Mom’s Meat Loaf

Total Time

Prep: 15 min. Bake: 1 hour + standing


6 servings

Updated: Dec. 05, 2023
Mom made the best meatloaf, and now I do, too. When I first met my husband, he didn't care for homemade meatloaf, but this won him over. —Michelle Beran, Claflin, Kansas


  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2/3 cup finely crushed saltines
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • Dash pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

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  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Add beef; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape into an 8x4-in. loaf in an ungreased 15x10x1-in. baking pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients, stirring to dissolve sugar; remove 1/2 cup for sauce. Spread remaining mixture over meat loaf.
  3. Bake 60-65 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160°. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with reserved sauce.

Mom's Meat Loaf Tips

How do I make my meat loaf moist?

In this recipe, you make the meat loaf moist by using crushed saltines mixed with milk to help add moisture during the cooking process. This can also be done with breadcrumbs or buttery Ritz crackers. The crumbs release the moisture during the cooking process and stops the loaf from drying out. Also, try to let your loaf rest once it comes out of the oven. Slicing it too soon will release the juice from inside.

What kind of meat is best for meat loaf?

The best meat for meat loaf is any ground meat with a higher fat content. You can do a trio of beef, pork, and veal or stick with ground chuck. While you can substitute ground chicken or turkey for a healthy change, but just understand your meat loaf may not be as moist as the higher-fat varieties of meat.

What can I put on top of meat loaf instead of ketchup?

If you are to top meat loaf with something other than ketchup, you can use your favorite prepared barbecue sauce instead. Sliced cheddar makes a cozy topping, as well—just place it on top in the last few minutes of baking. You can also try topping your meat loaf with strips of bacon, like we do in our bacon-topped meat loaf recipe.

What does milk do in meat loaf?

Milk is used in meat loaf recipes to help moisten the breadcrumbs and keep the loaf’s shape intact. This added moisture will be released during cooking, resulting in a moist loaf. Research contributed by Maggie Knoebel, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 366 calories, 12g fat (5g saturated fat), 135mg cholesterol, 1086mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (31g sugars, 0 fiber), 26g protein.