Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf

6 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf with tangy ketchup meatloaf topping and crushed saltines is the easiest and most flavorful take on a classic meatloaf you’ll ever make!

Brown Sugar Meatloaf with tangy ketchup meatloaf topping

Brown Sugar Meatloaf – Hands down Favorite

Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf has been a staple in our meatloaf rotation for years and was one of the first recipes I made for my husband when we were dating. When you’re younger and rely on more inexpensive cuts of meat, finding new ways to enjoy ground meats is something you get used to.

Brown Sugar Meatloaf is one of about three meatloaves we enjoy, but it is hands down the favorite meatloaf I make for clients.

This meatloaf recipe with brown sugar uses simple ingredients and has a unique use of saltines instead of breadcrumbs. Brown Sugar Meatloaf is guaranteed to be a huge hit with both kids and adults!

Sliced Brown Sugar Meatloaf with tangy meatloaf topping

Important notes about this Brown Sugar Meatloaf recipe:

  • I added two slices of sandwich bread to the recipe but this bread is not consumed. Since I use ground chuck, the fat content is a bit higher than say a 90/10 mixture and there will be fat that renders.
  • Since I bake free form, not in a loaf pan, and with other vegetables the bread helps soak up the fat and doesn’t interfere with roasting additional vegetables on the side of the sheet pan which makes this a one tray meal.
  • Toss the bread after the cooking, it will be full of fat and not pleasant to eat.
  • Add the meatloaf topping or glaze in the last fifteen minutes so it doesn’t run off the meatloaf as it cooks and it won’t crack or dry out.
  • Cooking this brown sugar meatloaf without a loaf pan allows for browning (and not steaming the meat) on three sides instead of one.

Free form Brown Sugar Meatloaf made with meatloaf recipe using brown sugar

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Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf

Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf with tangy ketchup topping and crushed saltines is the easiest and most flavorful take on a classic meatloaf you'll ever make!
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I use ground chuck, 80/20)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion , chopped finely
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup finely crushed saltine cracker crumbs
  • 2 slices sandwich bread (any variety, this is to soak up the fat, not for consuming)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lay the two pieces of sandwich bread onto the pan.
  • In a large bowl, mix the beef, milk, egg, salt, pepper, onion, ginger and saltines.
  • Shape the mixture into a loaf on top of the bread.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • While the meatloaf is cooking add the brown sugar, ketchup and Worcestershire Sauce in a small bowl and mix.
  • Glaze the meatloaf and cook a final fifteen minutes.
  • Since you're adding bread under the meatloaf you can also cook potatoes or other vegetables on the side without worrying about too much fat running over.
  • You can also line the other half of the tray with foil to prevent any grease from coming over to the vegetables.
  • Rest the meat for 10 minutes before slicing.


Calories: 343kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 806mg | Potassium: 537mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 180IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 3.7mg

Brown Sugar Meatloaf with tangy ketchup meatloaf topping with vegetables

Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf with tangy ketchup topping and crushed saltines is the easiest and most flavorful take on a classic meatloaf you'll ever make!
Glazed Brown Sugar Meatloaf with tangy ketchup topping and crushed saltines is the easiest and most flavorful take on a classic meatloaf you'll ever make!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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  1. Can you prepare the meat mixture the night before, if you keep it refrigerated or will the cracker crumbs get too soggy?

      1. Mix all the ingredients together with the exception of the saltines. When you’re ready to make the recipe, stir in the saltines and follow the recipe.

  2. I made this meatloaf and it was sooo delicious. I loved how the bread soaked up all the fat and grease, but had to scrape the bread off the bottom of each slice so as not to eat what was soaked up. There’s got to be a better way. Would love some advice on that.

  3. We make this with ground venison and it’s wonderful. By the time fall rolls around, my husband is impatient as can be waiting for the freezer to be filled so he can have it again. Thanks for sharing such a simple, tasty and versatile recipe!

  4. My family’s go to meatloaf recipe is the Allrecipes version of this recipe except its not backed upside down. Your version makes all the correct adjustments. My entire family loves this meatloaf. I love the addition of the bread at the bottom. It kept the loaf looking nice. My wife couldnt help but have seconds. This recipe is definitely getting added to our recipe box.

  5. Hello there! I just wanted to pop in and note that my cooking time for the loaf was a lot longer than 45 minutes for a 1 1/2 lbs of meat. It’s been in the oven for a little over an hour now and it is still very pink throughout. I’m estimating it’ll take about another 20 minutes before it’s actually done for a total cook time of 1 hour and 30 minutes. I’m not exactly sure why my cook time is so far off from yours but perhaps a note in your recipe would be helpful for others that may have the same issue.

    1. I’d like to add that it finally finished! Very good loaf recipe. I spiced up the glaze a little and added sriracha and a little cayenne. I think next time I will just make two smaller loaves. Thanks for the great recipe!

    2. Monica maybe our ovens temp is different from hers. My meatloaf takes about an hour and a half to cook to.

  6. You know, it has been months since I have made a meatloaf! I think this one just made my dinner rotation for next week. 😉 Love that brown sugar glaze!

  7. That trick with the bread sponge under the meatloaf is wonderful, and that brown sugar glaze is seriously making my mouth water!

  8. Meatloaf is such great comfort food, it’s been ages since I’ve had it – that’s got to change! Brown sugar glazed sounds wonderful!

  9. Love your tip on using the bread to soak up the fat from baking — this meatloaf reminds me of my Mom’s recipe 🙂

  10. Made for lunch today and it was sooooooo much better than my boring plain old ketchup glaze. Plus I LOVED the crispy sides doing it free form instead of steaming in the loaf pan. But the pure genius was putting the meatloaf on bread slices to soak up the rendered fat!!! Kudos for a terrific recipe…