Big Fat Healthy Southern Meatloaf Recipe
This is the southern meatloaf recipe I grew up on, with one twist. When I was in college, a friend named Matt, made meatloaf with me and insisted we use oats instead of bread crumbs, and that’s been my meatloaf secret ever since.
What Meat Makes a Good Meatloaf
People argue back and forth over what ground meat is appropriate for a meatloaf and it really depends on what you’re looking for. I like flavor, and I’m not opposed to mixing in some ground pork or ground lamb, if I happen to have it. Generally, though I use a mix of lean and fatty beef. If I’m using grass fed beef, (my optimal choice), I will add in some fat (olive oil) because the meat is so lean.
One of the mistakes people often make with ground beef is packing it too tightly, making it tough. This true for burgers and meatballs too. A gentle touch allows the fat and flavor to move around.
My Key Ingredients for an Authentic Southern Meatloaf Recipe
I like to use vegetables like green bell pepper and onion, but very very finely chopped and most importantly, pre-cooked. The sautè ahead of time busts out the flavor, and I personally do not like the texture of raw veggies in my meatloaf. You could also finely process zucchini if you needed to add more moisture.
Eggs are a catch 22. You need the egg to hold it together but too many eggs can make it too loose.
Ketchup, Mustard, Worcestershire. These are the flavor boosters. I tend to add a few tablespoons of a ketchup and mustard and a good soak of Worcestershire. I think it’s the anchovies that bring it. I look for a sugar free ketchup and dijon mustard, but good old yellow mustard is fine too.
We use these gluten free oats which add moisture and create a wonderful texture. Oats are also practical. Your mix can be more evenly consistent.
How to Top a Southern Meatloaf
This meatloaf is topped with a can of tomato sauce. This recipe makes two meatloaves that each fit into loaf pans, but I like to make mine free-form.
You will probably see recipes that top meatloaf with barbecue sauce or add maple syrup or brown sugar to ketchup. I don’t care for sweet food, but you can certainly do that. I stick to what I grew up on, and enjoy a more savory take on Southern meatloaf.
Topping: Ketchup or a can of tomato sauce. I like it both ways. I grew up with a tomato sauce topping, but I also like a ketchup topping like this one I made last week.
Serve Delicious Sides with Southern Meatloaf
Meatloaf simply has to have mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower if your watching carbs). Either of these choices makes me feel special, happy, satisfied, and well fed.
Spinach Tiger’s Cauliflower Mash. Recipe Here.
Spinach Tiger’s Perfect No Lump Mashed Potatoes. Recipe Here.
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Here.
Sides for a Southern Meatloaf Recipe
More Ground Beef Ideas
- 2½ pounds ground beef (see notes)
- 1 cup gluten free oats
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1-2 green bell peppers
- 1 large onion
- 2 tablespoons worcerstershire sauce
- 2 medium sized eggs or 1 extra large egg
- 1 tablespoons chopped parsley
- black pepper
- 1 small can tomato sauce (or 1 cup ketchup)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Keep the ground meat loose. Compacting will make the meatloaf tough.
- Seed and chop bell pepper.
- Dice onion to a fine dice.
- Heat oil in pan. Sautè bell pepper and onion on low for about ten to twenty minutes until very softened.
- You want the vegetables to cook down very fine.
- Once softened, cool.
- Mix all ingredients except the tomato sauce together, keeping the meat loose.
- This recipe will make two meat loafs and will fit into two loaf pans, or you can bake them freehand as I do.
- Form into two loaves. Top with tomato sauce (or ketchup). I like it on the sides also.
- Bake until the temperature reaches 160 degrees inside, about 30 minutes. Allow to sit for ten minutes before cutting, or meatloaf may fall apart. It will continue cooking.
- Meatloaf is extra good, refrigerated and reheated. This is a perfect do ahead meal.