Full disclosure: I’d never cooked a Paula Deen recipe before this one. I’ve always been turned off by all the butter she uses with abandon. (And that’s not even getting into her personal failings and the racism she espoused.) But since so many of our readers and other food-lovers in our space seemed to love this particular Paula recipe — it’s highly-rated, pinned, and searched — I was up for giving it a try. If, for anything else, to tell you if it was worth your time and effort as well.

Paula dubs her old-fashioned meatloaf as “basic,” and while at first glance that translates to a simple ingredient list and quick instructions, it actually resulted in a meatloaf that really was (spoiler alert!) pretty boring.

How to Make Paula Deen’s Meatloaf

While most meatloaf recipes are generally pretty easy, this one might just be the simplest there is: The official instructions are only three sentences long.

First, you’ll preheat your oven to 375°F. While it’s warming up, you’ll mix ground beef, chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, an egg, a can of diced tomatoes, oats, and salt and pepper together in a large bowl.

It’s a short ingredient list, but there’s one hiccup: Paula calls for an 8-ounce can of diced tomatoes, which is virtually impossible to find in grocery stores. The most common can size is 14.5-ounces, and even when I tried to find it online with a quick Google search I got nowhere. Instead I used a little more than half of a 14.5-ounce can and was left scratching my head about what to do with the rest.

You’ll then toss the mixture into a baking dish. (Paula doesn’t specify what size but I used a 9×5-inch loaf pan.) You’ll spread it out evenly into the dish and then mix together ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard for the topping. Again, Paula is vague and doesn’t tell you what kind of mustard — I used spicy brown since I had a jar I’d been looking to use up. The topping is spread over the meatloaf and the meatloaf bakes for an hour until cooked through.

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