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


  • 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


  • 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. 



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.
4.96 from 1332 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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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


  1. Great recipe. The flavor was amazing!
    The only tweaked I made was I added Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder to the meatloaf and added Worcestershire sauce to the chili sauce and ketchup.5 stars

  2. Am looking forward to trying this recipe as my previous meatloaf attempts have all been disasters!
    Since we don’t eat dairy and meat together (we keep kosher), what can I use instead of milk? Should I go with water, coconut milk, or beef broth?

    1. Hi Susann, we have only made this recipe as listed but other readers have swapped the milk for beef broth with good results. I hope that works well for you!

  3. I followed the recipe and it came out nice and moist. I was happy you had us caramelize the onions before adding. The topping sauce was delightful. I would add garlic powder and more pepper next time for personal taste. Thanks for sharing.4 stars

  4. My husband is a meatloaf snob and thought this was, hands down, the best meatloaf recipe we’ve ever used. Didn’t change anything and used the chili sauce as directed.
    The only thing I would do differently is in shaping my loaf-i made mine a little too flat and wide and it lacked the height to make it easier to cut. But lesson learned and this will be in our recipe rotation from now on!

  5. This is an absolutely delicious meatloaf! I did add more onion (because we love onions). I added, per the notes, 1 T. Worcestershire sauce to the meat mixture. This was the perfect meatloaf. My husband, son and Mom all agree! Served with mashed potatoes and coleslaw. This is my new meatloaf recipe. I also like that it’s an all-beef meatloaf (rather than part pork) as my husband doesn’t like it made with pork. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!5 stars

  6. This is my 3rd or 4th time using this recipe. My family of 9 goes crazy for it. I make two different recipes, one with more onion and one with more garlic. It is my go to! My daughter is not a meat eater but requests this at least once a month! So easy to customize to our liking, thanks!!!5 stars

    1. The meatloaf is formed on the baking sheet as opposed to using a loaf pan. This helps form a nice crust on the meatloaf and avoids it steaming.

  7. I made this meatloaf for dinner tonight and it is truly the best recipe. I followed the recipe exactly except I used half pound of mild italian sausage and one and half pounds of ground beef which the author of this recipe suggested and it was delicious! I did not have chili sauce so I used Ketchup with the brown sugar and added mustard (4 tsp) for the glaze. Everything I have made from this website is absolutely delicious and so easy. This is my go to site for no-fail delicious recipes. Thank you!!!5 stars

  8. Hello, 1/2 cup of chili sauce and 1//2 cup of ketchup, mixed together? The total amount, 1 cup, was a lot for the top of the meatloaf. Are those measurements correct?
    Thank you

  9. Best meatloaf I’ve ever made! Thank you for the delicious recipe. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers!5 stars

  10. Made this meatloaf recipe as I was looking for one like was made in our household growing up. This is the best!! It turned out wonderful!!! Great taste and best sauce!!! Will put this in as my favorite for meatloaf. Thanks for sharing!!!!5 stars

  11. I’ve been making meatloaf for decades and this recipe did t seem all that different to me, but it is. It really is the best meatloaf ever. It’s the only recipe I’ll use now.

  12. I was putting this together and noticed you listed the ketchup and chili sauce to mix in with the hamburger..?? but there isn’t any extra ingredient notations for the sauce in the hamburger…just to go on top after its cooked…do you do both?? kinda not clear …dont understand why nobody else in comments didn’t catch this. now I’m vested in this and got my stuff together and I guess I’m gonna hold the sauce for after its cooked and hope I’m right.

    1. There is 1 tablespoon listed in the ingredients that goes into the meatloaf itself (it’s listed right below the beef). The larger amounts are reserved for the topping.

  13. great recipe I add carrots diced, and celery diced. and fresh garlic diced cook with butter in a small pan once cooked and cooled add all ingredients together with meat and eggs then bake

  14. I just made this meatloaf using 1 lb. hamburger and 1 lb. ground turkey. In addition I added some coarsely chopped onion and red pepper. Next time I’ll use a loaf pan and drain it half way through because it didn’t retain the original loaf shape. The sauce on top was excellent. What makes this recipe so much fun are all of the changes you can make adding or omitting ingredients. This recipe is definitely a keeper.5 stars

  15. I’m at minute 80 now and still sitting at 145F. I’d recommend a higher temp or longer cook time. Cook times in the recipe are WAY off.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you had this issue Joel. I have made this meatloaf many many times following the recipe and never had this issue so I can’t say for sure what happened.

    2. Joel, Your meatloaf didn’t cook at *350? Sorry it didn’t work out for you and I wonder what happened. Mine came out perfect. Next time I think we’ll try to smoke it.5 stars

    3. Maybe your oven may need a temperature correction. Is it an electric oven? If so possibly one of the heating element may not be working? Just saying.