Secret Ingredient Meatloaf

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The secret ingredient in this Secret Ingredient meatloaf makes this one of the most flavorful meatloaves you'll eat!

I just love meatloaf.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I do.  It probably has a lot to do with the leftovers.  There’s nothing more comforting and therapeutic than a meatloaf sandwich on gooey white bread with some Duke’s mayo… but I digress.  Did I mentioned I love meatloaf?  The end piece is my favorite!  🙂

Anyway, I’ve got a delicious twist on meatloaf for you today.  You know how a recipe combines the most basic ingredients in the most perfect ratios and the end result is just phenomenal?  Well, for me, this is one of those recipes.  This is my new favorite meatloaf.  And honestly, I really have two secrets.  The first is a method.  I don’t cook my meatloaf in a loaf pan.  I prefer to form my meatloaf in the center of a prepared 9×13 pan.  It allows all the grease to drain away and you get that golden brownness on 3 sides rather than just the top with a loaf pan.

The secret ingredient in this Secret Ingredient meatloaf makes this one of the most flavorful meatloaves you'll eat!


My other secret is blood mary mix. It adds the perfect flavor and tang to meatloaf.  I like to use a really tangy and zesty one like Zing Zang – it’s my favorite.  And I saw the other day that many stores now sell individual 12-ounce cans of bloody mary mix in the mixer sections, so that is perfect for this.

The secret ingredient in this Secret Ingredient meatloaf makes this one of the most flavorful meatloaves you'll eat!

Now, y’all go make this and be sure not to eat it all.  You’ll want that meatloaf sandwich for lunch tomorrow.  Y’all enjoy!!  🙂

Secret Ingredient Meatloaf
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • ½ cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon zesty bloody mary mix ( I use Zing Zang)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 small bell pepper, minced
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup ketchup
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the bread crumbs and the cup of bloody mary mix in a small bowl and mix well, set aside until the bread crumbs have absorbed the liquid (3 to 5 minutes).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the meat, moistened bread crumbs, egg, onion, bell pepper, garlic powder, pepper and salt. Mix until the ingredients are well incorporated. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and form into a loaf in the center of the dish.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and remaining 1 tablespoon of bloody mary mix and spread on top of the meatloaf. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes, or until cooked through.

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  1. Cynthia Andersen says:

    I would use Bloody Kentucky bloody mary mix. They have the spicy style, which will rock your meat loaf.

  2. Sharon Thornton says:

    I can’t wait to try this!

  3. Sounds good. I would try Spicy V-8 (because that’s what I use for Bloody Marys). I always free form mine on a mini broiler pan that allows grease to drip to bottom pan. And I also use BBQ sauce to top instead of ketchup. BBQ sauce on the leftover sandwiches too.

    • Sounds good!

    • Great idea using a rack. I like the thing that Stacey has suggested with the larger pan to let that texture get on 3 sides too. Great ideas. A good marinara can be good on meatloaf too in lieu of ketchup or bbq sauce. Really it can double as meatballs if you do that, fix spaghetti and sauce and just cut up some leftover meatloaf as meatballs (meat cubes, lol?) to get rid of leftovers. Or make a meatloaf sub and throw some marinar and mozzarella on it.

      My Mom taught me to use oats in meatloaf instead of bread crumbs. It tastes great and I would think it’s probably healthier overall than bread crumbs. I do that with meatballs too which is essentially the same recipe without the stuff on top and maybe a few extra seasonings like oregano and some garlic powder. She used plain tomato juice as the liquid so the bloody mary or v8 totally makes sense for some zest. Thanks for some great ideas to both of you.

  4. PoopseyMarie says:

    Hi Stacey! This recipe sounds like an interesting twist on an old “stand by”, family favorite. I’m seriously bad about winging it on any recipe I make but I can’t say I’ve ever thought of Bloody Mary mix in meatloaf. I too love your method for crispy outside on three sides; best part.
    Hmmm…this sounds yummy, except for the bell pepper, which I can’t eat. (Supposed to omit any veggies from the nightshade family) I’m so making this, sans the bell pepper. 😉
    PS. Do you think I need to substitute another veggie in place of the bell pepper to maintain the integrity of this meatloaf? (moisture, texture, etc.) Sometimes I use a whole carrot along with tomato pieces and liquify them in my Vitamix. Kids can’t see’em and there’s an added bonus of vitamins, fiber and so forth, making a very moist meatloaf.
    Love your site!

  5. What a super idea! Will definitely make this.
    I like my sandwich with mustard and dill pickle slices.

  6. Hi Stacey! My Mom always used Jimmy Dean Hot sausage in her mix (2 parts beef/1 part sausage) I believe the spicy bloody mary mix will create that zing while saving the fat and calories. I have been known to make meatloaf and go directly to sandwiches. My all time favorite dish.

  7. I make an awesome meatloaf, but I’ve never heard of using Bloody Mary mix in it. I’ve always had a sweet topping for mine. What could I use instead of sugar in my topping to lightly spice it up? I want something that doesn’t clash with the Bloody Mary mix, but I’d like something that complements its though. Sounds really good with mashed potatoes, rolls and green beans! What time will supper be ready? 🙂

  8. I put french fried onions in mine, like the ones that go on top of the green bean casserole…it makes it really tasty!! I will try Stacey’s as well, tweaked a green peppers, and I do use some tomato paste in mine, so will have to adjust..& also I use 85/15 ground turkey, it’s awesome!! Love leftovers on sandwiches too!!

  9. What a great idea to use bloody mary mix. I would never have thought of that. Ok, I just have to say, the end piece is the best part and we usually fight over it. Our son thinks it is funny when he gets the ends before me. AND the leftover sandwich, yum! Sometimes I try to make sure there is at least one piece leftover so I can hide it in the fridge for the next day.

  10. Mary Martin says:

    Saw this come up on FB. Looks good with Bloody Mary mix. Gonna try it. I use canned stewed tomatoes and dry onion soup mix in mine. And the last 5 minutes I add a couple of handfuls of shredded cheese. I also cook it in a 9×13 pan to allow any grease to drain away.

  11. I made this tonight and 1/2 cup bread crumbs were not near enough. VERY mushy. Tasted great but it was like eating mush. ?

  12. Hi Stacey, The Bloody Mary mix sounds like a good twist. I’ll have to definitely try it. I’m thinking that a bit of smoked paprika would deepen the flavor as well.

  13. Made this last night and it is really good! I am not a big meatloaf lover but my husband does like it. I thought the Bloody Mary mix sounded good and it was a nice addition. There are only two of us so we have plenty of leftovers and looking forward to it. Thank you for the recipe!

  14. Beverly says:

    Is there something you can use in place of the Bloody Mary or would that spoil the whole taste of the meatloaf

  15. Rita Crespi says:

    I never use bell peppers. Don’t like the flavor. I was in a restaurant once and had the meatloaf and it was so moist. I asked the cook how she got it that way and she said RUB THE WHOLE MEATLOAF WITH KITCHEN BOUQUET. It seals the outside of the meat and keeps the juices in. I’ve been doing that forever. I’m going to try this recipe, minus the bell pepper.

  16. janeinbama says:

    We cooked this meatloaf today on the Big Green Egg. It was wonderful. I have struggled to make a good meatloaf for years and the search has ended!!!

  17. I liked meatloaf. Thanks for sending me a recipe. I will make it.

  18. I like your idea of using the Bloody Mary Mix. I’ll give it a try.

    I might suggest, that. instead of using the generic bread crumbs, buy yourself some Ritz Crackers, smash them up, and I am certain you will notice the difference . Much to your delight.

    • Sounds like a GREAT idea! I love a Ritz cracker crumb topping on a casserole, so I’m sure it’s even more delicious mixed into meatloaf! Thanks for sharing!

  19. I was browsing for good meatloaf recipes than what I typically make, and just happened to have Zing Zang in my fridge! That’s what caught my eye for this. Made this tonight and I have to say, it’s way better than my old go-to! Seemed a bit too wet while mixing so I added 1/4 cup of oats to it — perfect! Used Italian panko for breadcrumbs. The ketchup/Zing Zang topping is the best! Thanks for this recipe!

  20. I pack my meatloaf into a large loaf pan, all the way to the top. I start the baking process on a rack in a 1/2 sheet pan with the loaf pan upside down. About 1/2 way through I remove the loaf pan once the meatloaf has “set” allowing it to brown up on the 5 exposed sides. Just as you have pointed out it allows the grease not sucked up by the bread crumbs to drain away.

  21. I’ve used a spicy Bloody Mary mix in my meatloaf for years (a happy accident,I had some taking up space ,so I went by my mantra:” can’t hurt to try it, if it’s awful, I won’t do it twice”. It makes such a big difference. Glad to hear others use it too. I’ve also taken to mixing ketchup and Sriracha with some dry Coleman’s English Mustard as a glaze.

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