We Made The Pioneer Woman’s Favorite Meat Loaf, and the Recipe Is a Keeper

Wrapped in bacon and topped with a zippy sauce, The Pioneer Woman meat loaf is a true masterpiece.

Meat loaf. While Ree Drummond admits that the name isn’t the most appetizing, her Pioneer Woman meat loaf proves that you can’t judge a recipe by its name alone.

Made with milk-soaked bread rather than bread crumbs (as in a traditional meat loaf), wrapped in bacon and basted with a sweet yet spicy homemade sauce, her recipe is not your average meat loaf.

Don’t let the elegant bacon-wrapped exterior fool you, though—this Pioneer Woman meat loaf is easier than it looks. Like most of Ree’s comfort food recipes, this one is super approachable for cooks of all skill levels. Made almost entirely in a single bowl, it’s a fuss-free recipe perfect for busy weeknights or making ahead to serve a crowd at your next family dinner.

The Pioneer Woman’s Meat Loaf Recipe

The Pioneer Woman's meatloafLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

The Pioneer Woman’s recipe makes one generously-sized meat loaf that can easily serve 8 people.


  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 bread slices
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 8 to 12 thin bacon slices


  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Dash or 2 hot sauce (more if you like)
  • Dash or 2 Worcestershire sauce

Editor’s Tip: Make sure to stick with thin-sliced bacon for this recipe to ensure it gets nice and crisp in the oven. While thick-sliced bacon is a dream for a BLT, it won’t cook thoroughly on this meat loaf, leaving you with a chewy and rubbery bacon shell (aka a total tragedy).


Step 1: Soak the bread

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Add the bread slices to a medium bowl and pour the milk over the top. Set aside, allowing the bread to soak for several minutes to absorb the milk.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t get too fancy with your bread. The Pioneer Woman’s go-to ingredient for this recipe is a basic, everyday loaf of soft white bread. You want something that will practically melt into the meat loaf as it bakes, so steer clear of artisan breads that are overly chewy or crusty.

Step 2: Combine

In a second large bowl, combine the beef, Parmesan, salt, pepper, seasoned salt, parsley and eggs. Add the soaked bread to the mixture. Then, using clean hands, mix the meat loaf ingredients until evenly blended.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t love the idea of mixing meat loaf ingredients by hand, use a large food processor. Pulse the ingredients until fully incorporated, then proceed with the recipe as directed.

Step 3: Shape

Transfer the meat mixture to a foil-lined broiler pan (or a sheet pan lined with oven-safe cooling racks), shaping it into a long and stout loaf.

To ensure the meat loaf cooks in the specified time, aim for a loaf that is roughly 15 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Step 4: Wrap with bacon

Lay the bacon slices over the top of the meat loaf, overlapping slightly to ensure the meat loaf is fully encased in bacon once cooked. Tuck the ends of the bacon under the meat loaf, pulling them taut to give the meat loaf stability and shape. Set aside.

Step 5: Mix the sauce

Next, mix up the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard powder, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Brush one-third of the mixture over the top and sides of the meat loaf and set the remaining aside.

Editor’s Tip: If your family is sensitive to heat, omit the hot sauce. If you don’t have brown sugar on hand, honey would also work well in this recipe.

Step 6: Cook

The Pioneer Woman's meatloafLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Bake the meat loaf for 45 minutes, then baste with another one-third of the sauce. Continue to cook for an additional 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through.

Editor’s Tip: Meat loaf should not be pink in the middle. If you want to guarantee a perfectly cooked meat loaf every time, invest in a simple instant-read thermometer. Near the end of cooking, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat loaf. When it registers an internal temperature of 160°, it’s done.

Step 7: Rest and serve

Pioneer Woman Meatloaf 020223 Toh 04 EditLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Remove the meat loaf and let rest, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with the remaining sauce on the side for dipping. Enjoy! Hungry for more? Check out our collection of stuffed meatloaf recipes.

Here’s What I Thought

The Pioneer Woman's meatloafLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

All hail Ree Drummond! She’s the queen of meat loaf recipes (and this tasty Pioneer Woman chili).

I’ve eaten a lot of meat loaf in my life, and this recipe is hands-down my favorite. (Dare I say, it’s even better than this Ina Garten meat loaf?)

I had never made a meat loaf using soaked pieces of fresh bread before (or these other secret meat loaf ingredients), but I loved the supreme moisture and slightly springy texture it lent to the recipe. The sweet yet slightly spicy sauce was also a fantastic finish. It gave the meat loaf so much flavor and made the bacon-wrapped exterior beautifully caramelized and crisp.

The only thing I would change if I made this recipe again? My choice of pants. I found myself going back for a second third helping of this divine meat loaf, so pants with an elastic waistband are highly recommended.

Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.