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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

4.94 from 44 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, cutting in too early will cause the juice to run out of the loaf.
    Pro Tip: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the middle is 160°F before you slice in.
  • 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
Did you try this recipe?Mention @TheCozyCook on Instagram or tag #thecozycook!

Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman



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174 comments on “Pioneer Woman Meatloaf”

  1. I love the texture of this meatloaf! It’s so light and fluffy and it’s packed with flavor! It for whatever reason took a lot longer to get to 160 degrees but it’s worth the wait!

  2. I made this with a mix of ground venison and elk. The bacon really helped to keep the meatloaf moist. It came out very well. My family thought it was delishious. Thank you for the recipe. We will be making it again soon.

  3. I am making this tonight but think I am missing something…it says to do 1/3 of the sauce and bake for 45 min, then another 1/3.  Where does the final 1/3 of the sauce come into play? 

  4. We make this recipe often. It’s a hit. Everyone loves it. Thank you for the recipe.

  5. Very very good   Great flavor and stick with 160 temp   And it’s very juicy
    Paired with garlic and Parmesan green beans 

  6. How long should I cook if halving the recipe?

  7. Can this be cooked in a crockpot?

    • I wouldn’t recommend it as it would be sitting in a pot of grease from the meat and bacon.

      • It really isn’t greasy. I bake it in a broiler pan and let the grease drip to jelly roll pan underneath. It is delicious!

      • Hi Paula, that’s a great way of handling the grease. I was responding to a commenter who wanted to cook it in the crock pot, and mentioned that it would be sitting in it’s own grease, especially if cooked low and slow.

      • It’s not greasy in a slow cooker either.

      • Okay 🙂 I have grease to deal with via the oven method, from the bacon alone, so I find it hard to believe that there isn’t any grease when cooked in the slow cooker and like to caution people about that. Beef and bacon have grease, even when you brown ground beef in a skillet, there is usually grease that needs to be drained- and there definitely is with bacon. 😉

      • Okay 🙂 , so if you are using THIN bacon like her recipe calls for or NOT using it at all (which is an option) AND if you use a rack (like is mentioned via the oven method) then guess what? Hardly any grease! 😉

      • Okay J, it’s all good!

  8. This is our family’s favorite for any dinner!

  9. How do I get the bacon on top to be more done? I’m not a fan floppy bacon at all…

    • Hi Becky, you can either make this without bacon, or you can try to carefully broil the meatloaf at the end to crisp up the top more (watch it carefully during that time), or, you can remove the bacon after the meatloaf cooks and place it on a baking sheet and bake at 350-375 until it reaches your desired level of crisp-ness! 😉

  10. If I have fresh ground beef could I make this ahead uncooked and freeze  and bake  cook ?

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