How to Cook Meatloaf

We are an Amazon Affiliate and earn from qualifying purchases. For more information please see our disclosure page.

How to cook a meatloaf with ground beef and your favorite seasonings plus a simple tomato-based sauce on top. This is a great go-to dinner recipe for weeknights or special occasions.

Do you know how to cook a meatloaf? It’s all about making the perfect meatloaf mix and a moist and saucy topping, laying everything evenly in a pan, and letting it cook for 60 minutes or until the meat reaches the proper temperature on an instant-read thermometer.

Meatloaf often gets a bad rap. Maybe it’s because the name is less than glamorous. And if you’ve never made meatloaf before, there’s the mystery of what exactly it’s made out of.

In fact, however, meat loaf as a dish is a fantastic opportunity to infuse ground meat with tons of your favorite seasonings and spices. With a sauce on top and proper baking, you can create a delicious and healthy weeknight meal that’s easy to throw together.

So, let’s get started!

What Type of Beef is Best for Meatloaf?

Lean ground beef is the best option for meatloaf. Don’t think lean beef will make your meatloaf dry! The moisture doesn’t come from the meat; it comes from everything else you’ll add into the mix. The key, indeed, is a good recipe – that’s what you’ll find below!

The perfect meatloaf is made out of 90 to 95% lean ground beef. You can also use pork or even white meat like chicken or turkey, however, these may yield a dryer texture in the end. For best results, use half beef and half white meat.

How to Make Meatloaf

Here everything you need to know about how to make an easy and flavorful meatloaf at home:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of dried parsley leaves

Topping

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon of brown sugar

Prepping the Meatloaf for Cooking

Now that you’ve gathered all the necessary ingredients, you can move on to mixing the topping and meat.

Step 1: Make the topping

Let’s start with the easy part. Before making the meatloaf, prepare the sauce you’ll top the loaf with.

First, in a large mixing bowl, combine ¼ cup of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir it up until it’s mixed. Place the bowl to the side until later.

Step 2: Break some eggs

Now you’re ready to start making the meatloaf mixture. First is the eggs. You’ll want to use one egg per pound of ground meat, so if you’re scaling the recipe up, gather as many eggs as you need.

Gently crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them well until frothy.

Step 3: Make the meatloaf mix

If you have taken care of the topping, every single ingredient left on the ingredient list above will be part of your meatloaf. Add all of these ingredients to the large bowl with the beaten egg.

Once everything is in the bowl, mix it up using your hands. Take your time, you want everything to blend perfectly. By using your hands, you can better ensure all the ingredients are mixed well into the meat than you can if you use a spoon or other tool. Be careful not to overmix the dough, however. This can cause the meatloaf to become dense or tough.

Cooking the Meatloaf

The hardest part is over! Once you’ve mixed everything together, you just need to bake it.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

After you’re done washing your hands from mixing the ingredients, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Step 2: It’s all coming together!

Grab a 1-pound loaf pan and lightly grease it with cooking spray to ensure the meatloaf easily releases from the pan.  Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the pan. Spread it nice and evenly into all of the corners. Make sure it’s as flat as possible.

Once the meatloaf mix is looking good, pour on the topping and again flatten everything out with a rubber spatula.

Tip: Spray the pan with cooking spray or line it with aluminum foil to keep the meatloaf from sticking to the pan.

Step 3: Bake the meatloaf

Place the pan inside the oven, and let it cook for an hour (or 30 minutes per pound of meatloaf, including the weight of the topping).

Step 4: Let it rest

After one hour has passed, take the meatloaf out of the oven, and let it rest for a couple of minutes. This final step allows your meatloaf to acquire extra consistency.

Now you and your loved ones can slice into a savory meatloaf and enjoy every bite! And all you had to do was mix the ingredients, place the mixed ingredients in the bread pan, and bake it.

How Do You Know When the Meatloaf is Cooked?

You can be sure your meatloaf is done by checking with an instant-read meat thermometer. According to FoodSaftey.Gov, any product made with ground meat, such as a meatloaf, is considered safe to eat when the internal temperature registers 165°F.

A general rule of thumb for cooking meatloaf is 30 minutes per pound of meat. For example, a 4-pound meatloaf will be done in 2 hours. This weight includes all of the ingredients and the topping, not just the weight of the ground meat you’re mixing into the meatloaf.

Is it OK for Cooked Meatloaf to be a Little Pink?

Sometimes your meatloaf will be a little pink even though it’s perfectly cooked. If you’re mixing the meatloaf with ham (e.g. bacon) or vegetables (such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, etc.), that could be the reason behind the pink color of a well-done meatloaf. These two elements can give a little pinkish color to your meatloaf because of their nitrate content – but it’s nothing to worry about. When in doubt, check the meat’s temperature!

How to Make Sure Your Meatloaf Sticks Together

The “loaf” part of meatloaf is one of the defining characteristics of the dish, but what if your meatloaf crumbles and won’t slice nicely after you’ve cooked it? There are two main reasons why this happens.

You overcooked the meatloaf

It’s possible that in your desire to make sure the meat is cooked thoroughly that you overcooked your meatloaf. If you think this is what happened to you, then using a meat thermometer next time will help you feel confident that the meat has cooked through without overdoing it.

You didn’t add a binding ingredient

The other reason why your meatloaf could be having trouble keeping its shape is that you didn’t have any eggs or bread crumbs in your recipe. Eggs and bread crumbs help bind the meat and other ingredients together. When you cook meatloaf, it’s necessary to have a binder to hold things together.

What to Serve with Meatloaf

This classic all-American dish is easy to pair with simple vegetable or starch side dishes. Next time you cook meatloaf, make a traditional American-style dinner and serve slices of homemade meatloaf with broccoli and mashed potatoes or baked potato.

meat loaf

Meatloaf

How to bake meatloaf in the oven with beef and plenty of seasonings.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Loaf pan
  • Large bowl
  • Small bowl
  • Whisk
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rubber spatula

Ingredients
  

Meatloaf

  • 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of dried parsley leaves

Topping

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon of brown sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Combine all of the topping ingredients in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the remaining meatloaf ingredients and combine with your hands until uniform.
  • Grab a 1-pound loaf pan and lightly grease it with cooking spray to ensure the meatloaf easily releases from the pan.  Transfer the meatloaf mixture to the pan. Spread it evenly into all of the corners. Make sure it’s as flat as possible.
  • Once the meatloaf mix is looking good, pour on the topping and again flatten everything out with a rubber spatula.
  • Place the pan inside the oven, and let it cook for an hour (or 30 minutes per pound of meatloaf, including the weight of the topping).
  • When the temperature reaches 160°F, the meat is done. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Keyword meatloaf

Share with your friends

Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email