Grandmother's Old Fashioned Meatloaf {Cooked In A Cast Iron Skillet}

8:00 PM
Old Fashioned Meatloaf Recipe, my Mother-in-law's recipe.  She taught me early on to cook my meatloaf in a cast iron skillet, and it has never changed, and she also taught me not to forget to save the tripping for delicious tomato gravy.

She would form her meatloaf in a bun and cook it with enough water about a third way up in the skillet.

All those delicious juices make a wonderful gravy.   She believed that a good meatloaf recipe is one that has a good ratio of fat in the hamburger.

I use 85/15 and sometimes 80/20 which makes for a real moist and tender meatloaf.  The leaner the meat the dryer your meatloaf will be.

She always topped her meatloaf with ketchup, and there is only one brand of ketchup that will work in her house, and that is "Heinz."  She would say, "you might as well make meatloaf another day if you are out."

One thing I continued with--she believed in making plenty of this comfort food.

When all my children were home, I would make two of these at a time just to have leftovers.

There is nothing better than a good leftover meatloaf sandwich!

I hope you get to make my mother-in-law's meatloaf recipe soon.  It is absolutely the best recipe you will ever make.

It is the moistest meatloaf and at the same time holds its shape when sliced.  I am one of those who can't stand a dry meatloaf or one that falls apart when serving.

It makes the perfect meatloaf sandwich!

Old Fashioned Meatloaf
Printable Recipe


  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 1 cup saltine cracker crumbs (oatmeal or bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper chopped (my addition)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4-1 cup evaporated milk (whole milk or half and half)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (my addition)
  • 2 cups of water 
  • 1 cup ketchup 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet with a nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all the above ingredients, except for the water and ketchup, and mix until well blended.

Be careful not to handle the meat mixture too much.  Shape into a round bun and place in the cast iron skillet.  Pour water a third of the way up in the skillet.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until meatloaf is done.   Spoon ketchup over the meatloaf and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.  If the liquid has cooked down too much to make gravy add another 1/2 cup of water.

Tomato Gravy

  • 1 cup (maybe more) juices in the skillet from the meatloaf
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Heat reserved juices from the skillet.  Using a wire whisk, blend in cornstarch, stirring constantly.  When all is incorporated, tomato sauce and 1 cup of water at a time.

Stir the water in until thick and bubbly.  If the gravy is too thick add more water, 1/2 cup at a time.

Taste the gravy and season to your taste.  I usually add the same seasonings that are in the meatloaf, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and coriander.

Serve over meatloaf.

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This recipe first published April 2012.  Updated April 2017.
Kay Little
Kay Little

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