What Is a Meatloaf?
Well, it’s a loaf….of meat.
There’s more than one way to make a meatloaf, but typically this dish involves a mixture of ground meat, seasonings and something called a panade (more on that below). It’s baked in a loaf pan and served sliced, often glazed with a sweet and tangy sauce on top.
You can make meatloaf with any ground meat, including beef, pork, veal, lamb, turkey and more. Sometimes recipes (like our Home-Style Meatloaf with Maple Glaze) will call for a mix of two or more kinds of meat, which is a nice way to punch up the flavor.
It’s also fun to play around with adding different vegetables to a meatloaf. Our Zucchini Meatloaf disguises veggies from picky kids, and adding minced mushrooms and fresh herbs can give a meatloaf a lot of savory umami flavor without changing the texture.
The History of Meatloaf
Though it has a reputation as a quintessentially American meal, the history of meatloaf can actually be traced all the way back to Rome around 500 A.D. Then, during the Great Depression, meatloaf basically went viral in America. Mixing ground meat with fillers like bread and inexpensive flavor-boosters like mustard stretched rations further during those tight times.
Traditional meatloaf hasn’t changed much since, but home cooks and chefs have found so many ways to jazz up this dinner favorite with international flavors, stuffed versions and more. We’ll be walking you through a classic technique here, but if you’re looking for something a little more unexpected, try our Pizza Meatloaf, Cheesy Mini BBQ Turkey Meatloaves or Grilled Cheesy Mini Meatloaves.