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This really is the BEST Meatloaf Recipe out there! It has never received less than a 5-star rating and receives RAVE reviews from everyone who eats it. Moist and delicious, this easy-to-make meatloaf with sweet ketchup glaze will leave you wanting more. Delicious served with mashed potatoes and maple glazed carrots.
What makes this the Best Meatloaf Recipe Ever?
You’re ten ingredients away from making the Best Meatloaf ever! This is a classic flavorful recipe that is easy to follow and the sweet ketchup glaze is quite literally the icing on the top. If you’re hesitant about cooking or have never made meatloaf before, worry not! Read this post to get all my tips and tricks for an amazing meal. Pay special attention to my milk and bread crumbs tip because THAT is the KEY to this tender meatloaf.
Best Meatloaf Ingredients
- Ground Beef
- Bread Crumbs
- Seasoning (Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Italian Seasoning)
- Ketchup + Brown Sugar (for glaze on top)
What is the secret to the Best Meatloaf?
Well, there are a number of things that I do to keep a meatloaf moist, tender and delicious! Here are the basics:
- Fat Content. Using a ground beef that has a slightly higher fat content can definitely help keep your meatloaf moist and tender. A lean or extra lean ground beef (like 90/10 or 93/7) makes a tough meatloaf because it lacks the fat. Try to aim for 80/20.
- Add Sautéed Veggies. I like sautéing some onions in olive oil until they are brown and adding this to the meat mixture. This not only adds flavor but extra moisture to keep your meatloaf tender and juicy.
- Add Milk. I know this seems like a weird ingredient, but milk makes a huge difference! Milk adds moisture and it helps keeps the meat tender.
- Use Breadcrumbs. Seasoned breadcrumbs add another layer of flavor and act sort of like a ‘filler’. But it has an important job! Breadcrumbs absorbs the milk as well as the fat from the meat as it cooks, helping to lock in moisture, keeping your meatloaf delicious.
- Do NOT Overmix. To avoid a dense meatloaf, combine the ingredients JUST until incorporated.
- Season the Meat Well. This recipe makes a large meatloaf, so it needs plenty of salt and pepper. At least a tablespoon of each. Also, Worcestershire adds depth of flavor, so don’t forget it!
- Add a Glaze. Whether you brush on a homemade glaze or use plain old ketchup, this adds a sweet flavor which compliments the savory meatloaf and yes, you guessed it, helps hold moisture in.
- Cover the Meatloaf When Baking. Again, retaining moisture is the name of the game, so while this meatloaf recipe is in the oven, be sure to cover it with foil. In the last 15 minutes, feel free to remove to get that glaze nice and sticky. Yum!
Why Do You Put Milk in Meatloaf?
Like I mentioned above, milk adds moisture and fat that the breadcrumbs absorb that keep this recipe moist and tender. I use the same method with meatballs and even turkey burgers. Milk is a magic ingredient that makes a big difference. Try to use whole or 2% milk where you can. Of course 1% or skim milk works just fine! A nondairy substitute would also work in place of the milk as well.
How to make the Best Meatloaf Ever
Here is my ultimate guide on how to make meatloaf. Be sure to follow along and if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below 🙂
1. Preheat and Prep
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with heavy-duty foil, spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Do I Need a Special Pan For Meatloaf?
No! You may have seen special ‘meatloaf pans’ out there which look like a cross between a loaf pan, a springform pan, and a colander. But let me be the first to tell you, you don’t need it to make moist, flavorful meatloaf. With my recipe, you only need a baking sheet lined with foil. A glass baking dish also works in a pinch. You can also just use two plain loaf pans that you would use for bread, but I personally don’t like all the fat collecting in the pan; I like forming the meatloaf on a sheet pan and letting any extra fat cook out and end up on the pan instead of in the meatloaf.
2. Make Meatloaf Mixture
In a large skillet, saute onions in olive oil until tender and browned. Pour into a large bowl.
To the onions, add in ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, milk, salt, pepper, seasonings, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well until completely combined. Don’t forget to season well with salt and pepper.
3. Form Your Meatloaf Log and Add the Glaze
Form into a long log on the prepared baking sheet and flatten the top. It should fill the pan lengthwise.
Whisk ketchup together with brown sugar and spread overtop of the formed meatloaf.
What Can I Put on Top of Meatloaf Instead of Ketchup?
I kept things easy by glazing this meatloaf recipe with a combination of ketchup and brown sugar. Ketchup is a simple yet traditional topping to meatloaf that locks in the moisture while also providing its signature sweet vinegary taste. If you don’t like ketchup or for whatever reason don’t want to use ketchup as a glaze, here are a few other options:
- BBQ sauce
- Grated Cheddar Cheese
- Marinara Sauce (for an Italian meatloaf)
- Salsa (for a Mexican inspired meatloaf)
- Strips of Bacon
- Cream of Mushroom Soup
Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees until cooked all the way through to at least 160 degrees F. Feel free to remove the foil after about 40 minutes of cooking to really caramelize that glaze. Top with chopped parsley if desired and serve.
How Long to Cook Meatloaf?
The general rule of thumb here is to cook a meatloaf 30 minutes per pound of beef. This is at the oven temperature of 350 degrees. Cooking times will vary because no two ovens are alike. Plus the thinner and flatter you make your loaf the quicker it will cook. I baked mine for about an hour, you may need more time.
What Internal Temperature is Meatloaf Done?
Use an instant read meat thermometer to check for doneness. If it reads 160 degrees F or more, you’re good to go. Over baking can dry it out though, so be careful.
Storing this Meatloaf Recipe
Lucky for you, this meatloaf recipe saves well! Cover leftovers with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, simply warm in the microwave or oven.
You can also freeze this meatloaf recipe. With this method, it can last up to four months in the freezer.
Freeze. After baking, let your loaf cool to room temperature. Cover in foil, then seal it in a plastic freezer bag.
Reheat. Let thaw for 24 hours in your fridge before baking. Then bake at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Make ahead instructions for this Moist Meatloaf Recipe
Besides measuring ingredients and mixing them together, the only other thing you have to do is saute onions. This is why this meatloaf recipe is such an easy one. It is perfect for any night of the week and can even be made ahead of time!
Simply mix the meat mixture together in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use. When you’re ready, uncover it and let it come to room temperature while the oven preheats. Form that log shape on a prepared pan and top it with the sauce right before baking.
What to serve with the Best Meatloaf Recipe
The Best Meatloaf Recipe deserves to be served with the best side dishes. So I’ve rounded up a few that go perfectly with meatloaf. Feel free to browse all of my side dish recipes here.
- Mashed Potatoes – for a hearty comforting meal pair with mashed potatoes.
- Roasted Cauliflower – this is on the lighter side but is packed full of flavor.
- Vegetable Rice Pilaf – basically flavored rice with vegetables, for a healthy balanced meal.
- Classic Coleslaw with Homemade Coleslaw Dressing – you can’t go wrong with this amazing coleslaw recipe.
Meatloaf Recipe FAQs
Why is My Meatloaf Falling Apart?
To keep your loaf from falling apart make sure you follow the written recipe correctly. All of the binding ingredients (like breadcrumbs and eggs) are key. Another reason the meatloaf can fall apart is if you sliced into it while it right out of the oven piping hot. Let it rest for ten minutes before cutting to help it keep its shape.
Why is My Meatloaf Tough?
You could have a tough or chewy meatloaf for two main reasons: (1) you used a ground beef with a lower fat content and/or (2) you over baked it. To avoid this, use 80/20 ground beef and use that instant read meat thermometer to help prevent this.
Why is My Meatloaf Mushy?
The main reason you’d have a mushy meatloaf is if the portions of binding ingredients to meat is off. If you have too many onions, breadcrumbs, eggs and milk can create a mushy meatloaf. Any meatloaf recipe that has more breadcrumbs than ground beef is a sign you’ll most likely have a mushy meatloaf.
Why Did My Meatloaf Crack?
This happens because the outside cooks faster than the inside. To help prevent a crack in your meatloaf, be sure to top the outside with ketchup, bake at a lower oven temperature (350 degrees F) and cover with foil.
Anyways, I hope you come to love this recipe and find success! It’s a good one that my family loves that I think you will, too! Have a great day!
Moist Meatloaf Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups yellow onion diced
- 3 pounds ground beef (I used 80/20)
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons parsley chopped
For the Glaze:
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- half sheet pan
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line half sheet pan with heavy-duty foil, spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large skillet, saute onions in olive oil until tender and browned, about 10 minutes. Pour into a large bowl.
- To the onions, add in ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, milk, salt, pepper, seasonings, 1 cup ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and parsley. Mix well until completely combined.
- Form into a long log on the prepared baking sheet and flatten the top.
- In a small bowl, whisk brown sugar with remaining 1 1/2 cups ketchup to form glaze.
- Spread glaze overtop prepared meatloaf and bake covered with foil 45 minutes to 1 hour or until cooked thoroughly and registers at least 160 degrees F. Rest meatloaf covered lightly with foil for 10-15 minutes before cutting. Top with more chopped parsley, if desired, and serve.