Traditional German Meatloaf (Hackbraten)

This traditional German Meatloaf, or Hackbraten, recipe combines ground pork and beef with a blend of spices and a savory glaze for a hearty dish deeply rooted in German cuisine. Perfectly moist and packed with flavor, it’s a comforting meal that pairs beautifully with a variety of side dishes, making it a favorite for family dinners and gatherings.

German meatloaf sliced and ready to serve.

Hackbraten is a versatile dinner that can be whipped up for a weeknight meal but also makes a popular choice for Sunday dinners, a tradition in many German households. It tastes better the next day (or the the day after that) and freezes beautifully, so make several to enjoy them throughout the months.

Pair your German meatloaf with traditional German side dishes like rotkohl (braised red cabbage), boiled potatoes with butter, braised sauerkraut, or Hunter’s sauce (mushroom gravy) and mashed potatoes for a true comfort meal that’s wholesome and nourishing.

If you love German food, try my German Sauerkraut Soup made with meatballs, or rouladen beef rolls.

Ingredients Notes & Variations

All of the ingredients needed to make German meatloaf.
  • A mixture of ground beef or veal and ground pork is best, but you can also make this with all pork or all beef.
  • Bread or breadcrumbs can be used. This recipe is perfect for stale sourdough bread or a failed bread recipe.
  • Stale bread should be soaked in milk or water.
  • Instead of the ketchup-brown sugar glaze, you can cover the raw-formed loaf with strips of raw bacon before baking.

Key Meatloaf Recipe Process Shots

Refer to these photos of the recipe being made if you’re confused about how anything should look as you do it yourself. I recommend you start by prepping all of your ingredients so that you have them on hand ready to go — and clean as you go, it’s the best kitchen habit anyone can adopt.

All of the ingredients needed to make German meatloaf in a bowl ready to be mixed.

The above photo shows all of the needed ingredients ready to be mixed. I recommend mixing everything but the meat together first, then adding the ground beef and pork and mixing that thoroughly.

You will notice that the stale bread has been soaked in milk to soften and then the excess moisture has been squeezed out.

Do not overmix the meatloaf, but make sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Raw meat mixture for meatloaf in loaf pan.

The finished meatloaf mixture will look like the above photo when raw and placed into a rectangular loaf pan.

Glazed meatloaf in rectangular loaf pan.

This is the ketchup-brown-sugar-vinegar-worchestire glaze being applied. Remember that you can add raw bacon strips to the mixture instead of this glaze before baking. You can apply the glaze over the bacon too. You can also add hardboiled eggs into the center of the loaf before baking.

Below is the finished hackbraten, sliced and ready to serve with your favorite side dishes.

German meatloaf sliced and ready to serve.

Top Tips

  • Ingredient Quality: Use fresh, high-quality meat and bread instead of breadcrumbs for the best texture and flavor.
  • Moisture is Key: Ensure the bread or breadcrumbs are adequately soaked to add moisture to the meatloaf and prevent drying.
  • Season Well: Don’t be shy with the seasonings; the flavors should be bold but balanced.
  • Add a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce into the meat mixture.
  • Let it Rest: Allowing the meatloaf to rest before slicing is crucial for a juicy result.
  • Variations: Add finely chopped bacon or smoked ham to the meat mixture for an extra layer of flavor. Instead of the ketchup glaze, use strips of bacon or even use both. Add hardboiled eggs into the center of the raw loaf before baking.
German meatloaf sliced and ready to serve.

Traditional German Meatloaf (Hackbraten)

Perfectly moist and packed with flavor, this traditional German meatloaf, or hackbraten, recipe combines ground pork and beef with a blend of spices and a savory glaze for a hearty dish
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: German
Servings: 4
Calories: 682kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Equipment

  • Rectangular Loaf Pan 9 inches by 5 inches or approximate

Ingredients

For The Meatloaf

  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • 1 lbs ground pork
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 1 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 slices stale bread Or 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs. Stale bread should be soaked in milk or water and the excess liquid then squeezed out.
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup parsley finely chopped.
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg Optional.
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika Optional.

For The Glaze

  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar Or maple syrup.
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce Optional.

Instructions

  • Preheat and Prepare: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a 9×5 inch rectangular loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it lightly with butter or lard.
  • Mix the Meatloaf: If using stale bread, soak it in milk until soft, then squeeze out the excess liquid. If using breadcrumbs, this step is not necessary.
    In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, soaked bread or breadcrumbs, chopped onion, minced garlic, eggs, chopped parsley, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, and nutmeg.
    Mix everything together until well combined. It's best to use your hands to ensure the mixture is uniform, but avoid overmixing to keep the meatloaf tender.
  • Form and Bake: Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan, shaping it into a loaf. Alternatively, shape it into a loaf on a lined baking sheet for a more traditional German appearance.
    Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour.
  • Prepare the Glaze: While the meatloaf bakes, mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl.
  • Glaze and Finish Baking: After the meatloaf has baked for 1 hour, remove it from the oven and spread the glaze over the top.
    Return the meatloaf to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the glaze is bubbly and the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
  • Rest and Serve: Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute, making the meatloaf moist and easier to slice.

Notes

Storing:
  • Refrigerate: Cool to room temperature, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Freezing:
  • Wrap well: Cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap and then foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Thawing:
  • Refrigerate: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Reheating:
  • Oven: Heat at 350°F (175°C), covered with foil, until it reaches 165°F (74°C) internally, about 25 minutes.
  • Microwave: Cover slices with a damp paper towel and heat until warm, about 1-2 minutes.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 682kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 50g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 255mg | Sodium: 868mg | Potassium: 777mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 526IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 5mg
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Pairings & Sides

These are my favorite dishes to serve with German meatloaf:

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