There’s No Place Like Home with Classic Meatloaf and Gravy on the Menu

Everyone has very strong opinions about the perfect meatloaf. Everyone.

Vertical image of thick slices of a cooked ground beef dish next to a bowl of gravy, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

It’s almost frightening how passionate people are about an entree that’s really just a humble heap of ground beef.

How do I know this? I have bona fide credentials, I promise you:

I’ve been a serious meatloaf eater for most of my life, and have gathered unique perspectives on this recipe over the years from family members, friends, acquaintances, and people I hardly know.

Yup, I definitely asked one of my sales reps at my other job, someone I talk to once every few months on the phone, what she thought of this comfort food classic – which was a weird digression, and 100% unrelated to why she called.

But she still enthusiastically obliged with her family recipe. Win!

Vertical top-down image of two slices of a ground beef dish on top of mashed kale potatoes served with gravy on a white plate.

All of these stories form a colorful collection of opinions: mostly good, some interesting, some bad… and some utterly merciless.

Has anyone ever told you, with terrifying sincerity, that the secret to the best meatloaf is tossing it in the garbage?

Or that ketchup is one of America’s worst condiments, and to use hoisin sauce instead?

While these are the more extreme opinions gleaned from what I’ve heard, there are countless other sentiments, conflicting advice, and recipe requirements:

Vertical image of two slices of a ground beef dish served with gravy over mashed kale potatoes on a white plate on a white towel.

Green peppers or none at all. Ketchup glaze or totally plain on top. With gravy or without. Cheese or no cheese.

All beef or a mixture of beef, pork, and veal. Add fresh salsa or gochujang to the mix. Dry breadcrumbs or fresh crusty bread.

Loaf pan or freeform on a baking sheet. Hand mix or use a stand mixer. Apply a delicate touch or show no mercy when mixing.

For me, someone who has enjoyed eating versions throughout the years, I wholeheartedly welcome every different recipe, and every unique opinion.

Why? While I do like learning everyone’s tips and tricks for preparing the perfect version, I love soaking in all the thoughtful storytelling behind these meatloaf memories.

I like to call them meatloaf-eries.

Vertical image of meatloaf in large, thick slices on parchment paper next to fresh herbs.

According to the Dictionary of Nikki-isms, a “meatloaf-ery” is a recollection of when a plateful of meatloaf seamlessly joins with an unforgettable moment in one’s life.

I have endless meatloaf-eries, from childhood family dinners eating Mom’s homemade recipe served over a bowl of steaming white rice (my dad’s usual request), to the very last meatloaf sandwich on sourdough bread that Mom made for me the day I left home for college.

So you’ll understand my excitement to add yet another meatloaf-ery: the very first time I made my own version of a classic meatloaf in my own home, inspired by what my mom would make us for dinner.

I prefer not to add too many bells and whistles to either the ingredient list or the technique. My recipe is a simple hand-mixed combination of ground beef, pork, and fresh breadcrumbs mixed with garlic, onion, ketchup (try our homemade version!), and a little Worcestershire sauce.

Vertical close-up image of gravy cascading over slices of meatloaf.

While there’s no ketchup glaze on top (Mom would never glaze it!), I serve my recipe with a heaping ladleful of homemade gravy and a side of kale mashed potatoes.

It’s moist, savory, flavorful, and comforting. A tasty homage to Mom’s recipe, and a delicious nod to all of the recipe ideas I’ve collected over the years.

But you know the other famous Nikki-ism: one man’s meatloaf is another man’s poison. Go forth and make your own special version that will remind you of home!

Just please don’t throw this one in the garbage.

Print
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Horizontal image of slices of meatloaf on a tray lined with crumbled parchment paper.

Classic Meatloaf with Gravy


  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Description

Need a basic meatloaf recipe thats tender and flavorful? Try Nikkis version of the classic comfort food dish with onion, garlic, and a tangy glaze.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Meatloaf:

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh breadcrumbs*
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably 85% lean/15% fat)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 medium white onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Gravy:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 medium white onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

For the Meatloaf:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Transfer breadcrumbs to a small bowl and stir in the milk. Set aside for about 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine the beef, pork, onion, garlic, egg, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper with your hands.
  4. Add the breadcrumb mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated. 
  5. Place the meat mixture on the prepared baking sheet and form into a tight loaf with your hands, about 9 inches long and 5 inches wide.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 155°F.
  7. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting into slices and serving with the gravy.

For the Gravy:

  1. While the meatloaf is resting, make the gravy by melting the butter in a medium sauce pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the diced onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and saute until slightly golden, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well to evenly coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the stock and whisk until thoroughly combined. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream. Cook for another 2 to 5 minutes to slightly thicken the mixture.
  6. Season with the remaining salt and black pepper, and serve with the meatloaf.

Notes

To make the breadcrumbs, place 2-3 slices of thick white bread in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form.

  • Category: Meatloaf
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Comfort Food

Keywords: meatloaf, ground beef, ground pork, ketchup

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep

Horizontal image of white bowls filled with assorted wet and dry ingredients, raw eggs, and ground pork and beef.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Make the fresh breadcrumbs. In a food processor, pulse 2 or 3 thick slices of fresh white bread until they are cut into small, uniform pieces. You can also use a blender for this step.

Set out the beef and pork, and the egg. Measure the milk, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Freshly cracked is best!

With a sharp knife, finely chop the onion and mince the garlic, or use a garlic press.

Step 2 – Combine the Breadcrumbs and Milk

Horizontal image of a hand squeezing a breadcrumb and milk mixture over a white bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and milk. Allow to soak for 5 minutes while you complete the next step.

Step 3 – Make the Beef and Pork Mixture

Horizontal image of a large white bowl with ground beef and pork, ketchup, eggs, onions, and seasonings.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, onion, garlic, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix until incorporated.

Horizontal image of a white bowl with a large amount of a ground beef and pork mixture.

I love getting dirty and using my hands, but you can also use a sturdy spoon or spatula to combine the ingredients.

Step 4 – Add the Breadcrumbs

Horizontal image of a large white bowl with a ground beef and pork mixture.

Add the breadcrumb mixture to the meat mixture. Thoroughly mix with your hands until completely incorporated.

Don’t be afraid to mix well! You want the loaf to be able to hold its shape without falling apart as it cooks.

Step 5 – Form into a Loaf

Horizontal image of a raw, oblong mound of ground beef on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil.

Place the mixture on the prepared baking sheet and form it into a loaf that’s about 9 inches long and 5 inches wide.

Aww, do you miss the ketchup glaze? You can sub in the same amount of sweet-and-tangy glaze that’s call for in our recipe for Balsamic Turkey Meatloaf. Delicious!

Step 6 – Bake

Horizontal image of a mound of cooked ground beef on foil.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers between 155 and 160°F.

I prefer to remove it from the oven at 155°F, since the internal temperature will continue rising due to residual heat after the loaf is removed from the oven.

Insert the thermometer probe directly in the center of the loaf without touching the pan to get the most accurate reading.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and let it rest for 15 minutes. To keep the interior moist, don’t skip the resting step!

Step 7 – Make the Gravy

Horizontal image of white bowls filled with stock, chopped onions, seasonings, and butter.

While it is resting, prepare the gravy. Start by melting the butter in a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cooking until slightly golden, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir well to coat them evenly. Cook over medium heat, stirring continually, for about 2 minutes.

Add the stock and whisk everything together until completely combined, being sure to whisk up any bits that are stuck to the bottom to properly deglaze the pot. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Horizontal image of a pan full of a light brown creamy liquid.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream. Cook for another 2 to 5 minutes to slightly thicken the mixture, stirring constantly. The time required will vary, depending on how thick you would like your gravy.

Season with the remaining salt and black pepper.

Step 8 – Serve

Horizontal image of two slices of a ground beef dish served with gravy over mashed kale potatoes on a white plate on a white towel.

Once the meatloaf has rested (well done, patience!), you can now cut it into slices and serve them with the gravy and your favorite side dishes. Enjoy!

You’ll Actually Love Your Leftovers!

Yes, I stand by that statement! Cold leftovers might be the one thing that is even better than a warm slice of meatloaf pulled right straight from the oven.

Horizontal image of slices of meatloaf on a tray lined with crumbled parchment paper.

I love crumbling the cold leftovers and enjoying it as the protein in a big green salad, and making epic sandwiches with a thick slice of meatloaf, a juicy tomato, crisp lettuce, and a thick slather of mayonnaise.

But I’ve also just picked pieces with my fingers straight from the Tupperware container. Many times.

However you like to enjoy your leftovers (even the embarrassing ones), I’m so curious to learn what your best tips are for the classic meatloaf recipe! Love it or hate it, there are so many tasty personalized versions. Let’s chat in the comment section below.

Looking for more comfort food favorites? Chow down on some of our meatier favorites next, like these:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by on October 5, 2010. Last updated on Saturday, February 20, 2021.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is a hungry foodie living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she is not tearing through her city's best cheesesteaks, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

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