I searched and searched for that magical meatloaf recipe that remind me of my mom’s. This Bacon Topped Meatloaf brought back delicious childhood memories.
Bacon Topped Meatloaf
The youngest member of the family really, really detests meatloaf. 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 my Bacon Topped Meatloaf. 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.
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 it 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. I’m still hoping that my bacon topped meatloaf will turn Nick into classic meatloaf fan one day! Fishloaf is more of a long shot!
Tips for Making this Bacon Topped Classic Meatloaf
- I like using 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.
- And don’t use the leanest ground beef you can buy. 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 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 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.
- 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.
- Let your meatloaf rest about 10 minutes before slicing.
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.
- Turkey Meatloaf from Melanie Makes
- Italian Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf from Rachel Cooks
- Meatloaf with Stroganoff Sauce from Valerie’s Kitchen
- Bourbon Glazed Meatloaf from The View from Great Island
Plus, how about this comforting Beef Stroganoff from Jen Reviews?Print
Bacon Topped Meatloaf
An old-fashioned meatloaf recipe adapted from Pat Nixon, former first lady
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Entree
- Method: Mixing, Baking
- Cuisine: American
- 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
- 6–8 slices of bacon, partially cooked
- Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Add olive oil to a sauté pan, add garlic and sauté until just golden. Let cool.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.