The Best Meatloaf Recipe

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The best Meatloaf Recipe is one that is easy to make and full of flavor. 

Ground beef, seasonings, onions, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs with a zesty topping (my favorite part)!

Below I share my favorite tips to ensure a flavorful meatloaf that is tender, holds together, and will get rave reviews every time.

sliced meatloaf on a wood board

This easy meatloaf recipe is a family favorite and is pretty simple to make!  Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or mac and cheese for the perfect comforting meal.

Ingredients

  • GROUND BEEF: We use 80/20 ground beef for meatloaf. This provides enough fat to keep it juicy without being greasy.
  • Breadcrumbs & eggs help hold the loaf together and give it the perfect texture. Seasoned/Italian breadcrumbs are best as they add extra flavor.
  • Seasonings – Onions, parsley, Italian seasoning, and salt & pepper. Simple but delicious.
  • Topping – This is the best part! A zesty combo of ketchup and chili sauce (with a hint of brown sugar) is a favorite topping.

ingredients for making meatloaf on the counter

Meatloaf Sauce

My favorite sauce for meatloaf is a flavorful zesty topping that caramelizes and gets a bit sticky to glaze the meatloaf as it bakes. I use a combo of chili sauce and ketchup (just like my mom always made) and a pinch of brown sugar.

Chili sauce is not spicy, it is similar to very zesty ketchup with more tang and less sweetness. (Find chili sauce near the ketchup). Mixed with ketchup, it creates a beautiful topping. (It’s also great mixed 50/50 with BBQ sauce for burgers and ribs).

Variations

  • Brown Sugar Meatloaf Glaze: Skip the chili sauce and combine equal parts brown sugar and ketchup with a dash of cider vinegar.
  • Brown Gravy:  Skip the topping altogether and serve the meatloaf with brown gravy (homemade, leftover, or packaged).

steps for making meatloaf

How To Make Meatloaf

  1. Soften the onion in a pan (per recipe below).
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Form into a loaf and bake (cook times below based on the size of the loaf).
  4. Top with the meatloaf sauce and bake until bubbly.

cooked meatloaf on a baking pan

Tips for Perfection

  • Do Not Overmix: Mix until everything is just combined. Over mixing will create a dense loaf!
  • Use Lean Meat: Use lean beef (but not extra lean). 80/20 is the best mixture for meatloaf. 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 every bit of this meatloaf flavorful and moist.
  • Skip the Loaf Pan: 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, it should be rested once it comes out of the oven.  This helps redistribute the juices and makes sure it won’t fall apart when you cut it!

meatloaf served with mashed potatoes and broccoli

How Long To Cook Meatloaf

A 2 lb meatloaf (recipe below) will cook at 350°F for about 55-65 minutes or at 375°F for 45-55 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.

Meatloaf Cooking Times

If you are making half of a recipe (or increasing it) you can use the cook times below to cook at 350°F. A thermometer is the best way to ensure the meatloaf is cooked through yet perfectly tender.

  • Bake a 1lb meatloaf for about 45 minutes total.
  • Bake a 2lb meatloaf for about 55 minutes total.
  • Bake a 3 lb meatloaf for about 1 hour 20 minutes.

Kitchen Tip Always let meatloaf rest for 10-15 minutes before you slice it. This helps it retain its juices and ensures it doesn’t fall apart when you slice it.

How to Freeze Meatloaf

Before Cooking  To freeze meatloaf 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.

After Cooking Once cooked and cooled, freeze individual slices on a parchment-lined pan. Once the slices are 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.

Did you make this meatloaf? Be sure to leave a comment and review below!

sliced meatloaf on a wood board
4.94 from 535 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 Nilsson
This is the best meatloaf recipe ever! It comes out juicy every time, and it seriously couldn’t be easier. 

Ingredients

  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs or seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup or chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Meatloaf Sauce

  • ½ cup chili sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar optional

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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a foil lined baking tray with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a small pan, cook onions in butter over medium low heat until tender. Cool completely.
  • In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs. Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Add the ground beef, onions, 1 tablespoon of ketchup or chili sauce, Italian seasoning, parsley and salt & pepper to taste. Mix until just combined.
  • Form a 8"x4" loaf on the prepared baking tray. Bake for 40 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, combine the chili sauce and ketchup (and brown sugar if using). Spread mixture over the meatloaf and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and the meatloaf reaches 160°F. Broil 1-2 mintues if desired.
  • Allow meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Recipe Notes

Optional: 1 tablespoon dijon mustard can be added to the beef mixture. Onions can be added without cooking but may not soften as well and will have a stronger flavor.
Do Not Overmix: Mix until everything is just combined. Over mixing will create a dense loaf!
Use Lean Meat: Use 80/20 for great flavor without making it greasy.
Add flavors and moisture: Don't skip the seasonings and soaking the breadcrumbs in milk keep every bit of this meatloaf flavorful and moist.
Skip the Loaf Pan: Using a baking sheet to cook your meatloaf gives a nice crust. Cooking in a loaf causes the meat to steam and there is nowhere for the drippings to go. 
Rest the Meatloaf: With almost any meat recipe, allow it to rest once it comes out of the oven.  This helps redistribute the juices and makes sure it won't fall apart when sliced!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 262, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 112mg, Sodium: 640mg, Potassium: 599mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 415IU, Vitamin C: 5.8mg, Calcium: 73mg, Iron: 3.7mg

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

Keyword ground beef, how to make meatloaf, meatloaf, meatloaf recipe
Course Beef, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
The Best Meatloaf cut into pieces on a cutting board with a title

 

The Best Meatloaf plated with a title
The Best Meatloaf sliced on a cutting board with a title
The Best Meatloaf sliced and plated with a title

A whole beef meatloaf glazed with a zesty topping and sliced on a wood cutting board

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About the author

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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Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. I have made meatloaf quite a few times but this is the best meatloaf ever. And I cooked it on the smoker. Took about 30 minutes longer to cook but worth the wait. And the glaze on top was amazing.5 stars

  2. I made this tonight and it’s the Best meatloaf that I have ever tasted. Definitely a keeper. I was a little hesitant about mixing ketchup with the chili sauce but I am so glad that I did. I went exactly by the recipe. My husband even love it and he is a chef. Delicious 5 stars

  3. Very tasty. Although I used a shaped pan instead of forming on a sheet pan. It took so much longer to cook than anticipated. Closer to 2hrs than 1. Maybe next time I’ll use less meat I think it was just too much.4 stars

    1. Glad you enjoyed the meatloaf Emily! Using a pan instead of baking on a sheet will change the cooking time.

  4. This is by far my favorite recipe for meatloaf
    . It’s actually my first recipe that I have a tried for meatloaf and it’s amazing
    . I did not grow up in this country so I’m not used to it and I’ve only had it a few times from other people, but this is amazing! Very recently I had to start avoiding gluten, dairy and soy due to doctors orders and tonight I attempted to make a separate meatloaf for myself. I did 1 pound of the ground beef instead of two and instead of butter for the Onions, I did olive oil. Did GF kroger Italian breadcrumbs and unsweetened almond milk. Everything else was same. It was perfect! I was in Heaven! Thank you !!5 stars

    1. You’re so very welcome Aida, thak you for sharing your substitutions! So glad you love this meatloaf recipe!

  5. The meatloaf was delicious. Just want to add a tip. To reduce cleanup, use a microwave safe mixing bowl and nuke the chopped onions in the bowl for 3 minutes instead of softening them in a pan stovetop. Add the milk, breadcrumbs, seasonings, binders, extenders, everything but the ground beef, and mix well. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to rehydrate breadcrumbs and dried herbs. Then mix in the ground beef and continue with the recipe as written. You have one less pan to wash up, the microwave automatically watches the onions as they soften so you don’t have to tend to them, all the seasonings get mixed evenly first so you are less likely to overmix the meat when it is afxed.
    Am really enjoying your recipes. Thank you so much.5 stars

  6. I followed the recipe to the “T” and it was delicious. Being only one of me in the house I made the 1lb version and I still will get 6 servings out of it. It was easy to make and very inexpensive.5 stars

  7. Rarely do I follow a recipe but I wanted to try this method of meatloaf. It was absolutely delicious. Took longer to prepare as I was being exact. Won’t take as long next time, and there will be a next time!
    Thank you.5 stars

  8. I’ve made this a few times. My family loves it. Instead of chilli sauce, I use Honey Sriracha sauce. So good.

  9. Just made this meatloaf and it is a keeper! I didn’t have chilli sauce so I used bbq sauce instead and it turned out perfectly. The video was very helpful and it cooked exactly as described in the recipe. The only change I made was omitting the brown sugar as I was using a fairly sweet bbq sauce. Can’t wait for my little one to try it!5 stars

  10. Penny I love the fact that we can reduce the servings on your recipes before printing. This allows those of us by our self to make a smaller quanity.
    The problem lies in figuring out what some of the reductions are.
    Any help with this????????

    1. Yes Rachelle, in step 2, you combine the eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs and allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

  11. You have not steered me wrong yet- some of my favorite (and families favorites) come from your recipes. I usually check your site for new version of something I have been making or when I am trying something new. Thank you so much for so many wonderful recipes. Trying this tonight! I have never used Chili Sauce before.

    1. Thank you Bre! That’s wonderful to hear! I love chili sauce on meatloaf and sure hope you do too.

  12. I loved this meatloaf with just a couple of tweaks. I don’t like onion so left it out. I added a couple of packages of dry Knorr Vegetable soup mix and reduced the milk to 1/2 cup.

    Yummy.5 stars

  13. After trying many meatloaf recipes this one has become the favorite for my wife and I. So much flavor and still so simple. Through a process of trial and error we have opted to eliminate the brown sugar from the glaze and add some Dijon mustard, instead. A wonderful recipe, thank you for posting it.5 stars