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Mom’s Meat Loaf

Mom made the best meatloaf, and now I do, too. When I first met my husband, he didn't care for homemade meatloaf, but this won him over. —Michelle Beran, Claflin, Kansas
  • Total Time
    Prep: 15 min. Bake: 1 hour + standing
  • Makes
    6 servings


  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2/3 cup finely crushed saltines
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • Dash pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Add beef; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape into an 8x4-in. loaf in an ungreased 15x10x1-in. baking pan.
  • In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients, stirring to dissolve sugar; remove 1/2 cup for sauce. Spread remaining mixture over meat loaf.
  • Bake 60-65 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160°. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with reserved sauce.

Mom's Meat Loaf Tips

How do I make my meat loaf moist?

In this recipe, you make the meat loaf moist by using crushed saltines mixed with milk to help add moisture during the cooking process. This can also be done with breadcrumbs or buttery Ritz crackers. The crumbs release the moisture during the cooking process and stops the loaf from drying out. Also, try to let your loaf rest once it comes out of the oven. Slicing it too soon will release the juice from inside.

What kind of meat is best for meat loaf?

The best meat for meat loaf is any ground meat with a higher fat content. You can do a trio of beef, pork, and veal or stick with ground chuck. While you can substitute ground chicken or turkey for a healthy change, but just understand your meat loaf may not be as moist as the higher-fat varieties of meat.

What can I put on top of meat loaf instead of ketchup?

If you are to top meat loaf with something other than ketchup, you can use your favorite prepared barbecue sauce instead. Sliced cheddar makes a cozy topping, as well—just place it on top in the last few minutes of baking. You can also try topping your meat loaf with strips of bacon, like we do in our bacon-topped meat loaf recipe.

What does milk do in meat loaf?

Milk is used in meat loaf recipes to help moisten the breadcrumbs and keep the loaf’s shape intact. This added moisture will be released during cooking, resulting in a moist loaf. Research contributed by Maggie Knoebel, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 366 calories, 12g fat (5g saturated fat), 135mg cholesterol, 1092mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (31g sugars, 0 fiber), 26g protein.


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  • resalee
    Jun 27, 2020

    Delicious! Next time though I'll follow the advice of a previous review and add the Worcestershire sauce to the meatloaf and skip the sauce. My family only likes a little sauce on top and this recipe made way more than we needed. Instead I'll just add a little ketchup to the top before cooking. I used 2.25 pounds of ground beef instead of 1.5 pounds because that's how it was packaged and I didn't have a need to save a small amount. It still turned out fantastic. Much better than using the meatloaf seasoning packet like I've always done before.

  • Scott
    Jun 11, 2020

    I have 4 very very picky kids the oldest is 13. They pretty much all 4 live on pizza every day. No kidding! Until,!!!! I made this and made all 4 of them at least try it. Guess what? I am now making it at least once a week and all 4 of them absolutely love it so I've been doubling everything and they eat every last bit of it at least by the next evening. All 4 kids and myself would like to thank you for this wonderful meatloaf. It's a huge hit in our home. God bless.

  • Barb
    May 23, 2020

    This is very similar to my mother’s with a couple of small exceptions. She added the Worcestershire sauce to the meatloaf and then just used ketchup to top it. I don’t think I would miss the brown sugar. Delicious and thank you for sharing your version!

  • Caren
    May 4, 2020

    Never made a decent meatloaf, which family didn’t care for anyway. Found this recipe in Taste of Home’s Copycat Favorites book. BINGO! Didn’t change a thing and has now become a favorite. I am feeling ‘victorian’ !

  • Wendy
    May 4, 2020

    Very similar to my mom's meatloaf. Though we use Ritz crackers, a couple eggs and the topping is brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, worcestershire sauce. I do like the comment to wet d oi wn your "crumbs" prior to adding to the meat mix.

  • susnan
    May 3, 2020

    This is basically the recipe I’ve used for many years, minus the sage (which I only like in cornbread dressing). I like to soak the crackers in the milk until they are soft before adding to the meat. You can also add chopped bell pepper for extra flavor. The only meatloaf recipe I’ll ever use.

  • FRED
    May 3, 2020

    Instead of baking in the oven, I cooked it on my smoker. We all loved it.

  • dmichelle2
    May 3, 2020

    I've been making this recipe for years and we love it! I substitute plain bread crumbs for the saltines, but it is great either way!!

  • Ernie
    May 2, 2020

    My mom always made her meatloaf with 80/20 ground beef

  • Nonniebakes
    May 1, 2020

    Tried this recipe last year and we love it! Makes tasty sandwiches the next day too!