12 Secret Ingredients Grandma Used in Her Meatloaf

Did you know you could put THAT into meatloaf? Now you do!

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Taste of Home

Meatloaf is one of those nostalgic meals that takes us back to our childhoods. No doubt your mom or grandma had a recipe all her own—and these recipes might have had some interesting and tasty ingredients inside. So let’s bring meatloaf back with these tasty mix-ins and toppings.

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Bacon or Ham

Don’t just settle for ground beef in your meatloaf. Amp things up with chopped bacon or ham. You can even top the whole meal off with bacon like in this recipe.

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Southwestern and Mexican Flavors

Call it meatloaf night and the whole family will probably groan. Rename it TACO meatloaf and they’ll jump for joy! Add in your favorite flavors, like salsa, kidney beans, corn and taco seasoning. You can even serve the slices in tortillas with a side of guacamole!

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Baked meatloaf with boiled eggs.
Shutterstock / nelea33

Hard Boiled Egg

Instead of putting an egg on it, put an egg in it! Place your meatloaf mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a 8×12 rectangle. Place three peeled hard-boiled eggs in the center and roll the long end of the loaf over the eggs. Discard the wrap, place the log in your loaf pan and bake it like normal. When you slice into it, you’ll get an eggy surprise!

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Mashed Potatoes

We’re all used to serving mashed potatoes on the side with meatloaf, so why not stuff them inside the loaf itself? This recipe adds a creamy texture to boring-old-meatloaf that’ll have you digging in for bite after bite

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Barbecue Sauce

You don’t have to stick to ketchup as your meatloaf topping. Try barbecue sauce instead, like with this mini meatloaf recipe. Looking for a sauce? Try our favorite brands.

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Grandmas always find a smart way to get us to eat our veggies—even mushrooms. Adding mushrooms to meatloaf give it flavor, moisture and great texture, like in this recipe. Choose your type—button, Portobello, shiitake—and chop them up as finely as you wish. Next, try these stuffed meatloaf recipes.

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Tzatziki Sauce

Who said meatloaf had to be coated in a sugary, ketchup-y glaze? Switch things up by serving your meatloaf with a side of tangy and cooling tzatziki sauce. Go one step further and make your Greek-inspired meatloaf really authentic by using ground lamb instead of beef.

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Make it Cheesy

Add your favorite cheese right to the meatloaf mix—like cheddar, pepper jack or even string cheese—to turn that loaf into a cheesy meal. Or, elevate its look topping it with blue cheese and herbs. Either way, it will be meatloaf transformed!

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It’s not just about adding a healthy, nutrient-dense ingredient to your meatloaf. Veggies actually helps keep things nice and moist by releasing juices as the meatloaf cooks. If you really want to make the loaf healthy, you can swap in ground turkey for the beef.

This five-star recipe uses onion, carrots, celery and peppers.

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Hot Sauce

I come from a long line of Buffalo wing lovers, so there’s almost nothing I won’t put hot sauce on! In this recipe, we add buffalo sauce to the meat mixture and also use it as the glazed topping for a fun-and-funky recipe that really kicks up the heat. Make bacon-wrapped meatloaf with this hot sauce.

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Tomato Sauce and Italian Seasonings

Adding tomato sauce, tomato juice or marinara to your meatloaf can only make it more flavorful. Add in a sprinkling of Italian seasonigs—think basil and oregano—and you’ve got a tasty Italian meatloaf.

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Loaf of Beef Wellington Wrapped in Puff Pastry
Shutterstock / Anna Hoychuk

Phyllo Dough or Puff Pastry

Most kids wouldn’t eat something called Beef Wellington, but they’d totally eat a puff pastry-wrapped meatloaf. The wrapper itself adds a delicious texture to your plate while also keeping the juices sealed inside, creating the juiciest, most flavorful meatloaf imaginable.

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a professional chef, recipe developer, writer and developmental editor. After years of working in restaurant kitchens, she turned to writing to share her skills and experience with home cooks and food enthusiasts. She's passionate about using local, organic ingredients and teaching others how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, writes for several publications and is the co-author of two books about Ayurveda.