A lot of people have issues with meatloaf. And I have discovered that for most, it just means they have not had great meatloaf yet. Because a great meatloaf is a thing of beauty. Wonderfully affordable, homey and comforting, a satisfying way to serve a crowd, and terrific both hot as an entrée and sliced cold for sandwiches. Done well, you can serve it without shame to guests for a dinner party, but it is easy enough to knock out for the family on any weeknight.

 Why many meatloaves fail

Most bad meatloaves suffer from textural issues. Ground meat can easily get rubbery if handled badly or if the wrong fillers are used. Use no fillers, and it can get greasy, crumbly, and hard to slice. Over-season it or add too many ingredients, and it no longer tastes like meat, but under-season it and no amount of sauce, glaze, or gravy will save its blandness.

 Make meatloaf with confidence!

If you are lucky enough to be in possession of a great meatloaf recipe, the chilly months are the time to bust it out. It will fill your home with the most wonderful smell, and even if you are a small household of one or two, you can turn the recipe into two to four mini-loaves and freeze some for another time. If you need some inspiration, we have a great meatloaf gallery to peruse—something in there will be right in your sweet spot.

My all-time favorite no-fail meatloaf recipe

Or try my slightly fancy bacon-wrapped meatloaf with a fig glaze. This is the meatloaf I make for company, and I have lost count of how many people have taken a tiny sliver, admitting that they don’t really like meatloaf, and then come back for a large hunk of seconds and accepted doggy bags to take home. It’s that kind of meatloaf.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Fig Glaze

Serves 8

For the glaze :

1 cup Heinz chili sauce

8 tablespoons fig jam

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the meatloaf :

2 teaspoons neutral oil like canola

1 medium yellow onion, grated coarsely on the large side of a box grater

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground white pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

½ cup Greek yogurt (full fat) or whole milk

1 pound ground chuck

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground veal

1 1/3 cups fresh breadcrumbs made with white bread or 2/3 cup saltine cracker crumbs (if using cracker crumbs, reduce salt by ½ teaspoon)

1/3 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

1 pound thin-sliced bacon

Make the glaze: Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil to melt the jam and thicken slightly, cook about 1-2 minutes, set aside to cool.

Make the meatloaf:

1. Heat oven to 350°.

2. Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onion and sauté until the water is driven off and the onion has colored to golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing the remaining ingredients.

3. Beat the eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, pepper flakes, and yogurt or milk. Add the egg mixture to the meat in a large bowl along with breadcrumbs, parsley, and cooked onion. With clean hands in a claw shape, blend the mixture until evenly incorporated and it does not stick to the bowl. (If the mixture sticks, add a little bit of additional yogurt or milk, a couple of tablespoons at a time; if it seems too wet add more breadcrumbs.) Do not overmix or squish meat through your hands, you want the mixture well-blended but still loose. If you work the meat too much it will get dense and rubbery.

4. Turn the meat mixture onto a greased, foil-lined shallow baking pan, and pat gently into an oval about 9 inches long and 4-5 inches wide. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum, or up to 8 hours.

5. When you want to bake, brush the loaf with half of the glaze, and cut one slice of bacon in half and stick one half to each end of the loaf towards the bottom, then arrange the remaining bacon slices across the width of the loaf in a shingled pattern, overlapping them just slightly, and tucking bacon tip ends under loaf.

6. Bake the meatloaf until the bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160° in the middle, about 1 hour. If the bacon begins to burn, cover lightly with foil. Let rest tented with foil for at least 20 minutes before serving. Simmer the remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly and brush glaze over the loaf just before serving. Slice meatloaf using the bacon as a guide.

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