I used to think there was no possible way meatloaf could get any better or more comforting than the version my dad makes, but this comfort food mash-up changed all that in a single bite. Sorry, Dad! Inspired a cozy crock of French onion soup, this meatloaf is loaded with a generous tangle of velvety caramelized onions, then blanketed with a bubbling layer of Gruyère cheese.
A Trick for Quicker-Cooking Caramelized Onions
The hardest part of making caramelized onions is the time and patience they ask for. But with the help of a baking staple, there's a way to speed up the process so it's a little more weeknight-friendly. Sprinkled with a pinch of baking soda, the onions brown noticeably faster and take on a slightly softer texture.
Feel free to get a head start on dinner by making the caramelized onions a few days in advance following the method I suggest in the recipe below. (You can also use our longer-cooking traditional method or make a batch in your slow cooker.) And if you're feeling especially ambitious, make an extra big-batch so you can freeze some for later. Then you can make this recipe whenever the craving strikes.
French Onion Meatloaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unseasoned dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground beef, veal, pork, or blend
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (about 3 ounces)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with aluminum foil.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and baking soda and cook, stirring every few minutes with a wooden spoon, for 15 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring more frequently and scraping up the browned buildup that forms at the bottom of the pan, until the onions are a deep golden-brown, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl, pour in the milk, and stir to combine. Add the caramelized onions (reserving some for garnish, if you want), garlic, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
Add the ground meat and eggs, and use your fingers to combine the meat and flavorings. Handle the meat gently and do not overmix. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and gently press down into an even layer.
Bake until the middle of the loaf registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, 55 to 60 minutes.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and set the oven to broil. Sprinkle the reserved caramelized onions and Gruyère evenly over the top of the meatloaf. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and browned around the edges, about 2 minutes.
Let the meatloaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan by grasping and lifting it out with the foil to a clean cutting board. Drain off the excess grease. Slice and serve.
- Make ahead: The caramelized onions can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in advance and stored in the freezer.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.