The Best Meatloaf Recipe


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The BEST Meatloaf Recipe is something I’ve worked years at perfecting… and here it is! I absolutely LOVE meatloaf and I always have!

This easy meatloaf recipe comes out juicy every time, is loaded with flavor and is pretty simple to make! Add in a side of my favorite Crock Pot Mac and Cheese and some bread with Homemade Garlic Butter you’ve literally got the meal of my dreams. 

Juicy meatloaf on a cutting board ready to eat!

Mom’s Meatloaf

Meatloaf was always a dish my mom would make and a meal I absolutely loved so I wanted to keep this meatloaf recipe as close to hers as possible. 

Ground beef is mixed with bread crumbs, onions, and parsley but my absolute favorite part is the topping on this meatloaf recipe.

I serve meatloaf alongside mac and cheese or mashed potatoes and peas, it is the perfect classic dinner. Broccoli, pasta, and carrots all make awesome sides for this meatloaf recipe too!

Easy meatloaf made from my favorite meatloaf recipe with veggies and rice

Meatloaf Sauce

I use a mixture of chili sauce and ketchup (just like my mom always made) and it really takes this recipe to the next level. It’s all baked until crisped on the outside and melt in your mouth tender inside.

If you’ve never had chili sauce, you need to try it! It’s not spicy at all, it’s more like a zesty ketchup with tons of flavor. I add it to soups and stews and love it on everything from Burgers to Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes. It adds amazing flavor to this meatloaf recipe. 

Making the Best Meatloaf

Meatloaf is not difficult to make but there are a couple of common problems people encounter.

Overmixing will cause your meatloaf to become dense making it seem tough and not tender. As with most ground beef recipes (including patties or meatballs), the beef and add-ins should be mixed just until combined for a tender result.

Adding too much liquid or not allowing the meat to rest can result in the meatloaf falling apart so be sure to leave a few minutes for rest time!

Ingredients to make the best meatloaf recipe.

How To Make Meatloaf

Meatloaf has had a bad rap in the past… which makes me sad because it’s dang good when prepared properly! There are a few tips you need to know to make sure this meatloaf recipe comes out perfectly juicy and flavorful every time!

  • Do Not Overmix:
    • You want to mix until everything is just combined. Over mixing will create a dense loaf!
  • Use Lean Meat:
    • Use lean beef (but not extra lean). You need a bit of fat for flavor but don’t want it swimming in grease so lean beef is the perfect option.
  • Add flavors and moisture:
    • Adding in seasonings and soaking the breadcrumbs in milk keep this flavorful and moist.  If you have fresh herbs, add those in as well for great results!
  • Cook on a Baking Sheet:
    • Using a baking sheet to cook your meatloaf gives the best results. If you cook in a loaf pan you’ll get steam (and nobody wants steamed meat) and nowhere for the drippings to go.  Form your own loaf on a foil lined pan.
  • Rest the Meatloaf:
    • With any meatloaf recipe, the final product should be rested once it comes out of the oven.  This helps redistribute the juices and makes sure it won’t fall apart!

Juicy meatloaf recipe topped with chili sauce and ketchup.

How Long To Cook Meatloaf

Meatloaf will need to cook at 350°F for about 50-60 minutes (depending on shape/size). The best way ensure it is cooked through is to use a meat thermometer. A meat thermometer inserted into the centre should read an internal temperature of 160°F.

Meatloaf Cooking Times

Below you can find how long to cook a 2lb meatloaf:

  • Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes
  • Bake at 375° for 45-55 minutes

If you are halving the recipe (or increasing it) you can use the cook times below to cook at 350°F. Remember that using a thermometer is your best bet to ensure meatloaf that is cooked through yet perfectly tender.

  • Bake a 1lb meatloaf for about 45 minutes total.
  • Bake a 3 lb meatloaf for about 1 hour 20 minutes.

Make sure you let your meatloaf rest for 10-15 minutes before you slice it so it doesn’t fall apart and it retains all of its juices!  I like to tent it with aluminum foil so it keeps warm while it’s resting.

Can you Freeze Meatloaf?

You can absolutely freeze meatloaf either before or after cooking.  To freeze before cooking, place in a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap (or form a loaf on a pan). Freeze completely, seal well. Defrost raw frozen meatloaf in the refrigerator 24 hours. Bake as directed.

Once cooked, I freeze the individual slices on a parchment lined pan and once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag.  This makes it easy to grab one slice or several to reheat! Simply reheat in the microwave or in the oven.

Serve it with a caesar salad, mashed potatoes, or dinner rolls for a perfect meal that will make everyone beg for seconds!

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4.73 from 18 votes
Review Recipe

The Best Meatloaf Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
This is the best meatloaf recipe ever! It comes out juicy every time, and it seriously couldn’t be easier. 

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/3 cup onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
Meatloaf Sauce
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar optional

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Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a foil lined baking tray with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs. Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes. 

  3. Add the ground beef, onions, 1 tablespoon of chili sauce, Italian seasoning and parsley. Mix until just combined.

  4. Form a 8"x4" loaf on the prepared baking tray. Bake for 40 minutes. 

  5. Meanwhile, combine the chili sauce and ketchup. Spread mixture over the meatloaf and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and the meatloaf reaches 160°F.

  6. Allow meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Nutrition Information
Calories: 262, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 112mg, Sodium: 640mg, Potassium: 599mg, Carbohydrates: 17g, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 28g, Vitamin A: 8.3%, Vitamin C: 7%, Calcium: 7.3%, Iron: 20.6%

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

Keyword ground beef, meatloaf, meatloaf recipe

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Classic Meatloaf slices on a white plate

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Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Comments

  1. Three is the charm? Making this recipe for the THIRD time – it is THAT awesome!

    First time I did the recipe as written – magnificent result.

    Second time I used a local *spicy* bbq sauce in lieu of the chili sauce (1/4 C bbq sauce to 2/3C ketchup). WOW!!!

    Tonight I will be using a meat mixture of ground beef, pork and veal. (My mixture for haloupke…stuffed cabbage). And garlic!

    Holly, this recipe stands on its own merit. And it gives a great foundation for those who like to experiment. (Full disclosure: I have never been a meatloaf fan, and only make it b/c my darling bride loves it. Finding your recipe has changed my mind!)

    (And great tips/reminders about mixing the ingredients and resting the meat!)

    Happy New Year!

    1. Wow, thank you Rick. What a compliment! Thank you for sharing your ideas, I’m definitely going to try a meat mixture. I love the flavor ground veal adds to dishes (although I rarely make it at home)!!

  2. This meatloaf was awesome. I followed the recipe exactly. I did add salt. I think mixing the breadcrumbs separately makes a big difference. Will definitely make this again and again!

  3. So with making it on a cookie sheet pan, you just shape the meatloaf dough into a loaf shape and it will hold its shape or do I need to make a foil pan thing for it?? How does that work?

    1. Yes, if you form it into a loaf shape, it will hold its shape. No need to make a foil pan for it. You can line your pan with foil for easy cleanup if you’d like. I would suggest spraying the pan with cooking spray so the meatloaf doesn’t stick. Enjoy!

  4. I’m halving the recipe, so 1 pound of beef. How long do I bake at 350 and how long do I rest? Your recipe says 45 minutes total, but I don’t know if that includes rest time or not.

  5. Love the meatloaf. The only thing is the meat needs salt. Maybe just a 1 1/2 teaspoon And I will increase the amount of sauce… it was very tasty. It was still a hit.

  6. Hi there. I’m looking for an Instant Pot meatloaf recipe. Your recipe, backed by the comments you have received, sounds wonderful.Do you think it would work in an Instant Pot? I realize I would have to adjust the time to an instant pot recipe.

    1. I have only tried this recipe as written, but if you adapt it for the Instant Pot, I would love to hear how it turns out!

  7. Hi Holly, I want to try your recipe with 1lb of ground meat will the amount of ingredients for 2lbs work for 1lb I don’t want to over power the recipe with too much ingredients. Thank you forbsharing cant wait to try it…

    1. Hi Diana, I have only tried the recipe as written. If you are using 1/2 of the beef, I suggest halving the whole recipe. Let me know how it turns out!

  8. I am 15 and have made this recipe for my family twice now. It always turns out amazing! My whole family (including a picky eater) loves it! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    1. Oh Cait, I’m so happy to hear that you love making this meatloaf for your family! Thank you for sharing. I hope you find some other recipes you’ll love just as much!

  9. I was outta chili sauce so I used couple table spoons wolf brand chili mixed w ketchup. But i wanted it lil sweeter n i was outta brown sugar and grape jelly so i mixed 2 big tablespoons of strawberry jelly and it was Awesome.. my Grandbabies came back for 3rds.. everyone raved over it… thank You

  10. I watched making the meatloaf first and then read the directions but didn’t see the Dijon mustard mentioned in the recipe… does it matter if we put in the Dijon or not?

  11. Merry Christmas Holly!!
    I just finished cooking your best Meatloaf. I followed the recipe to the letter. It was done @160 degrees right at 55 mins. I removed it from the oven let it rest for 10 min. And promptly made myself a meatloaf sandwich.it was delicious !!!! That was the first time I made a meatloaf on a cookie sheet I’ll never do it any other way. My wife is vegetarian so I got it all to myself!!! What a Christmas present , thanks again holly.
    Leonard

  12. Hi Holly,Merry Christmas,or as we say in Hawaii,Mele Kalikimaka.I am trying your meatloaf recipie today,for dinner,it’s smelling awfully good.I am just tasting a piece,and it’s fantastic.I have a lot of your recipes,and appreciate your quick,economical take on food.Keep them coming,and I’ll keep trying them.Have a Safe one. Aloha Ann Insillio

  13. Well I made a few of the mistakes other commenters did (Used a brownie pan – needed extra cooking time and some draining , pinches of italian bread instead of bread crumbs – should have reduced the milk a bit to account for that) Substituted 1 Lb of chorizo & 1 Lb of burger instead of 2 Lb burger.

    In the end though… my wife said it was better than Golden Corral meatloaf! To me that’s high praise :)

  14. Do you think it’s possible that I use ground flax instead of Breadcrumbs? If so, do you think I would have to adjust milk amounts?

    1. I’ve only made the recipe as written. Maybe other readers may have experience using flax instead of breadcrumbs.

  15. I was very disappointed with “The Best Meatloaf” recipe. I doubled the recipe and used two standard 9″ bread baking loaf pans. I baked the meatloaf for 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and then added the catshup-chilli sauce-brown sugar topping. While I did check the loaf’s temperature at the end of 40 minutes, my thermometer indicated that the meatloaf was done at a temperature of 172 degrees. By the way, the thermometer is calibrated. The problem with the meatloaf in addition to being excessively bland was that the upper portion of the meatloaf was not done; it was raw, and the onions were still crunchy. Apparently, I checked the temperature below the uncooked portion. So, dinner was a disaster. I microwaved the meatloaf to finish cooking it. In the end, I have to say that this meatloaf recipe was a miss. After dinner, I baked the meatloaf another hour at 350 degrees to finish cooking the meatloaf (I scraped off the topping, which my wife hated). While your pictures were illustrative, I believe that you should double check your cooking times.

    1. As mentioned in the write up for this recipe it is not intended to be cooked in loaf pans so that could certainly change the cook time. The temperature should be taken in the center of the loaf (or the thickest part of the loaf) and should reach an internal temperature of 160°F before removing from the oven.

      I hope that helps.

  16. I accidentally put the sauce on the meatloaf before it baked for 40 minutes, is that going To ruin it..? Thanks so much! 
    (I always do stuff before reading a recipe all the way through! ) 

    1. No worries, it won’t ruin the recipe. :) It might brown a bit more than you want and if it does you can scrape a bit off but I’m pretty sure it’ll be just fine!

    1. I have only tried this recipe as written, but bacon sounds like it would taste delicious. Let me know if you try it!

    1. You can crush up any kind of crackers in place of breadcrumbs. You could also place a slice of bread in the blender and make crumbs but this will have more moisture so you might want to reduce the milk slightly.

  17. Hi, Holly! I just wanted to say how useful your recipes have been to me! It’s easy to find recipes that my whole family loves (kids and adults) that don’t break the bank!

    Your recipes keep me sane, and help me stick to my grocery budget! Thank you!

  18. I buy no means consider myself a good cook, I do it more for fun so I am a big follow the recipe type guy. I tired this, did not change a thing, and it turned out perfect. This was only my second meatloaf (first one from a different source was a disaster). Thank you for taking the time to publish these for all of us to use.

  19. The breadcrumbs used in this recipe are they store bought Italian bc? Or Do you make ur own by grinding fresh bread in a food processor? And if so, do you toast them b4 using in this recipe? Thx!

  20. I just prepared this recipe and wrapped in plastic wrap. I thawed my meat from frozen so I don’t want to freeze again. Do you think it will be ok in the fridge for a day or two?

  21. Funny your recipe is the same as mine, and it was also my moms who was the best cook I ever knew. 
    I love all your recipes I have tried, keep them coming.
    Sue

  22. Great Meatloaf. I added about 3 links of italian sausauge and a pinch of cayenne. Was hoping to attach a photo as I made a Halloween yummy mummy but it seems I can’t…. lol

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Tracy! I bet the sausage added great flavor and I wish you could upload too, I’d love to see your Yummy Mummy!

  23. This is the best meatloaf! Everyone I have made it for loves it. I make large quantities of the meatloaf mixture and then make smaller, individual-sized meatloaves and then freeze what I don’t use immediately for baking later, saving me prep time that second time around. This is my new go-to meatloaf recipe. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. I’m so glad to hear you loved this meatloaf Diane! Great idea to make a lot at once. Definitely a time saver!

  24. I have to say this is one of the best meatloaf sauces I have ever tasted!!! Even my fussy 20 year old step son loved the meatloaf and sauce!! A keeper for sure.

  25. I didn’t have any chili sauce so I used salsa.  Followed the rest of the recipe as written and it was delicious!
    This one will be on my go to list!!

  26. Can I make in morning or night before and cook that night or next day? Or will that dry it out? Recipe sounds sooo Yummy!!!!!

    1. That should work just fine as long as it’s well covered or sealed. You may need to add a few minutes of cook time if it’s very chilled from the fridge. Enjoy and let us know how it goes!