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Southern Meatloaf Recipe

This Southern Meatloaf Recipe is a simple classic, with onions and green peppers and not much else. This is the way Mom made meatloaf!

Southern meatloaf recipe makes great meatloaf, served here on a white plate with butterbeans and tomatoes.

If you grew up in the rural South, this Southern Meatloaf Recipe was probably a staple in your house. As a kid, I remember thinking, “Ugh, meatloaf again,” but as an adult, I love it!

My husband’s favorite version of meatloaf is my Meatloaf Muffins, and they cook in half the time as a regular old loaf so if you’re in a hurry then head on over and try that recipe!

Meatloaf is the quintessential comfort food, especially in the South. You can’t walk into a meat-and-three diner without finding it on the menu.

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Southern Meatloaf Recipe – Classic and Simple

While there are lots of meatloaf recipes out there that doll it up a bit, adding bacon or cheese or stuffing with pancetta, the best to me is this classic Southern Meatloaf Recipe with green peppers, onion, bread crumbs, and ketchup.

I like to top it with a yummy brown sugar glaze that’s also simple: just brown sugar, ketchup, and yellow mustard! ??

Helpful Tools and Ingredients

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  • Baking sheet – I used to make this old-fashioned meatloaf in a loaf pan, but several years ago I switched to a heavy-duty baking sheet. The meatloaf is less greasy and the sides get a little crispy, which we love.
  • Large mixing bowl – I always use my big stainless mixing bowl when making meatloaf so I have plenty of room to get everything well blended.

Southern Meatloaf Recipe Ingredients

👋 Want the printable recipe? Just scroll down!

Ingredients are mostly seasonings, along with a few chopped vegetables and meat, of course! This Southern Meatloaf recipe uses the classic ingredients, but you can certainly use it as a base for making something fancier, like bacon-wrapped meatloaf or barbecue meatloaf!

  • Ground chuck
  • Lean ground beef
  • Onion
  • Green pepper
  • Eggs
  • Bread crumbs
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Brown Sugar Meatloaf Glaze

This may be my family’s favorite thing about this recipe! The brown sugar meatloaf glaze is so EASY and yet gives the best little oomph of flavor!

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard

How to Make Homemade Meatloaf

Making this Southern Meatloaf recipe is not difficult or time-consuming, which is probably why it reigned so highly on our dinner table growing up! Working parents can throw this together in a few minutes, bake it, and have dinner in a little more than an hour.

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with tin foil, then lightly spray the foil.

Step 2. Mix meats and other ingredients together in a large bowl. Use your hands and mix gently. If you over-mix, the meat will be tough.

Cook’s Tip: You can sauté the onions and green pepper in a little olive oil first if you want them to be completely tender.

Step 3. Form your meatloaf into a loaf shape on the prepared baking sheet.

Step 4. Place the meatloaf in the oven and bake for 45 minutes (you’ll bake about an hour total). While the meatloaf is baking, mix your glaze ingredients.

Step 5. After 45 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven and spread the meatloaf glaze on the top and sides. Bake for another 15 minutes and then remove from oven.

Cook’s Tip: Let the meatloaf sit for a few minutes before slicing so all the juicy goodness absorbs into the meat. Then serve it up.

Southern meatloaf recipe with a whole baked meatloaf on a baking sheet.

Nothing fancy, just a good, hearty, not-too-bad-for-you supper. And you’ll have enough for meatloaf sandwiches the next day!

Looking for other ideas for your leftover meatloaf? Try this Meatloaf Casserole from Christy Jordan at Southern Plate.

Can You Freeze Meatloaf?

You absolutely CAN freeze meatloaf, and in fact, it’s one of the best make ahead freezer meals you can find.

Freeze Unbaked Meatloaf:

  • Do not freeze if the meat you are using was previously frozen.
  • Prepare as directed up to the point of baking, then wrap the raw loaf tightly in a couple of layers of foil. Place in a large zipper freezer bag.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake the next day as directed.

Freeze Baked or Leftover Meatloaf:

  • Bake the Southern meatloaf recipe as directed but without the meatloaf glaze and allow to cool completely. (If you’re freezing leftover meatloaf, don’t worry about the glaze that’s already on the meat, just know that most of it will come off on the foil and you’ll need to make more when you reheat.)
  • To freeze the whole meatloaf, wrap tightly in a couple of layers of aluminum foil and then either place in a large freezer bag or use a vacuum sealer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat with the brown sugar meatloaf glaze.
  • To freeze individual portions, slice the meatloaf and select however many slices you want as a portion size, then wrap those in aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat with the brown sugar meatloaf glaze.

More Tips for Southern Meatloaf Recipe:

  • If you’re in a hurry, buy the already chopped onions and green peppers from the grocery store.
  • Sauté the vegetables first if you want them completely tender. I never do this because it’s way too much trouble and we are totally fine with having the slightest crunch from the onion and green peppers.
  • Handle the meatloaf mixture gently so it doesn’t become tough and rubbery.
  • Watch your cooking time and don’t overcook!
  • Be sure you allow your meatloaf to rest about 10 minutes after baking.

What Goes with this Southern Meatloaf Recipe?

We don’t usually have this Southern meatloaf as a “company” meal, so when we do have it, the menu is pretty simple: mashed potatoes and either green beans or butterbeans. Sometimes I add biscuits, sometimes cornbread, and sometimes no bread at all.

A white plate featuring Southern meatloaf recipe baked meatloaf with butterbeans and tomatoes.

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Southern meatloaf on a plate with butter beans and tomatoes.

Southern Meatloaf Recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This Southern Meatloaf Recipe is a simple classic, with onions and green peppers and not much else. This is the way Mom made meatloaf!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Brown Sugar Meatloaf Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then lightly spray the foil. 
  2. Mix meats and other ingredients (except for the sauce ingredients) gently in a large bowl. Form into a loaf shape on the baking sheet.
  3. Place meatloaf in oven. While meatloaf is baking, mix the glaze ingredients. Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes, then remove from oven and spread meatloaf glaze on top and sides of the meatloaf.
  4. Bake for another 15 minutes and then remove from oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Notes

Freezing Pre-baked Meatloaf:

  • Do not freeze if the meat you are using was previously frozen.
  • Prepare as directed up to the point of baking, then wrap the raw loaf tightly in a couple of layers of foil. Place in a large zipper freezer bag.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake the next day as directed.

Freeze Baked or Leftover Meatloaf:

  • Bake as directed but without the meatloaf glaze and allow to cool completely. (If you're freezing leftover meatloaf, don't worry about the glaze that's already on the meat, just know that most of it will come off on the foil and you'll need to make more when you reheat.)
  • To freeze the whole meatloaf, wrap tightly in a couple of layers of aluminum foil and then either place in a large freezer bag or use a vacuum sealer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat with the brown sugar meatloaf glaze.
  • To freeze individual portions, slice the meatloaf and select however many slices you want as a portion size, then wrap those in aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat with the brown sugar meatloaf glaze.

More Tips:

  • If you're in a hurry, buy the already chopped onions and green peppers from the grocery store.
  • Sauté the vegetables first if you want them completely tender. 
  • Handle the meatloaf mixture gently so it doesn't become tough and rubbery.
  • Watch your cooking time and don't overcook!
  • Be sure you allow your meatloaf to rest about 10 minutes after baking.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 8 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399Saturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 762mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 13gProtein: 23g

Did you make this recipe?

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Did you know…according to The History of Meatloaf, this iconic dish originated in the fifth century?

Update Notes: This post was originally published October 20, 2010, and on September 9, 2019, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

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