Better Than Mom's Sweet and Savory Meatloaf

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READY IN: 1hr 30mins
Recipe by LilThisLilThat

I never thought I'd find, let alone be able to make, a meatloaf better than my mother's electric skillet recipe. But when I wanted to make it last night, I realized that I didn't have her recipe. So I came to recipezaar and read a few popular ones and came up with my own based off my ingredients at hand and the popping flavors of herbs that I personally love. Well, don't tell mamma, but I think I'll be making it this way from now on. I'm telling you, this was the most moist, flavorful, savory and sweet (even a little spicy) meatloaf I've ever had. And I can't believe I just made it up! (I'm a little new at this.) The sauce is on the sweet side, but the herbs and spices inside give it a little kick which creates a perfect balance. Use less and more of what you need to get the taste suited to your liking. Chili powder might give it even more of a kick. Enjoy! Tip 1 - The moisture factor: A lot of meatloaf recipes call for milk, tomato paste, condensed milk, or water to add moisture. I was out of milk, didn't want to open full cans of paste or condensed milk just to waste the rest, and I didn't want to have to settle for boring water, so leftover chucky pasta sauce was a perfect substitute. It not only added some veggies, but the additional seasonings and vinegar already in the sauce meant that I didn't have to use additional vinegar, veggies, or waste full cans of ingredients just to get what I needed. Tip 2 - The healthy and economic factors/alternatives: I've had gastric surgery and as such found that ground beef was a little too fatty for my liking. I'm going to try this with ground turkey next time. I'll need to up the moisture (pasta sauce) content and will probably need to use a nonstick cooking spray (unnecessary when using fatty ground beef) on the loaf pan so that the sides won't stick. I eat a slice and then cut and freeze the remaining slices to take as lunch or have for future dinners for the rest of the week. Saves me a ton of money!

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. PREP: Place oven rack on middle setting and preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using a less fatty meat, use a non-stick cooking spray to lightly coat the inside of your loaf pan. (If using ground beef, it is unnecessary to spray or grease your pan.). Lightly press the separate 2 tbsp of the packed brown sugar into the bottom of your loaf pan. Put like ingredients into prep bowls for ease in mixing later - this helps when you'll only have one hand (especially at least the dry ingredients of bread crumbs, salt, and pepper). Hint: thaw meat fully and bring cold ingredients (eggs, pasta sauce, sauce ingredients, etc) to room temperature prior to combining - this will aid in even cooking and correct cook time. (Waiting for items to reach room temperature is the bulk of your prep time, so your actual "work" prep time v. "waiting" prep time is about 5 min of work and 15-20 min of waiting.).
  2. SAUCE: Stir the remaining tbsp of brown sugar and the rest of the sauce ingredients in a bowl until combined. Sauce should be slightly runny. With a spatula, lightly drizzle some rows of the sauce over the brown sugar in the bottom of the loaf pan. Do not fully cover. Set the remaining majority of the sauce aside.
  3. LOAF: In a small skillet, sweat the diced onion over low heat. Half way through, add the garlic. (The onions and garlic do not cook inside the loaf and therefore you must heat them before.) Do not let them brown or carmelize. In a large mixing bowl, gently break up the meat with one hand (keep your other hand free and clean to hold the bowl and add in your other ingredients). When they are cool enough, slowly add in the onions and garlic until completely folded. Then add the pasta sauce, parsley, basil, garlic powder, and marjoram until blended. Next, you will alternate combining the dry ingredients (bread crumbs, salt, pepper combination) and half of the beaten eggs. Repeat dry ingredients and eggs until fully mixed. Shape mixture into a loaf and transfer it into your loaf pan. Gently press the loaf down and against the sides until you have a flat top service (as the meat cooks, it will pull away from the sides and form the classic "loaf" shape"). Pour the majority of the sauce over the top of your loaf and spread it evenly until covered (I like to keep just a tiny bity of sauce to drizzle over the loaf when there is about 10 min of cook time left, but you can add it all at this point if you like).
  4. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, checking occassionally. Add more sauce when and if necessary. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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