This is the BEST Meatloaf recipe ever! Tender, flavorful juicy on the inside with a sticky and tangy topping, this meatloaf is super easy to make and so dang delicious!
By Leidi Rodgriguez
By no means did I grow up in a meatloaf kinda household. In fact, I didn’t even know what the stuff was until I was nearly in college. Even then the concept seemed odd and unappetizing. It didn’t help that most of the meatloafs I came across were gray and dry. Bleh, no thank you!
But, let me tell you, when you get a good one it’ll straight up change your life! A well-made meatloaf is juicy, tender, well-seasoned, and coated in the most glorious ketchup-based glaze. Today’s meatloaf recipe is just THAT and then some.
The perfect weeknight meal is right here staring at you! So what’re you waiting for?
Perks and Highlights of the Best Meatloaf
Cuisine Inspiration: American Comfort Food
Primary Cooking Method: Baking
Dietary Info: High Protein, Contains Gluten
Key Flavor: Rich, savory with a balance of sweet and tangy notes
Skill Level: Easy to Intermediate
Familiar Yet Flavorful: This meatloaf brings all the comforting flavors of home, combining classic ingredients with a special touch that elevates the dish beyond the ordinary.
Versatile Meat Options: With options to use all beef or a mix of beef and pork, this recipe caters to various preferences while ensuring a juicy, flavorful result.
Perfectly Balanced Sauce: The sauce, a delectable mix of ketchup, brown sugar, and a hint of cayenne, provides a sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy counterpoint to the savory meatloaf.
Make-Ahead Convenience: This recipe is perfect for busy schedules. You can prepare it in advance and just pop it in the oven when you’re ready, making meal planning easier and stress-free.
Crowd-Pleaser: A hit with both adults and kids alike, this meatloaf is a reliable go-to for family dinners, potlucks, and gatherings, satisfying even the pickiest eaters.
This Best Meatloaf Recipe doesn’t just offer a dish; it brings the family together, reviving memories of grandma’s kitchen, and creating new moments to cherish around the dinner table.
There are lots of meatloaf recipes out there, so why make this one? Well, I’ll tell ya! It’s all about the ingredients baby!
Here’s what I used to make the BEST meatloaf EVER:
- GROUND BEEF + PORK- in general, pork has a lighter, milder taste than beef. Beef’s intense, hearty flavor stands up well to other pungent flavors. Together, the beef and pork form a tender, juicy meatloaf that is both full of its own delicious flavor while also being capable of taking on whatever is added to it.
- YELLOW ONION- onions add a sweet, pungent note. You can use yellow or sweet onion- both will be amazing!
- GARLIC- I’m a huge garlic girl so I like to add loads of it but you can add as little or as much as you’d like. Grating the garlic will release more of its flavor.
- EGGS- eggs help to bind the mixture together. I also have an egg-free partner who swears by flax eggs as a suitable replacement.
- BREADCRUMBS- if you’re gluten-free, you can swap these out for a gluten-free option.
- WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE- this adds a bit of sweet, tangy, and vinegary flavor. Don’t have it? Toss in some soy sauce instead.
- MUSTARD- I like to use yellow or honey mustard but anything you’ve got on hand will work. We’re just looking to add a bright, tangy flavor to our meatloaf here.
- ITALIAN SEASONING- the best meatloafs have an herbaceous, well-seasoned flavor to them. Italian seasoning offers a well rounded balance and lots of yummy earthiness.
- PAPRIKA- a smoky paprika will add so much depth and deliciousness!
- KOSHER SALT + BLACK PEPPER- this is a big hunk of meat that calls for a whole lot of seasoning. Don’t skimp here!
- KETCHUP GLAZE- made from sweet ketchup, sticky brown sugar, and spicy cayenne, this simple glaze coats the meatloaf and changes the entire experience. I often double the recipe and serve the extra on the side!
How to Make the Best Meatloaf
Second to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, meatloaf is just about the easiest thing you can pull together in the kitchen. The most amount of effort spent in this recipe is chopping up some onion and measuring out the ingredients. You can do cartwheels or take a nap while the rest of the magic happens!
All you’ve gotta do is mix up the ingredients….
shape them into a loaf pan, and bake it.
Don’t forget that glaze in the last 15 minutes though! That sticky-sweet topping is the best part.
Don’t cut into the meatloaf immediately! Let it rest for at least 10 minutes so all the juices come together and you don’t burn your mouth to smithereens.
How long to cook Meatloaf per pound
This best meatloaf recipe feeds about 6-8 people but if you’ve got a large family or would like to have more leftovers, you can easily adjust ingredient measurements.
Doubling or halving a recipe is the easy part but knowing how to adjust cooking time is more important. If you want to reduce the amount of beef to just 1 pound, you’ll want to bake for just 30 minutes, then add 15 minutes per pound after that.
Increasing the amount of beef will follow the same rules: a 3 pound meatloaf would be 30 minutes for the first pound, 15 minutes for the second pound, and 15 minutes for the third pound, totaling one hour of cook time.
Of course, cooking times may vary based on the starting temperature of the meat and the heat of your oven.
What Temperature is it cooked at?
The internal temperature of a fully cooked meatloaf should reach 160 degrees F. I love using my quick read digital thermometer for ease and accuracy. Note that, once removed from the oven, the meatloaf will continue to cook in the pan for a few minutes. It’s safer to be a couple degrees under than over.
What to Serve with it
One of the simplest, most delicious ways to enjoy a thick slice of this perfect meatloaf recipe is in between two slices of bread. Nothing fussy, just a juicy hunk of well-seasoned, smothered-in-sweet ketchup glaze meatloaf and fluffy, hearty bread. How could you go wrong?
But, if you’re not on board the meatloaf sandwich train, I’d recommend serving up this recipe with a couple of GBC’s best weeknight sides!
Check ‘em out:
- Garlic mashed potatoes
- Southern Collard Greens
- Southern Green Beans with Potatoes
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Southern Succotash
- Cinnamon Honey Butter Rolls
- Honey Glazed Carrots
- Smashed potatoes
How to store leftover meatloaf
Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, meatloaf will keep for 3-4 days. The easiest way to reheat it would be in an oven set to its lowest temperature (somewhere between 200-250 degrees).
Place the desired portion of meatloaf in a baking dish covered with aluminum foil. Reheat for 15-25 minutes, or until heated through.
Can I freeze this?
Meatloaf can be frozen either fully cooked and cooled or raw ready to bake. Wrap each meatloaf tightly with two wraps of plastic wrap and one layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn or contamination from raw meat. Whichever method you use, be sure to defrost meat loaf thoroughly in the refrigerator before baking or reheating.
More Weeknight Dinner recipes
If you’re anything like me then you know how hard it can be to decide what to have for dinner. Luckily, we’ve got GBC on our side!
Tonight, choose from one of our FAVORITE easy weeknight dinner recipes:
- Air Fryer Salmon
- Southern Baked Chicken
- Lasagna Roll ups
- Classic Pot Roast Recipe
- Pizza Meatloaf
- Stuffed Meatloaf.
Best Meatloaf Recipe
For the Meatloaf
- 1 lb ground beef 85% or 90% lean
- 1 lb ground pork or another pound of ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion grated or finely minced
- 4 garlic cloves finely grated minced
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- kosher salt to taste (start with 1 teaspoon and go up to 1 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
For the Meatloaf Sauce
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper optional
For the Meatloaf
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatloaf. Mix well to fully combine everything.
- Add meat to a 9×5 loaf pan, gently press meat down to shape evenly. Bake for 40 minutes.
For the Meatloaf Sauce
- In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together for the sauce. Spread the sauce over the meatloaf then return to the oven.
- Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until fully cooked through.
- Rest meatloaf 10 minutes before slicing. Drizzle with baking juices from the pan.