Steven and Chris wanted me to develop a meatloaf recipe for them. More specifically, they wanted a mini meatloaf recipe. So I scoured the net for inspiration. I knew what I wanted was basically a really juicy, well-seasoned, tender, and oversized meatball, brushed with a slightly sweet sauce and covered with melted cheese. The recipe that I came up with is just that.
The bread crumbs and milk add fluffiness to the meat, keeping it from being a heavy meat brick — the combination of the two makes the meatloaf very tender. It’s a common technique used to make Italian meatballs. If you don’t have dried breadcrumbs, you can use panko, fresh bread crumbs, even crushed soda crackers will work.
Rather than just using 100% ground beef in this meatloaf recipe, I’ve used a mix of beef and pork. The ground pork adds a light sweetness to the mix. If you can’t get your hands on ground pork, use a mild flavoured sausage – like mild Italian or farmer’s sausage. Personally, I love using sausage meat in recipes because the meat is well-seasoned, adding so much flavour to recipes like a spaghetti meat sauce, shepherd’s pie, and chili.
If you ask me, I think there should be more than a ½ teaspoon of basil in this recipe, but my husband, Zak, said not to change a thing. You be the judge. If you don’t have dried basil on hand, experiment with tarragon, oregano, rosemary, or sage. Take a peek at my herb chart to get some inspiration!
For a brush of sweet tangy flavour, I went with chili sauce. It’s like ketchup’s zippy cousin. Other sauces that add a touch of sweetness would be fun to try too, like mango chutney, sweet thai chili sauce, a smoky bbq sauce, even cranberry sauce would work.
Mini Meatloaf Recipe Tips:
- There is enough fat in the ground beef to keep the mini meatloaves from sticking to the muffin tin, but if you’re worried that they will stick, oil 6 muffin tin cups with a little vegetable oil or non stick cooking spray.
- To help keep my oven clean, I place the muffin tin on a baking sheet before placing it in the oven to bake. The baking sheet will catch any fat splatter.
- This recipe goes so well with something green, like steamed green beans, peas, or sautéed kale……and mashed potatoes would be perfect too!
- To make ahead and freeze: Bake meatloaves as directed. Remove from muffin cups; cool completely. Place in single layer on baking sheet; freeze 1 hour. Transfer to airtight container. Store in freezer up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator, then reheat in 350°F oven 20 min. or until heated through.