My family strongly believes Pork Meatloaf is the best meatloaf recipe out there. Ground pork is mixed with shredded apples, apple butter, and oatmeal to make this legendary meatloaf recipe extremely moist and flavorful.
I hold meatloaf in similar regard as I do Brussels sprouts. Formerly, I was not a fan, but I’m officially in the club and singing the praises.
When I was little, though, different story. The words MEAT + LOAF didn’t conjure up a pleasant image for me, and I believed ground meats should stick to the basics – burgers and tacos.
Eventually I grew to love meatloaf, especially this pork meatloaf recipe, and saw its merit in being the ultimate comfort food. It’s wholesome, versatile, and the sweet sauce it’s covered in is reason enough to enjoy it.
Pork Meatloaf’s extraordinary flavor comes from the sweet and savory combination. Finely shredded apples and apple butter goes perfectly with ground pork, and it’s all smothered in a tangy, finger-licking sauce.
- Ground Pork – While I love the pairing of pork and apples in this recipe, feel free to swap out other ground meats or a mixture, such as ground beef, pork sausage, or ground turkey
- Oats – Used for binding the meatloaf mixture instead of bread crumbs. I recommend using quick-cooking oats to bind the meatloaf together. To keep this pork meatloaf recipe gluten-free, be sure to use certified gluten-free oatmeal.
- Apple Butter – This is used both in the glaze and for seasoning the meatloaf. It is sold by the jams / jellies.
- Chili Sauce – A great substitute for ketchup in meatloaf recipes!
HOW TO MAKE PORK MEATLOAF
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- Peel an apple and shred apples using a cheese grater.
- Mix together glaze ingredients and set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together meatloaf mixture – ground pork, eggs, oats, apple butter, and seasonings.
- Pour glaze over pork meatloaf and bake until a temperature of 160ºF. (I use a Thermapen Mk4 thermometer for the fastest readings.)
Why use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in meatloaf?
Ground oats can be used interchangeably with breadcrumbs in many ground beef recipes, like gluten-free meatloaf or gluten-free salisbury steak. Simply replace equal amounts of oatmeal with the amount of breadcrumbs called for.
Be sure to use quick-cooking oatmeal, rather than whole oats, which will fail to bind the meat. If substituting fresh bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of quick oats equals one slice of fresh bread.
I prefer using oatmeal in meatloaf because it’s a naturally gluten free binder. Also, I always have it on hand and it’s easy to measure and dump in. There’s no need to make gluten-free breadcrumbs or buy a special ingredient!
Other ingredients you’ll want to watch out for when making a gluten-free pork meatloaf is if the apple butter, chili sauce, and apple juice are gluten-free and free from barley or malt extract.
types of pans to use
When it comes to baking meatloaf, you have plenty of options for what kind of pan to bake it in. Whether you use a loaf pan, broiler pan, or baking sheet, the meatloaf should be uncovered.
Personally, I prefer using a small broiler pan to catch the grease. I line the bottom pan with a double layer of foil for easy clean-up. You may purchase a meatloaf loaf pan with an insert, but I don’t like storing extra kitchen equipment.
A 9X5 inch loaf pan may also be used. Line the bottom and sides with a large piece of parchment or foil so the meatloaf can be lifted out after it is done cooking. This isn’t my preferred method because a lot of grease accumulates, and the glaze can’t reach the sides.
Alternatively, use a standard baking sheet or baking pan. Simply line the bottom with foil or parchment to catch the drips.
What goes With pork Meatloaf
Besides the classic mashed potatoes side dish, there are many options from comforting, healthy, and fresh. Find what to serve with meatloaf in this free valuable resource or use some of the favorites below.
- Potatoes – mashed, Roasted Parmesan Ranch Potatoes, or Salt Potatoes
- Vegetables – steamed corn, roasted pumpkin spice butternut squash, Bacon Brussels sprouts, Bacon Roasted Green Beans
- Sweet Potato Spoon Bread
Storing, reheating, make-ahead, and freezing tips
Storing: After the meatloaf has cooled, store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days.
Reheating: For oven reheating, place leftovers in an oven-safe baking dish. Sprinkle with a touch of water or broth and cover with foil. Bake in a 250ºF oven for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.
To microwave, I recommend reheating slices instead of an unsliced loaf. Reheat at 50% power for 2-3 minutes, or until almost heated through. Finish at full power until hot.
Alternatively, place a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Lightly grease the pan and heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
Make-ahead: The meatloaf may be assembled, with the glaze stored separately, and refrigerated up to 24 hours before baking. Wrap the loaf securely in plastic wrap and place the glaze in an airtight container.
Freezing: Unbaked or baked pork meatloaf may be frozen. While unbaked meatloaf may be cooked from frozen, I recommend thawing overnight in the refrigerator for faster baking and to reduce the likelihood of drying it out.
Leftovers may also be frozen. Slice and wrap securely in plastic wrap. Transfer the slices to a ziplock freezer bag and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw slices overnight in the refrigerator and reheat using on of the methods listed above.
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- ½ cup bottled chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple juice (may also substitute water)
- 2 tablespoons apple butter
- 1 ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup apple butter
- ½ cup shredded apple, about 1 medium, peeled
- 2 teaspoons instant beef bouillon granules
- 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- ⅔ cup quick-cooking oats
- 1 pound ground pork
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of a small broiler pan with aluminum foil and place the insert on top. Alternatively, line a baking sheet or baking pan with foil and set aside.
- For the glaze, whisk together chili sauce, apple juice, 2 tablespoons apple butter, vinegar, and dry mustard. Remove ⅓ cup and set both bowls of glazes aside.
- In a large bowl lightly whisk the egg and then add ¼ cup apple butter, shredded apple, beef bouillon, minced onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and oats. Mix well. Add ground pork and mix with wooden spoon or hands until well incorporated. Shape into loaf and place on the prepared pan. Pour the larger amount of glaze over the loaf and spread evenly. Reserve the ⅓ cup glaze for later.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush over the remaining glaze. Return to the oven and increase the temperature to 400ºF. Bake for 20 minutes more, or until internal temperature reaches 160ºF. Let sit for 10 minutes, and then slice for serving.
- DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?? DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE FEEDBACK AND/OR CLICK A STAR RATING ON THE RECIPE CARD!
This is best meatloaf! All of my family loves it.
Melissa Erdelac says
Thank you so much, Dawn! I love this!
Made this for a friend who was craving meatloaf and just had a baby, luckily I found this recipe and I was next on the list to prepare dinner for he and his wife. I made this with a wild hog I shot a few month prior and it was very moist, which can sometimes be hard to achieve with wild game, and delicious. I had to sub applesauce for butter as the 2 stores I ran into didn’t have any. I cooked them in single serve foil pans and the were ready in 45 mins at 350.
Melissa Erdelac says
I love this! I’m so glad you found a recipe to put your game to use! Thank you for taking the time to share.
Jody Campbell says
I love, love, love this recipe. I am not a big meatloaf fan but this converted me. It is so moist with the apples and apple butter. I’ve tried it with both pork and turkey. Although both was good .There is a reason why it is a pork recipe lol.I use use sweet thai chili sauce to give it a kick. I look forward to browsing your other recipes. But I might go back to my mothers french onion soup meatloaf every so often just for nostalgia. Thanks again.
Thank you so much! You know, I’ve never been much a meatloaf fan either, but I love this recipe! If you like an unconventional meatloaf, try the Italian Meatloaf recipe as well. That is hands down my family’s favorite meal!
Sara B. says
Hi All! 👋
Like the author I was also someone that cringed at hearing the word MEATLOAF as a kid.. my mom passed away 5 years ago and lately I’ve been having weird craving for all those hearty meals my mom used to make, meatloaf being one of them. I made this recipe for dinner tonight. I have never made Meatloaf before so I really leaned on this recipe heavily especially since I was also doubling the recipe. I also took a risk making it in a crockpot. Let me say that after the first bite the nostalgia kicked in even though this is nowhere near the recipe my mom used. It hit all the notes perfectly. Dare I say better than I remember? Lol. It was absolutely perfect. It was moist, seasoned perfectly and the glaze on top was that perfect sweet tangy sauce you’d expect without the boring old ketchup. This will be my forever go to Meatloaf recipe. Thanks Melissa for giving me a taste of comfort I was longing for.
Oh Sara, love this! It’s amazing the power of food has, isn’t it? I love the crockpot idea! How long did you cook it for?
We just finished dinner of this and it was very good! My spouse picked up ground pork instead of ground beef at the grocery store (um yeah..) so I was looking for a meatloaf recipe using pork. The absent-minded professor’s mistake actually worked out great!! We LOVED IT. THANK YOU!!! ( I subbed applesauce for the apple butter and used homemade chili sauce)
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe and thank you for taking the time to let me know! I am no stranger to grocery store mishaps…It happens to the best of us!
No Apple Butter on hand. Any suggestions?
Do you have applesauce? You can substitute that as well. Since it contains more liquid, you may have to add a little additional cooking time.
Have you tried using this recipe to make meatballs instead of a loaf? (roll into balls, bake at 400ºF until browned, finish cooking in whatever sauce) Would bread work better for that, or the oats? I bought 15 pounds of pork on sale real cheap and I’m looking for a meatball recipe to freeze. This looks close 🙂 Bake, freeze, take to church potlucks.
I haven’t’ tried it, but I think the meatballs recipe would work great. It shouldn’t be a problem to interchange the oats with breadcrumbs. Sounds like a fantastic idea!
I made meatballs and they turned out great. I decided to keep the oats. I substituted grated zucchini for the apple because I saw that in a Martha Stewart recipe, and I had a giant zuke to use up. I spiced them with a little marjoram. I made 2″ balls and baked them in a hot oven until they were browned a little. I froze about 10 pounds, plus we had one meal of spaghetti and meatballs, and I froze some 1 lb packages of ground pork.
Even tho’ it was just canned spaghetti sauce (Hunt’s) plus a can of Italian stewed tomatoes and a little oregano, it was really good after a nice long simmer with the meatballs.
So nice to hear from you again! I’m so happy the meatballs worked out. I’m going to have to give it a try. These would make a great appetizer too with BBQ sauce!
What is the sauc
In the recipe card there is a list of ingredients for the glaze. Does that come up for you?
I’m trying this for supper tonight! It was a huge hit with my brother-in-law’s family! Do you think it could be mixed up ahead of time and frozen? I’m always looking for new ideas for freezer meals.
Yes, for sure it can be made and frozen ahead of time. You don’t even have to wait for it to fully thaw before baking, either. Just add about 20 minutes more to the baking time. Hoope you enjoyed it!
Just made this wonderful recipe! Fantastic in every way. My family loved it! Thank you.
Hi Steven, I love to hear that! When I make this for my family I always have to double the recipe because I get sad when there are no leftovers 🙁 Thanks for dropping me a line!