My Favorite Meatloaf Recipe with Tomato Sauce and brown sugar glaze is flavorful, fork tender and delicious. An easy dinner everyone loves, this classic meatloaf recipe is perfect for busy weeknights!
Need a meatloaf recipe without ketchup and without milk? Looking for meatloaf recipes with tomato sauce? This traditional meatloaf recipe is for you!
I found this hand-written recipe for meatloaf in my grandma's recipe stash. It's a great recipe, but it's not the one I grew up with.
My mom always made meatloaf with onion soup mix and Worcestershire sauce. And, my kids adore my Cheesy Barbecue Meatloaf, meatloaf muffins and Italian Meatloaf Muffins. But since it's actually titled "My Favorite Meatloaf Recipe," I had to make it.
I had to make a couple of minor adjustments with the directions, but I pretty much made this easy meatloaf recipe just as written. My family absolutely loved it, and the Hubs says it reminds him of his mom's old fashioned meatloaf recipe with tomato sauce!
This flavorful meatloaf is made with just a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
- Lean ground beef
- Slices of bread -- torn to make dry breadcrumbs
- Tomato sauce
- Yellow or white onion -- Can sub onion powder or dried minced onions
- Brown sugar
- Vinegar -- use white vinegar or cider vinegar
- Dijon mustard
- Sea salt and black pepper
How to Make Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce
First, add the egg to a large bowl. I like to beat the egg slightly before adding the remaining ingredients. This is a personal preference, but it means less mixing time for the meat, which means a more tender meatloaf!
Then, combine ground beef and the rest of the ingredients in the large mixing bowl.
I recommend mixing the meatloaf ingredients together with your hands. It's really the best way to do it.
Pro tip: Don't over mix the meat mixture. If you work the meatloaf mixture too long, you get tough meatloaf.
As soon as the beef mixture starts to stick together, it's time to form into a loaf shape and place it in a prepared baking dish.
You want to form the loaf so that it's not too thick. Otherwise, it takes longer to cook. This meatloaf is about 2 inches thick.
I use a casserole dish or shallow baking dish to cook meatloaf. But you can use a rimmed baking sheet if you want.
This is a juicy meatloaf, so you need a baking dish with sides to catch the pan juices. I never use a loaf pan, but you definitely can if you want.
You can line the casserole dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper to make clean-up easier.
Make the Brown Sugar Glaze
To make the glaze for the meatloaf, combine the tomato sauce, brown sugar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until the mixture is well combined.
I like to let the meatloaf cook for about 15 minutes before adding the glaze This is a personal preference, though. If you pour the glaze on top of the loaf before cooking, the top doesn't brown as much.
So what I do is pop the meatloaf into the oven, and then I make the glaze while the meatloaf cooks. After about 15 minutes of baking, I pour it on top of the meatloaf.
You can baste the meat loaf with the tangy glaze while it bakes, or just leave it alone.
The meatloaf takes about an hour to bake. The total cook time depends upon your oven. Sometimes, it only takes 45 to 50 minutes to cook.
When the temperature reaches 160 degrees f internally, it's done. The best way to tell if a meatloaf is done is to use a meat thermometer or instant read thermometer.
I like to top the meatloaf with chopped fresh parsley for a pop of color. Then, it's time to eat!
Best Side Dishes
We think the best side dishes to serve with meatloaf are mashed potatoes and green beans or frozen peas. Jasmine rice is another family favorite.
How to Store Leftover Meatloaf
Store leftover meatloaf in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It keeps well for 3 to 4 days.
For longer storage, cut the loaf into individual slices. Then, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, and store in freezer safe containers or foil.
Favorite Meatloaf Recipe with Tomato Sauce
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 cup soft bread crumbs roughly chopped or torn ½from 3 slices of fresh bread
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce divided
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 small yellow or white onion chopped, about ½ cup
For the glaze
- ½ can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
For the Meatloaf
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Place the ground beef into a large mixing bowl
- Add the breadcrumbs, egg, half the can of tomato sauce, sea salt, pepper and chopped onion, and mix well using your hands
- Form the meat into a loaf about 2 inches high, and place in baking pan or casserole dish
- Place loaf into oven, make the glaze, and pour glaze over meatloaf
- Bake for 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, according to meat thermometer
For the Glaze
- Pour the remaining half of the tomato sauce into a small mixing bowl, and add the water
- Add the mustard, vinegar and brown sugar, and mix until well combined
Nutrition information is estimated. Please do your own calculation to fit special diets.
Recipe first published in 2019 and updated in 2021
I hope you enjoy this delicious brown sugar glazed meatloaf recipe as much as we do! If you think it's the best meatloaf recipe on the planet, let me know!
For more easy recipes, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter!
Hugh Sharkey says
Given your focus on meatloaf, I thought I would share my variation on preparing meatloaf that I developed over the past couple of years. It has less to do with the ingredients and more with baking.
Prepare a cookie sheet with a sheet of tin foil - large enough to extend over the side edges of your cookie sheet folding them over on the two sides.
Preheat the oven while preparing the mixture and glaze. Using whatever recipe you like to use, transfer it from the mixing bowl, forming it into a loaf 2 to 3 inches thick (as you have described), and place it in the oven. Here’s where I leave my mother’s meatloaf behind though I think she would approve.
Turn off the oven, and ensure the oven rack is closer to the top but still a good 4 inches beneath the broiler heating element. (If you have a gas broiler you may need to adjust.)
Place the loaf under the broiler and broil for 4 to 6 minutes until the meat is caramelized. Be careful not to burn the loaf - you just want a crunchy brown surface. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and apply your glaze at this point.
Turn off the broiler and turn on the baking element to 350°F. After glazing, it returns to the oven and bake for ≈30 minutes and prepare for the next step.
You will want to have another batch of glaze ready and another piece of aluminum foil the same size as the piece under the loaf.
After 30 minutes, remove the cookie sheet from the oven. (If there is a lot of oil around the meatloaf I tilt the pan and skim most of it off with a spoon.)
Free the edges of the tin foil on both sides and extend them out straight. Then place the second sheet of aluminum foil over the loaf and secure the two pieces of tin foil together so that you can flip the meatloaf over. Mold the top sheet of foil over the loaf to help secure it.
Carefully flip the meatloaf and remove what is now the top sheet of tinfoil. Now glaze the loaf and broil the bottom as before until a crust is formed.
You don’t cook hamburgers on one side only! Or steaks! Isn’t the bit of char on the outside of a steak the tastiest part? Well, why not meatloaf?
As an extreme variation, I have started splitting the loaf with a spatula lengthwise before glazing and broiling the second time. You end up with two “pontoons” but more char.
If you try it let me know how it turns out.
High Hugh, Your meatloaf recipe is definitely unique, but I love the idea of getting a crust on both sides. It sounds delicious, and I'll let you when I try it. Thanks so much for sharing!
Stacy S says
This recipe was excellent. When I mixed the sauce I was hesitant due to the strong vinegar smell. However, the sauce was excellent and made the meatloaf even better. Will be making again.
Can you make this with tomato paste or does it have to be tomato sauce?
I haven't tried using tomato paste, but you can. The taste and texture would be different since sauce is sweeter and not as thick.
Can I leave out the mustard or use a substitute? I do not like any condiments.
Yes, you can leave it out if you want.
Raquel Ogaz says
Today will be my second time baking this meatloaf. I searched and found this recipe again, yay! I first tried it a few months ago, my family and and I loved it! The sauce/glaze is so good. Thank you!
I'm so happy to hear this. Thank you for the wonderful review!
Love this recipe had it for dinner last night. The kids loved it! WE will be having it often!
Thanks, Matt! I'm glad you enjoyed the meatloaf!
Sorry, I'm old school, I would use day old bread, and soak in milk, drain off excess milk and squeeze breaking down the bread before add to the mix, ( more like classic Italian meatballs.
I have a meatball recipe made that way, but it would work for meatloaf too.
Meatloaf is my favorite Sunday dinner! How good this looks!
It's a favorite here, too. Thanks, Catalina!
Beth Pierce says
I know what I will be eating for dinner tonight! This looks amazing and easy too!
Thank you so much, Beth!
Sara Welch says
What an incredible recipe! It has quickly become a family favorite in our home; can't wait to make this again! Delicious!
Yay! So glad to hear this -- Thanks!
Such a classic that the whole family loves!
This was the best ever for sure. Had to try it right away. Great comfort food.
It's one of our favorites. So glad you liked it, James!
Melanie Bauer says
Looks really good! I'd love to make this, so tasty and yummy!
Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert says
Yum!!! This is such a great dinner idea. Love it.
We love this meatloaf. Thanks Erin!
Dorothy Reinhold says
What is it about a meatloaf? It is my go to comfort food. Can't wait to try this glaze.
The glaze is so good! Hope you get a chance to try it!