Meatloaf Recipe

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This classic Meatloaf Recipe is just like Mom used to make: baked as a free-form loaf and brushed with a ketchup glaze. It’s delicious for dinner and just as good as leftovers the next day (meatloaf sandwich, anyone?).

Meatloaf slices on a wooden cutting board.


 

This easy meatloaf recipe is a classic Midwestern dish and one that I love seeing on menus. It’s cozy and comforting and absolutely delicious.

There are a few rules about traditional meatloaf recipes: You need binders to hold the loaf together. Eggs are an obvious choice (I like 1 egg per pound of meat). Bread crumbs, rolled oats, or a panade help too. When it’s time to bake it, you can bake it in the pan or out of the pan. You can free-form the loaf or use the loaf pan as a guide (like I do in this recipe).

Your final decision is to sauce it or not. I like a sweet ketchup glaze brushed on top of the meatloaf towards the end. It’s also delicious served with turkey gravy (and probably mashed potatoes, too). And there you have it: Your very own Blue Plate Special.

Recipe ingredients

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Ground beef: No need to seek out a special meatloaf mix with ground veal and ground pork; regular 80% lean, 20% fat ground beef tastes terrific.
  • Eggs: The yolks lend moisture and flavor, while the whites add structure and help the meatloaf maintain its shape.
  • Bread crumbs: To make your own breadcrumbs, just pulse bread in a food processor or blender. Panko breadcrumbs work fine here, and some recipes use oatmeal.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl by hand, combine beef, onion, eggs, breadcrumbs, ½ cup ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix on low until combined.
Meatloaf mixture in a silver bowl.
  1. Rinse a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with water (to help the meatloaf release). Pour the meat mixture into the pan and pack it tightly.
Meatloaf mixture in a baking pan.
  1. Flip the pan over the prepared baking sheet and jiggle carefully until the meatloaf slides out.
Meatloaf on a baking sheet before being baked.
  1. Bake 60 minutes and remove from oven. Increase oven temp to 400 degrees. Brush remaining ¼ cup ketchup on all sides of the meatloaf.
Someone brushing sauce on a meatloaf.
  1. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer. The meatloaf should register an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F when tested with a meat thermometer.
Meatloaf on a baking sheet after being baked.
  1. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes before slicing. 
Sliced meatloaf on a cutting board.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This tender Meatloaf recipe makes six thick slices, ideal as an entree-sized portion. Double the batch to ensure plenty of leftovers for sandwiches!
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: The meat mixture can be made and packed into a loaf pan a day in advance. Turn out onto a baking sheet right before baking.
  • Freezer: Wrap cooled meatloaf in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and stash in a freezer bag. Label, date, and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Customize your loaf: The best meatloaf recipe is the one you make yourself. Add brown sugar to your ketchup or season your beef with extra spices like garlic powder, onion powder, and fresh parsley.
  • Turkey Meatloaf: Swap the lean ground beef for ground turkey for a lighter homemade meatloaf recipe.
  • Cheesy Meatloaf: Your next meatloaf could have an ooey-gooey center filled with hot, melted cheese.
Three slices of meatloaf and mashed potatoes on a white plate.
Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the meatloaf need to rest for 15 minutes?

This allows the meat to rest, just like we do for Roast Turkey or Prime Rib, so the juices don’t all run out once you slice it. Don’t worry; the Meatloaf will stay plenty warm, it just won’t be mouth-burningly hot! You can cover it with foil if you’re concerned about heat loss.

Why do you brush on ketchup at the end?

I love the sweet and sticky glaze from ketchup on Meatloaf. But if you cook the sugary sauce for the entire bake time, it may burn. Brushing on the final coat for the last 10 minutes of cooking time ensures the topping is caramelized but not scorched.

More ways with ground beef

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Meatloaf slices on a wooden cutting board.

Meatloaf Recipe

This classic Meatloaf recipe is just like Mom used to make: baked as a free-form loaf and brushed with a ketchup glaze. It's delicious for dinner and just as good as leftovers the next day (meatloaf sandwich, anyone?).
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 583
5 from 40 votes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.
  • In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl by hand, combine beef, onion, eggs, breadcrumbs, ½ cup ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix on low until combined.
  • Rinse a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with water (to help the meatloaf release). Pack the meat mixture tightly in to the pan.
  • Flip the pan over the prepared baking sheet and jiggle carefully until the meatloaf slides out. Bake 60 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Brush remaining ¼ cup ketchup on all sides of the meatloaf. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and cool 15 minutes before serving. 

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Ground beef: No need to seek out a special meatloaf mix; regular 80% lean, 20% fat ground beef tastes terrific.
  2. Eggs: The yolks lend moisture and flavor, while the whites add structure and help the meatloaf maintain its shape.
  3. Bread crumbs: To make your own breadcrumbs, just pulse bread in a food processor or blender.
  4. Yield: This Meatloaf recipe makes six thick slices, ideal as an entree-sized portion. Double the batch to ensure plenty of leftovers for sandwiches!
  5. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 583kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 37gFat: 40gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 187mgSodium: 665mgPotassium: 641mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 463IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 226mgIron: 4mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

    1. Hi Ginny! I haven’t tested the recipe with just one pound. You want the meat to hit 165 degrees by the end, so I’d probably start testing the temperature after 40 or 45 minutes and see where you’re at. You could get to to 155 in the pan before sliding it out and then let it finish cooking after brushing on the ketchup. If you decide to try it, I hope it works out for you. Thanks! -Meggan

    1. Hi Kate, I’m so happy your family loved the meatloaf recipe! It’s a huge hit in my family. Thank you for your comment! – Meggan

  1. This was honestly THE BEST recipe for meatloaf. So loved that it was easy, quick and used readily available ingredients that live on my kitchen. I made this dish for my dad and now it is the most requested Sunday dish!!!5 stars

  2. I’m a little confused about the meatloaf recipe The list of ingredients has breadcrumbs but the instructions lists oats instead Also there is a mention of a sweet ketchup glaze but the instructions don’t list one only plain ketchup

    1. Hi Barbara, so sorry about that! I’ve corrected it. The recipe card now itself calls for bread crumbs, but you can substitute oats (or even crushed saltine crackers!) for the bread crumbs. The ketchup, which is already sweet, becomes sweeter as it caramelizes on top of the meatloaf. Hope you love this, Barbara! Thanks again! – Meggan

    1. Hi Maria, thanks for noticing that! I’ve fixed it. Breadcrumbs and oats are interchangeable, even crackers if you desire. The recipe card above now lists bread crumbs, but you can use whatever you prefer! Hope you love this meatloaf! – Meggan