Nel’s Smothered Meatloaf

Most of us have a tried and true recipe for meatloaf to rely on, but few of them probably compare to Nel Bleck’s Smothered Meatloaf. Thanks to her unique cooking technique, the meatloaf comes out impossibly moist and flavorful. It’s a fine example of why good southern cooking makes for the best comfort food out there.

This starts like pretty much any other meatloaf – with some ground beef, breadcrumbs, an egg, some seasoning… Nel’s includes some basic canned tomato sauce, which ensures a moist meatloaf in and of itself, but part of that sauce helps with the cooking method as well.

After the loaf is formed, the remaining tomato sauce is mixed with vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and mustard and it’s poured over and around the meatloaf. You want to make sure to use a baking dish that’s at least a bit bigger than your meatloaf so the sauce really has a chance to surround it.

When it goes into the oven, it doesn’t just bake, it simmers in that sauce as it cooks and absorbs much of the sweet and tangy flavor from it. Yum!

When it emerges from the oven, you not only have a tender, juicy meatloaf, you also get a tasty red gravy to spoon over mashed potatoes or rice or noodles… or just the loaf itself.

Nel's Smothered Meatloaf

1 hour 30 minutes to prepare serves 6


  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 2-qt baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. To a medium bowl, add the ground beef, onion, breadcrumbs, egg, and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and mix until just combined, form mixture into a loaf shape and place in prepared pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together remaining tomato sauce, water, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, season with salt and pepper, and pour over and around meatloaf.
  4. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, basting meatloaf every 15 minutes.
  5. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Amish reader.