A Totally Vintage Meatloaf Recipe

Updated on February 14, 2020
James Peters profile image

James loves preparing classic dishes the old-fashioned way and learning about the history of foods and recipes.

The Original Meatloaf Recipe

This is a copy of the oldest, original meatloaf recipe I've found. This is the simplest and best meatloaf recipe you'll ever come across.
This is a copy of the oldest, original meatloaf recipe I've found. This is the simplest and best meatloaf recipe you'll ever come across. | Source

What do you think of this recipe?

4.1 stars from 16 ratings of Secret Meatloaf Recipe

A Short Story Behind this Vintage Recipe

When I first came across this little piece of paper, I didn't know it was the secret recipe to the best meatloaf I would ever have. But sure enough, I held in my hand what is arguably the most original and best meatloaf recipe I've ever tasted. The paper I held in my hand was photocopied (obviously), because I'm sure the original was very fragile. I imagine the original recipe was destroyed many years ago.

A Secret, Simple Recipe

I was also surprised by how simple this recipe is to follow, even for the most inexperienced cook. Honestly, after you make this, you too will agree that this is by far the best dinner you have ever tasted. Guaranteed!

Although I am pretty sure this is the original recipe (or at least part of it), because it calls for ketchup and brown sugar, this recipe is also unfinished:

  • At the top of the recipe, it calls for salt and pepper, but it does not say the amount.
  • The recipe is unclear about the size of the onion.
  • It does not state the amount of ketchup or brown sugar; if it's to be applied separately or mixed together, applied before placing the loaf in the oven or after.
  • I also noticed it failed to mention anything about how much ground beef is to be used (the main ingredient).

Since the original meatloaf recipe is incomplete, I took the liberty to add what I thought would be sufficient. I hope you don't mind. If you have any helpful suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Thank you.

I strongly suggest using the Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-Stick 1-Pound Loaf Pan or something similar if you plan on using a loaf pan. Other than that, I suggest forming the loaf by hand and placing it on a small grate above an oven pan.

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: Serves 6 healthy servings of meatloaf

The Secret Ingredients in This Old Recipe

  • 1 pound of beef, ground
  • Half of a large onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, crubbled
  • 1 cup of ketchup, chilled (optional, but recommended for taste)
  • 2 to 5 pinches of brown sugar, optional, but recommended for taste


  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and the chopped onion. Mix these ingredients well.
  3. Place the ground-beef in a loaf pan, make an indent long-ways down the middle of the loaf (like a loaf of bread) *RECOMMENDED* Instead of placing in a loaf pan, let the loaf stand freely on a grate slightly above an oven pan, still putting an indent long-ways down the middle of the loaf (like a loaf of bread).
  4. When oven has reached 325˚F, place meatloaf as close to dead center of the oven as you can. Close oven door, check loaf no more than 3 times while cooking. It will give you bad luck.
  5. Apply the ketchup and brown sugar mix to the top of the meatloaf as soon as you pull it out of the oven.

This Classic Meatloaf Recipe Can't Be Beat

You can look at any other meatloaf recipe and notice that this recipe has probably the SAME EXACT ingredients...take a look! The difference is that critics, cooks, and recipe makers will add a little of this, a little of that, and say, "This is what meatloaf is supposed to taste like!"

Sorry, Paula Deen, people didn't have the luxury of buying canned goods way back when. I can see maybe adding a little homegrown green bell pepper and tomatoes, but that's for "special company" like somebody from the church.

I don't care what anybody else says, this is the oldest recipe. Don't let the Food Network or their guru chefs tell you any different.

This is how you prepare an old-fashioned meatloaf, this is how the old folks did it. There's nothing fancy about this recipe. There's nothing really fancy about a lot of TV chefs' recipes if you think about it.

I know this is the best meatloaf recipe you're ever going to come across. It doesn't get more basic than this. There are going to be a lot of "big-name recipe makers" who will claim to have the original recipe, but trust me—unless they have these basic ingredients, they don't.

Trust this vintage recipe you see before you; look at its ingredients—you can memorize them. Don't be fooled by others who claim to have the oldest, most original meatloaf recipe, because it's right here. So get that oven going and enjoy!

© 2012 James Timothy Peters

Comments for the Cook

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      holly / Hi Greg,That pan sounds relaly nice! That's the only thing I don't like about meatloaf is having to drain the grease off so that would be great. It may be that the mixture needs to be spread out thinner. I use a 9 13 pan and it cooks up in about 45 minutes. I'm wondering if the pan you used is smaller? That would definitely make it take longer.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You get a lot of respect from me for writing these helpful ariltces.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Interesting! Where did you find the recipe? Grandmother's, perhaps? I wouldn't put a whole cup of ketchup on top but just enough to cover it. And I don't think there's such a thing as using too much onion! This recipe DOES look good. :-)

    • James Peters profile imageAUTHOR

      James Timothy Peters 

      8 years ago from Hammond, Indiana

      I'm sure you'll be able to make a PERFECT meat loaf if you follow these SIMPLE instructions.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 

      8 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      This looks good. Meat loaf is one of those things I cannot make and I am gong to try this recipe.

    • James Peters profile imageAUTHOR

      James Timothy Peters 

      8 years ago from Hammond, Indiana

      Condensed TOMATO soup does sound good..nice touch!

      Thanks, I gotta try that next time - thanks!

    • CriticalMessage profile image


      8 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      You know what they say... "Don't let your meat loaf"... *grins*

      I use condensed tomato soup as my topping. It doesn't taste so ketchupy then.

    • James Peters profile imageAUTHOR

      James Timothy Peters 

      8 years ago from Hammond, Indiana

      Sorry, about that. Thanks for the heads-up!

      Add the ketchup and brown sugar mix as soon as you pull it out of the oven.

      Thanks again!

    • rjsadowski profile image


      8 years ago

      An interesting recipe but you don't say what to do with the ketchup and the brown sugar. Is it applied like a glaze and if so when?


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