Meatloaf Recipe

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Nothing says all American comfort food like an old-fashioned meatloaf recipe. After much testing, I’ve finally figured out how to make the BEST meatloaf. It’s tender and juicy inside and topped with a sweet, tangy glaze.

You’re going to want seconds.

Meatloaf recipe served with mashed potatoes topped with gravy and blanched green beans

Best Meatloaf Recipe Ever

This easy weeknight recipe is sure to impress. Serve this dish with a generous helping of mashed potatoes and green beans.

Make enough to ensure leftovers because you don’t want to miss out on making meatloaf sandwiches tomorrow.

Meatloaf Ingredients

meatloaf ingredients
  • Ground meat. Ground beef. 85:15 is on the lean side but has enough fat to moisten this recipe. You can also use ground turkey to make turkey meatloaf.
  • Onion. One finely diced white onion.
  • Garlic. Two to three cloves of freshly pressed or minced garlic.
  • Parsley. Fresh chopped parsley adds both color and flavor.
  • Seasoning. Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, red chili flakes, and paprika. Plus, salt and pepper, of course.
  • Bread crumbs. Panko bread crumbs are fluffier than traditional bread crumbs. You could also use day-old bread or crackers like Saltines or Ritz. See the recipe card for more details on making meatloaf without bread crumbs.
  • Milk. Whole milk softens that bread crumbs and adds moistness.
  • Eggs. Eggs bind everything together and give the ground meat its traditional meatloaf shape and texture.
  • Meatloaf glaze. Optional but highly recommended.
Add the ingredients in a glass bowl

How to Make Meatloaf…

Making homemade meatloaf is incredibly easy; you’ll only need one bowl and your hands.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  2. Prepare a loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment paper ends are folded over the long ends of the loaf pan. You will use these to remove the meatloaf after baking.
  3. Add the milk and the panko breadcrumbs to a medium bowl. Toss with a fork and set aside until the milk is absorbed. 
  4. Add the remaining ingredients to a large bowl and the panko mixture. Use your hand to mix everything together.
  5. Place the mixture into a loaf pan and press it down with your fingers. Place the loaf pan on a large baking sheet to catch any liquid that may bubble over.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes.
  7. Glaze the meatloaf, if desired.
  8. Continue to bake until the internal temperature reaches 160℉. Remove from the oven and reserve the dripping to make gravy.
  9. Let the meatloaf rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.

Meatloaf Glaze

This sweet and tangy glaze is easy to make in a saucepan while your meatloaf is baking in the oven, and it’s also the perfect topping for meatloaf sandwiches.

You only need three simple ingredients; ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar. I sometimes add a pinch of nutmeg or allspice, but that’s completely optional.

sliced meatloaf on a cutting board

Tips For How To Cook Meatloaf

Meatloaf temperature

350℉ is the perfect temperature for baking a meatloaf. You shouldn’t need to cover it to keep it from over-browning at this temperature.

How long do you cook a meatloaf?

Bake time varies slightly depending on your oven and the meatloaf size.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need 45 minutes to 1 hour to bake a 2 ½ to 3-pound meatloaf.

What temperature is meatloaf done?

The internal temp of the meatloaf should be 165℉ when it’s fully cooked. Remember that there is a carryover rise in temperature as the meatloaf rests.

To get the perfect doneness, remove the meatloaf from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 160℉. As it rests, the internal temp will rise to the recommended 165℉.

It’s best to use a probe thermometer to test the correct temperature.

Do you cover it when baking?

If your oven is set to the correct temperature, there is no need to cover it with foil during baking. However, you can if you want to.

Can you make this recipe without breadcrumbs?

Yes, absolutely. If you are sensitive to gluten or just watching your carbs, you can leave out the bread crumbs and the milk.

There are several gluten-free alternatives if you still want to use bread crumbs but need to avoid gluten.

The texture of the meatloaf may be slightly more crumbly, but you probably won’t miss a thing.




meatloaf with mashed potatoes and meatloaf gravy

Origin of Meatloaf

Meatloaf is traditionally a German, Scandinavian and Belgian dish.

The American version found its way to Pennsylvania in colonial times. Dutch settlers enjoyed a dish called scrapple, a mixture of ground pork and cornmeal.

This dish was primarily eaten for breakfast and was made with chopped beef, onion, milk-soaked stale bread, and eggs. You’ll find these ingredients in most modern meatloaf recipes.

In the late 1800s, meatloaf reached new heights when its recipe appeared in The Boston Cooking School Cookbook. This recipe featured veal and breadcrumbs.

In 1890 industrial meatpacking and the production of meat scraps were plentiful. Meat scraps were best-prepared ground or finely chopped—the perfect ingredients for meatballs and meatloaf.

baked meatloaf before removing it from the loaf pan

Meatloaf Variations

You can adapt this classic recipe in several ways. Two of the most popular versions are Turkey Meatloaf and Italian Meatloaf.

As a close runner-up is how to make a low-carb version of meatloaf is easy to make and even easier to enjoy.

Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

Making turkey meatloaf is as easy as swapping out the ground beef with lean turkey meat. Ground turkey is high in protein and low in fat. It’s a healthy option is you want to enjoy less red meat.

Keto Recipe

Meatloaf is surprisingly low-carb as is. While it has a small number of carbs from the bread crumbs, it’s minimal. However, if you want to cut all the carbs, leave out all the bread crumbs and milk.

More ways to eat meatloaf

What to Serve With Meatloaf

Classic side dish recipes are the best thing to pair with this recipe. Think Soft Dinner Rolls, Green Bean Casserole, and Oven Roasted Potatoes. Onion jam is a fantastic sweet and savory condiment with almost anything made with ground beef.

Hungry for more Comfort Food Recipes?

When you crave comfort food, nothing satisfies you like the homemade recipes you grew up with. Shepherds Pie or Turkey Pot Pie served with mashed potatoes and rich Turkey Gravy.

Maybe you’re in the mood for something a little saucier, like the perfect Homemade Pizza or Creamy Shrimp Enchiladas.

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meatloaf with meatloaf sauce
classic meatloaf served with mashed potatoes and meatloaf gravy, plus a side of green beans.

Meatloaf Recipe

Nothing says all American comfort food like a traditional meatloaf recipe. After much testing, I've finally figured out the BEST meatloaf recipe. It's tender and juicy on the inside, topped with a sweet and tangy glaze. You're definitely going to want seconds.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, German
Servings 8
Calories 424 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

Meatloaf

Meatloaf Glaze

Meatloaf Gravy

  • ¼ cup pan drippings from the baked meatloaf, or more if you have them
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup beef stock, use as needed

Instructions
 

Meatloaf Recipe

  • Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  • Prepare a loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper.
    Make sure the ends of parchment paper are folded over the long ends of the loaf pan. You will use these to easily remove the meatloaf after baking.
  • Add the milk and the panko breadcrumbs to a medium bowl. Toss with a fork and set aside until the milk is absorbed. 
  • In a large bowl mix together the remaining ingredients and then add the panko mixture. Mix well with your hands.
  • Place the meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan and press it down with your fingers.
    Place the loaf pan on a large baking sheet to catch any liquid that may bubble over. [note 3]
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Brush on the glaze, if desired.
  • Continue to bake until the internal temperature reaches 160℉.
    Remove from the oven and reserve the dripping if you want to make gravy.
  • Let the meatloaf rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.

Meatloaf Glaze Recipe

  • NOTE: Double this recipe if you want to serve the meatloaf with extra glaze on the side.
  • Add the glaze ingredients to a medium saucepan.
  • Raise heat to medium-high and let sugar melt and mixture become bubbly. Continue to heat until the sauce is thick and the sugar is fully dissolved.
    The glaze will turn darker as the sugar caramelizes.
  • Use a brush to add the meatloaf glaze to the top of the meatloaf.

How to Make Meatloaf Gravy

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Melt the butter in the pan.
    When the butter is melted add the flour to the pan and whisk to combine. The butter and flour will combine to form a paste called a roux.
  • Continue to cook the roux on the stove until it turns to a light golden brown color.
  • Begin adding the pan drippings. Add a small amount of the pan dripping to the roux and whisk until the mixture is smooth and the liquid is fulling incorperated.
  • Continue to add the pan dripping a little at a time, being sure to whisk each time to fully incorporate the liquid.
    Slowly adding the liquid to the roux ensures that your gravy will be smooth and without lumps.
  • Your gravy may be too thick at this time. This will depend on how much liquid was left in your pan drippings. If you do need to thin the gravy more, add additional beef stock, a little at a time until the gravy reaches the desired consistency.

Laura’s Tips + Notes

  1. Panko bread crumbs are fluffier than traditional bread crumbs. You can substitute cracker crumbs or traditional bread crumbs for the panko. If you want to lower the carbs or don’t want gluten in this recipe, leave out the bread crumbs entirely. 
  2. Beef selection. I like to use 85:15 ground beef. This ratio refers to the ratio of protein to fat in the ground. Feel free to use a leaner cut of meat or even ground turkey in this recipe. Turkey meatloaf is extremely high in protein. 
  3. Alternatives to a loaf pan. If you don’t have a loaf pan you can form the meatloaf mix into a loaf shape and bake it directly on a baking sheet. You can also use mini loaves pans or even muffin tins to bake a single-serving loaf. Keep in mind that the smaller loaves will bake more quickly. 
  4. Internal temperature. 165℉ is the recommended internal temperature for meatloaf. To achieve this temperature remove it from the oven when it reaches 160℉. As it rests the temperature will rise to 165℉ as the external heat moves inward. 
  5. Lower sugar glaze. If you want to lower the sugar in the glaze you can use a sugar substitute such as allulose or erythritol. Swerve or Lankanto are two reliable brands of sugar substitutes. 

YOUR OWN NOTES

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 424kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 28gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 144mgSodium: 1094mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gCalcium: 86mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Beef, Comfort Food
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