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.
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I’m confused about the baking time. in your comments. How long to cook meatloaf. Before getting to the recipe. You state. the 2 lb meatloaf recipe cooks at 350° for about 55 to 65 minutes. Then in the instructions. you say to bake a 8×4 loaf for 40 minutes. You say to spread the chili sauce and brown sugar over the meatloaf for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. The baking times are conflicting imo. Can you please clarify. Thank you.
Hi LuAnn, I would follow the recipe as written: baking for 40 minutes and then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. Enjoy!
Best meat loaf ever!
looks yummy looking forward to more recipes ❤️
Mine tasted like plain hamburger. Did everything the recipe called for.
Oh no! This recipe is always a hit when I make it, I’m sorry you didn’t love it as much as we do. Thank you for trying it Ellen.
It’s great. Highly recommend following the Notes too.
Question: How long to cook if I’m cutting the recipe in half?
You can cut all ingredients in half, and bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked through and the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. I am so glad you enjoy this recipe!
I’ve tried a lot of different meatloaf recipes and this one is my absolute favorite! I made it twice in 10 days because I didn’t get enough the first time. So moist and not a ton of extra ingredients. Simple and delicious.
I tried many recipes , but none of them close to bringing back pleasant memories of my mom + nana making delicious meatloaf !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
First off I will say this is a great recipe and if you are thinking about trying it, do it! However secondly I will say it’s not 8 servings. I have a family of 6, and my kids are still pretty young(ish). I fed my husband and 4 kids (ages 8, 9, 9, and 11) with this (and didn’t eat myself) and just a normal sized single serving for all of them finished off the loaf. Starting off with 2lbs does not end with 2lbs cooked, plus that would be 1/4lb per serving to do 8 servings which is VERY small. So I fully recommend this recipe but don’t count on 8 servings from it.
I would agree, it’s not 8 servings for us either. I guess it depends on how big the servings are. Myself, husband and 20 year old son (not a big eater) – we usually get 2 meals out of this, so that would make it 6 servings for us.
Made this for dinner tonite. They’re not kidding – this is the BEST meatloaf!! This is the first time making meatloaf with 1/2 organic beef and 1/2 organic ground pork. I sautéed the onions and added orange peppers. And added slices of provolone cheese on top. This will definitely go in my rotating meals.
This…was…amazing with the chili sauce recipe. My boyfriend said he kept eating just for the taste of it even though he was full! I’m gluten intolerant so used oats that I ground in my vitamix and soaked those as directed for the breadcrumbs. I may try with whole Oates next time just to see if it makes a difference or is even better so I can skip the grinding step. This one’s a definite keeper!
We cut up some bacon and just when you put the sauce on top, layer bacon for a nice crispy treat to meatloaf.
This received a 10 out of 10 from my family. The only change I made was cooking it longer. I preheated the oven (I have a very good stove) for 40 minutes, made sure the meatloaf was 4″ X 8″, and then put the meatloaf in the oven. After 60 minutes, it was still not cooked. I added 20 minutes to get it to the correct internal temperature. The result was wonderful.
Just like I always make except I never put milk in mine. Was making meatloaf this week so I’m going to try this. Thank You…. Love All Your recipes ❤️
I made this night before last for supper with mashed fingerling potatoes and steamed broccoli and it was SO good. I make a lot of your recipes, Holly, and love them all. Thank you for easy, down home recipes, and I really enjoy making your homemade seasonings/dressings, instead of store bought.
I am so happy to hear you are enjoying the recipes Susie!
I think this was a good basic meatloaf recipe. I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve ever tasted but it was fine and the topping was good. Mine cracked down the middle as it was baking but I filled the crack with the topping at the end of the baking time.