I’ve rounded up some of the BEST Southern Meatloaf Recipes right here in one spot for you to feast your eyes (and tastebuds) on.  But nothing will ever come close to Mama’s Meatloaf!

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The Search for the BEST Southern Meatloaf

I am very biased when it comes to the BEST Southern Meatloaf recipe, because I think Mama’s recipe takes the cake, or loaf, I should say.  But I do realize that there are other options floating about the Internet that may be just as tasty for your unique tastebuds. 

A Brief History of Meatloaf

If you have ever wondered where meatloaf began, I recommend reading all about it in A Meatloaf in Every Oven.  The authors discuss, Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer, discuss the origins of the loaf, the controversies surrounding age old questions (Ketchup on top?), and share 50 recipes. 


The Science Behind Meatloaf

You may be thinking, “Meatloaf and science?”  But as a science teacher, I’m always looking for the science in everyday things.  Cooking is one of the best teachers of science concepts.  But just in case you aren’t the science type, I’m not going to go into the details here.

A great explanation of the science behind meatloaf can be found at UrbanMonique: Meatloaf 101. Or, for an even more detailed dive into the science of a meatloaf, check out The Best Meatloaf, from Serious Eats.

The Pioneer Woman: Where I begin all of my recipe searches

It’s true.  Anytime I am looking for a recipe, I turn to Ree first. Meatloaf is no different, and since everyone has their own “perfect” version, I knew I would find one from The Pioneer Woman.  You can see Ree’s Favorite Meatloaf recipe at ThePioneerWoman.com.

I love Ree’s recipes, but I just can’t follow her on this one. Why?  Because, like most people who enjoy meatloaf, I’ve got my own favorite.


My Favorite Southern Meatloaf Recipe

The number of meatloaf recipes floating around out there are as numerous as the number of times a toddler (or teenager) asks “why?” 

But first, I’d like to share Mama’s Meatloaf Recipe.

So what makes this recipe special?  My family loves it and that’s the only reason I need to keep making it 🙂 


Mama’s Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of my ultimate comfort foods.  I would watch my mom make meatloaf. She would use whatever she had on hand to mix with the meat and squeeze in different condiments.  It never failed to taste amazing.  I miss her cooking. 

So, I tried for many years to make Mama’s meatloaf.  For the “bread” she would use torn up pieces of white bread or crushed up Saltine crackers.  She would usually use deer meat, since that’s what we always had on hand.  And of course, she would always add that squiggle of ketchup across the top that kind of congealed when cooked.

Although I was fairly successful at recreating her meatloaf, it still needed a bit of tweeking.  I felt like Linguini in Ratatouille trying to recreate “THE SOUP” but I recreated my meatloaf over and over until I got the right measurements of the tastiest ingredients.

And now, I’m sharing it with you!


Best Southern Meatloaf Image with recipe download button

Mama’s Meatloaf Recipe: The BEST Southern Meatloaf



I am a bit picky with some of my ingredients because they are what gives my meatloaf a distinct flavor.

  • Beef: You can use whatever type of meat you want, but just know that it can change the flavor and the texture dramatically. I like to use lean ground beef so there isn’t a lot of grease.
  • A beaten egg…it is what it is.
  • Finely diced onion: I have a picky eater and some family members who aren’t very fond of onions.  So the smaller you can get them diced, the better.  Also, it keeps the meatloaf more consistent without big hunks of onion poking around.
  • Panko Bread Crumbs: I have made meatloaf with bread, saltine crackers, and regular bread crumbs. Panko is by far my favorite to use.  You can always use Gluten Free bread crumbs, too!
  • Ketchup: You knew it had to be here somewhere.  But, there are recipes without it!
  • Mustard: I’ve only ever used Yellow mustard, but if you want to try out different flavors, go for it!
  • Dale’s Sauce: This is a staple in most homes in Alabama, but it can be found nationwide. Check out the Dale’s Seasoning website to find a location near you that sells this deightful seasoning.  I use the lower-sodium version.
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce–Sweet Vidalia Onion flavor: Yes, this is very specific.  I’m sure you can substitue in any other sweet BBQ sauce.

You can substitute what you want to.  That’s the beauty of meatloaf.

Ingredients for Meatloaf


I am a visual learner, so I’m just going to show you how to make the best meatloaf you’ll ever taste!

Instructions for Mama's Meatloaf
Meatloaf ingredients mixed in a bowl
Mixing meat into the meatloaf ingredients
Forming the meatloaf in the loaf pan
Temping the meatloaf with a thermometer
Meatloaf resting on plate after cooking

Tips and Tricks

Although it is super simple to make, I do have a few tips and tricks to make your meatloaf moist and delicious.

Meatloaf tips and tricks

More Recipes

I don’t know why you would want more recipes after you just saw the BEST Southern Meatloaf Recipe ever…but here are some variations that are worth a try 🙂

*If you just want a basic beef meatloaf recipe, give these a shot.  There are subtle differences between these recipes.

*If you want to mix things up a bit, try these variations of classic meatloaf.

*And if you really want to get crazy with meatloaf, try these unique variations for some new flavor combinations.

The best southern meatloaf recipes

Your Turn!

I hope you and your family enjoy Mama’s Meatloaf as much as we do.  Let me know in the comments or tell me your favorite additions to meatloaf!  ENJOY!


  1. Lifebetweenthedishes

    🙂 I definitely measure my recipe success by my husband’s taste buds! I hope you (and your husband) enjoy!

  2. Lifebetweenthedishes

    Thanks! I hope you will try it 🙂

  3. Lifebetweenthedishes

    You can definitely still use bread, but the Panko makes it a little more consistent in texture. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Lifebetweenthedishes

    I hope you are able to try it and enjoy it as much as we do!

  5. Scout

    I love meatloaf – especially Mom’s, and I hadn’t heard of Dale’s sauce before. This looks delicious!

  6. Cristina

    I love meatloaf with fresh bread. Simple and yummy. I will definitely try this recipe.

  7. Erikka

    Yummy! This recipe sounds so good. I’ll have to give it a try!

  8. Erica

    Yes!! There is definitely a special meatloaf for every family! I’m totally trying yours, it’s a lot like my grandmothers. I’ve tried Ree’s too… it didn’t make my husband happy 😃 thank you for this recipe!


Hi! I'm Misty, the imperfect Mama behind Life Between the Dishes.  My goal is for you to find tools, tips, and resources here to help you maintain sanity through daily mom life!

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