Easy dinner recipes: Best meatloaf ever? This recipe and more

It probably doesn’t get better than meatloaf when it comes to comfort food. And what’s not to love? We have three variations, including a wild game meatloaf wrapped in bacon, a turkey meatloaf and one of the classics from our recipe archive. The total time for these dinners will clock in at over an hour, but remember most of that time is baking time; active time is maybe 20 minutes or so. Prepare the meatloaf in the morning if you prefer, so all you have to do is throw it in the oven when you come home. Because comfort food should be easy like that.

Wild game meatloaf: This is one heckuva meatloaf! The recipe starts out tame enough with ground hamburger, but then Wildcat Willies in Springdale, Utah, tosses some ground bison and elk into the mix. The restaurant spices it up with steak seasoning, folds in a little marinara to keep it moist and gives it festive color with diced red and green peppers. Then, to gild the lily, the restaurant lines the creation with beautiful strips of bacon, just like a present. (Sigh.) It’s a meat lover’s dream come true.

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less


consider flank steaks with fresh chimichurri sauce. The sauce -- a little garlic, red wine vinegar, oil, fresh herbs and a touch of lemon juice -- comes together in almost no time, and those steaks will grill up in minutes. - See more at:
Turkey meatloaf: Chalk up the moist texture in this meatloaf to a little extra love in the form of marinara sauce. Along with the traditional ground meat, egg, bread crumbs and flavorings, the Overland Cafe in Palms folds in marinara with the mixture before it is baked. It’s also slathered over the meatloaf when it is done. This results in an extra-moist loaf, sure to make any fan of this classic comfort food clamoring for seconds.

Knudsen’s cottage cheese meatloaf: Yup, it does have cottage cheese in it -- and that’s one ingredient that helps to make this meatloaf so tender and moist. Did we mention it’s been a favorite with our readers for years?

You can find all of the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at

MORE RECIPES: 99 ADDITIONAL easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less


Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: Adapted from a recipe from Wildcat Willies Ranch Grill & Saloon in Springdale, Utah. Ground bison (also called buffalo) is available at many well-stocked supermarkets. Elk and venison can be found at select specialty stores (or contact your local butcher) and online; ground bison can be substituted (increase the amount of ground bison from one-half pound to 1 pound).

1 pound hamburger (15% fat)

1/2 pound ground bison

1/2 pound ground elk or venison

1/2 cup diced red pepper

1/2 cup diced green pepper

1/2 cup diced onion

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons marinara sauce

1 pound bacon

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Granulated garlic

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine the hamburger, ground bison and elk or venison. Add the red and green pepper, the onion, bread crumbs, egg, steak seasoning and marinara. Mix the ingredients with your hands, kneading well to thoroughly incorporate. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

3. Line a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan or dish with bacon. Pack the meatloaf mixture into the dish, then very gently invert onto a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle over a pinch each of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and granulated garlic.

4. Bake the meatloaf for 1 hour, then increase the heat to 400 degrees and continue to bake the meatloaf until the bacon is crisp and a thermometer inserted in the center of the meatloaf reaches 165 degrees, 15 to 30 minutes (timing will vary depending on how quickly the oven heats). Remove and set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Each of 8 servings: 550 calories; 31 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 38 grams fat; 13 grams saturated fat; 115 mg cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 909 mg sodium.


1½ hours. Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon oil

3 tablespoons finely diced carrots

3 tablespoons finely diced summer squash

3 tablespoons finely diced bell pepper

3 tablespoons finely diced onion

2 1/2 pounds ground turkey

3 eggs

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a sauté pan heated over medium-high heat, add the oil along with the carrots, squash, bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. In a large bowl, knead together the ground turkey, eggs, bread crumbs, sautéed vegetables, one-half cup marinara and the salt and pepper to form a uniform mixture. Because marinara sauce will vary in saltiness by brand, to check the seasoning, break off a little of the meatloaf mixture and sauté it until browned, then taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed with extra salt or pepper, or both.

4. Place the mixture in a loaf pan, mounding the loaf to mimic the shape of a loaf of bread. Bake the loaf until set and a thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf reaches 165 degrees, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 1 cup marinara sauce.

5. Remove from heat and cool slightly on a rack to set before serving. Serve the meatloaf warm, with the extra marinara brushed over the loaf before slicing or ladled over the slices as they are served.


Calories 402

Protein 42 grams

Carbohydrates 13 grams

Fiber 2 grams

Fat 20 grams

Saturated fat 5 grams

Cholesterol 219 mg

Sugar 5 grams

Sodium 873 mg


Active Work Time: 20 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours

1 egg

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup cottage cheese

1/2 onion, minced

1/2 cup cracker crumbs

1/4 cup minced celery

1/4 cup minced green bell pepper

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1/2 clove garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup ketchup

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the egg lightly in a large bowl. Crumble the beef and add to the bowl, along with the cottage cheese, onion, cracker crumbs, celery, green pepper, sesame seeds, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, basil and pepper. Toss lightly with your hands to mix; do not overmix. Shape the loaf and place in a (9x5-inch) loaf pan.

Combine the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Spread over the loaf.

Bake the meatloaf until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees on a meat thermometer and the loaf pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

4 to 6 servings. Each of 6 servings: 227 calories; 568 mg sodium; 80 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 13 grams carbohydrates; 17 grams protein; 1.11 grams fiber.


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