For years I didn’t eat meatloaf. There was just something about it that I disliked. It was basically a brick of meat. Meatloaf like Southwest Meatloaf has changed my ways!
But like many things (like mayonnaise, sour cream and chili) when I started to make it myself, from scratch, I developed a liking for the dish. And then realized, I really like meatloaf!
I just had to reframe my thinking. Instead of thinking of it as a brick of meat being served by a pearled housewife in petticoats, I started to think of it as a giant gourmet meatball being served by a modern day woman in her active wear (read yoga pants even though I didn’t go to the gym today.)
Meatloaf is one of those comfort foods that have been gracing dinner tables for decades, so I’m glad to have found a way I enjoy it. If you’re finicky about meatloaf too, give this southwest meatloaf a try before you knock it.
What's In This Article
Best Meatloaf Recipes
The best meatloaf has two elements:
- meat mix
- meatloaf glaze
The mix can be any ground meat, but I prefer just beef or primarily beef mixed with veal and pork.
For healthy meatloaf, try ground turkey, which can be substituted in nearly any meatloaf recipe. Ground chicken works too, but I recommend mixing it with ground beef. You’ll need a little fat to prevent drying and give it flavor.
Traditional meatloaf glaze is nothing but ketchup, baked sweetened tomato. I like to have fun with my meatloaf glaze.
For my traditional meatloaf recipe (even though I stuff it with shredded veggies) I use the same glaze as my famous Grape Jelly Meatballs. You can also go without, but then the top might get a little dry.
My Italian Meatloaf uses marinara sauce. And now, my Southwest Meatloaf uses a zesty lime laced ketchup. Deliciousness!
Southwest Meatloaf Ingredients
- Ground Beef – You can use whatever grade you have on hand, but lean ground beef is fine for this recipe. You can also use ground turkey. ground pork or ground chicken if you prefer, but it’s generally better mixed with at least some ground beef.
- Corn tortilla chip crumbs – To really amp up the southwestern flavor, these are used in lieu of bread crumbs as binding agent. They add a whole new flavor profile.
- Seasonings – I use a blend of smoked paprika (you can use regular if that’s all you have, I just like the smoky flavor it adds,) cumin, garlic powder, white pepper (this is a little more mild than black pepper, but you can also use black,) and Kosher salt.
- Chunky salsa – Instead of chopping a bell pepper, onion and jalapeno peppers, let the salsa do it for you! It saves a step and makes this an easy recipe for southwest meatloaf.
- Pepper jack cheese – I like spicy cheese, but you can also use cheddar or plain Monterey jack.
- Eggs – Along with the tortilla chips, eggs act as a binder for all this deliciousness.
- Ketchup, lime juice and onion powder – Instead of just plain ketchup, we use a blend of flavors for the glaze. You can even use my spicy chipotle ketchup for an added flavor.
How to Make Southwest Meatloaf
- Prepare oven and pan. Preheat oven and spray a meatloaf pan with cooking spray. You can also line with parchment paper for even easier release if you’d like.
- Make meatloaf mixture. In a large bowl, stir together tortilla chip crumbs, seasonings and salsa. Then add the ground beef, breaking apart as you go. Top with beat eggs and cheese.
- Add to pan. Gently pack into meatloaf pan. If you don’t have one, you can form it into a rectangle on an aluminum foil lined rimmed baking sheet instead.
- Bake. Cover with aluminum foil and bake.
- Make glaze. While the southwest meatloaf is baking, stir together ketchup, lime juice, onion powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Make corn relish. Melt butter over medium heat. Add corn, onion, fine sea salt and smoked paprika and cook until onions are soft and corn is a bright yellow.
- Glaze meatloaf. Remove meatloaf from oven and brush ketchup mixture over top of meatloaf. Bake again, uncovered. Let stand for a few minutes before slicing.
Variations and Tips
Some feel that cooking meatloaf can be tricky to get just right. Check to make sure your meatloaf internal temperature should be 160 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to check instead of cutting into your precious loaf.
I also like using a meatloaf pan instead of a loaf pan or molding on a rimmed baking sheet. A meatloaf pan has drip pan, allowing fat to drain while cooking.
If you’re trying to be a bit healthier, you can use ground turkey or ground chicken in your southwest meatloaf instead. These tend to become a bit dry, however, so I still like to use a mixture of ground beef in there.
Southwest Meatloaf Storage
If you’ve got leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. We like to scrape the sauce from the bottom of the baking dish and store that with the meatloaf, as well, since it offers a ton of flavor.
If you want to make this Southwest Meatloaf easier, mix and form it the morning of OR the night before. Once shaped, place the meatloaf on the prepared baking dish and wrap tightly with plastic wrap before refrigerating.
More favorite ground beef recipes:
- 2 pounds Certified Angus Beef® brand ground beef
- 1/2 cup tortilla chip crumbs
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 1/2 cups pepper jack cheese , shredded
- 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
- Cooking Spray
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- Dash of fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 ears of corn , corn cut off
- 1/2 white onion , chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a meatloaf pan with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together tortilla chip crumbs, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, Kosher salt and white pepper. Add salsa, stir to moisten and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Add ground beef, breaking apart as you go. Top with beat eggs and shredded pepper jack cheese.
- Using clean hands, lightly toss. Do not over mix. Overmixing will result in tough meatloaf.
- Gently pack into meatloaf pan. If you don’t have a meatloaf pan, you can form it into a rectangle on an aluminum foil lined rimmed baking sheet.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
- Meanwhile, stir together ketchup, lime juice, onion powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium skillet, heat melt butter over medium heat. Add corn, onion, fine sea salt and smoked paprika. Cook until onions are soft and corn is a bright yellow. Remove and set aside until ready to serve.
- Remove meatloaf and brush ketchup mixture over top of meatloaf. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes uncovered or until a meat thermometer registers at 160 degrees.
- Let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
- Serve with a serving of corn relish.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!
So glad I found your recipe! The flavors were spot on! I actually used some of the salsa and just added ketchup to it for the glaze. It was really tasty!
Using the tortilla chips as the binder was creative but using ground pork rinds would keep it keto.
Hi Patty- thanks for the feedback! Since we don’t eat keto, I don’t recipe test keto either. But I am sure those that do will appriciate the advice.
First off, I love your description of meatloaf, a giant meatball! Second, this turned out so tender and delicious! Thanks!
I’m a fan of meatloaf and finding new ways to make it. This southwestern version is going on my “must make” list ASAP! My family is going to love this.
Totally going to be making this YUMMO meatloaf this week. We are all about Southwestern here and I know it’ll be a hit. Love all the flavors going on!!
What a great recipe with SO much flavor! Adding crushed tortilla chips and pepperjack cheese to the mix is genius. Another winner from Savory Experiments!
Meatloaf is one of my favorite entrees. I can’t wait to try this Southwestern Meatloaf, I just know I will love it!
I’ve made this a few times as written. It’s by far the best meatloaf I’ve ever made. Making it again tonight but had to use Doritos because that’s all I had. Hopefully it’s just as good.
Hi Jami! Thank you so much! We are actually taking new pictures of it this week just to make it prettier (not not touching the recipe), LOL. Doritos should be fine 🙂
Great new twist on meatloaf. The whole family loved it better than my classic version, which made me a little sad, but well done to yo!
I actually made it and it was the best meatloaf I’ve ever had. The flavors were perfect. Mine was made with local farmed ground chicken. and I added some Chipolte because I like a little heat. Ate with a side of corn & black beans.
Thank you, I don’t think I’ll be making meatloaf any other way again.
Thank for stopping by to let me know! It is also one of our favorites and puts such a fun spin on an old classic.
Meatloaf, I must admit, is one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t think I make it more than once a year, but oh how I love it! I really like the flavors you have going in this recipe – the tortilla chips especially. (I sometimes use Chili Fritos for my meatloaf.)
I love a simply twist to on a classic dish!
I was the EXACT same way. I hated meatloaf … until I started making it myself. And yes, it’s basically a giant meatball. Who doesn’t love meatballs?? I like your spin on this. Can’t wait to try it!
Love this flavorful spin on meatloaf! Also crushed tortilla chips -YUM!
I love meatloaf! It reminds me of my grandmother, who used to make it every week when we came for Friday lunch. Your meatloaf looks so good!
We do love our meat and we always look for high-quality beef. This certified beef certainly is high in quality. I really like the flavors you use in your meatloaf and it looks anything but a hard brick of meat.
I love meatloaf, it’s seriously one of the best comfort foods and I love this Southwestern twist!