Best Meatloaf Recipe (2024)

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy.

This meatloaf recipe will change the way you think about meatloaf! Rich, moist, and loaded with chopped vegetables, this hearty dish is sure to become a family favorite!

Best Meatloaf Recipe (1)
Jump to Recipe
Featured with this recipe
  1. Best Meatloaf Recipe Ingredients
  2. How to Make Homemade Meatloaf Recipe
  3. Keep the Glaze Simple
  4. Time and Temperature
  5. Make it a Gluten-Free Meatloaf
  6. Modifications of Meatloaf
  7. Tips For Making The Perfect Classic Meatloaf
  8. Smoked Meatloaf
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. Storing Easy Meatloaf
  11. What to Serve with Meatloaf
  12. Best Meatloaf Recipe Recipe

This meatloaf is truly the best I have ever tasted! The flavor is amazingly delicious and when sliced the pieces just melt in your mouth. It is the perfect combination with a rich sauce, chopped veggies, and lots of smoky flavors. My entire family loves this meal and asks for it all the time!

Take your homemade meatloaf to the next level with this delicious recipe. It is so simple to make and comes together quickly and easily. Meatloaf is a classic comfort food that everyone loves to have on their menu. Perfectly tender meat with all the flavor to make this the best dinner yet!

Best Meatloaf Recipe Ingredients

This is a classic meatloaf recipe with meat, breadcrumbs, vegetables, and ketchup in the meatloaf as well as a glaze. Each ingredient is a pantry staple and something that is easily accessible at the local store. It is nothing too fancy but tastes like you are rich in every bite!

  • Protein – Lean ground beef and ground pork are cooked together making this extra tender and soft on the inside.
  • Bread crumbs – Add texture to the meatloaf with breadcrumbs. Some breadcrumbs come in flavors for an extra boost if wanted.
  • Flour – The flour will help soak in some of the juices from the meat but also leave it thick and plump in the mixture.
  • Vegetable oil – Pour oil into the pan to saute vegetables. The oil softens and adds flavor to the vegetables as it is cooking them.
  • Onion – Finely chop onions to make for added crunch and flavor.
  • Garlic – Minced garlic adds that nutty and raw flavor that balances the flavors together.
  • Red bell pepper – Chop into small pieces to add in more variety of vegetables.
  • Carrot – Grated fresh carrots give subtle texture as well as flavor to the meatloaf itself. It also adds a beautiful coloring to the meat when sliced.
  • Eggs – This is known as the binder of the meatloaf or the glue. It holds together the meatloaf combination and keeps it from falling apart.
  • Whole milk – Thickens and gives a creamy texture and taste when baked.
  • Ketchup – The famous ketchup ingredient that makes every meatloaf a traditional one. Ketchup will go on top and in the meat too.
  • Seasoning – Add in garlic powder and onion powder for a flavor boost.

How to Make Homemade Meatloaf Recipe

Make this homemade meatloaf tonight for your family and see how pleasantly surprised they are with this amazing recipe. It is one of a kind and full of all flavors. It is moist and tender with a sweet and savory taste to it. You can’t go wrong with this easy meatloaf recipe.

  1. Mix – Place ground beef and pork in a large bowl. Stir breadcrumbs and flour into the meatloaf mix.
  2. Sauté – Heat oil in a frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, and carrot. Sauté until onions are translucent.
  3. Whisk – In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs with milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  4. Combine – Stir the whisked egg mixture, the sautéed veggies, and the ketchup into the meat. It will be thick, so use a strong wooden spoon or your hands to mix it all in (Tip: Use kitchen gloves to keep your hands clean!). Press the seasoned meat into a loaf pan, as pictured.
  5. Cook in the oven – Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and spread ketchup over the top of the loaf. Bake an additional 45 minutes or until internal temp reaches 160 degrees.

Keep the Glaze Simple

The glaze on your meatloaf doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I have seen some glazes that require over a dozen ingredients and it’s just not necessary. All you really need is ketchup. In the recipe, we use glaze for the top but you can definitely add more to taste if you are a ketchup lover. The only time we don’t use ketchup is if we smoke it. When smoking it, will sometimes use a BBQ sauce glaze instead, just to enhance the smoky flavor.

Best Meatloaf Recipe (2)

Time and Temperature

You want the internal temp of your meatloaf to be 160 degrees F (70 degrees C) before serving. This usually takes about an hour at 350 degrees, possibly more depending on the size of your meatloaf. Always use a meat thermometer when cooking meat.

Though meatloaf is quite forgiving when it comes to the time and temp you are cooking, it’s always a good idea just to check the meat temperature. If you want to caramelize the glaze on top, you can bump up the temp to 400 degrees for the last 5-10 minutes.

Make it a Gluten-Free Meatloaf

The easiest way to make this gluten-free (or GF) is to simply swap out the breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs. You can also use GF soda crackers and crush them. You definitely want to make a substitution rather than leaving the crumbs out completely because you will need something to bind it all together. However, DO NOT try using oats. I tried this and learned the hard way. It will all fall apart. Stick with GF breadcrumbs, crackers, or croutons.

Modifications of Meatloaf

Sometimes we don’t always have everything on the ingredient list or need to improvise on who we are feeding the meatloaf to. Try a few of these special modifications to help keep the flavor and deliciousness of the meatloaf but create what is best for your family!

  • Protein – Try it with veal, or ground turkey for a turkey meatloaf.
  • Traditional meatloaf – Always a traditional flavor is a fresh parsley or thyme that everyone loves to add to their homemade meatloaf. Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar are usually on that list of ingredients as well.
  • Vegetable – Instead of the medium onion you can use celery cut up and still have the soft and watery vegetable for flavor and texture in the meatloaf.

Tips For Making The Perfect Classic Meatloaf

Follow these tips to make the best classic meatloaf yet! It is simple to make and with these extra helpful ideas, this meatloaf will come together even better. Learn what the best type of meat is, preparing, cutting, and what the best glaze to use. It is all you need to know!

  • Meat – First, start with good quality, 85/15 beef and/or pork. Try to steer clear of super low-fat varieties, because this can make the meatloaf dry and crumbly. A little extra fat in the meat can help maintain its shape and give it more moisture and flavor. Varieties with too much fat will make it greasy and fall apart. 85/15 seems to be the perfect blend.
  • Prepare pan – Line your pan with parchment paper or use cooking spray to make it easier to get it out of the pan once it is fully cooked.
  • Cut evenly – Make sure your veggies are diced nice and small, so they sauté evenly.
  • Keep the ketchup! We have had readers omit the ketchup from this recipe but it has turned out dry. Ketchup is sweet and when baked it can turn into a gorgeous glaze.
  • Cooling – Let the meatloaf rest for about five to seven minutes before slicing, this allows all the juices to redistribute after cooking.
Best Meatloaf Recipe (3)

Smoked Meatloaf

If you own a smoker, I highly recommend smoking your meatloaf. It is incredible and it’s so EASY to do! Follow these simple steps to make this meatloaf in the smoker at home. Take your meatloaf to the next level!

  1. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F.
  2. Follow the recipe below to step 4 (but don’t put the meat in a loaf pan).
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form your meat mixture into a loaf shape.
  4. Insert meat instant-read thermometer and smoke at 250 degrees for 45 minutes.
  5. Brush with ketchup (or BBQ sauce) and continue to smoke basting every 30-60 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. This will take up to 3-4 hours.
  6. Remove and allow it to rest for 10 minutes or so before slicing.

“Such a family classic! This is now one of my favorite meatloaf recipes, and can’t wait to make again!”

-Caitlyn E.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the secret to moist meatloaf?

For a moist meatloaf, it is best to use a higher-fat content of meat. At least 15 percent. For a leaner meatloaf, use lean beef or turkey meat. This will give you a moist and tender meatloaf too.

What ingredients keep meatloaf from falling apart?

The most common ingredient that helps from avoiding it from falling apart are large eggs and bread crumbs. These two ingredients hold or stick the meat and remaining ingredients together, especially while it is cooking.

Do you cook meatloaf covered or uncovered?

Usually, the meatloaf is baked uncovered. If you are worried about it over-baking or browning on top too much, you are welcome to use aluminum foil for the first part of the cooking process, then the last 15 minutes to uncover for the sweet glaze to brown.

What happens if you don’t put milk in meatloaf?

Milk is another key ingredient that creates richness and gives moisture to the bread while keeping the meatloaf texture soft. You can substitute the milk for chicken broth or stock to help continue to hold in the moisture.

Best Meatloaf Recipe (4)

Storing Easy Meatloaf

Place leftover meatloaf in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for five to seven days. When ready to reheat, place in the microwave, oven, or air fryer to warm up. Add extra ketchup if it seems a little dry on top.

What to Serve with Meatloaf

This meatloaf goes great with just a baked potato and a simple green salad, or with any of these delicious side dishes:

Side Dishes

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Side Dishes

Sweet Sautéed Asparagus

Side Dishes

Parmesan Crusted Potatoes

Side Dishes

Oven Roasted Vegetables

Best Meatloaf Recipe (9)

Best Meatloaf Recipe

4.87 from 38 votes

This meatloaf recipe will change the way you think about meatloaf! Rich, moist and loaded with chopped vegetables, this hearty dish is sure to become a family favorite!


Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 1 hour hr

Total Time 1 hour hr 15 minutes mins

Course Dinner, Main Course

Cuisine American

Servings 8



  • Loaf pan



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ground beef and pork in a large bowl. Stir breadcrumbs and flour into the meat. Set aside.

    Best Meatloaf Recipe (10)

  • Heat oil in a frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, and carrot. Sauté until onions are translucent.

    Best Meatloaf Recipe (11)

  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs with milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

    Best Meatloaf Recipe (12)

  • Stir the whisked egg mixture, the sautéed veggies, and ½ cup ketchup into the meat. It will be thick, so use a strong wooden spoon or your hands to mix it all in (Tip:Use kitchen gloves to keep your hands clean!). Press the seasoned meat into a loaf pan, as pictured.

    Best Meatloaf Recipe (13)

  • Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and spread ¼ cup ketchup over the top of the loaf. Bake an additional 45 minutes or until internal temp reaches 160-degrees.

    Best Meatloaf Recipe (14)

  • Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve!

    Best Meatloaf Recipe (15)

Nutrition Information

Calories: 424kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 24gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 986mgPotassium: 523mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1719IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 85mgIron: 3mg

Love this recipe?

We want to hear from you! Please leave a review.

Rate and Review

This recipe was inspired by our Mom’s best meatloaf recipe, the delicious meatloaf served at Claim Jumper Restaurant and Saloon, and Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes.

Best Meatloaf Recipe (2024)


What ingredient keeps meatloaf from falling apart? ›

In meatloaf, this is most commonly the eggs and breadcrumbs. Your binding ingredient is only second to the meat itself in your recipe and the reason why meatloaf crumbles. When this happens, it's because you didn't use enough. Next time, try adding in an extra egg and/or some more breadcrumbs.

What is the basic meatloaf formula? ›

The Basic Meatloaf Formula

All recipes for meatloaf start with the same basic formula: 2 pounds of ground meat and a “panade” made of bread or crackers soaked in milk. Along with a few eggs, this panade helps to hold the ground meat together and adds some essential moisture to the mix.

What is the best binder for meatloaf? ›

If you don't have any bread, you can substitute it for breadcrumbs, crackers, cereal grains, oatmeal, instant rice, instant barley, or even potato flakes! However, bread is still the best choice of all the potential options.

Why do you put milk in meatloaf? ›

Milk and other dairy products, like heavy cream and buttermilk, contain both water and fat, adding two types of moisture to our meatloaf. There's a long-held theory that milk can tenderize ground meat, and this is the reason often cited for cooking ground meat in milk to make a Bolognese-style ragù.

Should I cook my meatloaf covered or uncovered? ›

Should I cook my meatloaf covered or uncovered? The meatloaf can be cooked uncovered. However, if you are concerned about it burning, you can cover the meatloaf with foil for the first 45 minutes and uncover it for the final 15 minutes to allow the meatloaf to brown on top.

What happens if you put too many eggs in meatloaf? ›

Fewer eggs will create a denser and firmer meatloaf that will be more compact and easier to slice, but more eggs can create a more tender and light texture that allows the meatloaf to melt in your mouth.

What to use instead of breadcrumbs in meatloaf? ›

Crushed-up crackers make an excellent bread crumb substitute in baked dishes like meatballs or meatloaf. The crackers work just as well as the bread crumbs to hold the meat mixture together, and using varieties like salty saltines or buttery Ritz is a great way to add an extra burst of flavor to your dish.

What can you put under meatloaf to soak up grease? ›

A neat trick to soak up the grease under your meatloaf is to line the bottom of the pan with bread slices. The bread soaks up the grease as the loaf bakes. When the meatloaf is done, you can either throw out the bread or bake it to make some truly indulgent toast.

Is it better to cook meatloaf at 350 or 375? ›

The oven temperature is typically set at 350 degrees F for making meatloaf. That's the temperature you want to be sure to use so the meatloaf cooks and doesn't dry out. Too high, and the outer crust will burn before the interior is cooked all the way, too low and you don't get that delicious crust.

How to make a Bobby Flay meatloaf? ›

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. ...
  3. Whisk together the eggs and herbs in a large bowl. ...
  4. Whisk together the remaining ketchup and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl then brush the mixture over the entire loaf.
  5. Bake the meatloaf for approximately 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

What is traditional meatloaf made of? ›

No bells and whistles - just a few ingredients including beef, egg, bread crumbs and a simple tomato-based topping. Use a gentle touch with ground beef. Over-mixing will result in burgers, meatballs or meatloaves with a firm texture.

What is the best pan to cook meatloaf in? ›

Sheet pans have more surface area which exposes more of the dish's surface area to the oven's direct heat to create a crunchier crust that's nicely browned. Loaf pans corral the juices and fat to create a moister, more steamed, texture.

Should I spray a loaf pan for meatloaf? ›

Lightly grease a standard size loaf pan with cooking spray. Add all of the meatloaf ingredients to a large bowl and gently mix everything to combine (without over-working the meat). Add the meat mixture to a loaf pan and gently pat into an even layer. Bake for about 30 minutes.

How to add flavor to meat loaf? ›

Traditional meatloaf seasonings are: salt, pepper, sautéed onions and garlic, sautéed mushrooms and bell peppers, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup or bbq sauce, or whatever comes to mind. It's all about the flavor profile you're going after.

How do you keep meatloaf moist when baking? ›

Make Use of Milk: Soak breadcrumbs in milk before adding them to your mixture. This will keep your meatloaf moist during baking. Slather on Sauce: Add a layer of ketchup, barbecue sauce, or a mixture of both on top of your meatloaf before baking. This enhances flavor and helps retain moisture.

What causes dry meatloaf? ›

If you cook your meatloaf too long, it will become dry. But it needs to reach a safe temperature for food safety, so you don't want "rare" meatloaf. Detecting whether the meatloaf is done based on cooking time just doesn't work.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Duane Harber

Last Updated:

Views: 6373

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Duane Harber

Birthday: 1999-10-17

Address: Apt. 404 9899 Magnolia Roads, Port Royceville, ID 78186

Phone: +186911129794335

Job: Human Hospitality Planner

Hobby: Listening to music, Orienteering, Knapping, Dance, Mountain biking, Fishing, Pottery

Introduction: My name is Duane Harber, I am a modern, clever, handsome, fair, agreeable, inexpensive, beautiful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.