Recipe Review

Who Wins the Title of Best Meatloaf Ever?

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

While I loved it as a kid, I eventually got pretty tired of it. When I moved out and started cooking for myself, I bid goodbye to meatloaf nights. It’s always held a nostalgic place in my heart, though, so when I was given the task of cooking three popular celebrity meatloaf recipes (Ina Garten’s, Ree Drummond’s, and Chrissy Teigen’s), I was totally up for reliving my childhood. All told, there were some clear hits and misses — here’s how I ranked them, from worst to best.

The Best Meatloaf If You Love Spicy Food: Chrissy Teigen’s Spicy Italian Sausage Meatloaf

I really wanted to love Chrissy Teigen’s meatloaf. I was excited that she uses a mix of Italian sausage and ground beef, which I assumed would mean a lot more flavor. Unfortunately, I felt like she overdid it with the heat. The combination of hot Italian sausage and a generous dose of red pepper flakes resulted in a spicy meatloaf that, for me, was too overpowering. But Chrissy gets bonus points for sneaking in a whole lot of vegetables inside without it tasting like a veggie loaf. Rating: 7/10.

The Most Surprising (and Least Dry) Meatloaf : Pioneer Woman’s Meatloaf

Ree’s meatloaf is wrapped in bacon. At first, this was a turn-off to me because double meat isn’t usually how I roll, but I have to say that she really surprised me. The bacon not only infused smoky, rich flavor into the meatloaf, but it also protected the loaf from getting too dried out as it baked. This one was too far from what I know as classic to be my favorite, but it came in a very close second. Rating: 8/10.

The Most Nostalgic — and Therefore the Best — Meatloaf: Ina Garten’s Meat Loaf

While I definitely didn’t grow up with Ina Garten’s meatloaf, hers tasted the closest to my dad’s version. I really loved how simple yet flavorful it was, and her smart trick of baking it on a sheet tray (rather than in a loaf pan) meant better all-over browning, flavor, and texture. It tasted like the upgraded, adult version of my childhood meatloaf and I’d definitely make it again when I need a dose of comfort food. Rating: 9/10.

(Image credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: Kitchn; Headshot: Noam Galai/Getty Images)

(Ed’s note: A previous version of this post featured a recipe from Paula Deen, which has been removed. As our readers have rightly pointed out, we don’t want to give any impression that we support Paula and her history of choices. There are far more recipes and people to feature and we will focus on more considered and inclusive curation in the future. We apologize and regret the error.)