Glazed meatloaf set on a wooden board, with bowl of mash, bowl of green peas and gravy jug set alongside

Variations 

This meatloaf recipe is full of flavor but here are some suggestions if you want to mix things up.

  • Add some chopped bacon to the meatloaf mixture.
  • When glazing the meatloaf swap the ketchup for BBQ sauce, sweet chili sauce, or tomato paste.
  • You can also add a splash of Worcestershire sauce to the glaze.
  • A spoon of Dijon or whole grain mustard can be added to both the meatloaf and the glaze for extra flavor.

How to adjust this Southern meatloaf recipe  

This recipe serves eight but can be easily adapted to make a bigger or smaller batch. Here are the best ways to do this. 

Double: To make a large batch of this meatloaf, double all the ingredients. Rather than making one large meatloaf I suggest splitting the mixture in two and making two smaller meatloaves. This will avoid the risk of the meatloaf splitting when you come to serve.

Halve: If you’re only serving 4 diners, and don’t need as many servings, you can cut the ingredients in half. Keep an eye on the cooking time as a smaller meatloaf will cook faster.

White plate with 2 slices of Southern meatloaf, mash potato, gravy and green peas.

How to serve my Southern meatloaf recipe  

Creamy mash potato is always on the menu when I serve meatloaf. Try my Creamy Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes or my Garlic Mashed Potatoes. For a great alternative to regular potatoes, try my Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

For vegetable sides I like to add some green peas, or some simple steamed broccoli. My Fried Cabbage, Instant Pot Buttered Cabbage, Southern Green Beans and Creamed Corn would work with this dish too.

How to store meatloaf

To meal prep: This is a great recipe to prep ahead of time. Prepare the meatloaf and place it onto the lined sheet pan. Cover the sheet pan with kitchen foil and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook. The glaze can also be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.

To refrigerate: Keep any leftover meatloaf in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can reheat the meatloaf by placing it back into a hot oven to warm through. Just place over some kitchen foil to stop the meatloaf from drying out.

To freeze: Provided you are using fresh and not previously frozen ground beef, you can freeze the raw meatloaf in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months. When ready to cook, defrost thoroughly and cook and glaze the meatloaf as per the recipe.

You can also freeze the cooked meatloaf. Once cooked and cooled, place the meatloaf into an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

White plate with 2 slices of Southern meatloaf, mash potato, gravy and green peas.

FAQs:

What is the secret to moist meatloaf?

When it comes to cooking the best moist meatloaf, the trick is to add in moisture to the meatloaf mixture. The eggs, onions, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth in this recipe not only add flavor, but add in moisture too.

What ingredients keep meatloaf from falling apart?

Both the saltine crackers and the egg used in this southern meatloaf recipe help to bind the meatloaf together.

Can you substitute breadcrumbs for the saltine crackers in meatloaf?

If you don’t have crackers, regular or panko breadcrumbs are a great substitute.

If you have tried this Southern meatloaf recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below!

White plate with 2 slices of Southern meatloaf, mash potato, gravy and green peas.
Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

Southern Meatloaf Recipe

Southern meatloaf recipe combines ground beef with crackers, egg onion, bell pepper and a variety of sauces and spices for extra flavor.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword best meatloaf recipe, classic meatloaf, Old fashioned meatloaf recipe, Southern meatloaf recipe, traditional meatloaf
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 390kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 20 saltine crackers crushed
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 lbs ground beef

For glaze

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with foil paper and set it aside.
  • Place the crackers in a large bowl and pour the beef broth over the crackers. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, add the diced onion, bell pepper, egg, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and beef to the bowl. Use clean or gloved hands and stir the mixture until thoroughly combined. Be careful not to over-mix the mixture. Mixing the beef mixture too much can lead to a tough meatloaf.
  • Place the meat mixture onto the sheet pan and form an oval loaf.
  • Bake the meatloaf in preheated oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. You'll need the inside of the meatloaf to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When there are about 15 minutes left on the meatloaf, create the glaze by combining ketchup and brown sugar in a small bowl. Brush this mixture over the meatloaf and allow the meatloaf to finish baking.
  • Once the meatloaf is done baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then slice the meatloaf and serve.

Suggested Tools

Notes

  • If you don’t have crackers, regular or panko breadcrumbs can be subbed. 
  • I suggest an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the meatloaf has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nutrition

Calories: 390kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 663mg | Potassium: 475mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 298IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 3mg
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