This really is the best meatloaf recipe, it’s easy to make and tastes delicious.
It’s made with lean ground beef, a handful of seasonings, onions, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Then, it’s baked in the oven with a tasty zesty topping.
Below are my favorite tips for a homemade meatloaf that will have everyone asking for seconds.
This easy meatloaf recipe is a family favorite and all 4 of my kids told me it’s one of their top childhood favorites! Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or mac and cheese for the perfect comforting meal.
Ingredients for a Classic Meatloaf
- Ground beef: I recommend using 80/20 ground beef for the perfect balance of flavor and juiciness.
- Breadcrumbs: These help the meatloaf hold together and give it the right texture. Italian or seasoned breadcrumbs have extra flavor, but Panko bread crumbs will work too.
- Eggs: These help bind the meatloaf so it doesn’t fall apart when you cut it.
- Onions: Chopped onions add extra flavor to the meatloaf, pre-cooking them makes sure the flavor isn’t too strong.
- Seasonings: Fresh parsley adds a bright, fresh flavor while Italian seasoning are savory and aromatic. Of course, salt and pepper are essential for any recipe, and they help bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.
My favorite meatloaf topping is a flavorful zesty topping that caramelizes and gets a bit sticky to glaze the meatloaf as it bakes.
In this sauce for meatloaf, I use a combination of chili sauce and ketchup (just like my mom always made) and a pinch of brown sugar.
Variations & Additions
As this is a classic meatloaf recipe, I keep it simple but you can add in your favorite additions.
- Meat: You can add ½ pound lean ground pork in place of some of the beef or try 1 pound ground beef mixed with 1 pound ground turkey (cook to 165°F if adding turkey).
- Seasonings: Add seasonings like garlic powder (1 tsp), Worcestershire sauce (1 tbs), or some chopped and cooked green bell pepper
- Brown Sugar Meatloaf Glaze: Use equal parts brown sugar and ketchup with 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar to make a meatloaf glaze in place of the topping below.
- Brown Gravy: Skip the meatloaf topping altogether and serve it with brown gravy instead (homemade, leftover, or packaged).
How To Make Meatloaf
- Soften the onion in a pan (per recipe below).
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
- Form into a loaf on a baking sheet and bake (cook times below based on the size of the loaf).
- Top with the meatloaf sauce and bake until bubbly.
Tips for the Best Meatloaf
- Do Not Overmix: Mix the ingredients in a large bowl just until combined – overmixing will result in a dense meatloaf.
- Use Lean Meat: Use lean beef (but not extra lean). 80/20 is ideal for the best flavor and consistency without too much fat.
- Add flavors and moisture: Keep your meatloaf moist and flavorful by adding seasonings and soaking the breadcrumbs in milk.
- Skip the Loaf Pan: Use a baking sheet to cook this meatloaf recipe. A loaf pan will cause the meatloaf to steam in the drippings instead of getting a nice crisp exterior.
- Rest the Meatloaf: Let the meatloaf rest once it comes out of the oven to redistribute the juices and make it easier to slice without falling apart.
How Long To Cook Meatloaf
The 2 lb meatloaf recipe below cooks 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.
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.
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. The meatloaf will likely need an extra 15 minutes of cooking time.
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.
Meatloaf can be prepared as directed, covered with plastic wrap, and stored in the fridge a day ahead of time before baking. Remove the meatloaf from the fridge 30 minutes before baking. If cold from the fridge, you may need to add a few minutes of cooking time.
Store leftover meatloaf in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.
Keep meatloaf in an airtight container in the fridge or wrap it in plastic wrap. To store in the freezer, slice the meatloaf first for easier thawing and heat it up in the oven or microwave until it’s warm and heated through.
Leftover meatloaf makes great patty melts too!
What to Serve With Meatloaf
I usually serve a cozy-carby side and a fresh vegetable with meatloaf. Here are a few of our favorites.
Did your family love this meatloaf recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and review below!
The Best Meatloaf Recipe
- ½ medium onion diced
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup milk
- ¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs or seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 pounds lean ground beef 80/20
- 1 tablespoon ketchup or chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt & ½ teaspoon black pepper more to taste
- ½ cup chili sauce *see note
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
- In a small pan, cook onions in butter over medium low heat until tender. Let them cool completely.
- In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the ground beef, cooked onions, ketchup or chili sauce, Italian seasoning, parsley, and salt & pepper to the bowl. Mix until just combined.
- Form a 8"x4" loaf on the prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes.
- While the meatloaf is cooking, 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 an internal temperature of 160°F. Broil for 1-2 minutes if desired.
- Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
© SpendWithPennies.com. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.
Like our recipes?
Follow us on Pinterest!
More Comfort Food Favorites
- Spaghetti and Meatballs – Family favorite
- Braised Beef Short Ribs
- Ground Beef Stroganoff (Hamburger) – Quick and easy!
- Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
- Mushroom Salisbury Steak – Ground beef in a delicious mushroom gravy
- Mississippi Pot Roast
- Easy Homemade Lasagna
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.
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
Absolutely delicious meat loaf. My husband’s new favorite!
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.
Glad you enjoyed the meatloaf Emily! Using a pan instead of baking on a sheet will change the cooking time.
This is the best meat loaf I’ve ever made!
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 !!
You’re so very welcome Aida, thak you for sharing your substitutions! So glad you love this meatloaf recipe!
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.
You’re welcome Amy, thank you for the tip!
Thats a great tip!Thanks
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.
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!
So happy to hear that Genevieve!!
Can I use this recipe for an Instapot?
Check out the recipe for Instant Pot Meatloaf here!
I’ve made this a few times. My family loves it. Instead of chilli sauce, I use Honey Sriracha sauce. So good.
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!
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????????
Ruby, will you please let me know specifically what you need help with?
You beat the eggs with the milk and bread crumbs combined? Is that right?
Yes Rachelle, in step 2, you combine the eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs and allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!
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.
Thank you Bre! That’s wonderful to hear! I love chili sauce on meatloaf and sure hope you do too.
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.
What is a good sub for chili sauce? I can’t find it anywhere
I’d suggest your favorite BBQ sauce!
Kate, I use VH Honey Sriracha sauce. Sooo good.
I can’t find chili sauce at local grocery stores!!
Any suggestions for substitute besides only ketchup?
I’d suggest your favorite BBQ sauce!
I use Honey Sriracha sauce.
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.
That sounds delicious Lloyd. You’re welcome, and thank you for sharing your changes!
5 stars. This meatloaf was very tasty
It was tender and moist, I know I will make this again.