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The Best Meatloaf Recipe – Spend With Pennies

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The best Meatloaf Recipe is one that is easy to make and full of flavor. 

Ground beef, seasonings, onions, and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs with a zesty topping (my favorite part)!

Below I share my favorite tips to ensure a flavorful meatloaf that is tender, holds together, and will get rave reviews every time.

sliced meatloaf on a wood board

This easy meatloaf recipe is a family favorite and is pretty simple to make!  Serve with a side of mashed potatoes or mac and cheese for the perfect comforting meal.

Ingredients

  • GROUND BEEF: We use 80/20 ground beef for meatloaf. This provides enough fat to keep it juicy without being greasy.
  • Breadcrumbs & eggs help hold the loaf together and give it the perfect texture. Seasoned/Italian breadcrumbs are best as they add extra flavor.
  • Seasonings – Onions, parsley, Italian seasoning, and salt & pepper. Simple but delicious.
  • Topping – This is the best part! A zesty combo of ketchup and chili sauce (with a hint of brown sugar) is a favorite topping.

ingredients for making meatloaf on the counter

Meatloaf Sauce

My favorite sauce for meatloaf is a flavorful zesty topping that caramelizes and gets a bit sticky to glaze the meatloaf as it bakes. I use a combo of chili sauce and ketchup (just like my mom always made) and a pinch of brown sugar.

Chili sauce is not spicy, it is similar to very zesty ketchup with more tang and less sweetness. (Find chili sauce near the ketchup). Mixed with ketchup, it creates a beautiful topping. (It’s also great mixed 50/50 with BBQ sauce for burgers and ribs).

Variations

  • Brown Sugar Meatloaf Glaze: Skip the chili sauce and combine equal parts brown sugar and ketchup with a dash of cider vinegar.
  • Brown Gravy:  Skip the topping altogether and serve the meatloaf with brown gravy (homemade, leftover, or packaged).

steps for making meatloaf

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 and bake (cook times below based on the size of the loaf).
  4. Top with the meatloaf sauce and bake until bubbly.

cooked meatloaf on a baking pan

Tips for Perfection

  • Do Not Overmix: Mix until everything is just combined. Over mixing will create a dense loaf!
  • Use Lean Meat: Use lean beef (but not extra lean). 80/20 is the best mixture for meatloaf. You need a bit of fat for flavor but don’t want it swimming in grease so lean beef is the perfect option.
  • Add flavors and moisture: Adding in seasonings and soaking the breadcrumbs in milk keep every bit of this meatloaf flavorful and moist.
  • Skip the Loaf Pan: Using a baking sheet to cook your meatloaf gives the best results. If you cook in a loaf pan you’ll get steam (and nobody wants steamed meat) and nowhere for the drippings to go.  Form your own loaf on a foil-lined pan.
  • Rest the Meatloaf: With any meatloaf recipe, it should be rested once it comes out of the oven.  This helps redistribute the juices and makes sure it won’t fall apart when you cut it!

meatloaf served with mashed potatoes and broccoli

How Long To Cook Meatloaf

A 2 lb meatloaf (recipe below) will cook 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.

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.

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.

How to Freeze Meatloaf

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.

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.

Did you make this meatloaf? Be sure to leave a comment and review below!

The Best Meatloaf Recipe

This is the best meatloaf recipe ever! It comes out juicy every time, and it seriously couldn’t be easier. 

Follow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a foil lined baking tray with cooking spray and set aside.

  • In a small pan, cook onions in butter over medium low heat until tender. Cool completely.

  • In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs. Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes. 

  • Add the ground beef, onions, 1 tablespoon of ketchup or chili sauce, Italian seasoning, parsley and salt & pepper to taste. Mix until just combined.

  • Form a 8″x4″ loaf on the prepared baking tray. Bake for 40 minutes. 

  • Meanwhile, 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 160°F. Broil 1-2 mintues if desired.

  • Allow meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Optional: 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 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 until everything is just combined. Over mixing will create a dense loaf!
Use Lean Meat: Use 80/20 for great flavor without making it greasy.
Add flavors and moisture: Don’t skip the seasonings and soaking the breadcrumbs in milk keep every bit of this meatloaf flavorful and moist.
Skip the Loaf Pan: Using a baking sheet to cook your meatloaf gives a nice crust. Cooking in a loaf causes the meat to steam and there is nowhere for the drippings to go. 
Rest the Meatloaf: With almost any meat recipe, allow it to rest once it comes out of the oven.  This helps redistribute the juices and makes sure it won’t fall apart when sliced!

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.)

Keyword ground beef, meatloaf, meatloaf recipe

Course Dinner

Cuisine American

A whole beef meatloaf glazed with a zesty topping and sliced on a wood cutting board

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