This isn’t just any homemade meatloaf! This balsamic meatloaf recipe is juicy and moist, and features sauteed onion, zucchini, and carrot in the mix. It’s topped with a balsamic vinegar and ketchup glaze that caramelizes as it cooks for a ton of flavor.
“MAAA, THE MEATLOAF!!” <— There’s no way that I can cook or eat meatloaf without that Wedding Crashers quote being yelled around the house throughout the day. No possible way.
But I’ll gladly endure obsessive movie quoting if it means that balsamic meatloaf with vegetables is for dinner. I have to say: this is a meatloaf worth craving…if meatloaf qualifies as a crave-able dish. For starters it’s incredibly juicy, which is only helped by the fact that there’s a whole onion, zucchini, and carrot grated into the mix.
Contrary to many meatloaf recipes, it starts with vegetables! One onion, one carrot, and one zucchini. And a few garlic cloves.
Now don’t be alarmed by the skillet full of grated vegetables. While you’ll see little bits of the carrot and onion in the meatloaf once it’s cooked, the zucchini all but disappears from sight and taste, instead just lending a ton of moisture.
The carrot and zucchini are definitely sneaky vegetables in that you don’t taste them in the final product. The meatloaf mixture holds together well and doesn’t feature any awkwardly large vegetable chunks. Grating the carrot and zucchini are key!
Next up: the meat. You’ll need two pounds of meat for this balsamic meatloaf. I used an equal mix of ground beef (ground round, 85% lean/15% fat) and ground pork, but you can also use a packaged meatloaf blend if your store carries that. I’ll usually pick that up for convenience, but it’s hit or miss at my store if they have that in stock. If not I’ll buy a one pound package of ground round, and one of the pork.
After sauteeing the veggies, all that’s left is to combine all of the balsamic meatloaf ingredients in a big mixing bowl and shape them onto a rimmed baking sheet. We have eggs for binding, ketchup, balsamic vinegar (more on that later), Parmesan, parsley, Worcestershire, breadcrumbs, and salt, and pepper.
You’ll notice that the recipe card calls for using all panko breadcrumbs. That’s my preference! The photo above shows that time I made it with a mixture of panko and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs as I ran out of panko. Still delicious you don’t have enough panko to cover everything.
Balsamic vinegar is a big component of this balsamic meatloaf recipe, as it’s featured in both the meatloaf mixture itself and the glaze.
The glaze is arguably one of the things I crave the most. Instead of a straight-up, traditional ketchup glaze for meatloaf, an equal amount of balsamic vinegar is whisked together with ketchup and brushed on the meatloaf before it cooks. As the balsamic meatloaf bakes, the glaze deepens and the sugar in the ketchup begins to caramelize.
Some of the run-off glaze will cook into little crispy bits on the baking sheet and my husband and I will fight each other to grab those bits for our own plates.
If you’re not feeling how deep, dark the glaze gets, you can always remove this vegetable meatloaf from the oven halfway through the cook time and brush the glaze on then. I’ve done that before when I actually forgot to put the glaze on in the beginning (the horror), and of course it was still delicious. I’m just partial to it the first way. 🙂
How long to cook meatloaf?
One hour and fifteen minutes should do it, though times may vary.
I use an instant-read thermometer (affiliate link) to make sure the center of the meatloaf reaches 160°F, as that’s the USDA recommendation for safely cooking ground beef and pork. If using a meatloaf blend (or making up your own) that includes ground chicken or turkey, then you’ll want the meatloaf to reach 165°F. Little bit higher for poultry.
- For convenience you can use a store-bought meatloaf blend instead of separately purchasing ground pork and ground beef.
- Make sure the meatloaf rests for 10 or so minutes after baking to help slice it cleaner.
- Glazing the meatloaf before it bakes allows the sugars to really caramelize and results in super crispy glaze bits along the bottom edges (you can see it in these pictures). If you’d rather not have the glaze quite as caramelized, you can instead take the meatloaf out of the oven halfway through the cook time to add the glaze then.
Balsamic Meatloaf with Sauteed Vegetables
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 zucchini, peeled and grated
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 lb ground beef, (I usually use 85% lean)
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp ketchup divided (6 tbsp total)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar divided (6 tbsp total)
- Add olive oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, carrot, onion, garlic, and a good shake of salt and pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until vegetables are slightly tender. Remove from heat and let cool while you prep the rest of the recipe.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, add eggs and lightly beat. Add ground round, ground pork, panko, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, Parmesan, 3 tbsp ketchup, and 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Add sauteed vegetables and mix everything together.
- Form the mixture into a loaf on parchment-lined sheet. Make sure you firmly pack in the loaf to help it stay together.
- In a bowl, whisk together remaining 3 tbsp ketchup and 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Brush onto the meatloaf.
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the center of the meatloaf reaches 160°F and is no longer pink inside. Let meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.
Adapted from Food Network
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