Chef John's Homey, Hearty Meatloaf Recipes

It’s comfort food of the highest caliber, at a fairly low cost.

closeup of meatloaf sandwiches on white bread made from Chef John's Classic Meatloaf


We love meatloaf. It’s good hot or cold, made with beef, pork, veal, or ground bison, served with mashed potatoes or baked potatoes, rice or noodles. It’s fairly economical, especially when you add mushrooms, minced vegetables, or bread crumbs to the mixture. As Chef John says, “I have no problem adding lots of cheap, starchy filler to a recipe to stretch the meat content, especially when the results are so satisfying and delicious.” Check out these top-rated meatloaf recipes, from diner classics to creative twists.

01 of 10

Classic Meatloaf

closeup of two slices of Chef John's meatloaf on a white plate with salad on the side


We'll start off with this all-beef meatloaf with a sweet-spicy glaze.

"Best meatloaf ever. It’s moist and delicious. Great for sandwiches the next day, if there’s any leftover. I make a half recipe and cook in a loaf pan for one hour and 15 minutes. I always serve with cauliflower/potato mash, mushroom gravy and corn. Comfort food at its best." – Cindy R

02 of 10

Chef John's Meatball-Inspired Meatloaf

closeup of a slice of meatloaf with tomato sauce on a white plate with mashed potatoes and arugula salad in the background

Chef John

Ground chuck gets the Italian meatball treatment here, with chopped parsley, Parmesan, garlic, and tomato sauce. Breadcrumbs soaked in milk give it a lighter texture. The flavors might win over meatloaf skeptics, too:

"I have always hated meatloaf, but my husband likes it. I spotted Chef John's meatloaf recipe and decided to give it a try in a moment of both weakness and faith. Chef John doesn't disappoint. I did add some Worcestershire sauce to the meat mixture and chopped up some mushrooms to throw in with the onions. Since I was completely out of tomato sauce I grabbed the jar of pizza sauce on hand. I actually liked it, which is saying a whole lot." – BusyLady

03 of 10

Mongolian Beef Meatloaf

a slice of meatloaf with a savory-looking glaze garnished with sesame seeds, served over rice with bok choy

Chef John

"I could not be more pleased with how this Mongolian Meatloaf experiment turned out. Since I couldn’t decide whether to make meatloaf or Mongolian beef, I decided to try both things at once. The result is a tender meatloaf, sliced and crisped in a skillet and served with a sweet, salty, savory sauce." Chef John pairs it here with steamed rice and bok choy.

04 of 10

Creamy Mushroom Meatloaf

Creamy Mushroom Meatloaf

Chef John

Chef John features earthy shiitake mushrooms in this gravy, which he suggests serving over a beef, pork, and veal meatloaf—"or use 1.5 pounds ground beef, 1 pound ground pork" in his Classic Meatloaf recipe.

"This is wonderful recipe! What I love about it most is that I can use my tried and true meatloaf recipe and smother it in this delicious gravy. It is also a great cooking method for the meatloaf, leaving it moist and juicy. I added a splash of red wine. Delicious!" – LindaB

05 of 10

Savory Buttermilk Meatloaf

closeup of a slice of Chef John's meatloaf, with Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes in the background

Chef John

This is a savory, melt-in-your-mouth meatloaf topped with a Dijon mustard glaze.

"This has to be the best meatloaf I have ever made. Juicy, so flavorful. Seconds were called for all around. This will become my go-to meatloaf recipe in the future," writes Allrecipes user Deb. "Didn’t have Italian seasoning so I used a no-salt seasoning instead, and a grainy mustard in the glaze. You have to give this a try."

06 of 10

Bacon-Wrapped Buffalo Meatloaf

a slice of Chef John's bison meatloaf topped with mushroom gravy, with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts in the background

Chef John

To use lean ground bison rather than ground beef, you need to use a few tricks to keep the meatloaf juicy. Here, Chef John includes chopped bacon in the meatloaf mix, as well as wrapped around the outside of the loaf.

"Outstanding! Rave reviews from guests, with requests for the recipe. Chef John's expertise isn't to be trifled with!!! I usually follow his recipes without modification. Once again, this was the wise choice." – AlliePeacock

07 of 10

Upside-Down Barbecue Meatloaf

three slices of glazed meatloaf on a plate with mashed potatoes and peas with mushrooms in the background


Rather than spoon barbecue sauce over the meatloaf, Chef John lined the pan with it instead. "I'd envisioned a beautiful, glossy finish when I turned it out onto the serving platter; however, it wasn't quite as aesthetically pleasing as I'd hoped. But, hey this is quick-and-dirty home cooking." Several reviewers have noted that the recipe is too salty for their tastes, so keep that in mind.

"I have made this twice. The second time, I took it out of the oven after an hour, drained the fat, spread some of the BBQ sauce on top, then baked it for another 5 minutes, and did not invert it. It's a good meatloaf either way, but it is too salty! I likely will make it again, but I'll use about half the amount of salt listed." – Connie Sanders

08 of 10

"Better Than Beef" Meatless Meatloaf

two slices of "Better Than Beef" Meatless Meatloaf on a plate with mashed potatoes and gravy, with green beans on the side

Chef John

For those of you trying to add more meatless meals to your rotation, this mushroom, caramelized onion, and black lentil meatloaf is a good option. It's not vegetarian, since it includes beef base granules, but you could substitute vegetable bullion instead. "This really was delicious, especially next to some mashed potatoes and gravy. Besides being super savory, and very tasty, it's arguably better for you nutritionally," says Chef John. "The to make sure you cook your mushrooms until they are very well caramelized. This significantly ups the 'meatiness,' not to mention it gives your loaf a nice browned beef-like color. "

09 of 10

Chef John's Mushroom Gravy – "Quick, somebody find me a slice of meatloaf!"

top-down view of mushroom gravy on a serving of mashed potatoes with a fork on the side


Instead of shiitake mushrooms, this version uses a package of sliced button mushrooms. "This can be done with any type of stock, but I used beef stock here since I’m going to be making some more meatloaf."

10 of 10

More Recipes and Ideas

a white plate holding a serving of salisbury steak topped with mushroom gravy, with buttered mashed potatoes and green beans

Chef John

Don't forget the mashed potatoes!

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