I always remember there being some sort of almost… stigma around a family making meatloaf for dinner. It was something EVERY kid turned their nose at, and every mom seemed to force feed their families. Well, we have found and tweaked a recipe that our kids ASK for! I always make enough for two, one to devour that evening for dinner and a backup to have on hand when the kids are craving it!
The ingredients are usually pantry staples and go together in a flash. The neat thing about meatloaf is its ability to be crafted to your family’s needs, likes and dislikes. We usually mix in one pound of ground beef and one pound of venison. However, you can use all ground beef, ground turkey for a healthier option or all ground venison. Switch the crackers for breadcrumbs or vice versa and the ketchup for barbeque sauce for a new flavor. The swaps are endless.
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Then add the following ingredients to a large bowl: 2 pounds of ground beef, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon minced onion (or 1 small onion), 1/2 cup Ritz crackers and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. We prefer to use Italian breadcrumbs for a bit more flavor!
Before mixing the meat and seasoning, in a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk and 1 large egg. Add milk mixture to your meat bowl. This saves you from overworking your meat, causing less grease in the end!
Mix all your ingredients together with your hands or a potato masher. I prefer the masher to eliminate mess. Make sure to mix until just combined so you do not overwork it.
Here is where you can save one for the freezer or serve it all at once.
If saving, put half your mixture in an 8″ x 4″ loaf pan and the other half in a freezer safe loaf pan.
If serving all at once, add the mixture to a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
*Add slots in your loaves to give the grease a place to escape for even cooking.
Place your loaf on a foiled baking sheet. There will be some grease drippage and this will prevent either a dirty oven or a fire. Cook your meatloaf for 45 minutes.
While your meatloaf is baking, create your sauce in a small bowl. Add together 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup jelly (grape or apricot is delicious!), 3/4 cup ketchup and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.
After 45 minutes, add half (or quarter if splitting) of your sauce to your meatloaf. Saving the rest for dipping afterwards. Then continue baking for another 45 minutes.
Let your meatloaf rest for at least 15 minutes to ensure it does not fall apart when slicing!
Wrap your meatloaf in foil and store your sauce in a freezer safe sandwich bag. I like to write the directions on the package, so I don’t have to pull out the recipe. Also on the package, I add the best by date, so it doesn’t go bad before we use it!
- 2 lbs Ground beef can use venison or ground turkey
- 1/2 C Ritz crackers
- 1/2 C Breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tbsp Minced onion
- 1 C Milk can use dairy free alternatives
- 1 Large egg
- 3/4 C Ketchup
- 1/4 C Brown Sugar
- 1/4 C Grape Jelly Apricot works well too!
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- In a large bowl add he ground beef, ketchup, Ritz crackers, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, minced onion and garlic powder. Don't mix yet!
- In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Add to the large bowl and mix all the ingredients together.
- Split the meat mixture in half, adding one to an 8 x 4 loaf pan and the other to a freezer safe 8 x 4 loaf pan. OR add all the mixture to a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Make sure to make 3-4 slits in the top of each loaf.
- Place the loaf on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.
- While the meatloaf is in the oven, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, jelly and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Once the 45 minutes is up, spread half (or quarter if freezing a loaf) to the top of the loaf.
- Place back in oven and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Let the meatloaf rest for 15 minutes to avoid it falling to pieces. *See notes for freezing instructions!