It’s a classic for a reason! This old fashioned meatloaf recipe with oatmeal is comfort food at its finest! Hearty and flavorful, and surprisingly healthy (it’s gluten free!) This easy dinner recipe can be made in a skillet or loaf pan and is sure to be a family favorite.
The Best Old Fashioned Meatloaf
When I was a young housewife almost 40 years ago, I used a meatloaf recipe that called for blending your vegetables with your egg and milk. It reduced hand-chopping, gave the meatloaf great flavor, and made the meatloaf have a nice even texture.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find that recipe nor could I find it online.
So, I decided to try and recreate it here because I remember it being really delicious.
I don’t know if this is exactly it, but it turned out to taste great and be an easy way to prepare a meatloaf.
Related: For another one of our favorite family dinners, try our stovetop beef stew!
Why Meatloaf is the Perfect Entree
Meatloaf used to be a way to use up what a housewife had on hand and stretch meat to feed her family. The recipe that follows contains my favorite ingredients but you can substitute in different places to create a different taste.
While you might think meatloaf is old-fashioned, it can be a healthy yet delicious comfort food! I made this a gluten free meatloaf by using whole oats. You could eliminate the oats completely and use chopped mushrooms in place of the bread crumbs or oats.
I like to buy grass-fed beef and when I buy it ground, it’s more affordable. If you don’t care for beef you could use ground turkey or chicken.
That’s the beauty of a meatloaf — you can make it the just way you like it! The proportions in this recipe create a firm loaf that holds together well.
If you happen to be someone that loves a good meatloaf sandwich, you will appreciate that!
What You Need to Make Classic Meatloaf
- Ground beef
- Ground pork — You can also use ground sausage or Italian sausage
- Whole oats
- Tomato sauce — You can also use ketchup or chili sauce
- Green pepper — chopped
- Onion — chopped
- Garlic — peeled and chopped
Why did you use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs?
I’m sure the original recipe called for breadcrumbs. However, since I don’t eat wheat, I used whole oats.
When I was talking to my mom, Granny, she said that she preferred breadcrumbs. I thought it tasted delicious with oats! Once the meatloaf was baked, you couldn’t even see them or notice a difference. I actually prefer it this way, and I promise no one will even know the difference unless you tell them!
Why did you add vegetables?
The vegetables you add to your meatloaf give it it’s distinctive flavor. In this recipe I used onion, green pepper, garlic, and tomato. I don’t like visible chunks of vegetables and that’s why I love using a blender to chop them fine.
Chopping the vegetables in the blender is my favorite part! You get the delicious flavors without chunks of vegetables. It also makes it easier to mix the flavor throughout the meatloaf.
You could also use celery, fresh parsley, or red peppers if you like those.
Is Tomato Sauce or Ketchup Best for Meatloaf?
I prefer using a small can of tomato sauce for the entire thing. I use 1/4 cup to mix in the meatloaf and I use the rest on top of the meatloaf.
Many people like to use ketchup for a sweeter taste. You can jazz up the tomato topping with brown sugar and a little Worcestershire sauce as well.
It’s up to you!
How to Make Meatloaf with Oatmeal
Place ground beef, sausage or ground pork, and oats in a large mixing bowl.
Add egg, milk, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and chopped vegetables to the blender. Pulse to chop vegetables into smaller pieces.
Add liquid/vegetable mixture to mixing bowl with ground beef and oats. Use your hands to combine everything. Allow to sit for about 15 to 30 minutes so the oats can absorb some of the liquid.
Shape the mixture into a round loaf in an iron skillet. You can also form in a loaf pan.
If you are making a free-standing round loaf, cover a baking sheet with foil. Make sure there is a rim on the sheet because your meatloaf may release liquids. You can also use a large cast iron skillet too.
Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Carefully remove from oven, put remaining tomato sauce or ketchup on top and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
Can you make this recipe in a loaf pan?
I made two versions of this meatloaf. The first one I formed it into a round loaf and cooked in a cast iron skillet. It turned out great! The tomato sauce tended to run down the sides a bit, but the flavor was fantastic.
I also made a version in a loaf pan. The sauce stayed in place, but of course it’s a little tricker to get the finished meatloaf out of the pan.
Either way works fine, so it’s a matter of your preference.
Skillet Meatloaf Recipe (Printable Copy)
Old Fashioned Meatloaf Recipe with Oatmeal
- mixing bowl
- Bread pan, large cast iron skillet, or rimmed baking sheet
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/4 pound ground pork Can also use sausage or Italian sausage
- 1 cup whole oats
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 cup tomato sauce or ketchup divided
- 1/4 cup onion chopped
- 1/4 cup green pepper chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Put ground beef, sausage or ground pork, and oats into a mixing bowl.
- Add egg, milk, 1/4 cup tomato sauce or ketchup, salt, pepper, and chopped vegetables to the blender. Pulse to chop vegetables into smaller pieces.
- Add liquid/vegetable mixture to the ground meat and oats. Mix up with your hands. Let sit for about 15 to 30 minutes so the oats can absorb some of the liquid.
- Shape the mixture into a round loaf or put into a bread pan.
- If you are making a free-standing round loaf, cover a baking sheet with foil. Make sure there is a rim on the sheet because your meatloaf may release liquids. You can also use a large cast iron skillet too.
- Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Carefully remove from oven.
- Put the remaining tomato sauce or ketchup on top and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.
- You can also use celery, fresh parsley, or red peppers for the veggies.
- This recipe works both in a skillet or a loaf pan.
- Feel free to use tomato sauce or ketchup.
- Add a bit of brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce to jazz up the tomato sauce even more.
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