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.

The Best Meatloaf Recipe sliced on a cutting board

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.

Meatloaf Sauce

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.

Ingredient Info for the Topping

Chili sauce is not spicy, it tastes like a very zesty ketchup with more tang and less sweetness. (Find chili sauce near the ketchup at the store). You can also make homemade chili sauce.

Mixed with ketchup, it creates a beautiful topping. (It’s also great mixed 50/50 with BBQ sauce for burgers and ribs).

If you don’t have chili sauce, use extra ketchup or even a bit of BBQ sauce if you’d like.

Mixing the eggs, breadcrumbs and milk to make meatloaf

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 GravySkip the meatloaf topping altogether and serve it with brown gravy instead (homemade, leftover, or packaged).

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 on a baking sheet and bake (cook times below based on the size of the loaf).
  4. 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.
2 slices of homemade meatloaf on a plate with mashed potatoes and broccoli

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.

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.

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.

How to freeze meatlaof

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.

How to make meatloaf ahead of time

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.

How to store leftover meatloaf (cooked)

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 sliced on a cutting board
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The Best Meatloaf Recipe

This is the best meatloaf recipe ever. It is so easy to make and comes out perfectly juicy every time!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients  

  • 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

Meatloaf Sauce

  • ½ cup chili sauce *see note
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar optional

Instructions 

  • 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. 

Video

Notes

Chili Sauce: Chili sauce is not spicy, it tastes like a very zesty ketchup with more tang and less sweetness. (Find chili sauce near the ketchup at the store). If you don’t have chili sauce, use extra ketchup or even a bit of BBQ sauce if you’d like.
Optional Additions: 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard or Worcestershire sauce 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 the ingredients just until combined to avoid a dense meatloaf.
Use Lean Meat: Use 80/20 for great flavor without making it greasy.
Add flavors and moisture: Don’t skip the seasonings and soak the breadcrumbs in milk to keep the meatloaf flavorful and moist.
Skip the Loaf Pan: Use a baking pan instead of a loaf pan. This gives the meatloaf a nice crust. A loaf pan causes the meat to steam, and there’s nowhere for the drippings to go. 
Rest the Meatloaf: Let the meatloaf rest once it comes out of the oven to help redistribute the juices and make sure it won’t fall apart when sliced.
4.97 from 2061 votes

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.

Course Beef, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
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The Best Meatloaf Recipe cooked on a plate with a title
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The Best Meatloaf Recipe on a cutting board and plated with writing

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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. Great recipe! I needed to tweak my meatloaf, it’s never been a big hit. Tonight the meatloaf was a BIG hit. Thank you5 stars

  2. This was by far the most delicious meat loaf I have ever made or tasted. It was also very easy to make. The directions were easy to follow and I like the tips that were listed. Thank you for sharing!5 stars

  3. This was absolutely delicious! My husband and I just loved your meatloaf recipe! It was juicy and delicious. Thank you for your recipe!!

  4. I use a baking sheet lined with foil and lay my meatloaf on 3 slices of bread. It absorbs much of the grease.4 stars

  5. Me and my family loved the meatloaf. I did it on the cookie sheet I was worried the juices would have flowed over but it did not and I think that’s because it stays in it. Was amazing thank you.5 stars

    1. That’s correct, it’s closer to 55 minutes. After the initial 40 minutes, you will spread the glaze 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 in step 5.

  6. I put this recipe in the crockpot. Crockpot recipes call for 6 hours. When I put the prepard mixture in the pot, I thought I was going to have trouble at the end, cause it was way to wet. It would have probably have taken at least 3 more rolls of Ritz crackers. Crockpot recipes call for 6 hours on low and I had mine in for 8 hours. When I tried to lift it out of the pot, it turned to hamburger mush. My guest and I ate it. The taste was really good.

    Do you have crockpot for meatloaf? Do you have any idea what I could do next time so it will be a solid slice of meat and not have to be dished up with a slotted spoon?5 stars

  7. Mine is in the oven cooking right now! I love meatloaf, so I know I will love this. I am allergic to onions, and did not add onions into my meatloaf. I hope it’s still delicious!5 stars

  8. This meatloaf was very yummy! It was a bit too…. loose? Which ingredient would I reduce to make it form better? It was extremely juicy and flavorful, it just didn’t loaf so well. Thanks!5 stars

    1. If it was too loose that’s typically as a result of an issue with your binding agents. What size of eggs did you use? Next time you can also try increasing the breadcrumbs slightly if you are having this issue.

      1. I used 2 medium eggs. Next time I’ll use large eggs and add a bit more breadcrumbs. The flavors were on point!

  9. There is no way to form a single 8″ x 4″ loaf when using exactly all these ingredients. I got one huge loaf, said something is wrong, and divided it into two loaves that were each about 6″ x 10″ x 3″ high. I’m amazed that no one else seems to have commented on this.3 stars

    1. I have made this countless times, it should be 8-inches long, 4-inches wide and it’s about 3 inches or so high. The measurements are correct as written.

  10. Will the idea of soaking the breadcrumbs and milk is new to me and I’m going to follow your recipe tonight absolutely and the sauce for the top is a happy ending.5 stars

    1. I am so glad you are enjoying this recipe Maritza! If you wish to share a photo you can share on Instagram and tag us @spendpennies.

  11. I’ve made this recipe many times and love it. I watched the video for some reason and never realized there was dijon in it????? I’ve never added it since it’s not in the recipe. Is it supposed to be? Don’t really want to mess with it since we like it as is, but now I’m curious. LOL5 stars

    1. We like to add about a tablespoon of dijon in step 3 but it is optional and will be delicious either way!

  12. This an excellent recipe. My son can be picky and he absolutely loves this meatloaf. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Very easy recipe to come together with very few ingredients yet it’s super delicious. I’ve been making a version of this for years and everyone loves it! I add green peppers and sometimes a can of Rotel. This recipe is so versatile so use your imagination.5 stars

  14. This was good I usually have a can of diced tomatoes in mine but this was nice. The only thing I noticed was that it was salty but otherwise it was good. I didn’t have chili sauce so I put some piri piri pepper in mine along with only 1 tbsp of brown sugar and that seemed to work however I would add a bit more piri piri next time. I did add my usual green bell peppers and this time added celery to that and the onions. Thank you for sharing.4 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love this recipe as much as we do Dustin, it’s always a hit when we serve it! Thank you for trying it.