Retro recipes revisited: Football meatloaf

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Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

There are so many recipes for appetizers and snacks to serve at game day football parties — but what about the main course? You can score with this football meatloaf, inspired by two vintage recipes!

One of the original football meatloaf recipes (from 1955)
One of the original football meatloaf recipes (this one is from 1955)

I found the first of these two old-fashioned recipes for football-shaped meatloaves years ago, and with football season upon us yet again, I decided to re-create the idea in a slightly more modern version by incorporating a few changes.

The fun of this dish is really all about the shape and decoration, so you can actually make any kind of loaf you like. (If you’re looking for ideas, we have several different retro meatloaf recipes right here!)

For our loaf, I used my family’s usual recipe — two and a half pounds of ground beef, two eggs, a cup and a half of whole oats, two small cans of tomato sauce, various spices, and about 3/4 of an onion.

Rather than making it truly football-shaped in all dimensions, I kept the thickness fairly uniform to try to make sure the whole loaf cooked evenly, and that the catsup didn’t slide off.

Creating the “football”

Of these two classic recipes, one called for the “lacing” to be made from pimentos (so very retro), while the other suggested using spaghetti. Since I was already using onions inside the loaf itself, I thought they might work well as decoration on top.

If you want to use onions as shown here, be sure to cut the decorative parts of the onion first, before you chop up the rest to put in the loaf. I used long, curved slices on either side, and smaller cuts for the lacing.


All prepped and ready to kick things off

Be sure to start with a large pan so your meatloaf has enough room to hold its shape without bumping into the sides.

Normally when I make this for dinner, I usually put only a little catsup on top — but for this football, I decided to run with the theme, and slathered the whole thing with catsup before carefully placing the onions on top.

Football meatloaf


The finished football meatloaf

Here’s the same loaf about an hour later, after baking it at 350 F for about 50 minutes, and allowing it to rest for another 10.

Football-shaped meatloaf


Lace it all up

Here’s a close-up of the cooked meatloaf, showing the football’s onion lacing detail from the side.

Football meatloaf



Each slice of the finished loaf was perfectly tender, and as a bonus, already had all the catsup necessary — making it even easier for everyone to enjoy!

Football meatloaf

Pin this vintage recipe!

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