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Keep this homemade Meatloaf Starter on hand, then cook up a delicious and quick meatloaf dinner in no time!

Meatloaf Starter

Hi everyone – It’s Jack. The idea for this Meatloaf Starter recipe came to us at a local butcher shop near our home. It’s a terrific little place run by a friendly and helpful husband and wife team, with a great selection of super fresh, quality meats at fantastic prices.

Throughout the store, the owners also offer free recipes cards—with meals made using the wonderful meats they sell. (Very smart marketing!) They also sell a small selection of jarred sauces and seasonings to help their customers create quick and easy meals with the foods sold at the shop.

During one recent visit to the butcher shop, Martha spotted a jar of meatloaf starter on the shelf.


Meatloaf Starter

What is Meatloaf Starter?

Meatloaf starter is basically a pre-made seasoning sauce that you simply mix with ground beef, bread crumbs, and eggs (plus a few other ingredients) to create a quick meatloaf.

We both thought Meatloaf Starter was a clever, time-saving idea — perfect for busy weeknights when you need to get dinner on the table fast!  So, we bought a jar and gave it a try — and while the meatloaf was pretty good, Martha said, “I bet you could make this Meatloaf Starter even better.”

Challenge accepted — so I went about dissecting the ingredients, coming up with our own, new and improved version. And to honest, we both think our Meatloaf Starter really is better.


How to you make Meatloaf Starter?

Our Meatloaf Starter is a super flavorful mix of ingredients that are perfect additions to a meatloaf. It includes canned crushed tomatoes and fresh vegetables including onions, garlic, peppers, and carrots. Sun-dried tomatoes, molasses, brown sugar, both apple cider and balsamic vinegars, plus a bunch of other seasonings are also added before the mixture is cooked into an intensely-good, thick sauce-like consistency.

Meatloaf Starter

How do I use Meatloaf Starter?

This Meatloaf Starter recipe makes five “starter” portions — so you’ll cook a batch of the starter once, then divide it into five portions to freeze to use later. Then, when you are in a hurry to make dinner for your family, thaw out a bag of Meatloaf Starter before you leave the house for the day.

When you arrive back home, to make your meatloaf, mix the thawed Meatloaf Starter with two pounds of 80/20 ground beef, eggs, and bread crumbs that have been softened with some milk, then bake in a loaf pan. We also added some ketchup on top.

While the meatloaf cooks, prepare some mashed or roasted potatoes, green beans or Brussels sprouts, and some garlic bread. Dinner is ready!


Meatloaf Starter

Can this Meatloaf Starter be canned?

Canning high-acid foods (such as anything with tomatoes) with lower acid foods (such as vegetables) can be tricky at home, so we always err on the side of caution and freeze our tomato-based sauces — and that is what we recommend for this Meatloaf Starter.  If you would like to read more about canning please click here.

You may like these other meatloaf recipes:

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Meatloaf Starter

Meatloaf Starter

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 5 “starter” portions each of which makes 1 meatloaf
  • Category: sauce
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Meatloaf Starter Ingredients

2 cups yellow onion (one large yellow onion)

2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced (23 cloves)

1 ½ cups red bell pepper, (about one large pepper)

1 ½ cups green bell pepper, (about one large pepper)

1 cup carrots, (about 23 medium carrots)

½ cup sundried tomatoes

¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 28-ounce can ground tomatoes (we used Cento Kitchen Ready)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup water

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Additional ingredients to make a meatloaf using the Meatloaf Starter (8 servings)

1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

¼ cup milk

2 pounds 80/20 ground beef

3 medium eggs

1 ½ cups prepared Meatloaf Starter

¼ cup ketchup


To Prepare the Meatloaf Starter

Place onion, garlic, both peppers, carrots, sun dried tomatoes, and parsley into a food processor and process until the mixture is finely ground (size smaller than grains of rice but larger than ground coffee).

In a 5-quart non-stick pot, add olive oil and over medium high heat, add the contents of the food processor and cook for about five minutes until soft and starting to caramelize.

Push the vegetables to the sides, then add tomato paste into center and cook for two minutes, then stir it into the cooked vegetables.

Add Worcestershire sauce and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the Worcestershire sauce starts to evaporate.

Add all other ingredients, bring to a simmer and simmer with a cover for 45 minutes. Use a heat diffuser under the pan to stop sticking and stir the mixture every ten minutes, more often close to the end.

The resulting mixture will be thick and grainy.

Cool then portion out (1 ½ cups each) into five quart-sized zipper seal bags. Squeeze out all air before sealing and lay flat to freeze up to six months.

Thaw before using.

To Prepare a Meatloaf using the Meatloaf Starter

To make one meatloaf, preheat oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the upper third of the oven.

Mix bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix 2 pounds of 80/20 ground beef with the 3 eggs and 1½ cups of the meatloaf starter. Add the milk-soaked bread crumbs and mix again to evenly combine.

Pack mixture into a 1 ½ quart loaf pan, mounding in the center and leaving a quarter inch ridge around the inside edge to catch the grease. You want to make sure there are no air pockets so add a little meat mixture, smooth and keep adding more mixture until you have used it all. Smooth out the top using wet fingers to avoid cracks, then spray the top with pan spray.

Cover a small sheetpan with foil and place a rack on top. Spray the rack for easy cleanup.

Place the loaf pan onto the rack and place into the upper third of the oven.

Roast for between 60 and 75 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. (Oven temperatures will vary.)

Remove from the oven and carefully pour out any grease.

Spread the top with the ketchup and place back into the oven for 15 more minutes or until the internal temperature of the center of the meatloaf reaches 155 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and let rest ten minutes, then slice and serve. Makes enough for 8-10 people.


Using 80/20 ground beef makes a big difference. We tried this meatloaf recipe once with very lean ground beef and it had a slight dry texture. The extra fat really helps yield a moist meatloaf.

Keywords: meatloaf starter



Meatloaf Starter

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  • Kay Cope wrote:

    Been buying this starter for years now all the sudden you all quit putting the recipe on the back of can. If anyone is new trying this with no computer like my mom and others they would be in a pickle right now. I am just on the verge of never buying this again. Very un happy with your company.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Kay – We are a homemade recipe blog/website and have never sold this meatloaf starter, nor have we included the recipe on the back of any can labels. I believe your complaint should be directed at another company.

  • Davw wrote:

    This is a very good recipe! The only one I have ever tried that come close or equals my standard, (Google – Market Street Meat loaf if interested, though I have modified it a bit). That said this recipe has a different flavor profile but is excellent. For grins replace the green bell pepper with poblano or pasillia for an interesting change. It’s not necessarily better but give a nice subtle change.

    • Martha wrote:

      Great idea Dave! Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Mitch B wrote:

    What a great idea… Will have to try.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Mitch! We hope you enjoy it!

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