The Clever Way To Serve Meatloaf For A Comforting Appetizer

A classic meatloaf is like a warm hug. Its rich, meaty interior and sweet and sticky exterior is one of those meals that envelops you in its warmth and flavor, comforting you from head to toe. In addition to being a comfort classic, it's also incredibly simple to make, no matter what your tastes happen to be.

Whether you're a meat eater, a full-fledged vegetarian, or perhaps somewhere in between, meatloaf is a dish for all. You can certainly go the classic route, combining a mixture of beef, pork, and veal for maximum flavor and juiciness, or you can pivot to turkey or chicken, offering a lighter protein but with the same delicious results. And a vegetarian meatloaf isn't out of the question either; mushrooms, sourdough bread, and a variety of spices come together for a hearty meatloaf that will satisfy even the most carnivorous dinner guest.

For many, meatloaf is a homerun for an easy, satisfying dinner. But what if you're looking for all the flavors of a meatloaf in an appetizer instead? We've got just the solution.

Turn your meatloaf into meatballs

If you're looking to upgrade your typical meat and cheese platter at your next cocktail party or dinner event, look no further than your classic meatloaf recipe. Prepare your meatloaf as you would, then roll into meatballs – or simply rely on your favorite meatball recipe from the start – and sear them evenly in a hot cast iron pan, or bake them in the oven just like an actual meatloaf. As your meatballs are cooking away, it's time to focus on the glaze. 

The glaze is usually what separates meatloaf from meatballs, adding zesty flavor to each savory bite, so that's the secret to transforming your favorite main course into this appetizer. The best part? The glaze can be a no-recipe recipe, based on your taste as well as the ingredients you have on hand. Typically, a meatloaf glaze is just ketchup or barbecue sauce, but don't be afraid to get creative. 

For something simple and delicious, ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire come together for a deep, complex flavor. Don't be afraid to add a little heat, either, by way of sriracha or gochujang paste. Not a ketchup fan? Fear not, you can add that subtle sweetness and acidity to your glaze with a mixture of barbecue sauce and mustard, or make a mushroom gravy for rich, smoky flavor. If you're pan-cooking, add the glaze into the pan just before the meatballs are finished, swirling them around for even coverage. For oven-baked meatballs, paint the glaze on before you put them in, allowing the glaze to gently caramelize, adding another layer of texture and flavor as they cook.