This Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf brought back delicious childhood memories. The magical mixture of thyme and marjoram sold me!

This Meatloaf Recipe comes from First Lady, Pat Nixon. I imagine it was published in the newspaper back in the 70s and home cooks across the US gave it a whirl. It’s an Easy Meatloaf Recipe that tasted like my mom’s meatloaf and has stood the test of time. Topping with ketchup and bacon were my additions as well as using a meatloaf mixture instead of all ground beef!

A plate with sliced meatloaf in front of a tray of meatloaf

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

The youngest member of the family really, really detests meatloaf. Even meatloaf with bacon! In fact, he dislikes any entree with the word “loaf” attached.  One evening, when he was not even 4 years old, Nick inquired about dinner.

I happened to be preparing his father’s favorite salmon loaf (yes, the pickiest man in the world loves salmon loaf.  Go figure).  I knew he’d pitch a fit if he got wind of my plans, so I spelled out F-I-S-H-L-O-A-F, knowing he knew of no entree starting with F. This kid, who was too young to read, couldn’t tie his shoes, and didn’t venture anywhere without his threadbare Winnie the Pooh, shouted, “FISHLOAF?!!!! I hate fishloaf!” And stomped off.

He feels the same way about meatloaf, even this traditional meatloaf recipe.  Nick would much rather have Beef Tenderloin (well, I can’t blame him there!), Beef Teriyaki Kabobs, or even Strawberry Salsa Topped Salmon. He’s away on a 3-day overnight retreat with 60 other seniors in high school. I imagine one of the blessings he’s counting is not having meatloaf for dinner.

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf in a white casserole dish garnished with fresh thyme

Easy Meatloaf Recipe

I tested meatloaf after meatloaf, searching for one that reminded me of my mom’s best version.  A friend shared a recipe from our former first lady, Pat Nixon, and I knew it was the one after my first bite.

It was the magical mixture of marjoram and thyme that was etched in my memory. I’ve tweaked this easy meatloaf recipe to our liking by topping with ketchup and bacon and using a blend of ground meats.  Feel free to use 2 pounds of lean ground beef if that’s your preference.

Mrs. Nixon topped her meatloaf with tomato puree and bread crumbs, but bacon definitely trumps that combo.

I’m still hoping that my bacon-wrapped meatloaf will turn Nick into a classic meatloaf fan one day. My salmon loaf is more of a long shot!

2 slices of meatloaf on a white plate with broccoli

Tips for How to Make Meatloaf with Bacon

  • PRO-Tip: a mixture of equal parts ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal. The veal adds some tenderness and the pork some extra flavor and fat. If you have objections to either the pork or veal, all ground beef is fine.
  • PRO-Tip: Don’t use extra lean ground beef. The fat makes for a better texture, moister meatloaf. And using my tip below, any excess grease will cook off into a pan below the meatloaf.
  • I like to use ground bread crumbs as part of the binder, but cracker crumbs (reduce the salt if the crackers are salty) or quick oats are other options.
  • Adding some milk along with onions will add some moisture to counteract your binder.
  • Also, don’t overwork your mixture while mixing and shaping. I like shaping my meatloaf into a classic loaf, gently with the palms of my hands.
  • Make sure to add enough salt and seasonings. You can swap out my thyme and marjoram for Italian spices, Greek spices or whatever spice blend works for your family. If you’re unsure about how much salt, start with a smaller amount and test a bit of the meat by frying it in a saute pan. Taste and add more if needed.
  • I precook my bacon so that it will have some color and also so that some of the fat is rendered. Since it will be in the oven for at least an hour, it does not need to be fully cooked.
  • PRO-Tip: I like to bake my easy meatloaf on an ovenproof rack over a rimmed sheet pan. That way, the meatloaf will not be cooking in the grease and other drippings, as they collect in the pan below.
  • For my Meatloaf Sauce Recipe: “Recipe” is probably a bit of an exaggeration! I put a thin coating of ketchup over the meatloaf before adding the bacon. You could also use barbecue sauce if you like that pairing. Both are simple meatloaf sauces.
  • Let your meatloaf rest about 10 minutes before slicing.

What is Meatloaf?

Meatloaf is essentially ground meat mixed with seasonings before cooking. It can be shaped into a loaf form or baked in a loaf pan. Some of the add-ins include onion, garlic, herbs, and ketchup. To help hold the meatloaf together binders such as eggs, breadcrumbs or even oatmeal are used. Meatloaf can be made with beef, pork, turkey, lamb, or a mixture like in my meatloaf recipe.

How Long to Cook Meatloaf?

I find that about 1 hour at 350-375º does the trick. If you’re unsure that your meatloaf is fully cooked, check that the meatloaf’s internal temperature is 160º. It can be pulled out of the oven at 155º as there will be some carryover cooking time as it rests before you slice. Cover the meatloaf with foil when it comes out of the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes for easier slicing. To check the internal temperature, insert an instant read thermometer into the middle of the meatloaf about halfway down. Note that overcooking can contribute to a dry meatloaf.

More Meatloaf Recipes You’ll Love:

Check out my How to Make the Best Meatloaf post for more tips along with how to make individual muffin tin meatloaves. And I hope you’ll give this retro Meatloaf Recipe a try!

Bacon wrapped meatloaf slices on a white dinner plate with a fork and two broccoli spears

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield 6 servings

An old-fashioned meatloaf recipe adapted from Pat Nixon, former first lady

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2- 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 slices white bread, either diced into small pieces or ground into bread crumbs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 pounds meatloaf mix (equal parts ground beef, ground pork and ground veal)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • Ketchup
  • 6-8 slices of bacon, partially cooked

Instructions

  1. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Add olive oil to a sauté pan, add garlic and sauté until just golden. Let cool.
  2. Dice or grate bread and soak it in milk. In a large mixing bowl, mix ground meat by hand with sautéed onions and garlic and bread pieces. Add eggs, salt, pepper, thyme and marjoram and mix by hand in a circular motion.
  3. Turn this mixture into the baking pan and pat into a loaf shape, leaving at least one inch of space around the edges to allow fat to run off. Brush the top with ketchup and lay strips of bacon across the width of the loaf.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375º. Bake meatloaf for 1 hour, or until meat is cooked through. Pour off accumulated fat several times while baking and after meat is fully cooked. Let stand on wire rack for five minutes before slicing.
  5. Print

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 511Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 182mgSodium: 1491mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 33g

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