The Cozy Cook

Pioneer Woman Meatloaf

This Meatloaf Recipe from The Pioneer Woman is so easy to make! It’s brushed with a simple homemade sauce and freezes well for future meals!

…Love Pioneer Woman Recipes? You have to try her Twice Baked Potato Casserole!

Meatloaf over mashed potatoes with a homemade ketchup sauce drizzled on top

I just want to buy a red wig and walk around my house pretending to be The Pioneer Woman. Is that so wrong? I just love watching her cook in her huge, spotless, sunshine-filled lodge, where dishes wash themselves and food always comes out perfectly.

But in the meantime, I guess I’ll just enjoy her bacon-wrapped meatloaf, sans-wig. 😂It’s honestly the most flavorful meatloaf ever, the bacon cooks over the meat and the juices run right into it, can you imagine the flavor that it creates?!

I hope my kitchen smells like bacon forever. 💗

What is the Best Meat for Meatloaf?

  • 80% lean ground beef is a good choice when selecting ground beef for meatloaf. Leaner meats tend to dry out.
  • A combination of ground beef, pork, and veal will also give you very tender and flavorful meatloaf. You’d use 1/3 lb. of each.

PRO TIP: Some grocery stores have this meat combination already packaged up in the meat section, specifically for making meatloaf and/or meatballs.

What Kind of Bread is Best?

Soft, white sandwich bread is great for meatloaf, although crusty artisan bread can also be used.

The Pioneer Woman prefers to use white sandwich bread, and I tend to agree. I find that the softer bread blends into the ground beef better and makes for a more uniform consistency.

Can You Over-Mix Ground Beef?

Yes, you can over-mix ground beef when you’re preparing meatloaf or burgers.

You’ll want to make sure that the meatloaf is uniform in consistency, but handle the meat gently and do your best not to mix it too much, or the consistency will be tougher and the meat will be slightly less flavorful.

Can You Make Meatloaf Ahead of Time?

  • YES! Meatloaf is a great make-ahead recipe that you can completely prepare and assemble ahead of time.
    • Once assembled, simply wrap the prepared loaf in foil or plastic wrap and store it overnight in the fridge to bake the next day.
  • You can also freeze assembled meatloaf. Let it defrost overnight in the fridge prior to baking.

Pro Tip: If this loaf makes more than you need, you may choose to divide it in half and freeze what you don’t need for another day!


Cooked meatloaf is an absolutely perfect freezer food. Let it cool and wrap it in foil. Store it in the freezer bag for up to 3 months.

To reheat, bake in the foil at 350°F until heated through, 20-30 minutes.

You can also defrost it in the fridge overnight and microwave it until heated through.

Broiler Pan Substitute

A broiler pan is used to allow the excess grease to drip from the meatloaf and prevent the bottom of the loaf from getting soggy.

Use only a Cookie Sheet: 

Place the loaf directly on top of a cookie sheet, but note that you will have to remove the sheet and drain the liquid periodically throughout the cooking process. This is a little tricky.

Using a Cooling Rack on a Roasting Pan:

  • Place a cooling rack on top of a roasting pan.
  • Line the cooling rack with foil to keep the meat in place.
  • Poke several small holes in the foil to allow the fat to escape and drip onto the cookie sheet or roasting pan.

🛑 Note! The bacon underneath the loaf that sits on top of the foil likely won’t cook as well as if it were to sit directly on a broiler pan. Just be aware of this if using the foil method.

Bacon wrapped around meatloaf and brushed with sauce, before and after bring cooked

Can I Make This Without Bacon?

You can absolutely leave the bacon out of this recipe if you’d prefer. The remaining 25 minutes of cooking time may need to be decreased to 15-20 minutes or so.

Meatloaf sliced on a wooden cutting board with fresh parsley sprinkled on top and homemade ketchup sauce in background

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What to Serve with Meatloaf

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A pile of mashed potatoes with The Pioneer Woman Meatloaf with a spoon drizzling glaze on top.

The Pioneer Woman Meatloaf

4.9 from 28 ratings
This Pioneer Woman Meatloaf Recipe is the best you'll ever try! The entire loaf is wrapped in bacon and baked to perfection, and it freezes well for future meals! This pairs perfectly with roasted green beans and mashed potatoes



  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 6 slices White Bread
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef, 80% lean
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh Parsley, minced
  • 4 whole Eggs, Beaten
  • 12 slices Thin cut Bacon


  • 1+1/2 cups Ketchup
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add the bread to a large bowl and pour the milk on top of the slices. Let them soak for 5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining meatloaf ingredients and use your hands to combine. Try to ensure that the bread is sufficiently combined into the mixture, although try not to overmix as the ground beef will become tougher and lose some flavor.
  • Form the meat into a loaf, (about 5 inches wide), and place it over a broiler pan to allow the fat to drain. Lining the bottom of the broiler pan with foil will make for easier cleanup.
  • Line the bacon over the top of the loaf and carefully tuck the ends under the bottom. The bacon can be used to help support the shape of the loaf. I like to line them so that they are touching, but not overlapping so that you can easily slice in between each piece of bacon when it’s cooked.
  • Combine the sauce ingredients and brush 1/3 of it over the meatloaf.
  • Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes on the middle rack. Remove it from the oven and brush another 1/3 of the sauce over it. Bake for another 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes prior to slicing, letting it rest allows the juices to absorb back into the meat, cutting in too early will cause the juice to run out of the loaf.
  • Serve with the remaining sauce and enjoy! These are delicious with mashed potatoes and roasted green beans


Make-Ahead Meatloaf:
Meatloaf is a great make-ahead recipe that you can completely prepare and assemble ahead of time.
Once assembled, simply wrap the prepared loaf in foil or plastic wrap and store it overnight in the fridge to bake the next day.
You can also freeze assembled meatloaf. Let it defrost overnight in the fridge prior to baking.
Pro Tip: If this loaf makes more than you need, you may choose to divide it in half and freeze what you don't need for another day!

Love Meatloaf Recipes? Try my Mini Meatloaf recipe next!


Calories: 628kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 42g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Cholesterol: 195mg, Sodium: 1065mg, Potassium: 548mg, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 565IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 279mg, Iron: 3.8mg

Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman



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115 comments on “Pioneer Woman Meatloaf”

  1. Can I use oats instead of bread, gluten sensitive, and if so how much do you think I would need?

    • Hi Lynn, I don’t think oats would work the same way, I would suggest gluten-free bread if possible.

    • I think oats would work fine. I´ve seen it on other recipes and it´s really just used as a binder just like the bread so go ahead and try it. I would use about 3/4 c. for a normal-sized meatloaf. Let us know if you try it and how it works.

      • Hi Grace! I appreciate you weighing in! I’m going to approve your comment for Lynn to see, however I just want to note that I still have reservations about it and hate to advise someone to spend time/money/ingredients on something when I have hesitation. Although there are some meatloaf recipes that use oats, this one uses 6 pieces of bread, 4 eggs, and 1 cup of milk. I don’t think that 3/4 c. oats would be an adequate substitute for 6 slices of bread, it wouldn’t absorb the egg/milk the same way. The general rule of thumb is to use 1/3 cup breadcrumbs for every slice of bread, which would be 2 cups breadcrumbs in this case. From there, it’s said to use 2/3 cups oats for every 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. That’s 5+ cups of oats. 😬 It’s all about the look and feel of the mixture and it’s definitely doable, but without testing it out myself, I hesitate to throw out a number.

  2. I wonder if this would turn out as well if I substitute with gluten free bread? Guess all I can do is try!

  3. Can this be made with ground turkey instead of beef?

    • Hi Emily! I haven’t made this one with turkey but it would probably work, since turkey is lean it’s more prone to becoming dry. So if you have half and half or cream that you can use instead of milk, that would help. I also have this really good turkey meatlof recipe if you want to make that instead! Enjoy!!

  4. Best meatloaf I’ve ever had. Only tweak I made was I used a about 8 saltine crackers in place of 2 pieces of bread because I ran out. 

  5. Is the parsley supposed to be fresh, and if yes, can I substitute dried?

  6. Made this tonight for my husband who doesn’t really like meatloaf and he said it was the best meatloaf he’s ever had. I added half of a finely chopped onion and 2 cloves of garlic along with Worcestershire sauce to make it more savory. I also split it into 2 loaves!

    • Hey Leanna! I’m so happy that you were able to get your husband to enjoy meatloaf, my husband wasn’t a huge fan either but LOVES this recipe! Your variations sound great too, thanks for sharing! -Stephanie

  7. Does the Parmesan have to be freshly grated or would grated Parmesan cheese in the bottle work the same?

  8. Mine is still cooking, but I made a mistake! I completely forgot about tge eggs and made it into a loaf before I remembered them. So they went back into the bowl and I mixed the eggs in but then it was super runny and barley held together. I still put it in the oven but after the cooking time, the middle was still only at 135 degrees. Hope it turns out ok 😬

    • Hi Kristen, oops!! I hope you were able to salvage the meatloaf!!

      • Update: it turned out good. I’d make it again. My mistake didn’t ruin it! I just had to cook it about 25 minutes longer than the recipe said, for the middle to be fully cooked.

  9. Could I cut this recipe in half and still get good results? Sounds delicious!

  10. I’m trying to eat less beef and more poultry. I love the original recipe but wanted to know if it would work with ground turkey?

    • Hi Rachel, I haven’t tried making this with ground turkey before, it might not hold up quite as well as ground beef but you can give it a try? I’m sorry that I couldn’t give you more guidance on this!

    • I make it with ground turkey and use less eggs and use breadcrumbs instead of soaking the bread in milk since ground turkey is very soft as it is.

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