Paw-Paw's Meatloaf

Recipe by Mandy Pagano

Recipe originally published on on 5/5/20. It has been heavily edited for re-publication.


My step-dad, whom my children refer to as "Paw-Paw," makes one mean meatloaf. Even the non-meatloaf-liking peeps in our family love Paw-Paw's version. His recipe is rather simple, but fairly carb-heavy for what is essentially supposed to be a shaped lump of meat.

What's the problem with this delightful dish? Paw-Paw starts with a good bit of onion and bell pepper for the majority of his seasoning, and binds the whole shebang with an entire sleeve of crushed saltine crackers.

While it is absolutely delicious, for a ketonian, that's a hard no.

In order to simulate the same, rich flavor as well as maintain the kind of moisture he manages to get from his loaf, I swapped out half the meat with ground sausage, which is fattier and adds a nice spice to the dish. I scaled back a bit on the onion and peppers to keep the flavor while also keeping the carb count down, and then I replaced the saltines with crushed pork rinds. In addition to helping out the savory flavor, the natural gelatin in the pork rinds helps to bind while also holding in some extra moisture. With these simple changes, you really have to cook the snot out of this loaf for it to be dry.

Notes: For a really nice added zip to the flavor, consider using the Epic brand BBQ flavored pork rinds to make your crumbs. I've made it with both plain pork rinds and the Epic ones, and it's darned good both ways. My family gobbles this right up and leftovers never last very long.

[tasty-recipe id="2671"]


Paw-Paw's Meatloaf

  •  Author: Mandy Pagano
  •  Prep Time: 5 minutes
  •  Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  •  Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  •  Yield: 8 servings
  •  Method: Baked
  •  Cuisine: American
  •  Keywords: baking, beef, comfort-food, family-favorites, meatloaf, paleo, sausage


  • 1 lb (16 oz/ 454 g) ground beef
  • 1 lb (16 oz/ 454 g) ground sausage
  • 1.2 oz ( 35 g) crushed pork rinds (about a cup crushed)
  • 1.2 oz (35 g) yellow onion, diced
  • 1.2 oz (35 g) green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 small can (8 oz/ 227 g) tomato sauce, divided if desired
  • 1 egg


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a roasting pan rack by wrapping the rack in aluminum foil, then poking several sets of holes in the foil (to allow the grease to drain), then put the rack back into the roasting pan. Set aside 1 tbsp tomato sauce, if desired, to brush on top of meatloaf.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, ground sausage, pork rinds, egg, tomato sauce, onion, bell pepper, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and thyme with your hands until well incorporated.
  • Turn out onto the foil-covered roasting rack and form into a loaf.
  • Brush the top with reserved tomato sauce, if desired, then bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until an instant thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 160 degrees F.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest ten minutes before slicing.


  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 382.2 cals
  • Fat: 27.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 2.3 g
    • Fiber: 0.6 g
    • Net Carbs [total carbs - (fiber + sugar alcohol)] : 1.7 g
  • Protein: 28.5 g

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