Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf – A favorite!

I seem to be getting nostalgic in my “dotage” and have been leafing though my recipe box; hello, old familiar friends! I had to dust off this Cook’s Illustrated/Pam Anderson’s Meatloaf, long a family favorite – and the best part of all is the sauce. Oh, that sauce! Double it, triple it, bathe in it, I don’t care, but make the sauce.

Meat Loaf Sandwich, using our adapted Cook's Illustrated Meat Loaf
Meat Loaf Sandwich, using our adapted Cook’s Illustrated Meat Loaf

This is my “go to” recipe for meatloaf. Although it’s not “my” recipe, I’ve made some changes that I think vastly improved it: mainly removed the strange spicing and left off the bacon. We really didn’t care for the thyme in this, which hijacked the flavor, or for bacon on this. The bacon itself was ok, but the way the flavor seeped into the loaf was a little bizarre.

Over the years, I’ve stopped making some of these old recipes and what used to be a standard is now more of a “special occasion” dish – see “Heritage Recipes” below. When I do make this, my son goes nuts over it. After all, what’s better, now and then, than an old-fashioned Meatloaf, an oven baked potato, crispy outside, creamy within, and your favorite vegetable?

Maybe a Meatloaf Sandwich the next day! 🙂 A slice of cold meatloaf, a little yellow ballpark mustard, lettuce, onion and pickles, and a good slathering of this incredible sauce. It makes me happy just thinking about it. 🙂 Happy. 🙂 Happy. 🙂 Happy. 🙂 See?

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @ Would you bring meatloaf to a party? Probably not, but it is a fun chance to dust off this America standard for so many bloggers from so many cultures, backgrounds and areas. Its the kind of food you rarely see out and is rarely served to company here in the Midwest. So I’ll take it to Fiesta Friday, an ongoing blogger event put on by Angie of the Novice Gardener. Two of my fave bloggers are co-hosting, Ginger @ Ginger & Bread and Loretta @ Safari of the Mind. Everyone, check out their blogs!

Of course, from a frugal standpoint, it makes sense to try to eke out two meals from this meatloaf – it’s so good, though, you might have to fight to set aside a few left overs. It can be sliced quite thinly for sandwiches and it’s easy to slice when the loaf has sat in the fridge. The meatloaf runs about $7.35 and the sauce, about another 30 cents. See Strategies Applied. I’ll call this a Bargain Meal, but only with the caveat that it comes to the table twice.

Cook's Illustrated Meatloaf - our family's favorite
Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf – our family’s favorite

Cook's Illustrated Meatloaf

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze:

  • 1 1/4 cup ketchup or chili sauce (chili sauce is best!)
  • 4 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cider or white vinegar

Mix all ingredients, set aside. May be warmed briefly in the microwave if your sugar has hardened and doesn’t mix in. May wish to double or triple.


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or  hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk, buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt (yogurt preferred)
  • 2 pounds ground meat: use meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork) or 50% beef & pork
  • 2/3 cups crushed saltines (about 16), oatmeal or 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (oatmeal preferred)
  • 1/3 cup minced parsley, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onion

and garlic, saute until softened, about 5 minutes; set aside to cool.

Mix eggs with salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco or hot sauce, and milk or yogurt.

Add egg mixture to meat in a large bowl, along with crackers, oatmeal or bread crumbs, the cooked onions and garlic; mix lightly with fingertips until evenly blended and meat mixture does not stick to bowl. (If mixture does stick, add additional dairy, a couple of tablespoons at a time, and continue mixing until mixture stops sticking.)

To make in a free form loaf: Cover a portion of a wire rack with foil a little larger than the formed meatloaf will be (use a sheet of foil the length of the roll, and width of about 8 inches); prick foil in several places with a fork so excess grease can drip down. Place a rack on a shallow roasting pan lined with foil for easy cleanup. Turn meat mixture onto foil and pat mixture into a loaf approximately 9 by 5 inches.

To make in a loaf pan:  Place meatloaf mixture in loaf pan but pat into shape so it has a rather high dome and is flat for 1/2 inch around the edges. This will allow the glaze to cook nicely on top. When the second coating of glaze is ready to go on, you will probably want to pour off any accumulated fat into a can or container, (refrigerate to harden to make it easy to dispose of) which is a messy proposition but worth doing.

Brush loaf with 1/2 of the original amount of glaze then bake for about 30 minutes. Remove carefully (I drain grease if using a loaf pan) then gently add the remainder of the glaze without disturbing the first coat.

Return to oven and bake until the loaf registers 160 degrees, about 1 hour, an hour and ten minutes total. Cool for at least 20 minutes – it really does make a better meatloaf. Slice and serve.

from the kitchen of, Recipe slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every; page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

{Heritage Recipes}:

15 thoughts on “Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf – A favorite!”

  1. Since I grew up with immigrant parents in a very unassimilated house I always see really american recipes with this crazy sense of wonder and just wow. I’ve had meatloaf maybe 5 times in my whole life, and you seriously just woke that need in me again. ❤

    1. I always make a “burger” which is really just a sandwich the next day! It might be a childhood thing, but that’s what my Dad would do with any left over.

      In restaurants they’ll bake up the meatloaf and then fry it in a little oil or butter when they serve it! Can you imagine!

  2. I love meatloaf and don’t have a great recipe. This looks wonderful. I love that it has a sauce to go on top of it. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. You’re absolutely right, it is comfort food! Poor meatloaf, so absolutely non-trendy, not very healthy, shunned by vegetarians, vegans, paleo and gluten free diets!

      Gosh it was good, though! 🙂 Every now and then!

  3. Meatloaf was never a very popular dish at our house for some reason. My mom made it rarely … less than once a year as I recall. I don’t know why cause the concept is appealing enough.

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