I made Ina Garten's easy meatloaf recipe and had a delicious family dinner in no time

  • I'd never made meatloaf before, but I followed Ina Garten's recipe and loved the end result.

  • I struggled to find beef chuck, so I substituted the ingredient for equally lean ground beef.

  • The meatloaf was tender and flavorful even though it only had 12 ingredients.

As I approach my 30s, I'm constantly looking to elevate my cooking skills. Where I once made scrambled eggs and grilled cheese, I now make glazed salmon and quinoa salads.

I've come a long way, yet I still appreciate a simple meal that saves me time and reminds me of home.

With that in mind, I recently followed culinary pro Ina Garten's meatloaf recipe to prepare dinner for my parents. Here's how it went.

The ingredients were pretty simple, and I had most of them already.

Package of ground meat, salt, panko crumbs, broth, ketchup, and other ingredients on counter
The meatloaf requires things like eggs, breadcrumbs, tomato paste, and yellow onions. David Silbert

Garten's recipe requires only 12 ingredients, including eggs, breadcrumbs, tomato paste, yellow onions, Worcestershire sauce, and olive oil.

I already had most of the ingredients on hand, which felt like a sign this recipe might be pretty simple.

The only real prep work was chopping a few yellow onions.

Knife on cutting board next to sliced onions
You can dice your onions, but I kept mine a bit larger.David Silbert

Most of the heavy lifting for this recipe involved chopping onions. Garten's recipe called for three cups of yellow onions, which would give the meatloaf a nice texture.

I chopped away while watching the evening news.

I sautéed the onions in oil for about 10 minutes.

Hand holding wooden spoon and sauteeing onions in a pan on a stovetop
Preheat your oven while you cook the onions. David Silbert

The next step was cooking the onions with oil, salt, pepper, and fresh thyme until translucent.

I preheated the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit as I worked the pan, making sure to avoid caramelizing the onions. The onions were good to go in about 10 minutes.

This might have been the toughest step, which speaks volumes to the accessibility of Garten's cooking.

Garten's recipe also had me dress the onions up a bit.

Onions in brown liquid in pan on stovetop next to tomato paste, Worcestire sauce, and chicken stock on counter
The Worcestershire, chicken stock, and tomato paste made the onions extra savory.David Silbert

Following Garten's recipe, I added Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste to the onions.

Between the onions, thyme, and Worcestershire, the kitchen had a delicious aroma before I even started baking my meatloaf.

The eggs and breadcrumbs kept the meatloaf from falling apart.

Measuring cup of bread crumbs above a bowl of whisked egg
I gave the eggs a good whisk in a large bowl.David Silbert

I learned that meatloaves commonly use eggs and breadcrumbs to help bind the ground meat together and prevent any breakage in the oven.

Garten's recipe called for two eggs and a half cup of breadcrumbs.

Assembling the meatloaf was especially satisfying.

Ground beef mixed with browned onions in a metal bowl
Mix the meatloaf lightly and don't overdo it, per Garten.David Silbert

I added my onion mix to the bowl, then added ground beef. The recipe specified ground chuck, but I couldn't find it after searching multiple grocery stores.

I found this substitution didn't seem to impact the finished result — it was still tasty.

Next, I formed a rectangular loaf on a baking sheet.

Ground beef formed into a loaf shape on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet
You can use a loaf pan if you have one.David Silbert

After mixing the loaf, I lined a sheet pan with parchment paper and started shaping the meat.

Unfortunately, I took the instructions a bit too literally, pressing the meat into a thin rectangle to cover the entire pan.

My mother, who'd otherwise been hands-off, quickly noted my error. I then reshaped the loaf to add some height, transferred it to a new piece of parchment paper, and marveled at my handiwork.

Once prepped for the oven, the meatloaf looked nice and shiny.

Loaf of meat glazed with ketchup on sheet of parchment paper
The glaze is just ketchup. David Silbert

Many meatloaf recipes opt for fancy glazes that incorporate everything from chili sauce to mustard. Garten's take, however, eschewed a more complicated glaze in favor of simplicity.

In this recipe, you just use half a cup ketchup. No brown sugar or spices. I used a pastry brush to coat the top and sides of the meatloaf.

I found Garten's measurement to be the perfect amount for covering the loaf without overwhelming the flavor of the meat.

My mother — who wasn't helping but watched me cook with the eyes of a hawk — couldn't believe the glaze was just ketchup.

I cooked the meatloaf for just under an hour and 15 minutes.

Meatloaf in oven with a meat thermometer sticking in it  and a pan of water below it
Place hot water underneath the pan to prevent cracks in the glaze.David Silbert

I set a timer for an hour and put the meatloaf in the oven. As the entrée cooked, I prepared easy side dishes: pan-fried sweet potatoes and chopped cucumbers.

After an hour passed, I added a meat thermometer and cooked the meatloaf for a few extra minutes until the dial hit 160 degrees Fahrenheit, the ideal temperature in Garten's instructions.

Garten also recommended placing a pan of water beneath the meatloaf to prevent cracks. I tried the hack for myself and found it worked like a charm.

Garten's meatloaf was delicious and it was so simple to make.

Meatloaf covered in ketchup cut open on a sheet of parchment
Even after an hour in the oven, the meatloaf retained most of its juices.David Silbert

When I pulled the meatloaf from the oven, I knew it was cooked perfectly. I sliced through the loaf and watched as the juices collected on the knife.

At the dinner table, my parents and I noted how nicely the savory onions balanced the sweetness of the ketchup. My mother was surprised by how well the basic glaze complemented the meat.

Garten's recipe helped me easily prepare a delicious entrée for my family.

Slice of meatloaf with sweet potatoes on a blue plate next to folded napkin with knife and fork on top of it
Pair the meatloaf with potatoes and veggies for a tasty dinner.David Silbert

I must reiterate that I'm a chef in progress. I'm still learning my way around the kitchen so my girlfriend doesn't have to wince when I light the gas stove.

The good news is Garten's meatloaf recipe is so simple that anyone can make it. Thankfully, that simplicity doesn't jeopardize the taste.

This was as good a meatloaf as any I've had. It was so good that my mother even asked for the recipe.

Read the original article on Insider