This German meatloaf is the perfect cold-weather meal and is topped with a dark beer sauce after baking. Called Zwiebelhackbraten in German, this easy meatloaf packs a ton of onions, giving it a subtle, sweet flavor.
It's one of my favorite German recipes and I love serving it with some homemade Bratkartoffeln (German pan-fried potatoes) or Spätzle (German egg noodles) and a simple salad.
How to make it
Zwiebelhackbraten is a German onion meatloaf and it's one of the most tender and moist meatloafs I have ever had. It's made even better by smothering it in a rich beer sauce!
You'll start by cooking the onion until translucent, then combine it with the ground meat, soaked bread, spices, and seasonings.
Knead the mixture until combined, then press it into a loaf baking dish (I use this pretty stoneware pan) and brush it with butter before and throughout the baking process.
While the meatloaf rests for a few minutes after baking, you'll make a simple dark beer sauce to pour over the top.
Slice it up and serve it with German pan-fried potatoes (Bratkartofflen) or Spätzle and a simple, green salad.
This German meatloaf uses mostly staple ingredients and a lot of delicious onions. I added some helpful notes below.
- Ground meat. I like using a mixture of pork and beef, but you can use both or either.
- Onions. You'll use lots of onions in my German meatloaf recipe. Most go in the meatloaf itself and some go in the sauce.
- Stale bread. I use stale bread to help bind my meatloaf. You'll first soak it in water, then press all the water out before kneading it with the other ingredients.
- Pickles. I like using German-style pickles. And yes, they also go in the meatloaf.
- Mustard. To season the meatloaf.
- Parsley. About a handful of fresh, chopped parsley goes into the meatloaf recipe.
- Lemon juice. I like using fresh lemon juice.
- Eggs. To help bind the meat mixture.
- Butter. The butter is melted and gets brushed on the meatloaf periodically throughout baking.
- Chicken broth. You can also use veggie broth. You'll use it for making the sauce.
- Tomato paste. To thicken the sauce and add a sweet flavor.
- Dark beer. A German-style Dunkel beer is recommended, but any other mild beer like Pilsner or Lager will work. Your sauce will look lighter colored if you use a lighter-colored beer.
- Apple cider vinegar. Season the sauce.
- Sugar. Season the sauce.
What should the internal temperature be for a meatloaf?
Meatloaf should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71 degrees Celsius. In my oven and using a stoneware loaf pan, that took about 1 hour. Depending on what type of pan you use, the cooking time could differ. It's always best to check the internal temperature of the meat using a thermometer (this instant-read thermometer is my favorite).
Amazing German Meatloaf Recipe
- 750 grams ground beef I also like using a mixture of beef and pork
- 200 grams stale bread I use day old French bread or whatever kind of leftover bread I have
- 2 large pickles
- 1 Tablespoons butter
- 4 yellow onions 4 small or 2 large
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard or any mustard you have on hand
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 2 Tablespoon lemon juice I use fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 Tablespoons butter melted, to brush onto the meatloaf before baking and throughout baking
- Preheat oven to 350℉ or 180℃ (convection setting).
- Cut the day old bread into thin slices, then soak in water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Now wring out the bread and put in a large bowl.200 grams stale bread
- Small dice the onions. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet and add the onions. Cook until translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.4 yellow onions, 1 Tablespoons butter
- Small dice the pickles.2 large pickles
- Add pickles and cooked onions above ingredients into the bowl with the bread. Also add ground meat, eggs, chopped parsley, lemon juice, mustard, and season with salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Knead together.750 grams ground beef, 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 handful fresh parsley, 2 Tablespoon lemon juice, 2 eggs, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Melt the remaining butter and use some of it to brush on the inside of a loaf pan. Now add in the meatloaf mixture and shape into a loaf, forming a slight ridge between the meatloaf and the pan.3 Tablespoons butter
- Bake on the bottom rack for about 60 minutes (possibly less time depending on your oven and the pan you use).
- Brush butter on top of the meatloaf every 15 minutes until it's done baking.
- The internal temperature of the meatloaf should be 160℉ or 71℃ when fully cooked.
- Let rest for 10 minutes after baking before slicing.
- In the meantime, make the sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pot and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes. Then add in the tomato paste and sauté for 5 minutes. Whisk in the broth and beer and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and apple cider vinegar.1 Tablespoon butter, 2 Tablespoons yellow onion, 2 Tablespoons tomato paste, 100 milliliters broth, 240 milliliters dark beer, 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard, sugar, apple cider vinegar