Grandma Pauline’s Meatloaf with Variations
Grandma Pauline’s Classic Meatloaf Recipe with Lots of VariationsJump to Recipe
I’ve been craving meatloaf. I don’t serve it often because my husband really, really doesn’t like it. But I’m in the mood, so I’m going to make it using my Grandma Pauline’s family favorite recipe. I’m adding some variations because–well, that’s what I do. I have a hard time following a recipe exactly without adding something of my own. So here is my delicious meatloaf with variations, too. Even if you have someone in your house that doesn’t like meatloaf but they do like burgers, I have yummy meatloaf variations that may work for you at the end of this post.
Meatloaf get’s a bad rap and I don’t know why. I guess there are some really bad meatloaf recipes out there. If you stick with this classic meatloaf recipe, you will have great results every time.
So the classic recipe uses day-old white bread, but I didn’t have any on hand. I really like crackers, better, so I substituted a half a package of Ritz crackers for the two slices of white bread. It was delicious. I’ve also used saltine crackers and that works great, too.
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Keto Meatloaf Option:
**The bread/cracker addition is what my husband doesn’t like in the meatloaf. So, here is the answer to that: Skip the milk and bread or crackers. You can make it as is and it works fine. The bread is basically a meat extender. By eliminating the milk and bread, you are making the meatloaf gluten-free, dairy-free AND keto friendly!
Another substitution for the bread crumbs to make it keto friendly is to use crushed pork rinds. And you can substitute heavy whipping cream for the milk.
Make a Meatloaf with More Crust
My husband also only likes the crusty part of the meatloaf. To get more crust on your meatloaf, shape your loaf into a large burger shape on a greased baking sheet instead of putting it into a loaf pan. This will create a lot of crusty meat with no bready flavor. If you are making this with the Keto Meatloaf variation above, you are essentially making a giant hamburger, and it’s delicious!
I soaked the crackers in the milk just to take this photo. LOL. I usually just throw all the crackers and milk into the same bowl with all the ingredients. Hey, it’s fewer dishes and less time.
Mix all the ingredients together until you can see that all the ingredients are evenly spread throughout. I just can’t figure out how to do this without using my hands–mixing with a spoon would take forever!
Press into a greased loaf pan and top with ketchup if desired. I only like ketchup on two things–hot dogs and meatloaf. I just like the taste of the baked ketchup on top, but again, my husband doesn’t like this part.
Look at this. YUM! I roasted some red potatoes with olive oil, garlic, and onions alongside the meatloaf and it was a perfect pairing. Do another tray with roasted veggies and you have an easy meal!
Classic Meatloaf Variations
- Three-Peppers Meatloaf: My grandma’s recipe called for optional green pepper. This is the first time I added it and it was really good. I also added diced jalapeno peppers and I liked the spice and flavor of those. You could also add crushed red pepper or any color diced peppers.
- Italian Meatloaf: Use Italian sausage and add 1 tsp. each Italian spices like Oregano, Basil, and Garlic powder.
- English Meatloaf: Add 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- Asian Meatloaf: Add 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce, 2 tsp. Toasted Sesame Seed Oil, 2 tsp. Fish sauce, 1/2 tsp. ginger powder or 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh ginger. Optional: add Sriracha to taste or 2 Tbsp. Hoisin Sauce.
- Hawaiian Meatloaf: Add green pepper and up to 1 cup drained canned pineapple tidbits.
- Low Fat Meatloaf: Use Lean Ground Beef and substitute Lean Ground Turkey for the sausage. Add breakfast sausage spices to make up for the flavor of not having sausage in the mix. For added flavor and mouthfeel, you could add a Tbsp of Coconut oil.
- Eat Your Veggies Meatloaf: Add 1/2 cup or more chopped celery and 1 carrot, shredded along with the optional chopped green pepper.
- Mexican Meatloaf: 1/4 cup diced fresh or canned jalapenos, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. dried, ground cumin.
Want more of my family recipes? You might like:
- Cheryl’s Pineapple Cookies
- Pumpkin Pecan Yeast Bread for the Breadmaker
- Aunt Winnie’s Western Salad Dressing
- Seriously the Best Banan Bread Ever
Grandma Pauline’s Meatloaf
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground beef
- 1 cup ground sausage
- 2 slices bread soaked in milk
- pinch salt
- onion minced or chopped
- green pepper chopped (optional)
- 1 or 2 eggs
- ketchup for top
- Mix all ingredients together and top with stripes of ketchup. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes.