Brown Sugar Meatloaf – Not your Grandma’s Meatloaf, but just as amazing!

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

Meatloaf has a certain nostalgia about it. It isn’t the most visually appealing dish but somehow it has clung on as one of the top “American Comfort Food Favorites”. You walk into any American diner and you’ll see the ubiquitous meatloaf of the menu. This recipe for Brown Sugar Meatloaf is a twist on an old American classic.

I have not always been a member of the Meatloaf Fan Club. In fact, I distinctly remember dousing my meatloaf in so much ketchup as to render it practically indistinguishable from a hamburger. There was just something about meat in a loaf form that gave me the creeps. It’s inexplicable.

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

I always ask my fiancé if there is anything he wants for dinner in the upcoming week and he usually responds with indifference, but several years ago he requested meatloaf. How could I deny his one request? I did some extensive research and came across a recipe for Brown Sugar Meatloaf.  It was so good that it has been a regular ever since! It’s easy and it’s sure to be a hit!

Brown Sugar Meatloaf – Not your Grandma’s Meatloaf, but just as amazing!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 4 - 6

Brown Sugar Meatloaf – Not your Grandma’s Meatloaf, but just as amazing!

You will LOVE this spin on traditional meatloaf! A brown sugar sauce is baked on top to keep the loaf super moist and extra delicious! I love to serve it with mashed potatoes and extra sauce on the side!!!


  • ½ cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin or beef of your choice
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper, rounded generously
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, rounded generously
  • ¾ cups finely crushed saltine crackers (~12 crackers)
  • Lindsey’s Secret Ingredient: chopped fresh rosemary for serving. It’s not necessary but it takes the dish to a whole other level!


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix together brown sugar, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in small saucepan. I double this sauce, so that there is extra for serving. Trust me, you’ll want to too.
  3. In a mixing bowl mix all remaining ingredients through crackers.
  4. Shape into a loaf and place in a 9” x 9” pan. You can make it in a loaf pan but the larger pan allows the fat to drain away from the loaf.
  5. Spread enough of the ketchup mixture on the top to generously cover the loaf. Allow it to drop down the sides. It will help keep the meat moist and add tremendous flavor.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until juices are clear. I like to use a miniature meat thermometer, because I find judging whether or not the juices are clear incredibly stressful.
  7. While the meat cooks bring the extra sauce to a boil and then simmer on low. Serve over mashed potatoes (obligatory, no?), drizzle with extra sauce and sprinkle with chopped, fresh rosemary to taste. Ah-mazing. Told you so.


Adapted from

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  1. rick says

    Was easy and had everything at home to make it. Now enjoying it, pretty darn good I must say. I substituted the beef with ground pork.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I bet pork would be delicious! I have tried a beef/pork mixture in other meatloaves but never this one! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Rick! And thanks for stopping back to tell me!

  2. Sierra says

    That was great!! I added some brown sugar into the hamburger as well to make the inside sweet too 🙂 Loved it!! Thank you for sharing.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Bring on the brown sugar!! That is a great addition, Sierra! I slather on extra sauce just to make sure each bite has some of the sweet brown sugar goodness! Thanks for stopping back by to let me know!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Pita chip crumbs would be phenomenal! And any cheese addition is fine by me! Sounds amazing, Richard! Thanks for stopping back by!

  3. Jennifer says

    Is there anything at all you can substitute for the ketchup? This sounds SO yummy but, my husband and I both do not eat ketchup! Thanks so much. Would live to try it!

  4. Jennifer says

    Would love to try this but my husband and I don’t eat ketchup! Is there anything I could substitute for that? Everything else about sounds so yummy!!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Jennifer the best I can suggest is to make your own ketchup and that way you control the ingredients. I have never substituted anything for the ketchup in this recipe, so I really couldn’t say. Sorry!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Kayla, They work as a binding agent with the eggs to keep the meatloaf together. You could certainly try it without or you could make your own bread crumbs by cubing day old gluten free bread, baking it until crisp at 400 degrees F, allowing it to cool and then crushing them like the crackers or in a food processor.

    • Brandi says

      For the binding agent you could try almond meal instead of crackers, I’ve used it in other meatloaf recipes and plan to substitute it here when I try this recipe. I will also use palm sugar instead of brown sugar because I also follow the paleo diet.

      • AmericanCooking22 says

        Hi Brandi! Almond meal is a great idea as a binding agent! I use palm sugar as a brown sugar sub all the time and it works very well even in baked good! Happy cooking!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hi Holley! No i don’t cook the first 3 ingredients in the sauce pan before brushing on the meatloaf. I mix them in the sauce pan because I heat the left over sauce to serve on the side and I don’t want to dirty another dish! Happy cooking!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Luck! Not that you need it! It comes out perfect every time for me! I’ve been making it for over 5 years 🙂

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hooray! I hope you love it! I love the extra sauce on the side over the meatloaf and mashed potatoes…can’t get enough! Happy cooking!

  5. Katie says

    It was perfect. I did make the extra sauce and it was just unbelievable. I did add some diced bacon into it and I highly suggest that. This has been added into our regular meal rotation. Thanks!

  6. says

    Dear. AmericanCooking22 u are the best this meatloaf was sooooooooooooo delicious and my kids loved it so that’s why I now love u…lol..they wanted seconds on the mashed potatoes and meatloaf. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Haha! Thanks so much, Erin! I’m so glad you made it with mashed potatoes…not optional around here! I always spoon extra sauce on the potatoes mmmmmmm

  7. Gretchen says

    It’s in the oven! Only changes I made were ground corn flakes – gluten free- and I’m not a fan of raw onion so I stirred the chopped onion into the sauce heated through for 4 minutes and sifted them out of the sauce to be added into the meat. Smells so good!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Yay! I hope it turned out well! Cornflakes are a good GF alternative! You could also just sauté the onion in a small pan or even in the pot you will cook the sauce in a little bit of olive oil or butter.

  8. Sandra OConnor says

    O.M.G. #bestmeatloafever!!!
    Made this tonight and we thoroughly enjoyed it…. to the point where we both ate way too much!

    I had been on a quest for a perfect meatloaf recipe. I’ve tried many and found a couple that were “okay” or “good”. Those are being deleted and replaced with this one! I’ve called off the search – THIS IS THE ONE!

    I made the recipe except for these slight modifications:
    I used hamburger that was an 85% lean/15% fat
    I doubled the sauce and was glad I did.
    I used a meatloaf pan – the kind that looks like a bread pan but has a second pan inside that has holes for draining the fat.
    When I put the meat in the pan, I took my fingers and poked shallow holes into the meat to collect some of the sauce.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Haha! I totally agree, Sandra! My husband always eats almost half the loaf himself the first night! And then regrets it when there isn’t enough the next day 🙂 Thank you so much for coming back and telling me!

      Such good modifications! I will have to search out a meatloaf pan because I like the structure of a loaf pan but I hate that it doesn’t allow the fat to drain. And I will absolutely be poking holes in my next meatloaf for the sauce! #geniusmove

      • Sandra OConnor says

        If you search meatloaf pan on Amazon, Wilton Perfect Results pan is the one I have. I don’t care for the Chicago Metalic Non-Stick Healthy meatloaf set as I would hate for the meatloaf to slip out as I am trying to separate the two pans. 🙂 You will love it!

        • AmericanCooking22 says

          Thank you, Sandra! I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist! I see what you mean about the Chicago Metallic…no one wants their meatloaf to end up on the floor! 🙂

          • Sandra OConnor says

            Did you get your meatloaf pan? I’m making this again tonight and thought of you when I pulled out my pan!

          • AmericanCooking22 says

            Hi Sandra! You are so sweet! I haven’t gotten the pan yet but it is sitting out on my Amazon wish list! I recently (temporarily) moved to NYC for culinary school and it seemed silly to get it before I left! I’m so glad you are still enjoying the meatloaf!

  9. Jodi says

    Ok! So here’s my spin of the best meatloaf ever… I started with ground Venison! Yep! I said ground Venison! Instead of using regular saltines, I opted for salt free topped saltines. I’m on a 1,500 mg. sodium per day diet, so I throw out as much salt from recipes as possible. I normally use Heinz salt free ketchup but I tried low sodium Salsa and then added Splenda brown sugar to that. Still had the heat but sweet like chutney. The sweetened Salsa went in the meatloaf and I used it in the sauce too. No hoisin for me. Too high in sodium. But I did use Liquid Aminos (much lower in sodium) for the Soy Sauce. It was out of this world Good. Hubster loved every bite. Took a Meatloaf Sandwich to lunch, too!

  10. Tori says

    Made this with a beef/pork mixture last night, and it was the perfect comfort meal after a cold rainy day. My boyfriend isn’t a meatloaf fan, and was asking for thirds! Will definitely be making this again!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Hooray!!! I’m so glad you liked it, Tori! This recipe with convince even the most adamant meatloaf hater! (I know because I was one!)

  11. Lisa says

    Best meatloaf ever! My 1, 3, and 6 year old boys loved it and asked for seconds, same with my husband. We added some french fried onions to the top the first time, which were delicious but not necessary. Thank you for this fabulous recipe!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Yay! I am so glad that you all loved it! French fried onions on top sounds amazing! A little bit of crunch to contrast the soft texture. Bravo!

  12. says

    OMG! This meatloaf recipe was awesome! I made it today for the NFC championship game. My husband wasn’t so sure about it because he loves my moms meatloaf. I did make a few changes though. I sautéed the onion with some minced garlic and I did double the sauce recipe as you suggested and added 1/4C to the meat mixture. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I will be making this again. Thanks for sharing!
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    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I’m so glad you all enjoyed it! I’ll have to try adding some of the sauce to the meat mixture too! That sounds great!

  13. Nikki says

    I’m attempting this recipe now. My husband hates meatloaf but im hoping this recipe changes his mind about meatloaf…Should I cover the meatloaf before placing it in the oven?

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Sorry for the delay, Nikki. I had food poisoning (ironic, i know) so I haven’t been keeping up. You don’t need to cover it. Hope it turned out well!

  14. Jamie says

    Hello! Made this recipe exactly, except I added in some liquid smoke into the meat, it was THE BEST MEATLOAF EVER! Happy and full bellies at my house tonight. No small feat with my picky 3 year old.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thank you for stopping back to let me know! I am so so glad you all enjoyed it! Liquid smoke sounds like a delicious addition!

  15. says

    I have this in the oven now! So excited as this sounds delicious! My one son hates meatloaf so I’m hoping he’ll love this. My other boys are excited to try this and keep asking me is it done yet!?

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I can’t wait for them to try it!!! This meatloaf turns people! I know, because I used to be a meatloaf hater 🙂

  16. says

    Ha! It’s almost like I wrote this post myself! You perfectly described my journey with meatloaf. I, too, thought the whole idea of it just sounded unappealing. Meat. Loaf. No, thank you. But then my sweet husband had a craving for some and told me that it was one of his favorite dishes. What? Really?? So, I went on a quest to find one that I might be able to stomach. I came across the same one you adapted from allrecipes and I found a winner my very first time out! I LOVE this meatloaf. The first time I made it, my husband said it was the best meatloaf he’d ever had. It was definitely the best I’d ever had, but I didn’t have much to compare it to! It is a regular in our meal rotation now. If I don’t have an onion, I throw in a packet of Lipton’s onion soup mix. It’s delicious, but if you do that, you don’t need to add any extra salt. I also used italian bread crumbs instead of crackers, because that’s what I generally have on hand, though I have made it both ways and they are equally delicious. I just had to comment since I am also a former meatloaf hater who has been converted by this particular recipe! 🙂

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Haha! YES! You clearly understand “my meatloaf journey”, Janda! I love the idea of both Italian bread crumbs (I, too, always have these on hand for an impromptu chicken parm) and onion soup mix! I could pour the brown sugar sauce on everything. Love it! Thanks for commenting and sharing! I knew this meatloaf had to have converted others 🙂

  17. Jess says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! We had it tonight & it was wonderful! I didn’t have saltine crackers, so I subbed 3/4 cup breadcrumbs. The flavor was very good!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      A perfect sub, Jess! I am so glad you liked it too! I hope you have enough for leftovers!

  18. Amanda says

    This is my go to Meatloaf recipe now. My family lives it. I serve it with mashed potatoes and brown sugar carrots.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      mmmm brown sugar carrots sound fabulous! And mashed potatoes are a MUST!!! Thanks for stopping by Amanda!

  19. says

    Love love love this recipe!!! It is so easy to put together and best of all my family loves it! I was a meatloaf hater and my husband was a lover, so I just hated making this, I would eat it but never really enjoyed it. Honest when I found this recipe, I thought ok I’ll give it a shot and to my amazement , it was awesome. So thank you for sharing, oh and I’m making this tonight for family .keep those recipes coming.

  20. says

    Best meatloaf I’ve ever had, by far! I’ve used it to convert two former meatloaf haters, and it’s currently in the oven as we speak. I used traditional breadcrumbs and it worked perfectly. Thanks for a great recipe!

  21. Savvy says

    Saw your recipe on pinterest and made it! Absolutely delicious…ive always loved meatloaf but the flavor of this one is sooo tasty…will definitely be making again

  22. Kathryn Mader says

    Well this was certainly an improvement on my old stand-by meatloaf recipe. It has just the right amount of juiciness to it. My Worcestershire sauce was expired when I went to use it…don’t you just love that? So I used Hoisin sauce instead and no one was the wiser. A big thank you for sharing your culinary talents!

    • Lindsey says

      Haha! That happens to me all the time! I’m glad you had a substitute already on hand 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      • Kathryn Mader says

        Took the leftover meatloaf from the other night and sliced it thickly and fried it up in some butter. The extra sauce kind of smeared and melded and browned into the slices. My parents went ape over it. And at ages 80 and 81 they have had their fair share of meatloaf. Brown Sugar Meatloaf for the win every time!

        • Lindsey says

          Brown sugar meatloaf for the win!!!! That sounds delicious, Kathryn! I actually created a new meatloaf recipe a few nights ago so there is soon to be one more meatloaf that you have to try out on them 🙂

          • Trisa says

            I made your fabulous meatloaf tonight. It was incredible!! I am not a meatloaf person…. and my husband is a very picky eater! He does like meatloaf, so I decided to make one for supper. It was a big hit for both of us. I will definitely make this again! Made it just like your recipe, and with mash potatoes! Thank you for the great recipe!

          • Lindsey says

            Hooray!!!! Thanks for the sweet comment Trisa! You made my day! I am so glad you both enjoyed it! This recipe made me a meatloaf lover too 🙂

  23. Gretchen says

    I have made this twice now and my husband goes crazy for it! I love it as well! The only change I made was to use italian breadcrumbs as I didn’t have saltines in the house. It was a hit so I did it the same way tonight! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lindsey says

      I bet Italian breadcrumbs are delicious! I’m so glad you both love it!! Thanks for dropping a comment!


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