I love a good classic meatloaf. especially one with a seriously tasty twist... the apple and herbs in this version really make it so delicious! Plus it really doesn't take long and will impress your guests come that dinner party. Serve it alongside some roasted herby sweet potatoes or creamy coleslaw, and your guests will be wowed for sure!
There was a good three or four months where I was making this at least once a week so go ahead and add it into your weekly rotation... one less meal idea to come up with always sounds like a good idea to me!
What Ingredients You'll Need to Make this Healthy Meatloaf
Most of these ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen so it should be pretty easy to decide to make on a whim if you wish! A few can easily be substituted too if necessary. Read on for details!
Butter: Yes, you can totally swap for avocado oil and it would still be delicious but there's just nothing like real old-fashioned butter for nutrition and flavor.
Onion: What would a meatloaf be without onions? Definitely don't leave them out.
Carrots: This is actually totally optional. It's 50/50 whether I keep them in when I make this recipe. The reason being is it cooks a little faster without them and you can even skip the whole sautéing part if you do. (But yes, in exchange for the time you gain, you'll sacrifice some flavor.) If you have the time, leave it in because I do like the texture they add and you can't go wrong with another serving of vegetables.
Celery: It's funny because I just don't like celery by itself but I swear most recipes just don't taste as good without it! So here's yet another recipe that calls for "finely diced celery". I always specify the word "finely" as big chunks of celery never sound good to me.
Apple: Apples are in season right now and they are SO SWEET! So I've been looking for any excuse to incorporate them. And for this recipe, the apple is what makes this meatloaf. It gives it a natural sweetness that sets it apart from other versions. The sweeter the apple, the sweeter your loaf will be.
Sage, thyme, and garlic: Each one of these compliments the sweet apple and the savoriness of the overall loaf so well.
Ground beef: Yes, you can easily switch out the beef for another meat but the leaner you go, the more likely it'll be dryer. High-quality meat makes a difference in flavor too. We love this brand!
Gluten-free oats: The oats add a built-in carb so no need to add any potatoes or rice to make it a well-balanced macro meal. Unless you want to, of course! As I said above, I do think some herby roasted sweet potatoes would be perfect with it. Also, be sure to look for certified gluten-free to make sure they're not processed in a facility where they could have been contaminated with gluten.
Tomato paste: I love the paste for the glaze as it really gives it a creamy texture but you can easily swap it for unsweetened ketchup as I've done many times!
Maple syrup: Totally optional but I love the extra burst of sweetness it adds.
Balsamic vinegar: I've had to swap this for apple cider vinegar in the past and it works but it's just not the same. Use balsamic if you have it.
Red pepper flakes: This is another totally optional ingredient. I love the extra kick it adds and especially because the meatloaf has an overall sweetness kind of vibe to it.
Tips for Making this Apple & Sage Meatloaf
Finely chop your produce: I find it helpful to shred whatever I can and to finely chop the rest. It helps it cook faster and makes it easier to slice once it's cooked. It's not a must but I find it helpful!
Sauté until cooked through (or don't!): The sautéeing step is entirely optional. I recommend it as the ingredients will taste better; however, if you're pressed for time or you just want to dirty one less thing, skip it. If you do this, I recommend leaving out the carrots! And you may want to let the loaf cook for another 10 minutes... just long enough to ensure the onions are thoroughly cooked through.
Refrain from overmixing the meat: Once you get all the ingredients together in a single bowl, don't overmix since that can take away some of the moisture and leave you with a tougher denser meatloaf.
Keep the juice from the cooked loaf pan: Instead of tossing it out when you see it sitting on top of the parchment paper, pour it over the sliced meatloaf just before serving.
Sugar-free Meatloaf Glaze
The naturally sweetened glaze on top helps to seal in the moisture and adds a nice complimentary flavor to this semi savory loaf. The ingredients basically make a homemade ketchup so if you wanted, you could swap the entire glaze for a store-bought variety to save even another step. Personally, I like to make it so I can have control over what type of sweetener I consume. Maple syrup is always a healthy option!