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Tender Meatloaf Meatballs with Onion-Ketchup Gravy


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These Tender Meatloaf Meatballs with Onion-Ketchup Gravy recipe is a delightful twist on the timeless classic of meatloaf. While traditional meatloaf is baked in a loaf shape, this meatloaf recipe takes the familiar flavors and transforms them into savory, bite-sized meatballs. This adaptation not only adds a fun and visually appealing twist, but also allows for faster cooking and even more surface area to soak up the rich, flavorful gravy. This comfort food recipe is sure to become your new family favorite!

Three tender meatloaf meatballs with onion-ketchup gravy sitting on top of creamy mashed potatoes with corn on the side


Comfort food has a unique ability to evoke feelings of warmth, nostalgia, and contentment. These Tender Meatloaf Meatballs with Onion-Ketchup Gravy recipe captures these sentiments perfectly. As you savor each juicy, homemade meatball smothered in the luscious onion-ketchup gravy, you’ll be transported back to the comforting embrace of home-cooked meals.

One of the key advantages of making meatloaf into tender meatballs is that it significantly cuts down on cooking time, while still delivering the same delicious flavors. Here’s why this approach is a time-saving culinary hack:

  • Faster Cooking: Meatloaf traditionally takes a longer time to cook due to its loaf shape, which requires thorough baking or roasting. By shaping the meat mixture into meatballs, you decrease the cooking time significantly. Meatballs cook evenly and more quickly, thanks to their smaller size.
  • Increased Surface Area: Meatballs have a greater surface area compared to a single large meatloaf. This means they cook faster because more of the meat is in direct contact with heat. It also allows for a delicious sear when frying, adding an extra layer of flavor.
  • Even Cooking: With meatballs, you can ensure that each bite is cooked to perfection. There’s no need to worry about the center being undercooked or overcooked as can sometimes happen with classic meatloaf.
  • Versatile Cooking Methods: These savory, homemade meatballs can be cooked in various ways, such as frying, baking, or simmering in sauce. This versatility means you can choose the method that suits your schedule or preference, making them adaptable to busy weeknight dinners or leisurely weekend meals.


Here are some tips to help you make the perfect Tender Meatloaf Meatballs with Onion-Ketchup Gravy:

  • Soak Bread Thoroughly: Ensure the bread pieces are soaked in heavy cream until they are fully saturated. This step adds moisture to the meat mixture, keeping the meatballs tender and juicy (no need for an egg!)
  • Mince: Mincing the carrots and onions will avoid an additional step of sautéing prior to adding to the meat mixture.
  • Evenly Sized Meatballs: When shaping the meatballs, try to make them as uniform in size as possible. This ensures that they cook evenly and finish at the same time.
  • Use a Meat Thermometer: To guarantee the meatballs are cooked to perfection, use a meat thermometer. They are safe to eat at an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
  • Don’t Overmix: When combining the meat mixture, avoid overmixing as it can make the meatballs tough. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.
  • Preheat the Skillet: Ensure your skillet is adequately preheated before adding the meatballs. This helps achieve a nice sear on the outside, locking in the juices.
  • Baking: You only need to fry about half of the meatballs to achieve those browned bits for the onion-ketchup gravy. As half of them are frying, place the remaining meatballs on a baking sheet and bake at 375° for about 10 minutes.
  • Deglaze the Pan: Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet when deglazing with chicken stock or water. These bits are packed with flavor and will enhance the gravy.
  • Simmer for Flavor: Let the gravy simmer for the full 10 minutes suggested in the recipe. This allows the flavors to meld and intensify, resulting in a more delicious sauce.


Serve these meatballs and gravy on top of a pile of creamy, warm mashed potatoes, or even rice. Add a side of steamed vegetables, or a fresh salad to balance the richness of the meatballs and gravy.

How to Store Leftovers:

  • If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop for a quick and satisfying meal.
  • Transform meatloaf leftovers into a classic TV dinner, like I did with Salisbury Steak. Pack them up in portioned aluminum containers and freeze for up to three months!


Here are a few comfort food dishes you may also enjoy:

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Three tender meatloaf meatballs with onion-ketchup gravy sitting on top of creamy mashed potatoes with corn on the side

Tender Meatloaf Meatballs with Onion-Ketchup Gravy


These Tender Meatloaf Meatballs with Onion-Ketchup Gravy recipe is a delightful twist on the timeless classic of meatloaf. While traditional meatloaf is baked in a loaf shape, this meatloaf recipe takes the familiar flavors and transforms them into savory, bite-sized meatballs. This adaptation not only adds a fun and visually appealing twist, but also allows for faster cooking and even more surface area to soak up the rich, flavorful gravy.


  • 1 pound ground meatloaf mix (beef, veal and pork)
  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 3 slices bread
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 1 small white or yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Tear the bread into pieces and add to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Pour in the heavy cream. Mix. Soak the bread for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the minced onion, carrots, meatloaf mix, ground beef, salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. 
  4. Gently mix with your hands to combine. Try not to over mix.
  5. Form the meat mixture into meatballs.
  6. Heat up the olive oil in a pot.
  7. Fry the meatballs until they are cooked through and seared perfectly. Do this in batches. Transfer the meatballs to a plate as they finish.
  8. Once all meatballs have been cooked, drain all but 2 tablespoons of the grease. Try to leave those browned bits.
  9. Add in the onions. Sauté for a few minutes to soften.
  10. Sprinkle with the flour. Allow the raw flour taste to cook off for a few minutes.
  11. Deglaze with chicken stock or water. Scraping up the bits on the bottom.
  12. Turn up the heat.
  13. Add in the ketchup and water. Mix. If they gravy seems too thick, add a touch more water.
  14. Bring to just under a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer.
  15. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  16. Add the meatballs back to the pot along with any juices.
  17. Allow them to heat through a few minutes.
  18. Serve on top of creamy mashed potatoes.
  19. ENJOY!

Classic Meatloaf Meatballs Recipe! A fun twist on traditional comfort food that allows for shorter cooking time with that same incredible flavor! #meatloaf #meatballs #meatloafrecipe #comfortfood #foodtiktok #dinnerideas #fallfood #cookinghacks #gravy #ketchup

♬ In Love With You – BLVKSHP


  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and 1 egg can be substituted for the bread soaked cream (although I highly recommend the cream-soaked bread)
  • replace the cream with milk
  • mincing the onions and carrots allows you to directly add them to the meat mixture without sautéing to soften first
  • do not overmix the meat mixture so as to avoid dense meatballs
  • make sure the oil is hot prior to adding the meatballs
  • fry at least half of the meatballs to make the gravy
  • sear the meatballs in batches (I fried half of them and baked the other half in a 375° oven for 10 minutes)
  • simmer the gravy for at least 10 minutes
  • see post for additional notes and tips
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Moderate
  • Cuisine: American, Comfort Food

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I am more than just recipes. I love fashion and style too! Most importantly, I love my Family (my Hubby and my Fur Babies). My Husband (aka my “Kitchen Bitch”) means the world to me. He’s pretty damn cool too. Not only is he one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, he also has had a lengthy career in professional hockey. Not only winning two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early ’90’s, but most recently winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers, amongst many other accolades. If you live in Charlotte and play hockey, or have a family member who plays, be sure to contact him!

Our life has changed dramatically in the past few years with the passing of our two goldendoodles, Vegas and Viva. We were lucky enough to have Vegas for five years (totally wish it was longer). Most recently, losing our Viva to a brain tumor in July of 2020. We welcomed our mini goldendoodle 7, almost seven years ago. We just added the amazing Hazel! Of course, I am always posting tons and tons of photos! Be sure to check out my recipe for Pet Bone Broth! This broth is super rich in nutrients and will provide your pet with a multitude of health benefits!

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