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Eggless meatloaf?

My SO asked me to make his mother's meatloaf later this week. Since he rarely asks for a specific meal for dinner, I want to oblige it.

Now he has not lived with his mother for about 20 years and she stopped cooking from scratch even before that... so when she told me her recipe over the phone from memory, I was a little skeptical. I want to run it by you all in case she may have forgotten items.

1# ground chuck
3 slices of bread pinched into small pieces
salt & pepper
topped with small can of spaghetti sauce

I do admit, she was a simple cook, but this seems very minimal. My SO has asked for no diced vegetables in it because he wants a 'meatloaf'. But... no milk or tomato sauce in the meat? No egg? Not even Worcestershire sauce?


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  1. I never put eggs or milk into meatloaf. I do add a few tablespoons of ice water.

    1 Reply
    1. Well, that's a minimalist meatloaf, for sure!
      I use egg as binder, for sure.
      What about herbs? mirepoix? cheese maybe?

      It must be something Proustian for your SO, so I'd oblige and make it.
      My mom's food was minimalist too, and I have fond memories. However, I like flavor, so my cooking has been lightyears away from hers, bless her soul.

      1 Reply
      1. re: monavano

        Proustian? I learned a new word and meaning. How fun!

        No cheese, vegetables, or herbs for him tonight, but maybe next time.

      2. Well...

        The meatloaf we had when I was growing up was:

        Ground beef
        Salt and pepper

        Form the ground beef into the shape of a meatloaf. Season with salt and pepper. Smear ketchup across the top.

        Bake for a hour.

        That's it!

        You can see how waspy we were ;)

        It was how my father had meatloaf as a child and that was the way he wanted it. It's perfectly fine and if you use very good quality beef with, say, 80-20% fat ratio, it will be juicy and flavorful.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Roland Parker

          Nothing wrong with how he likes it. Did use an 80/20 chuck for some fat.

        2. I would bet she meant a 15-oz can of spaghetti sauce. If it were me, I would use enough of that to bind it together. You just need enough left over to slather over the top. Your SO isn't going to notice an egg in there so I'd add that. Heck, I'd put Worcestershire in there too.

          3 Replies
          1. re: MrsJonesey

            Did add the egg and about 15oz of sauce, but held back the Worcestershire since it may compete with the spaghetti sauce.

              1. re: monavano

                That would be an understatement. lol!

          2. My mother used bread soaked in milk(no egg), ketchup and some yellow mustard. I don't like the sounds of that spaghetti sauce.

            1 Reply
            1. re: miss_belle

              It wasn't that bad, not what I would first think of as meatloaf but very edible.

            2. I would make it exactly as she told you.......and if you do I'm pretty sure you will NEVER be asked to make it again !!

              6 Replies
              1. re: jrvedivici

                I agree 100% with jrvedivici.

                And I can Guaran-f*(&ing-tee I would not eat that as written.

                That's a train-wreck waiting to happen. But "forward into the fog" you must journey on this one. :-)

                Needs egg, panade (bread soaked in milk), spices, ketchp and worstestc. sauce to even get in my radar.

                My mother used to add raw onions which NEVER cooked down to soft and mild by the time the meatloaf was cooked thru. My recipe certainly does not contain them now.

                Meatloafs come in all types, especially when modded for food allergies, but it's not really rocket science to make a good moist and tasty one. At least not for me.

                Good luck.

                1. re: jjjrfoodie

                  My mother used to add raw onions which NEVER cooked down to soft and mild by the time the meatloaf was cooked thru. My recipe certainly does not contain them now.
                  I had a friend who used to cook a lot of burgers on the grill. She ALWAYS put chunks of raw onion in them that never got near cooked.
                  Made me want to gag, but I never said a word ;-)

                  1. re: monavano


                    I was a bit hasty with my post.

                    I do sometimes saute' yellow onions down until carmelized and then add them in but never the raw type. In a hurry I use onion powder or a pinch of dried onion flakes.

                    Spaghetti sauce in the OP's post must have got me off kilter. Hahaha.

                    If traditional meatloaf I coat the outside with a glaze mix of ketchup, brown sugar, dijon mustard and basalmic vinegar.

                    Now I gotta make one this week.
                    Oh.........alright. :-)

                2. re: jrvedivici

                  jrvedivici is right. You are doing this to please your SO so go with mom's recipe. I'll tell you now what you'll end up with. A brick shaped hamburger covered with a little sauce. Maybe SO will be pleased. My SO always asked for mac & cheese like his mom made. He raved about her recipe. I tried countless recipes. I got nothing but complaints. I gave his mom a call to get the recipe for her spectacular mac & cheese. She told me she never, ever made it from scratch. She always bought the Kraft boxed mac & cheese. I picked one up and prepared it (without telling SO about my call to his mom). You should have heard that man that night. He was practically out of his seat yelling "This is it... this is it!!"

                  1. re: i_am_Lois

                    lol! It is funny what some Mom's would keep under their hat. Like I read somewhere that one wife learn after years of her scrambled eggs looking so dull compared to how her hubby remembered his Mom's that she asked and learned his Mom just added yellow food color to make they sunnier.

                    The heart wants what the heart wants. :D

                  2. re: jrvedivici

                    lol! Kind-of true. He said his Mom may have been off on what she told me since it wasn't exactly it, but he did go back for heavy seconds.

                  3. My mother used a can of Hunts Tomato sauce in the mix
                    on top before baking and then crumble up Cheezits or crackers or what ever she had handy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: susabella

                      As a Cheezit fan, I hardly will have to try this once!

                    2. I don't like meatloaf very much (texture issue for me), but when I make it, I do add a good amount of seasoning. I'm allergic to eggs, so when I make it, I replace the eggs with a tub of baby food squash or sweet potatoes.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jw615

                        Interesting, how did you decided to do this? Probably healthier.

                        1. re: Crockett67

                          I may have read it somewhere, but I think that it occurred to me that I use banana baby food as an egg replacer in a lot of muffins and breads, so I thought it might work in a meatloaf - but figured bananas were probably a bad idea.

                      2. Since he asked you to make his mother's meatloaf, I'd make it exactly like she did.

                        Especially since he rarely asks for something so specific.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          That's what I did... with an egg in it. But he loved it.

                        2. It'll come out like a hamburger brick.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: treb

                            Be that as it may, this is a labor of love, not the Bocuse D'or!
                            It's really touching that a CH would make obviously flawed comfort food for DH.
                            I really should make my DH a fried bologna sandwich...

                            1. re: monavano

                              :) Thanks and I bet DH would love that.

                          2. Well, if he wants minimalist meatloaf, give it to him!! :)
                            The thing is, you'll need a binder and egg is the best, but clearly not the only one. (He'd never taste it if you added it, believe it.) I'd just stay away from spices and suchlike: he's having a Madeleine moment, and wants, basically, a burger loaf. That is, if you prepare your burgers plainly; no minced onion; no seasonings beyond s&p. Definitely plenty of the s&p, though - more than you'd use if you were adding the spices, herbs and vegs. I'd run a long way to avoid, especially, the ultimo horror of being asked to ingest fresh herbs. At least, by eating them. :)
                            Okay, the recipe. My feeling is that she actually forgot to tell you about the egg, because there's nothing in this to act as a binder, which is just completely weird. If she, by some miracle, DIDN'T use egg, I'd bet she used some of that Spaghetti Sauce (sounds like French's to me...) to bind it, handle it gently, make sure those bread pieces are pinched into REALLY small pieces, and proceed with the loaf pan, etc. And say a prayer while you do it, because my fear is, that even with the gluten in the bread, it's not going to work as a binder for the meat. I'm concerned that when you slice it (and make sure, let it rest for 15 minutes after it comes out of the oven) it will be a crumbling mass of sodden bread and angry hamburger.
                            Meself, I'd sneak an egg in there. Doubtless, he won't taste it. Just leave it plain, like he wants it because he has a clear sense memory for what it tastes like. Herbs, etc. will only disappoint the man.
                            good luck. it will be delicioso.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mamachef

                              Thanks, I did decide to do as you suggested with adding an egg. He loved it.

                            2. Egg yolk would help emulsify (egg white contributes to gumminess) and soaking the bread in milk creates a panade that enhances moistness. But not everyone uses them.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Karl S

                                Thought about just adding an egg yolk, but figured the white wouldn't hurt for some structure.

                              2. Thanks everyone!

                                There was a change in plans and I decided to make it tonight since I was away tomorrow for work.

                                After reading everyone's response I decided to keep it true but with an egg in it.

                                I warned him that I didn't do exactly his Mom's recipe by adding an egg and he didn't even notice. I also poked the meatloaf all over with a fork before applying the sauce to hopefully let it soak in the meat/bread mixture.

                                Not that bad, he also said it wasn't like his Mom use to make but ate a Huge second helping and he was grinning the whole meal. I don't think I will have leftovers for tomorrow night. lol!


                                1. Meatloaf is just one of those things where you want Mom's. My mom used many ingredients: to a lb of hamburger (or lamb-burger, long story but we had a lot of that) - add: two slices of spongy sandwich bread, cubed; a small handful of instant oatmeal; a few shakes of worcestershire sauce; an indifferently chopped onion, some small pieces and a few larger; about 1/3 c ketchup; two eggs. Cook it in a loaf pan, top generously smeared with lots more ketchup, for too long. Like, an hour at 350F. The big pieces of onion will not be completely soft.

                                  I adore this meatloaf. It tastes like love. And makes good sandwiches, with miracle whip, on toast. <3 you mom!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Teague

                                    Sounds just like home, sweetie. I totally get it. :)

                                  2. Is this a Chicago thing? Mom never added an egg, and we wanted a brick of meat. A favorite in my lunch box the next day was meatloaf, velveeta, and lots of catsup. Between slices of the bread that builds strong bodies 12 different ways!

                                    For company, she would add bacon on top.