Here is my old family recipe from Central Texas. It does not have ketchup/catsup or any sugar in it. It uses saltines rather than bread. You might say we are spoiled by this version as we tend to find most meatloaf either too sweet or gummy-mushy, from using bread and ketchup or sugar. Enjoy!

  • Yield: Four to six servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: One hour
  • Active: 15 minutes

Ingredients (11)

  • 1 pound ground beef, premium quality 10% fat or less (I think this recipe would be good for up to 1-1/2 lbs. of meat)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 medium onion (minimum), chopped fine
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (I use a whole bell pepper, reserving 3 or so rings for the top)
  • 1 – 8 oz can Hunt’s tomato sauce (reserve 1/3 to 1/2 for pouring over top)
  • 1-1/2 tbsp mustard (I used Dijon, but I’m sure Mom used French’s)
  • 2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • 10-15 saltines, crumbled finely
  • garlic salt or garlic powder to taste (fresh squeezed garlic is fine, too)
  • 2-3 bacon strips
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Beat egg then mix together all liquid ingredients. Add seasonings to the liquid. Reserve 1/3 to 1/2 of the tomato sauce.
  2. Mix into meat and finely crumbled crackers. Don’t overwork the mixing. Shape into an oiled baking dish where it doesn’t touch the sides. We usually used a loaf pan or you can do it boule shaped in a pie plate. I top the meatloaf with the reserved tomato sauce and decorate with bacon slices and thin strips of bell pepper.
  3. Cook at 350-375 for 35-45 minutes or however you like the doneness. Bottom edges may get crisp. That part is delicious! A meat thermometer in it would not be a bad idea. I would not go beyond 170F. Partially tenting it with foil for part of the cooking time will keep the top from drying out too much or burning (if you decorate the top). I do like mine to get brown on the outside so I tend to use higher heat and remove the foil at least halfway through. Pour off any excess grease.
  4. A can of Rotel tomatoes make a nice substitution for tomato sauce, but you can still sauce the top. Use just enough crackers to hold it together. Don’t use too much tomato sauce or you will have to use more crackers and then the meatloaf will not be meaty enough. I put saltines in a ziplock bag and pounding the bejesus out of them with the flat side of a meat tenderizer, or use my fist, depending on my mood. Same thing for mixing all the ingredients together; sometimes it’s my fist… What fun; just like makin’ mud pies!