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Have you ever noticed that everybody’s mother either makes great meatloaf or terrible meatloaf.  It seems there’s no in-between.  This is great meatloaf; it’s juicy, full-flavored with just a bit of sweetness and it makes kick-ass sandwiches the next day.Yeah, that right…I said kick-ass.  Get over it!  As you probably have figured out by now, The Goddess loves comfort food.  Does anything scream comfort more than meatloaf?  This is good Midwestern roadhouse food.  This is my mother’s meatloaf on steroids…not real steroids, you know that, right?   The Latin Lover loves meatloaf.  But what he dreams about, is the meatloaf sandwich he’s going to have for lunch the next day.  He likes it with just a light smear of mustard and some thinly sliced raw, red onion.  Okay, he doesn’t really care if it’s red onion, but just thin slices of raw onion.  Here’s to the roadhouse nearest you….

Roadhouse Meatloaf

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

  • 2 lbs lean ground chuck
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 basic hamburger buns, crumbled or 1/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (my mother used Colby)
  • 1/4 cup strong beef broth (see NOTE)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (reasonably coarse)
  • 1 tablespoon red bell pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard

For the meatloaf:  In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the topping ingredients.  Shape into a loaf (about 4X10-inches) and place in an oven-proof skillet.  Pour the topping ingredients over.  Bake in a 300°F oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Serve immediately.

For the topping:  Combine all the ingredients and pour evenly over the top of the meatloaf before baking.

NOTE:  I use beef soup base and make a strong beef broth.  I add 1/2 teaspoon beef base to 1/4 cup hot water, stir until it dissolves, then cool the mixture completely before adding to the meatloaf.  I like to use a skillet to bake the meatloaf in, or at least a pan that can go in the oven and on a burner.  It makes gravy-making easier.

To make gravy, carefully remove the baked meatloaf to a platter (2 spatulas help with this), and pour off all but 2-3 tablespoons of fat.  I toss some finely chopped onion into the pan (remember the handle is HOT!!!), sauté it a bit, then add flour, make a roux and add beef broth (regular strength) until the gravy reaches the desired consistency.

GLUTEN-FREE: To make this gluten-free, substitute instant mashed potato flakes for the hamburger buns, about 1/3 cup and increase the broth by a couple of tablespoons. After mixing, but before shaping, chill the mixture for about half an hour. This allows the mashed potatoes to reconstitute.  Then shape and continue with the recipe.

Roadhouse Meatloaf Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015.  All rights reserved.

This is incredibly simple to make, but there are a few things to note.  You must cool the beef broth before adding to the meatloaf ingredients.  You don’t want to add hot liquid to ground beef EVER!  The heat melts the fat in the meat and you’ll end up with dry meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, etc.

019Next, combining the ingredients.  You need to mix them well, but you don’t want to over-work the meat mixture either.  If you do, some of the juiciness will be compromised and you will end up with something closer to paté.  While paté is wonderful, that’s not this meatloaf.



I used instant mashed potato flakes in this version, so it would be gluten-free, if the ketchup, etc is gluten-free.






We need to talk about toppings.  I like to keep it simple.  In the topping, I like ketchup; my mother preferred chili sauce.  Use that in the recipe, if you wish or simply pour chile sauce over the meatloaf instead of the topping.  I also like bacon and have been know to place strips of bacon over the meatloaf.  When I use bacon, I either glaze it with melted currant jelly OR I combine the topping ingredients, put them in the microwave until they’re hot, and serve the topping on the side.

121Don’t throw away those drippings; there’s some devine flavor their.  Drain all but a bit of the fat, toss in some chopped onion and sauté it a bit.  Add some beef broth with 1-2 teaspoons of arrowroot stirred in (this will keep it gluten-free) and simmer the mixture until it’s thickened.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  If it is too sweet, add a bit of cider vinegar.

Variations on a Theme:  —Add very finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, garlic (put through a press) and finely chopped fresh basil; use a smoked provolone for the cheese.  —Add cooked bacon bits and finely chopped dill pickles (squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can) to the meatloaf mixture.  Add prepared mustard to the topping mixture.  —Sauté finely chopped mushrooms with shallots; add to the meatloaf mixture with some finely chopped ham and a bit of tarragon.  Top with bacon.

These are a few of the variations I’ve tried.  I’m still working an Asian flavored version, but it isn’t there yet, and admittedly when I do make one of the above versions, it just isn’t REALLY meatloaf…for me, it’s a head thing.

The Goddess and her Peeps prefer meatloaf served with baked, mashed or braised potatoes and simple frozen corn, cooked in butter or heavy cream or garlic green beans or as in this case, steamed winter squash.