Food & Drink

Bourbon & Coca-Cola Meatloaf

Southern libations and a sweet teriyaki sauce accent a classic entree

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

This recipe calls for half pork and half beef, which adds a combined richer flavor and more tenderness than using ground beef alone. Dad’s meatloaf recipe had a secret ingredient: old-fashioned Coca-Cola (which contained real sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup, also referred to as “Mexican Coke”). Back then, without social media or the internet, I’m not sure where he got the idea, but he was always experimenting with mystery or secret ingredients. Of course, Atlanta was the birthplace of Coca-Cola. The origins of ketchup (“ket-chap” or “ke-tsiap” in the Hokkien dialect), similar to Worcestershire sauce, can be traced back to 300 B.C. China and South Asia and began as a fermented fish sauce, sometimes with added flavors of cinnamon, clove, and tamarind. No wonder I like it so much! I like to use farm-raised meat from Riverview Farms and Brasstown Beef in Georgia, and Georgia Bourbon Whiskey from Moonrise Distillery, but you can substitute your favorite brands.
Natalie Keng, from her new cookbook, Egg Rolls & Sweet Tea: Asian Inspired, Southern Style

See also: G&G’s interview with Natalie Keng, plus her recipes for Oven-Baked Country Bacon & Collard Egg Rolls and Okra and Tomato Stir-Fry.

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  • Georgia Bourbon & Coca-Cola Meatloaf (Yield: 2 to 4 servings)

    • 1 cup crushed saltine crackers

    • ½ cup milk

    • ½ lb. ground beef

    • ½ lb. ground pork

    • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion such as Vidalia

    • ⅓ cup grated carrot

    • 1 garlic clove, minced

    • 1 large egg, beaten

    • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. ketchup, divided

    • 2 tbsp. Mexican Coca-Cola or regular Coca-Cola

    • 2 tbsp. Georgia bourbon whiskey

    • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

    • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

    • ½ tsp. garlic powder

    • ¼ cup Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (recipe below), plus more for serving (optional)

    • 1 tbsp. brown sugar

    • 1 tsp. dry mustard

  • For the Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (yields about 1 cup)

    • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

    • 1 cup water, divided

    • ¼ cup naturally brewed soy sauce

    • 3 tbsp. brown sugar

    • 1 tbsp. molasses or honey

    • 1 tsp. pineapple puree

    • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

    • ½ tsp. grated ginger


  1. Make the meatloaf: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, soak the crackers in the milk for 5 to 10 minutes.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, onion, carrot, garlic, egg, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, cola, bourbon, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, garlic powder, and the cracker mixture. Using your hands or a serving fork, combine well.

  3. Spread the meat mixture in an even layer in a loaf pan.

  4. In a small bowl, mix together the teriyaki sauce, remaining ¼ cup of ketchup, brown sugar, and dry mustard. Spread the sauce evenly to coat the top of the meatloaf.

  5. Bake, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meatloaf rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Spoon extra teriyaki sauce on top before serving, if desired.

  6. Make the Teriyaki Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water, then add the remaining water, soy sauce, brown sugar, molasses, pineapple puree, garlic, and ginger. Whisk together until the sugar and cornstarch are completely dissolved. Bring to a boil while stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens and is shiny and translucent.

  7. To use as a cooking sauce, pour over the prepared meat, fish, or vegetables. To use as a dipping sauce, allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Reprinted from Egg Rolls & Sweet Tea: Asian Inspired, Southern Style, copyright © 2023 by Natalie Keng. Published by Gibbs Smith.