I Made Ina Garten’s Meat Loaf Recipe for Dinner Tonight—And Will Again and Again

This classic meat loaf recipe from Ina Garten tastes just like the ones Mom and Grandma used to make.

We love Ina Garten’s entertaining tips and cooking style. Rather than spending hours on fussy, complicated dishes, she focuses on simple, comforting foods that are delicious and make everyone feel right at home. And what’s more comforting than a classic, family-favorite meat loaf?

True to the Barefoot Contessa’s style, this recipe has no hard-to-find ingredients or unfamiliar techniques. Ina’s simple meat loaf uses ground chuck, onions, breadcrumbs and fresh thyme, with ketchup spread over the top.

Searching for the best Ina Garten recipes? Try one of her best-loved dinners next: perfect roast chicken, shrimp scampi, lasagna and weeknight bolognese.

What do people love about this recipe?

This Ina Garten meat loaf recipe has hundreds of five-star reviews! People love this crowd-pleasing recipe because it is easy to prepare and turns out perfectly every time. Though a few readers suggest additional ways to season the dish, most love the flavor of this juicy meat loaf just the way it is. One reader notes that Ina’s technique of folding lots of sautéed onions into the mixture is a big part of what makes it so delicious.

How to Make Ina Garten’s Meat Loaf

Ina Garten Meatloaf.toh.nancy Mock 5 EditNancy Mock for Taste of Home

This Ina Garten meat loaf recipe makes six servings. However, with over two pounds of meat in the mixture, you’ll get a huge meat loaf we think can easily feed eight or more.


Ina Garten's Meat Loaf ingredientsNancy Mock for Taste of Home

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion (about 3 medium onions)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2-1/2 pounds ground chuck (Garten recommends 81% lean)
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 extra large eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 cup ketchup


Step 1: Prepare the onions

Ina Garten's Meat Loaf onionsNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-low heat. Add in the chopped onions, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Cook the onions for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock and tomato paste. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Step 2: Make the meat mixture

Ina Garten's Meat Loaf meat mixtureNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Place the ground chuck, bread crumbs, eggs and the cooled onion mixture into a large bowl. (These mixing bowls are Ina Garten-approved tools.) Gently mix everything using a fork or your hands. Ina says not to mash or compact the mixture as this will create a tough meat loaf.

Step 3: Shape the meat loaf

Ina Garten's Meat Loaf Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

Move the meat mixture onto the lined baking sheet. Use your hands to shape it into a loaf. Mine was about 12 inches long and 6 inches across. Spread the ketchup evenly over the top of the loaf.

Step 4: Bake

Fill a baking pan with hot tap water and place it in the oven on the rack below the meat loaf. (Ina says this helps prevent cracks in the top of the loaf.) Place the meat loaf on the rack above the water and bake for 60 to 75 minutes—until the meat is cooked through. The internal temperature should be 160°. Try these stuffed meat loaf recipes for some variation.

Serve slices of the meat loaf while they’re hot with Ina Garten’s overnight mac and cheese.

Here’s What I Thought

Ina Garten Meatloaf.toh.nancy Mock 7 EditNancy Mock for Taste of Home

This recipe tastes like a classic meat loaf you’d eat at Grandma’s or find at a small-town restaurant, with the mild flavor of onion and thyme throughout and tangy ketchup on top. My husband and I really enjoyed it. Because we like strong, spicy flavors, we also added hot sauce and salsa to our slices. Think of Ina’s recipe as one that you can enjoy as is (for homestyle meat loaf flavor) or one that you can spruce up with additional ingredients.

Tips for Making Ina Garten’s Meat Loaf

  • Shaping the loaf: Follow Ina’s advice on gently mixing the meat with your hands, but do add a little pressure when shaping the loaf. Otherwise, the slices will fall apart a bit when you slice them.
  • Change the temperature: Even though Ina’s recipe lists the oven temperature as 325°, I went with a higher temp of 350°. That’s because several readers commented that 325° was too low and the meat loaf took too long to cook. And on her TV, she does recommend 350°. My meat loaf finished baking in about an hour at this temperature.
  • Flavor variations: Some ways to flavor this meat loaf that Ina’s readers like are adding diced garlic and Creole seasoning to the meat. Some readers substituted ground pork and ground bacon for some of the beef in the mixture. If you love balsamic-based recipes, try mixing balsamic vinegar or brown sugar with the ketchup. Or, you can replace the ketchup with barbecue sauce or brown gravy.

If you like this, then you must try The Pioneer Woman’s meat loaf.

Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a Taste of Home Community Cook and a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.