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Exploring Meatloaf: Facts, Folklore, and 10 Fabulous Recipes

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Check out these unique meatloaf recipes!

Check out these unique meatloaf recipes!

As American as Baseball and Apple Pie?

When speaking of regional/ethnic cuisine, is there any food more "American" than meatloaf? According to the Oxford Companion to Food, meatloaf was first mentioned in print in the United States in 1899. And just as the Luther translation of the Bible coincided with the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, meatloaf was introduced into the American diet with the advent of the mechanical meat grinder. (Thank you, German inventor, Karl Drais.)

From that time on, recipes for meatloaf started to appear in American cookbooks. Fannie Farmer's 1918 edition of The Boston Cooking School Cookbook included two variations of a ground meatloaf; the primary reason was that the meat grinder made preparation so much easier. Cooks had previously been required to chop meat in large wooden bowls using a curved blade, but now they could purchase pre-ground meat directly from butchers.

The invention of the meat grinder proved to be even more of a blessing during the Great Depression. Tough cuts of meat could be tenderized by grinding—and then, with the addition of a bit of bread or grain, this cheap food could be stretched to feed a hungry family.

Meatloaf again came to the rescue in the 1940s; war rationing limited the amount of meat that could be purchased for family meals. Numerous meatloaf recipes appeared on the labels of canned soup, ketchup, and cereal boxes.

It seems that there are as many forms of meatloaf as there are cooks who prepare it, but it isn't uniquely American. The combination of chopped meats and fillers spans the globe and centuries.

In Asia and Europe . . .

. . . the cookbook Apicius was printed in the 4th or 5th century A.D. and it featured a recipe for chopped meat combined with spices and bread soaked in wine, which was then formed into a patty and baked. In Medieval Europe pieces of meat were minced, mixed with seasonings, fruit, and nuts, and then molded into a round and roasted.

So meatloaf has been a fundamental part of family meals for many centuries and in many different places and cultures. Let's examine a few. I promise that there is something here for everybody.

  • Italian Sausage and Peppers Meatloaf
  • Schmidt's German Meatloaf
  • Feta-Stuffed Greek Turkey Meatloaf with Spinach and Tzatziki Sauce
  • Asian-Inspired Meatloaf
  • Swedish-Inspired Meatloaf
  • Best Ever Meatloaf
  • Vegan Meatloaf
  • Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf
  • Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf
  • The Carb Diva (that's me) Meatloaf
Italian sausage and peppers meatloaf

Italian sausage and peppers meatloaf

Italian Sausage and Peppers Meatloaf

Tammy is the owner of Organize Yourself Skinny and is dedicated to helping each of us achieve a better "you" by offering e-courses in organization, exercise, meal planning, and healthy eating. Her Italian meatloaf stays lean with the use of ground chicken and/or turkey but is packed with moisture and flavor.

Schmidt's German meatloaf

Schmidt's German meatloaf

Schmidt's German Meatloaf

A long-time subscriber to Food and Wine magazine happened to visit the German restaurant Schmidt's in Columbus, Ohio, and there she tasted their famous meatloaf. So reminiscent was it of her grandmother's dish, that she reached out to the editors of Food and Wine and asked if they could obtain the recipe.

This comforting meal has been on the menu of the family-owned restaurant since 1972. Developed by Betty Jane, wife of the founder, it is one of their best sellers. You'll be amazed at what the secret ingredient is!

(This recipe appeared in Food and Wine magazine in March 2016.)

Feta-stuffed Greek turkey meatloaf with spinach and tzatziki sauce

Feta-stuffed Greek turkey meatloaf with spinach and tzatziki sauce

Feta-Stuffed Greek Turkey Meatloaf with Spinach and Tzatziki Sauce is an online community where enthusiastic home bakers and cooks can share their recipes. It's beautifully organized and photographed and has a great search option. It is there that I found this Feta-Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf with Tzatziki by Stephen Desousa.

Asian-inspired meatloaf

Asian-inspired meatloaf

Asian-Inspired Meatloaf

Linda is from Maylasia and is the founder of the blog Although admittedly meatloaf is not an Asian dish, meatballs and minced-meat dishes are commonly found. Linda uses the flavors of ginger, garlic, hoisin, and soy sauce to create this Asian-influenced dish.

Swedish meatloaf with caramelized cabbage

Swedish meatloaf with caramelized cabbage

Swedish Meatloaf with Caramelized Cabbage (Kalpudding)

This recipe for Swedish-inspired meatloaf with caramelized cabbage was originally published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and was reposted at The flavors are evocative of Swedish meatballs.

Best-ever meatloaf

Best-ever meatloaf

Best-Ever Meatloaf

Jen is a busy mom of four boys and her blog gives you recipes that are just that. I think her Best Ever Meatloaf lives up to its name.

Vegan meatloaf

Vegan meatloaf

Vegan Meatloaf

The editors of are dedicated foodies; they live and breathe all things epicurean and provide restaurant and product reviews, meal planning, and recipes for their enthusiastic subscribers.

Did you know that National Meatloaf Day is fast approaching? (That's OK, I didn't either, but it's right around the corner). That day is also my vegetarian daughter's birthday, so it seems appropriate that we should take a look at a vegan meatloaf. This loaf is so full of mushrooms and nuts that it is simply bursting with umami flavor. You won't miss the meat.

Macaroni and cheese stuffed meatloaf

Macaroni and cheese stuffed meatloaf

Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf

Shawn is a stay-at-home mom with four adorable kids, a handsome husband, and a newly-published cookbook. She is a whiz in the kitchen and behind the camera (both self-taught) and created this recipe for Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf using pre-made heat-and-eat macaroni and cheese. I am sure you could substitute any brand or even your own homemade macaroni and cheese.

Buffalo chicken meatloaf

Buffalo chicken meatloaf

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf

This is not the prettiest meatloaf you will ever make, but it has all of the flavors you love in buffalo chicken—the heat of the sauce, the creamy Gorgonzola cheese, and (of course), the chicken. Who needs pretty when something tastes this decadent? Thanks to Jenn of for this great idea.

And Last, but Not Least . . .

I offer my recipe. There is one problem, however. As the Carb Diva, I write about everything "carb-y"—rice, potatoes, pasta, and (of course) anything sweet. Where are the carbohydrates?

No, not THAT Meatloaf!

No, not THAT Meatloaf!

However . . .

I'm joking of course. Today I made a meatloaf that I'm actually happy about—I finally found the right combination of meats, eggs, onions, liquid, and bread crumbs.

Ah, that's it. The bread crumbs make it kinda carb-y, right?

Carb Diva Meatloaf Recipe


  • 1 1/4 pound ground turkey
  • 1/4 ground turkey sausage, Italian seasoned (Jennie-O)
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced (I prepped mine in the food processor)
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely minced
  • 1 large carrot, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup, (you could substitute another flavor if you wish)
  • 1 package Stove Top stuffing mix


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease an 11x7-inch baking dish. Sauté the minced onion, celery, and carrot in the olive oil for about 3 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Place in a large mixing bowl with ground turkey, turkey sausage, and remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Shape into a loaf and place in the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing

© 2017 Linda Lum