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mama’s meatloaf

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Mama's Meatloaf Cupcakes

I’ve been teasing you guys with the recipe for my Mama’s meatloaf for a few months now. The truth is, this recipe is so insanely simple that you’re probably going to look at it and assume there is no way it could produce spectacular results. Well, banish that thought because the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

For years, I’ve tried to change the recipe. Add this, remove that, use ground turkey, add spices. And the results were always fine, but none of them compared to the perfect simplicity that was the original recipe. In the past few months, I’ve accepted that Mama really does know best (doesn’t she always?) and I’ve just been making the recipe as written on the card she gave me when I moved into my first apartment 10 years ago.

For this particular post, I decided to skip the “loaf” part of meatloaf and make them into meatloaf cupcakes. Complete with mashed potato “frosting” piped on. For no other reason than I think they are cute. I tend to alternate between making this recipe in the muffin tin and the loaf pan. I’d imagine the meatloaf cupcakes would be awesome for kids. And the loaf is perfect for making the always delicious next day meatloaf sandwich. The only difference between the preparation for the two is the time in the oven. The loaf bakes away for about an hour, while the smaller cupcakes bake up in about 20 minutes.

You may be tempted to skip the ketchup glaze in this recipe, but I promise you that is the real star of the show. It adds the flavor and complexity to the otherwise simple meatloaf. Promise me you’ll make the glaze, k?

Oh, also promise me that when it comes time to form the meatloaf, you’ll use your hands. The best tool in the kitchen is a pair of clean hands, and they are the only acceptable tool for mixing and forming a meatloaf proper. If I catch any of you trying to mix this stuff together using a spoon? I will bring the wrath of Mama to your house (which actually isn’t that scary because my Mom is quite possibly, the nicest person in the world, but still, she’s a red head and seeing you go all “EWWW. MEAT!” on her meatloaf recipe might be the thing that flips the Hulk switch). Got it? Good.


mama’s meatloaf

  • Author: Cassie Johnston/Linda Wright
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


I believe this recipe was the first dinner that my Mama made for my Dad when they first started dating. He was a goner after one bite. Use this recipe wisely. I wouldn’t serve it to anyone you don’t want a long-term relationship with. Because one bite of this meatloaf, and they are in your life forever. True story.



For the Glaze
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
For the Meatloaf
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons onion, diced finely
  • 3 tablespoons green pepper, diced finely
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix all glaze ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Mix all loaf ingredients together and form into a greased loaf pan. Pour glaze over loaf.
  4. Bake at 350° for one hour or until sauce is bubbly and middle of meatloaf is cooked through.
  5. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

  • Category: Entrees

Keywords: entrees, dinner, beef


Do you have a family recipe that you’ve discovered is perfect the way it was written?

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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33 Responses
  1. those look great! and yeah, the mashed potatoes piped are are darling… though I think my husband would look at me & ask how he’s supposed to eat it!

    and I love simple recipes. sometimes they’re the best!

  2. I love my mom’s recipe for meatloaf. She always cooks for an army, so her meatloaf recipe is pretty big.

    3lbs supreme lean ground beef
    1 1/2 pkg Premium Original saltine crackers (crushed)
    1 large onion, diced
    2 large eggs
    Garlic powder
    Worcestershire sauce

    Combine and bake for ~1hr at 350 or until the center is cooked through.

    She never measures seasonings 🙂 most of the recipes in my family cook book are missing steps, measurements, or both. I thought it was a flaw at first, but then I realized that I’ll have to think back to making these recipes with my mom every time I go to use them… that makes my cook book so special to me. <3

  3. Cassie this looks incredible! I’ve been looking for a meatloaf recipe that isn’t “too simple” (you know, meat, eggs, breadcrumbs…mix). I bet if i made the meatloaf this way, my girls would have fun eating it as well!

    I have my Grandmother’s stuffing recipe. My mom called her on her first Thankshiving away from her and asked for the recipe, and I had to do the same to my mom! I love family recipes…such a great way to remember family.

  4. Monica

    This looks like a great recipe and I can’t wait to try it. Have you ever tried to sautee the onions and peppers before adding them? We like ours soft, and I didn’t know if the cook time for the mini meatloaf cupcakes was enough time to get them soft. Thanks!!

    1. Cassie

      No, I’ve never needed to do that. I dice the peppers and onions so finely that they seem to cook pretty decently. But, I’m a fan of crunchy peppers, so I might just not notice it. 🙂

  5. AW

    My mom use to cook meatloaf in a round pan and then top it with mashed potatoes. She’d cut it into “pie” slices and serve. I always thought that was fun but I needed an extra scoop of potatoes on the side!

  6. Julie

    When you do the cupcakes, do you put the potatoes on from the start and bake the whole time together or add them after baking the meatloaf and just top and brown the potatoes at the end?

  7. I just made this meatloaf for my family and they all loved
    it, even the little picky one. I have never had meatloaf before so I can’t compare it to others I’ve had but this was everything a meat loaf should be and more. This will be a part of our dinner line up permanently. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I used your recipe today! They are in the oven as I type this. My daughter was so excited when she saw what I was making that she wanted to help. She did the dirty work and mixed it with her hands per your instructions!!

  9. Carolyn

    My husband asked for a good old fashioned meatloaf last night and I think this is the one with all the ingredients I had in mind. He loves next day cold meatloaf sandwiches on soft fresh bread, mayo and tobasco sauce. His desire will be met today. I like the saute tip of the veggies;think that would add more flavor.

  10. Mimi H

    I made this for dinner tonight. Very yummy and well received by my family. The glaze really added to the recipe. I will make this again.

  11. Kristy

    These look great! I would love to try them, however my daughter is allerigic to eggs, is there a way to substitute the eggs and still get the same affect?

  12. Jessica

    I made this tonight & It was amazing. It was my first attempt at meatloaf & I was suprised at how easy it was & how good it turned out. My husband had five “cupcakes” so it was definetly a hit. Thank You!

  13. Kay

    I made your recipe tonight and was very pleased. Everyone ate it and not one complaint. My picky eater even liked it. We think its the chili powder that makes it special.

  14. Julie

    I made this recipie for he first time about 2 weeks ago, I’ll be making it again tonight but I will be doubling the recipie! It’s delicious and the guys in my house love it!

  15. Madeleine

    I made these tonight with a couple of modifications. One of the best recipes I have tried in a very long time! These are fantastic! If anybody likes spicy like I do, I substituted hot asian chili powder. Because I didn’t have a green pepper I put in extra onion and chopped spinach.

    SO GOOD! Thank you!!!

  16. Laurie

    I want to try the muffin tins, but how do you deal with the grease that always collects at the bottom of the pan? It’s easy to pour out of a loaf pan, but what about the muffin tins? Thanks!

    1. Kat

      I made meatloaf cupcakes in a muffin tin yesterday. The grease will collect at the bottom (I used 80% beef so it was expected). I just scooped each one out after piping it with mashed potatoes, and put it on the plate. If you’re going to be serving for a big group, I’d recommend placing each one in an aluminum baking cup after they’re cooked, so people can grab them easily. However, I wouldn’t bake the meat in the aluminum cups because of the grease issue.

  17. Tina

    DO NOT SKIP THE GLAZE! I don’t know what happend but something compelled me to make this recipe thinking that no one in the house would even eat it, I was terribly wrong! So yummy and so so simple! I had no onion so I used onion powder and a orange bell pepper instead but it’s doesn’t even matter because the glaze and all the juices were the highlight of it all! I made little cupcake loaf for quicker cooking and eyeballed the cooking and they came out perfect! As you can tell I’m not a pro chef. What was even better was the left overs. THANK YOU!

  18. I am making this meatloaf today. About the glaze is 1/4 cup water necessary? It seems to make a lot of glaze and does all no fit on top of my loaf pan. Seems like too much glaze?? Please answer, am looking forward to having this for dinner tonight..

  19. Elizabeth

    Amazing stuff. These were so well-loved in our house that my three-year-old woke up this morning and helped himself to TWO of the leftovers for breakfast before anyone else was even awake. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

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