meatloaf with apple cider ketchup

A fair word of warning: this post is about meatloaf. It might not be pretty.

My dear husband Dave loves meatloaf. Correction: luuurves meatloaf. If I wasn’t around, it might be a good substitute to marry. Me? I’m a fan as long as it’s interesting and cooked properly. There are the varieties that consist of ground cattle cooked to a loaf-shaped crisp, and those are the kinds that give meatloaf a bad name.

This recipe is different: a moist, tender loaf packed with pork, beef and veggies, and topped with homemade apple cider ketchup for tang. It might not be the most attractive of dinners, but it sure tastes beautiful.

The ketchup is fairly simple to make: reduce some apple cider, add tomato paste, season. The meatloaf couldn’t be easier either—you just need to take a deep, calming breath before you plunge your hands into a bowl of raw meat to give it a good mixing.

And when it’s done? A hearty, meaty, man-pleasin’ fall supper. I serve it with my favorite cream cheese mashed potatoes and lots of ketchup on the side. And then I run around the block 20 times.

Because I couldn’t pair it with a nice dark beer, I opted for a warm glass of apple cider. It was okay. Boring and non-mind-altering, but okay. Maybe if I chewed that cinnamon stick long enough it would give me some sort of a buzz.

The meatloaf stayed perfectly moist and tender. No dry hunks of beef here. And it’s the perfect opportunity to sneak in a bunch of veggies—finely chopped spinach and carrots blend right into the meat.

Make this for your hungry ones soon. My husband still won’t stop talking about it.

And a happy belated birthday to this blog. My first post was just over a year ago, and I can’t imagine my life without this space or all of you. Thank you, from the bottom of my artery-clogged heart. I hope you’ll keep reading for the next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.


Meatloaf with Apple Cider Ketchup

The ketchup can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. Yield: one 9″x5″ meatloaf.

For the ketchup:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp finely minced onion
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • dash cumin

Bring apple cider to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir in tomato paste, onion, salt, vinegar, sugar and cumin.

For the meatloaf:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c finely minced onion (from roughly 1/2 small yellow onion)
  • 1/4 c finely minced carrots (from roughly 1 large or 8 baby carrots)
  • 1 c chopped cooked spinach (1 package frozen, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture)
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using clean hands, work the mixture until all ingredients are incorporated and mixture is uniform. Gently pat into a 9″x5″ loaf pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then brush with half of the ketchup. Continue baking until center of loaf reads 155F on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with remaining ketchup.


  1. Sounds great… I have always thought my meatloaf was a little plain… I am not sure why I had not thought to add some veggies…That ketchup sounds wonderful.

  2. Libby in WI says:

    Well now I have dinner for tomorrow night! Thanks RDG, always an inspiration of yumminess.

  3. Raise your cinnamon sticks to another year & another healthy Miller baby!!! o) Hear Hear!!!

    M 🙂

  4. My meatloaf never sticks together. It always gets crumbly and ends up being more like chunked hamburger. This held its shape! Finally! You don’t know how many recipes I’ve tried with crumbly effects. It’s delicious, too. And I love how you snuck vegetables in it, though I’m going to opt out of the spinach next time. It was a tad overpowering for our tastes. Anyway, it’s going in the box, so thanks for yet another great recipe!

  5. Kandi Fields says:

    I have this in the oven right now and the house smells amazing!!! Thanks, as always, RDG!!!

  6. Martika Clark says:

    So, I just thought I’d let you know that this is STILL my #1 meatloaf. It’s just the best, and the homemade ketchup takes the (beef) cake.

  7. Meatloaf are often dry but this one looks melty and I imagine that apple cider probably also makes the difference, congratulations!


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