The best side dishes that go with meatloaf

If you are a meat lover then meatloaf might just be one of your favorite foods. Having its origins from Germany, the food has become a household meal cooked especially for family dinners or any other events. Meatloaf may serve as the main meal but sometimes may be quite dry and may need to be served with side dishes to help in gulping it down.

Some of the best side dishes that would go perfectly with meatloaf are mashed potatoes, sautéed button mushrooms, carrots and papayas, spinach gravy, garlic bread with cheese and anchovies.

Many people consider side dishes with meatloaf to balance the color on the plate as well as texture and taste that compliments the meatloaf. This may dependent on first how the meat loaf has been made but we will look at that later. The following are some of the side dishes that may marry well with meatloaf.

Mashed potatoes

First of all, before making the mashed potatoes, understand that they need to be creamy because the meatloaf may turn out dry. Another advantage of mashed potatoes is that they are stuffing so if you are looking to serve more people then mashed potatoes is just the right-side dish for you. Not only will you feed more stomachs but they’ll be full while at it. Homemade mashed potatoes are an easy side dish and may also go perfectly well with Mushroom Salisbury Steak or Crock Pot Pork Chops.

The real key to making the best mashed potatoes is to get the consistency right. The following are some tips to make sure you are serving the best mashed potatoes

  • After boiling them let them sit for about 5 minutes or so to completely drain well and put them back in the warm pot to make sure all liquid is evaporated.
  • For the best mashed potatoes use a hand masher which will break down the starches in the potatoes and cause a gluey and gummy texture.
  • Butter may be a must add while making mashed potatoes especially if you are going for the creamy texture which would go perfect with your meatloaf. Personal preference would be considered I choosing salted or unsalted butter.
  • Heat your cream/milk before adding to help the potatoes retain heat and absorb better. Add them a little at a time to get the right consistency.

Considering that the mashed potatoes are high in carbohydrate, it may be an unsuitable choice but if taken in small proportions for someone on a diet, it wouldn’t be a bad choice.

Sautéed button mushrooms

The dish may have quite a difficult vocab but it is pretty easy to make. You don’t need fancy varieties of mushrooms or a long list of ingredients. Dry sherry and time is all you need.

  • Start with a bit of butter and garlic in a hot pan and try not to dump everything in at once.
  • Sear the mushrooms in butter and oil to release the mushroom’s juices to form a rich golden hue around the edges.
  • Add the garlic half way as the mushrooms brown to avoid burning.
  • Add fresh thyme leaves and dry sherry.
  • Simmer the mushrooms over low heat until they absorb the sherry.
  • Lower the heat.

Sautéed mushrooms are a steal because they almost go well with anything. The secret is to make them less gravy because meatloaf is already a heavy meal. Since you may consider cooking meatloaf again and again, consider keeping a fresh can of mushrooms just in case.

Carrots and papaya

You may choose to have a gravy meatloaf and a little crunchiness would add some texture to the meatloaf. Cutting carrots and papaya into long strips could do just that. The papaya could also be sautéed to add more flavor to the meatloaf. I can already imagine the taste of the meatloaf as the juices burst in my mouth!

  • Cut the papaya into strips or cubes, any shape you prefer.
  • Sautee the papaya in a frying pan in peanut oil or butter on medium heat.
  • After slightly browning, stir and toss in the salt, pepper and lime juice at once.
  • Serve sprinkled with the carrot if desired.

This is a very simple side dish to prepare and basically anyone ca hack it. The shortcoming of carrots and papaya is that for a proper dinner it may not be enough so one would consider adding dips and desserts as well.

Spinach gravy

If staying healthy is your priority, then spinach gravy would be the best way to go. It isn’t just easy to make but also accompanying for the meatloaf as the main meal. You may decide to be creative with the spinach gravy recipe but sticking to specific measurements would be fine because the taste would still be magnificent and you would be playing safe.

Garlic bread with cheese and anchovies

The dish can be used as an appetizer and a side dish for the meatloaf and it wouldn’t require a complex recipe/preparation. Add your favorite cheese to the garlic bread and spread with some anchovies to add flavor. You can also alternatively skip the cheese and serve the garlic bread alone which would still be fine.

I you really want to side dishes with meatloaf then you will have to avoid making a dry meatloaf so that the side dishes will only serve as accompaniments to the main meal. The following are some of the ways of making your meatloaf moist:

  • Fat is your friend. The type of meat you decide to use is totally irrelevant compared to the ratio of lean meat to fat. The ratio of 80 percent meat to a 20 percent fat is the generally accepted formula. Some people use 30 percent fat but there is a fine line between juicy and greasy. Due to this many cooks choose ground chuck because it has the ideal proportion of fat to meat.
  • Vegetables are a must have. Since we want a moist meatloaf adding finely diced and pureed aromatic vegetables to your mixture will add moisture to the meatloaf. Not only is it for moisture but also adds the extra flavor. You can choose to go with onions carrots celery green peppers red peppers and summer squash. All you need to do is sauté them in butter or olive oil before adding them to the meatloaf to ensure they release more of their moisture into the meatloaf.
  • Use enough filler. Meat in itself may dry the juices and end up dry. A percentage of 15 to 25 percent breadcrumbs in relation to the meat is common in most of today’s recipes. If you choose to use leaner meat, you may want to soak your breadcrumbs in a little milk or stock before adding them to the meatloaf.
  • Do not overmix or compress the meat. A common mistake that most people do is mix your ingredients too much which may make the meatloaf tough and have a dry texture. Once the ingredients are mixed in stop. Realize that the meatloaf will be mixed more as it’s shaped before baking and when shaping it, the looser the better. Do not compress the meat too much or it will need to cook longer.
  • Slower and lower. Noted food authority Alton Brown says that the ideal oven temperature for a moist meatloaf is 325 F because if the oven is too hot, it will reduce the cooking time and it tends to dry out the meat.
  • Use a digital thermometer to determine doneness. The meatloaf needs to reach a safe temperature for food safety to avoid “rare” meatloaf but still not get to that level of dryness. Detecting whether the meatloaf is done based on cooking time will give you a half-baked meatloaf. Other variables you wouldn’t be able to check is how thick the meatloaf is and whether your oven’s temperature is properly calibrated. A thermometer takes care of all that. Cook your meatloaf to an internal temperature of 15 to 10 F and the temperature inside will rise after you take it out the oven. This will result to a moist meatloaf every single time.
  • Let your meatloaf rest. Resting is not only for steaks and roasts but also beneficial to meatloaf. At least let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving because it allows the temperature and juices to even out throughout the loaf. If you began by slicing just after getting it out more juices would be lost on the cutting board.

How to fix a dry meatloaf

Mistakes may happen when cooking the meatloaf and that is totally human. The loaf may turn out dry due to even a small hitch like letting it not rest after the oven. Not to worry though because there are ways of fixing a dry meatloaf. You could either decide to use an oven or stove top.


  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 F.
  • Spray non-stick cooking spray onto the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Pour a thin layer of tomato sauce or gravy in the bottom of the dish.
  • Arrange slices of your dried-up meatloaf in the baking dish.
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the meatloaf for 20 to 30 minutes or until it is hot all the way through.

Stove Top

  • Place a skillet on the stove and heat over medium high heat
  • Fill the very bottom of the skillet with tomato sauce, gravy or water and bring to a simmer.
  • Place sliced meatloaf in the simmering liquid, cover the skillet and turn down the heat.
  • Simmer the loaf for two to three minutes and turn it with a spatula.
  • Simmer the meatloaf for another two to three minutes or until it is heated through.