Eat Like a Gilmore – Luke’s Meatloaf

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When my husband and I got together, I was a Friends aficionado. It was sad really… I would quote lines and say things like crazy to the point he had to start watching it just so I didn’t have to explain myself all the time. Now we can call him a Friends aficionado also. He had a couple shows he was that way with too, one of which included Gilmore Girls. I had watched Gilmore Girls on and off, but never really paid a lot of attention. It was just usually on for background noise.

One day I was going through the Friend’s series again. He made me promise that once I was finished I had to watch Gilmore Girls start to finish. He owned all the seasons. I agreed. Man, that show is quite addicting! I really want to be Lorelai. She’s so spunky and the way she dresses. I really want her closet.

6 months to a year ago or so I found out someone wrote a cookbook. Hubby and I picked up the cookbook. I read through it but never really made anything from it. Sadly, that’s the way with most cookbooks I own and I own a lot.  Until now…

Eat Like a Gilmore: Luke's Meatloaf with a side of Mashed potatoes because who doesn't eat mashed potatoes with meatloaf! | Midwestern at Heart

Luke’s Meatloaf

If there is one thing I can tell you about the Gilmore Girls, if you’ve never watched the show… They love to eat. Bam. That’s really all you need to know. ha! Well that and with all they love to eat, Lorelai is skinny minnie. How in the heck. Oh wait, that’s right, it’s TV. Oh and she also lives on coffee. But let’s save that talk for another day, okay?

This cookbook is broken down into 6 types of food… Emily’s house (Lorelai’s mother), Lorelai’s Asia (1 recipe), Luke’s Diner (Lorelai’s love interest), Rory Cooks (Lorelai’s daughter, 1 recipe), Sookie’s Kitchen (the Inn chef), and Town Favorites (as in Star’s Hollow). Now here is where I should mention, this is the unofficial cookbook… so are these the exact recipes… nope. Just something Kristi Carlson (cookbook author) thought would be served.

When hubby got home from work last Thursday night, I wondered what on earth we were going to have for dinner. I knew we had a pound of hamburger in the fridge. For some reason I went on the hunt for a meatloaf recipe.

I had been decorating cookies all day and watching Gilmore Girls episodes, again, so the first cookbook I picked up was the Eat Like a Gilmore cookbook. I thought surely I could use it for something, right? RIGHT!

This meatloaf recipe falls under the Luke’s Diner category. I read through the list of ingredients and thought I was set.

  • Butter ✔️
  • Yellow onion (I had purple) ✔️
  • Garlic ✔️
  • Tomato sauce (mine was for chili but whatever…) ✔️
  • Balsamic vinegar (I thought so but no… I found a substitution)
  • Hot sauce (not the recommended brand but yes) ✔️
  • Egg ✔️
  • ground beef ✔️
  • cheddar cheese ✔️
  • Panko bread crumbs (nope, I had cornflake bread crumbs, but it works) ✔️
  • Dried parsley ✔️
  • salt & pepper ✔️

The sauce consisted of tomato sauce, hot sauce, and balsamic vinegar. My tomato sauce was specified for Chili. Oh well… it added a nice smokey flavor. That’s okay, right? The hot sauce, well I didn’t have the recommended brand which is Frank’s RedHot. I had tobasco brand, but I made it work. Finally the Balsamic vinegar. I swore I had some. Swore. I went up down stairs, climbed the stool, looked through the cabinets. In fact, I found other things in the cabinets I didn’t know we had, but no balsamic vinegar. ugh! I found a strawberry balsamic vinegar marinade. Not the same.

So I went to my friend google and said, find me a subsitute Please!

Better Homes & Gardens had my back:

1 Tbsp Cider & Red Wine vinegar + 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or sugar).

I read that brown sugar has the molasses and that mimicks the balsamic vinegar molassesy taste. Is that even a word?

I was a bit surprised that the recipe didn’t call for either Ketchup (although it mentions this in the blurb at the beginning) or bbq sauce on top of the meatloaf. I seriously questioned this, especially since it is “diner” meatloaf. Let me tell you, this meatloaf didn’t need that. It wasn’t missing that. I was pleasantly surprised.

So I’m not really a ketchup on my meatloaf kind of girl anyway. I do like the bbq sauce on the meatloaf. This is not necessary on this meatloaf though. Holy cow was it good. That little bit of a kick from the hot sauce. The cheesy taste. I didn’t taste my bread crumbs but Panko are a little bigger than the cornflakes I had. That may make a bit of difference, but YUM! I always say yum. I did once hear that was bad taste (haha manners), but YUM!

Here is the recipe. Try it. Tell me what you think!!


Luke’s diner version. Eat Like a Gilmore, pg 187


  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1 c Grated yellow onion
  • 3 Minced garlic cloves
  • 1/3 c Tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Hot sauce (Frank’s RedHot, recommended)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 lb Lean Ground Beef
  • 1/3 c Finely grated medium cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 c Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp Dried parsley
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Black pepper


Prep oven and pan: Place oven rack in center position. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Take out one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch meatloaf pan. Set aside.

Sauté onion and garlic: In a frying pan, over medium heat, melt butter. Once fully melted, add grated onion and garlic. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.

Mix sauce: In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, and hot sauce. Stir until blended. Set aside.

Mix meatloaf: In a large mixing bowl, mix egg until yolk and white are combined. Add ground beef, cheese, panko, parsley, salt, pepper, and the mixed sauce. Use hands to mix ingredients together. Add onions and garlic. Use hands to mix until all ingredients are fully combined.

Bake meatloaf and serve: Form meatloaf into an oblong ball. Place it into the pan and press it so there are no air bubbles at the bottom of the pan and the top of the meatloaf is flat. Place in oven and bake for 60 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer around the 55-minute mark to test doneness. Meatloaf is done when the inside temperature reaches 160˚F. Remove from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes. Slice into 1-inch slabs. Serve.

Makes 4 servings.



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