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
buy hollys book

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.
4.98 from 2485 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 270 | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 631mg | Potassium: 596mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 408IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 4mg

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
The Best Meatloaf Recipe sliced with a title
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. Would this work the same if I cut it in half and used 1lb of ground beef? Same cooking temp/time?5 stars

    1. It should work well. I would bake a 1 lb meatloaf for about 45 minutes total at the same temperature.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed you sharing this wonderful meatloaf recipe with great suggestions Holly. Thank you!!5 stars

  3. Our meatloaf recipes have been updated a lot over the last 20 years, each one being replaced by a better one. I thought we found the best until we tried this, and wow, this is now our go-to meatloaf! Nails the taste, texture and moistness you want from this humble meal, and now I’m thinking I want to bacon wrap and smoke it the next time or just add a bit of Dijon or Worcestershire before baking it. This recipe is amazing and can’t wait to share with my friends.5 stars

  4. Best online meatloaf recipe I have tried. Of course I made a few tweaks for my own tastes/ preferences, but you won’t be disappointed following this recipe.5 stars

  5. Great recipe! So moist and even smells delicious. Thanks-a-bunch and into my recipe bin it goes!5 stars

  6. This is truly the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted, and I don’t hand out compliments online for recipes very often. Even though I misread the recipe and, the crumbs to the meat, and added the milk after that, I left it stand for 10 minutes and all was well. Mmmm!5 stars

    1. So glad you loved it Carolyn, thank you for coming back and leaving a review, it is truly appreciated!

    1. Yes, this can be prepared 1 day ahead of time. If the meat mixutre is cold from the fridge, you may need to add extra cooking time.

  7. Great recipe! Took me back to Grandma’s, always simple, always delicious! Thanks for posting!5 stars

  8. Absolutely a delicious recipe. I’ve made it just as written and added a layer of Swiss cheese in the middle, both ways are amazing.5 stars

  9. Made this with ground chicken and it came out amazing! I also made it into two separate meatloafs so we could freeze one. So good!!! Highly recommend!

  10. I followed this recipe to a T….cooked at 350 for 40 mins and broiled it for 5 mins…..it came out RAW! literally cold uncooked center. Will not be making this again.

    1. Sorry to hear that Lexi, as mentioned in instruction 6, it needs to be cooked for an additional 10-15 minutes before broiling.

      1. To the lady whose loaf turned out raw in the middle, I always use a thermometer when cooking meats to ensure that the meat is done.5 stars

    2. Lexi the recipe clearly says to cook 40 minutes then add the ketchup mixture and cook an additional 10-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160°

    3. Lexi, I think you conflated the directions for cooking at 350 degrees and for cooking at 375 degrees. You also may have a really cold stove. I got a stove thermometer and found my stove runs 25% hot, Try that, but also try be careful to follow the recipe times and temperatures.

    4. When I checked the temp at 40min (I actually did 45min to start) it was 100*. I knew that I was to then put sauce on the meatloaf and broil for another 10-15min BUT I was using a Pyrex loaf pan and one cannot broil with those so I am continuing to bake for longer instead of broiling. You may have missed that the broil step was longer than 5 minutes. My meat also came right out of the fridge so it was pretty cold when I mixed it with the breadcrumb mixture (which is why I added the additional 5 minutes to the first 40min bake time).

      We all like different sauces on our meatloaf, so I am skipping adding the sauce while baking. I will update later if I can on how long it took me to get to the correct temp (without broiling) when it is done.

    5. She also tells what the internal temp needs to be when finished. I hope you didn’t give this a bad rating for your lack of reading and or comprehension.

  11. I’ve made this a bunch of times now…never gets old! My boyfriend loves this recipe! He asks for it often.5 stars