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The Best Meatloaf Recipe – How to Make Meatloaf

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The BEST Meatloaf Recipe. Tender, juicy, and bursting with classic beef flavor, this easy meatloaf recipe is made with ground beef and smothered with a sweet and tangy glaze topping. Learn how to make this easy meatloaf recipe and enjoy with creamy mashed potatoes and a side of roasted asparagus.

The Tastiest Meatloaf Recipe

People, I’m learning, are really opinionated when it comes to meatloaf. I mean I get it. It’s one of those feel-good childhood recipes that people hate to see messed up. So, in good fun, I thought I would add my version of the tastiest, juiciest meatloaf recipe to mix and see where it lands among the competition. 

For me personally, this is my favorite meatloaf. Just the right amount of seasoning and spices, not too fatty, but enough that it isn’t dry, and the perfect sweet and tangy ketchup glaze baked right on top.

Now, if you’re wondering why this recipe isn’t in a loaf pan, don’t worry. There’s no reason other than this is how I make my meatloaf recipes and yes, you can absolutely divide this recipe between two loaf pans and bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

What is Meatloaf?

This classic American meatloaf recipe is hearty, humble, and one of the most familiar ground beef recipes of my childhood. Molded into the shape of a loaf, meatloaf is made with ground meat mixed with various other ingredients like onions, breadcrumbs, milk, and herbs, and topped with a sweet and tangy ketchup sauce that, when baked, forms a caramelized crust.

Learn how to make this easy and delicious classic meatloaf recipe or hop over and check out this equally delicious Turkey Meatloaf Recipe.

Tips, Tricks, FAQ

  • Onion: In this particular recipe I did not to sauté the onions before mixing with the ground beef, breadcrumbs, and eggs. If you prefer onions that are super soft with NO bite or crunch, I recommend either cooking them in a little olive oil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes to start the softening process or grate them using a cheese grater so that they are minced super small.
  • Beef: I firmly disagree that the ground beef with a higher fat ratio produces a better-tasting meatloaf. Why? It ends up too heavy and greasy. I recommend using a 90% lean ground beef.
  • Make it low-carb or grain-free by trading the breadcrumbs for equal amounts of almond meal. You can also trade the breadcrumbs for rolled oats if desired.
  • To make Paleo or Whole30?  Replace the breadcrumbs with equal parts almond flour and replace the Worcestershire sauce with Coconut Aminos. Finally, use a Paleo/Whole30 approved ketchup for the glaze. 
  • Make mini beef meatloaves. Scoop your beef mixture into a 12 cup muffin tin using a large ice cream scoop.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
  • Always rest your meatloaf before slicing. Waiting just 5-10 minutes locks in moisture and helps keep your loaf from falling apart.

Egg Alternative in Meatloaf

  1. Mayonnaise. High in fat and calories, yes. But mayonnaise works as a great alternative to eggs. For every pound of meat, you’ll need approximately 1/3 cup of mayonnaise.
  2. Cheese. Yes, cheeeese! Stick with any type of cheese that melts quickly like mozzarella or cheddar.
  3. Egg whites. Ok, so yes. Egg whites are technically still eggs, but if you’re skipping eggs due to their high cholesterol, egg whites are a fantastic low calorie, and low cholesterol, alternative. For every 1 egg, add 2 egg whites.
  4. Flaxseed. Has anyone heard of a flax egg? Well, this non-egg binder is one of the most popular plant-based alternatives. Simply mix 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds with 1/4 of a cup of water, let it sit for approximately 10 minutes, and add to your meatloaf mixture.

How Long Should I Cook Meatloaf? 

This recipe takes approximately 60 minutes to cook completely. The internal temperature of your meatloaf should register 160°F as read with a digital meat thermometer

How to Make the Best Meatloaf Recipe

Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page for the full list and amounts of ingredients needed to make this super easy meatloaf.

Step 1. Preheat oven and prepare meatloaf mixture

First and foremost, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. 

Gather the ingredients – ground beef, diced onion (see tips and tricks), breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper – and add to a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to thoroughly mix and mash the ingredients together until completely combined.

Step 2. Meatloaf Sauce

This meatloaf sauce is the perfect balance of sweet, savory and tangy and it’s SUPER easy to prepare.

Add the ketchup, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and red wine vinegar to a small mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine and set aside.

Feel free to adjust the glaze to suit your own personal taste and preference. For example, if you prefer a sweeter sauce, add additional brown sugar or perhaps a little honey. If you like your sauce tangier, add more red wine vinegar. 

Meatloaf Glaze Variations:

  • Add a little cayenne powder for heat.
  • Prefer your glaze to taste a bit smokier? Add a tablespoon or two of liquid smoke.

Step 3. Mold your meatloaf and bake

Transfer your meat mixture to your prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use your hands to shape the meat into a large loaf-shape (see picture). If preferred, you may divide your meat mixture between two greased loaf pans.

Use a pastry brush to brush the surface of your entire meatloaf with half of your pre-made glaze. Reserve remaining glaze.

Tent with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F. After 45 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 400 F and remove the foil. Brush the surface with the remaining glaze and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer.

Step 4. Rest and serve

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. Yes, you guys, let your meatloaf rest before slicing otherwise you run the risk of it completely falling apart on you. 

To serve, pair your meatloaf recipe with Classic mashed potatoes or super creamy mashed cauliflower potatoes. Mashed or baked sweet potatoes are a personal favorite. I often pair roasted cauliflower or Brussels sprouts on the side.

How to Make-Ahead and Freeze Meatloaf

This meatloaf recipe is totally easy to make ahead…and freeze! Here’s how:

Prepare the mixture a day in advance. The easiest way to do this is to follow the recipe instructions as instructed, but stop before forming and baking. Instead, cover and transfer the raw loaf mixture to the refrigerator and bake in the oven the next day.

How to freeze unbaked beef meatloaf. Follow the instructions as outlined and form your loaf on top of several sheets of foil on top of a baking sheet – don’t add the ketchup glaze. Transfer loaf to the freezer and freeze until loaf is hard (approx. 1-2 hours). Once your loaf is at least partially frozen, wrap in foil and carefully transfer to a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Freeze for up to 1-2 months.

For best results, thaw overnight, prepare the ketchup glaze and bake as instructed. 

How to freeze baked meatloaf. Allow your meatloaf to come to room temperature before wrapping in foil. Carefully transfer to a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Freeze for up to 1-2 months. For best results, thaw overnight before baking. Optional – slice your meatloaf and freeze individually.

How to Use Leftover Meatloaf

Chances are that unless you’re feeding a very large and very hungry family, you’ll probably have some leftovers. For best results, transfer leftovers to a container and cover with a tight-fitting lid. To reheat, simply heat in the microwave at 30-second intervals until heated through. Sometimes, I find that it helps to cloak my plate or container with a damp paper towel to help lock in moisture.

Serve leftovers in,

  • Sandwiches! Yes, meatloaf sandwiches are extremely delicious and popular. I highly recommend adding a couple slices of tomatoes. Enjoy warm or cold.
  • Tacos. Along the same lines as a sandwich but wrapped in a tortilla instead.
  • Cook some pasta and serve with your favorite tomato sauce. Kids will love this- guaranteed!

More Beef Recipes,

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe (How to Make Shepherd’s Pie)

Instant Pot Beef Stew Recipe

Easy Beef Stroganoff Recipe

If you try making this Meatloaf Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.

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The BEST Meatloaf Recipe

4.86 from 47 votes
Chef: Jessica Randhawa
The BEST Meatloaf Recipe. Tender, juicy, and bursting with classic beef flavor, this easy meatloaf recipe is made with ground beef and smothered with a sweet and tangy glaze topping. Learn how to make this easy meatloaf recipe and enjoy with creamy mashed potatoes and a side of roasted asparagus.

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American

Servings 8 servings
Calories 342 kcal

Ingredients

 

 

For the Ketchup Glaze

Instructions

 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a large rimming baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Add the ground beef, diced onion, bread crumbs, milk, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to thoroughly mix and mash the ingredients together until completely combined.
  • Whisk together the glaze. Add the ketchup, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and red wine vinegar to a small mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.
  • Transfer your meat mixture to the prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use your hands to shape the meat into a large loaf-shape (you may also add your meat mixture to two greased loaf pans if preferred). 
  • Use a pastry brush to brush the surface of your loaf with half of your pre-made glaze. Reserve remaining glaze.
  • Bake, tented with foil, for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 400 F and remove the foil. Brush the surface with the remaining glaze and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees F.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Jessica’s Notes

To make it low-carb or grain-free? trade the breadcrumbs for equal amounts of almond meal. You can also trade the breadcrumbs for rolled oats, if desired.

To make Paleo or Whole30?  Replace the breadcrumbs with equal parts almond flour and replace the Worcestershire sauce with Coconut Aminos. Finally, use a Paleo/Whole30 approved ketchup for the glaze. 

Make mini beef meatloaves. Scoop your beef mixture into a 12 cup muffin tin using a large ice cream scoop.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

The onion: In this particular recipe I did not to sauté the onions before mixing with the ground beef, breadcrumbs, and eggs. If you prefer onions that are super soft with NO bite or crunch, I recommend either cooking them in a little olive oil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes to start the softening process or grate them using a cheese grater so that they are minced super small.

Beef: I recommend using a 85-90% lean ground beef.

How long should I cook my meatloaf? This recipe takes approximately 60 minutes to cook completely. The internal temperature of your meatloaf should register 160°F as read with a digital meat thermometer

Nutritional Information

Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 990mg | Potassium: 646mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 5mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword How to Make Meatloaf, Meatloaf Recipe, Meatloaf Recipe Best
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