Easy Cheesy Meatloaf Recipe: A Family Favorite!

Updated on April 15, 2019
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Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

Meatloaf night!
Meatloaf night!

Easy Cheesy Meatloaf

My mother and grandmother made meatloaf, but I think I really became aware of it while watching Happy Days. One of the things that struck me (40 years later!) was that the Cunninghams apparently had a set menu—they ate the same foods in rotation every week. I was fascinated by that; it was such a foreign concept to me. But what really struck me was that Meatloaf Day was Richie's favorite. He actually looked forward to it every week—it was a highlight.

This cheesy meatloaf recipe will have your family looking forward to Meatloaf Day just like Richie Cunningham used to. No matter how much I love meatloaf, I had a houseful of kids that just weren't crazy about it—until I started making this version. Pulsing the vegetables in the food processor insures that the vegetables are fully incorporated and evenly distributed while also producing a fine texture that prevents picky kids from being able to identify onion bits or stray pieces of carrot. All they'll know is that this meal packs a flavor-filled punch.

Using whole grain bread gives added flavor and heft, without being heavy, so that the meatloaf binds together well without becoming dense. And by mixing all the ingredients together before adding them to the beef, the end result will be a flavorful, tender meatloaf—never heavy, dense, or coarsely textured. This recipe solves all the problems that keep this dish from being the comfort food classic everybody wants! On top of everything else, the cheeses lead to an intense, nutty flavor that can't be beat. You'll love this one!

A final note: Be careful when choosing your ground beef. Pay attention to the numbers on the package. The first number will be the percentage of ground beef in the mix; the second number the percentage of fat. The more fat, the more flavor, but also the more greasy the final result will be. I use 93/7 for this recipe. The additional ingredients add plenty of flavor, so a higher fat content isn't needed.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 6 pieces bread
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 pounds ground beef (93/7 or 90/10)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces brown sugar
  • ½ cup mustard
  • ½ cup ketchup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine salt, pepper, Worcestershire, onion, carrot, garlic, bread, Parmesan and eggs. Pulse until mixture is very fine and fully incorporated. If necessary, scrape down the sides of the bowl to mix in any unground pieces and pulse again.
  3. In a very large bowl, scatter grated Cheddar cheese, Break ground beef over the top of cheese and add the ground onion/egg/bread mixture. With your hands, mix gently but thoroughly. Do not over mix or final meatloaf will be tough.
  4. Divide mixture into four equal portions. Shape each portion into loaves and place on a baking sheet or in a 9x13 baking pan. If you wish, you can wrap any number of the loaves and freeze for up to a month.
  5. Mix together ketchup, mustard and brown sugar. Pour evenly over top of meatloaves.
  6. Bake (defrosted) meatloaves at 350 for 1¼ hours until an internal temperature 160F is reached. Allow meatloaves to rest, uncut, for fifteen minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

Seasonings are Simple

This recipe calls for just kosher salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. The Worcestershire adds tremendous depth of flavor to the final dish, enhancing the "beefiness" of the meatloaf without standing out too much on its own.
This recipe calls for just kosher salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. The Worcestershire adds tremendous depth of flavor to the final dish, enhancing the "beefiness" of the meatloaf without standing out too much on its own.

Onion, Carrot, Garlic, and Whole Grain Bread

Keep additives simple, too. Use one large onion, one large carrot, fresh whole garlic, and whole grain bread. Use the heels of the bread if you wish for a budget-boosting tip. This bread is hearty enough to hold its own, binding the meatloaf.
Keep additives simple, too. Use one large onion, one large carrot, fresh whole garlic, and whole grain bread. Use the heels of the bread if you wish for a budget-boosting tip. This bread is hearty enough to hold its own, binding the meatloaf.

Eggs for Binding

Find extra large whole eggs for binding. They add moisture as well as flavor, and they will help your meatloaf hold together well. They work great with the whole grain bread.
Find extra large whole eggs for binding. They add moisture as well as flavor, and they will help your meatloaf hold together well. They work great with the whole grain bread.

Grated Parmesan Cheese

No need to spend a lot of money on expensive Parmesan cheese; this recipe works perfectly well with the inexpensive shelf stable "shaker cheese" from the round containers.
No need to spend a lot of money on expensive Parmesan cheese; this recipe works perfectly well with the inexpensive shelf stable "shaker cheese" from the round containers.

Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Extra sharp cheddar cheese is the go-to for this recipe. The strong flavor balances perfectly against the beef and vegetables in this dish. Grate it yourself to save money, or grab the package of already grated cheese to save time!
Extra sharp cheddar cheese is the go-to for this recipe. The strong flavor balances perfectly against the beef and vegetables in this dish. Grate it yourself to save money, or grab the package of already grated cheese to save time!

Mix Gently but Thoroughly

Mix together the meatloaf mixture, working gently. Try not to over mix the mixture, or it could make the end result tough. Divide the mixture into four equal portions and shape into loaves. If desired, some may be frozen up to a month.
Mix together the meatloaf mixture, working gently. Try not to over mix the mixture, or it could make the end result tough. Divide the mixture into four equal portions and shape into loaves. If desired, some may be frozen up to a month.

Shape into Loaves

Place the shaped meatloaves onto a rimmed baking sheet or into a 9x13 baking dish. If desired, freeze any number of meatloaves at this stage by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap.
Place the shaped meatloaves onto a rimmed baking sheet or into a 9x13 baking dish. If desired, freeze any number of meatloaves at this stage by wrapping tightly in plastic wrap.

Simple, Delicious Glaze

Make a simple and delicious glaze for your meatloaf by mixing together equal parts ketchup, yellow mustard and brown sugar, and pouring over the meatloaves prior to baking. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours at 350F or until 160F internal temperature.
Make a simple and delicious glaze for your meatloaf by mixing together equal parts ketchup, yellow mustard and brown sugar, and pouring over the meatloaves prior to baking. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours at 350F or until 160F internal temperature.

Tutorial Video for Easy Cheesy Meatloaf

Classic Southern-Style Original Meatloaf

© 2019 Jan Charles

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